Midfield Magic

By: Juan Mesa

A die-hard soccer fan will do anything in his reach to be as close as possible to the beautiful game. He will join fantasy leagues, listen to podcasts during work hours, follow bloggers in social media, wear good soccer-related designs or subscribe to the magazines that are becoming the cornerstone of America’s soccer boom. Maybe the only task pending was home decor—an area where soccer got stuck with the kind of posters teenagers of the ’80s would cover their bedroom in. But that’s starting to change thanks to a bunch of soccer-head artists and designers.

And leading that crop of soccer-loving artists is Daniel Nyari, a Romanian-born illustrator based in NYC whose work has been featured in GQ, ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated. In Playmakers, a series of illustrated portraits of some of the most gifted midfielders in soccer history, Nyari gives a nod to the fans who have always regarded soccer as an art form. 

The original Playmakers series contains 25 playmakers, including game legends such as José Manuel Moreno, the brain of the 1940s River Plate team also known as “La Máquina,” and contemporaries such as Diego Maradona, Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama, Zinedine Zidane and Andrea Pirlo.

The illustrations can be acquired through the site Society6, which offers framed pictures to stretched canvases in different sizes. There are also options to have them printed on T-shirts, hoodies, throw pillows and tote bags. 

The time to own a soccer wall of fame has arrived.

Juan Mesa is a freelance writer based in New York City. He covers soccer and Latin music. When he's not writing, you can find him watching soccer games, talking about soccer or collecting soccer memorabilia. To relax, he plays house music vinyls.