Collectors are one-of-a-kind people: retailers, obsessed, and determined to continually expand their little trunk of memories that lead to the happiest times of their lives. TO Leandro Fowler, a purebred Cordovan, was born from his heart to follow Claudio Paul Caniggia since he was six years old and, when he grew up, decided to become the owner of the largest museum of t-shirts in the world. Bird. Nowadays, inside his wardrobe he protects a total of 24 original T-shirts that the former soccer player of the Argentine national team used at some point, along with other great relics for which the right person would pay a fortune to have them in their possession.
– Where did your fanaticism for Claudio Paul Caniggia come from? Did any close family member share or share that passion?
– He was born entering adolescence, precisely in the year 98, when he was a member of Boca Juniors in the Clausura 1998 and was crying out for Passarella to take him to the World Cup in France. From there I was pending every day, at the foot of the canyon listening and watching all the games until the list of summoned was given. But the main cause of my fanaticism was born in the year 90 ′, the middle of the World Cup in Italy, the year in which I was a 6-year-old boy. It was my first World Cup and the best year of my life, in every way. That year I learned to read and write, I was entering first grade and we already had the figurine album, and with my twin brother we completed it together. On the other hand, no family member shares my fanaticism for Dogs, but they do all admire him. My older brother collected magazines The graphic, particularly from the 90’s, from when there are several iconic editions in which Claudio shines in photos.
– What made you start collecting T-shirts specifically from Caniggia? Tell me the story of the first jacket you got.
– This story is very particular. First of all, I am a native of Río Cuarto, Córdoba. There in the city they opened a bar in the 90′s, where they exhibited shirts worn by players and it was love at first sight. Those paintings, those relics, for me they were the beginning. It is part of the genesis, although there was none from Caniggia. Then many years passed and in 2008, when the fury for Youtube It was reaching its peak, that’s when I start watching videos: Claudio’s plays and goals. In particular, I did a search in Mercado Libre and found a River shirt signed and worn by him. It was worth 8,000 pesos back then, something like $ 2,000 today. Crazy. I let her pass, but I never forgot her. 2009 came, I had a serious car accident that changed my life when I was just 25 years old. Once I was convalescing, spending a lot of time at home, I decided to resume the search and there I found her again. I bought my first jersey: the Hellas Verona jersey with the # 7 Hummel brand on the back. Beautifull! Signed and dedicated to a certain “Juan Cruz”, with the first prototype of Claudio’s signature (his way of signing, his handwriting and his dedications changed over time). The shirt corresponds to the same one that he wore for the magazine photo session “Only football” with Pedro Troglio. The shirt is 100% props and was used in some games last season when Claudio arrived in Italy. It is the only one from Verona that I have.
The process to verify the originality of each shirt is long and complex. Each collector develops his method according to experience. Leandro has been in this field for 12 years and when collecting shirts used by Caniggia the first thing to consider is their origin, that is, if they come from the hand of a former player or family. Then, make sure that the shirt belongs to AFA, national and international clubs that Claudio played, and that it also belongs to a “party”. That is, it has signs or labels of use, which is internationally called “Match Worn: Unwashed” and locally “Used in Play.”
The size must be 40, 42 or 44 in which you used to River Plate; talle 3 or 4 Argentina Selection; either L or XL for Internationals like Verona, Atalanta, Roma, Benfica, Dundee Y Scottish Rangers. On the side of his signature and his handwriting, which Fowler practically recognizes by heart, Claudio dedicated a lot on his t-shirts with a letter “very neat and beautiful, as if they were paintings”Leandro explained. Another very important factor is that they are in perfect condition: the most precious detail of all is the mud and grass stained on the shirt; the Bird he lived in the apartment, therefore, that is one of his trademarks.
– What are the favorites of your collection?
– My favorites are those of the Argentine team in the first place, the holders of the World Cups 90 and 94. Both used in the early stages against Brazil and Nigeria, respectively. The shirt against Brazil in the 1990 World Cup has a lot of love: Claudio gave it to an uncle who I think was present in Italy with his parents, it is dedicated and signed with blue pen. As for the jersey used with Nigeria in the 1994 United States World Cup, it has the peculiarity that the last name of each player and the number ahead in the World Cups were used for the first time. The letters “CANIGGIA” and the number 7 are of thick black plush type. Claudio with that shirt scored the two goals in the first half and the plush in front of him was detached by the shirting of the Nigerians. Only the outline of the number 7 remained, because that particular detail did not adhere in the heat and it also peeled off other players, such as Maradona. They were his last goals in the Argentine team. It’s a great t-shirt.
– Are you always looking for new Caniggia t-shirts? What were the last ones and which ones are you looking for today?
– The truth is. I always think that the collector never finishes collecting. Some stop doing it, sell everything and then regret it and always come back, that’s a mistake, because this is a very difficult game, which you never get out of. You have to go steadily, not die foal without galloping but rather grow little by little. The last ones I acquired were all those of the National Team that I was missing: Odesur 1986 Games, 1987 Under 23 Pre-Olympic, 90 World Cup, 1991 Chile America Cup and 94 World Cup. All headlines, in between, one of the Roma used against Napoli in the Italian Cup that took 6 months in the mail! All of this took place between July and November 2021. My father was taken by COVID on the day Maradona turned 60. He was my spirit guide this past year.
Leandro had the opportunity to meet Claudio when he was in Córdoba in 2019. He Bird He waited for him in a hotel lobby and they chatted for 15 minutes. In addition, the former footballer was kind enough to sign him three shirts that currently have a special place in the collection. His brother took several photos of him with his idol and Fowler described Caniggia as “very affectionate and gentle”. As soon as they exchanged glances, Cani looked at Leandro and said a funny comment: “You are the same as Robert Smith (Ed: Singer of the band The Cure) ”. The protagonists stayed in contact since then. Sometimes he talks with him and with Sofía Bonelli, his current partner. But the collector reveals that he is “very careful, since I don’t want to bother him because he is my idol, the idol is respected.”
– Have you been made offers to buy the collection?
– The truth is that no, never. But I clarify the shirts in my collection are not for sale. My nephews will inherit them. I hope so.
– Do the t-shirts need special care so that the fabric remains as intact as possible?
– Yes, indeed yes. I leave some premises. “Picture kills shirt”: never frame a relic as they are damaged by light. This is a common mistake for a non-collector. The true gatherers know that I am right. Secondly, the shirt has to be stored with a cellophane and hangers separated from each other. The best thing is that it does not give them the light and the humidity. Always better in a closed cabinet. Another alternative is to fold them and arrange them in a pile but I advise against it. To enjoy them and that they last over time, it would be best to display them from time to time and put them back, do not touch them excessively and never wash them. Never!
THE BEST PHOTOS OF LEANDRO’S COLLECTION