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We partnered with the Football Shirt Collective to bring you the favorite shirts of football”s best writers (and even one footballer)

In the modern game, the half-life of a football shirt is quite short. After one season of use, clubs offer up a bevy of new choices—home, away, or third kit—with different sponsors and manufacturers, endlessly tinkering with the layout, design, and technology that goes into what players wear briefly on the pitch. It”s hard to keep up.

But The Football Shirt Collective “believes that every football shirt has a story” and since 2012 has interviewed writers and collectors and even some footballers about their favorite shirts, seeking to preserve the memories of great shirts before they disappear. We”ve partnered with the good folks at The Football Shirt Collective to bring you this post and showcase some of the best football shirts the game has given us.

Philippe Auclair Journalist

What was your first football shirt?

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Finding club shirts was impossible in France until quite recently (make that reasonably recently), otherwise I guess I’d have got the 1976 green St Etienne one, like everybody else. I had to wait until I came to England. Even then, I didn’t buy into the idea of wearing a jersey I could never dream of putting on by right. I finally relented in 2006, yes, that late, to play five-a-side at Highbury just before the bulldozers moved in. It had to be an Arsenal shirt, and it was that season’s so-called ‘cherry’ home kit.

What is your favorite football shirt?

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Easy. The 1970 World Cup Peru strip. I have a thing about the sash thing (I love that Sweden away shirt at the current European Championships). Red and white, classic, classy. Not a bad team either.

Amy Lawrence Journalist

What was your first ever football shirt? 

Soccer - Football League Division One - Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal

My first football shirt was a mid-1970s Arsenal home shirt. It had classic simplicity—red, with white sleeves and trim, cannon, that’s it. The full kit came with huge, billowing Alex James style shorts and red socks. I was around 5 years old, and recall wearing it to a fancy dress party. It was not the most inventive outfit compared to some of the others on show (although you didn’t find many 5 year old girls pretending to be footballers in those days). But I won the fancy dress contest, purely because the judge was an Arsenal fan. Some of those with glitzier costumes were not impressed.

What is your favorite ever football shirt?

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I’ll go for AC Milan of the mid-late 80s. During an era when English clubs were banned from Europe in the aftermath of the Heysel disaster, and few foreign matches were televised, Serie A’s glamour was striking. That Milan vintage, with the likes of Marco van Basten, Franco Baresi et al resplendent in silky red and black stripes, had quite an aura.

Sheridan Bird Journalist

What was your first football shirt?

european cup final 1978 liverpool v brugge - alan hansen kenny dalglish and graeme souness of liverpool lift the trophy left to right

When I was casino 7 I loved Kenny Dalglish. My parents bought me a Liverpool home shirt by Umbro. It had a ‘Hitachi’ sticker across the chest and a yellow Liver bird. It was an itchy, non-shiny material with a white V neck and cuffs. There were no shirt names then and number printing was 10-15 years away, but I would have chosen ‘7.’

What is your favorite football shirt?  

I have been collecting football shirts for 25 years, so put them into categories. My favourite tops in terms of technology and spurious gimmicks are the 2002 World Cup adidas “Climacool” shirts with two layers. The stitched-in vest made them difficult to put on or take off, but looked great. Experts warned of flappy, damp shirts in the Japanese / Korean humidity distracting players, so the inner part hugged the torso and stayed warm.

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Here’s my Argentina 2002 Climacool away shirt with attached sky blue vest.  Very fiddly and unnecessary, but novel. The badges were thin plastic to keep it light, because embroidered patches apparently absorbed sweat.These shirts came in collectable 10 inch tins. England would have won the 2002 World Cup if we’d had inner vesting.

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As for visual appeal and design, the France 1984 home shirt is a classic. Although Adidas are German, this shirt looks very French and very cool.

Jason McAteer Liverpool (1995-“99)

What was your first shirt?

My first shirt was a Liverpool jersey, obviously! But it was no ordinary shirt. When I was growing up my family didn’t have the sort of money needed to buy me a kit—so my mum made me one! I remember her sitting there with her material and sewing machine and while it wasn’t perfect I was thrilled with it. It was the full Liverpool kit—though the badge on it wasn’t the proper one. She sewed on a European Cup badge—it must have been all she could find—and while I didn’t love that, the kit was amazing.

What is your favorite shirt?

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There can only be one. Brazil. Yellow shirts, blue shorts. I loved watching the great Brazil teams and their players. The likes of Carlos Alberto, Zico etc. They really lit up all the major football tournaments. I love the 1970 shirt, but that was from before I was born so I’ll go with 1982. The shirts seemed like part of the way they played football—bright, bold and brilliant.

Kristan Heneage Journalist

What was your first ever football shirt?

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My first ever football shirt was in fact an England shirt in the early 1990’s. I don’t think it was 100% authentic (see photo for why) but I treasured it. Looking back I really wish I still had it, to perhaps give to my own son/daughter but unfortunately it’s not to be.

I do remember getting the shirt around the time I was first allowed out to play in front of the house, and while my skills were nothing special, I remember kicking a ball back to my Dad in our front garden for what seemed like hours.

What is your favorite ever football shirt?

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I must confess of late I’ve become something of a kit fiend. While my collection only contains 4-5 actual purchases, I’ll often have a browse around the internet at shirts. However I think kits are often about memories you attach to them.

With that in mind I was given an old Atalanta shirt by a very good friend of mine last year. He was departing the UK to live with his new wife in Seattle and caught me off guard with the generosity. I knew it meant a lot to him, so to be willing to part with it meant a great deal, and it’s actually a wonderful shirt. A very soft material and what I imagine a young Ricardo Montolivo wore as he tore up the streets of Bergamo.

The Football Shirt Collective is the community for football shirt lovers.  We believe that every football shirt has a story and want to give you a place to tell them.  Since 2012 we have shared hundreds of your football shirts and curated stories from footballers, writers and collectors. Check out the Football Shirt Collective marketplace bringing together some of our favourite sellers.  Browse the shirts and pick up a classic or become a seller and sell your own.  Follow the Football Shirt Collective on Twitter and Instagram.
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