The World Cup has seen some iconic footballs, from the Telstar at Mexico 1970 to the Fevernova at the 2002 World Cup and the swerving Jabulani in South Africa, 11 years ago. Whilst these footballs and their designs are associated with fond memories of the players, teams and tournaments, sometimes it’s the ball in your backyard that evokes the most nostalgic memories of childhood and falling in love with football. A plastic ’90s Tango with impossible trajectories has had such an effect on Andrea Dalla Barba, an Italian illustrator, graphic designer, and Parma-fan.

Celebrating his thirtieth year on the planet, Andrea has created an 80-page illustrated book, TRENTA, an incredible nostalgia-filled trip between the past, present and future. The limited-edition book is available to pre-order here. We speak to the man himself about the project:

What is the story behind the creation of the project?
Andrea Dalla Barba: The project was born to celebrate my 30th birthday on this planet. A dedication to the ball, my faithful travelling companion, soul of the beautiful moments lived with friends but also of the difficult moments as losing a game. The ball, and football in general, have taught me a lot in life, I’ve always tried to make the best of this great team game and this sphere can save you even in moments of loneliness, (as Tom Hanks teaches us with Wilson in the movie Cast Away).
The ball is something magical and deserved a small tribute. So I decided to tell through the images, personal and collective memories, with a single theme: the ball. An incredible journey that starts from the backyard, an emotional recollection.
Do you remember what made you first fall in love with football, could you pinpoint it to a single moment?
ADB: Definitely that plastic ’90s Tango with impossible trajectories and the Panini soccer cards that my dad took me home.
How do you feel the worlds of art and football collide?
ADB: In my first album of figurines I remember a section with caricatures of champions! Holly and Benji unforgettable artwork!! Then the creation of the jerseys, the search for the fonts used for the numbers and names, the team badges, the style of the balloons that changes over time, is all part of the art, the graphics that meets perfectly with the sport.
What next for your project?
ADB: I would like to see it printed in the hands of the people who have followed me in these years, in the hands of those I have known in recent years and to dream, I would like to see it in the hands of some great champion of Parma in the nineties as Cannavaro, Veron, Buffon, Thuram, Asprilla, Dino Baggio, Zola… my idols.
Out of all the artists and illustrators out there, who are your personal favourites?
ADB: Naming illustrators is almost impossible but if I had to line up a team with three attacked I would say: Riccardo Cavolo, Ale Martoz and Brian Rea and for a women’s team: Nao Tatsumi, Olimpia Zagnoli, Beya Rebaï.
To someone wanting to start up a similar project to yours, what would be your words of advice?
ADB: To put all the passion into it, in any case, closing a project is a way to grow, get to know each other better. It’s like a football match where you can win, draw or lose, but surely at the next opportunity, you will always be stronger than the previous one. Never give up!