Historical football kits: The most iconic jerseys in football

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Once considered just a shirt, football jerseys have become one of the hottest fashion items sought out by millions of sports fans each year. In May 2020, it was reported that the 2018-19 Manchester United shirt sold a whopping 3,250,000 units making them the best-selling club in terms of jerseys. The sheer number of shirts sold shows the fandom of football clubs and supporters’ desire to get their favourite top.

It isn’t just fans that clamour for the most iconic jerseys. The last decade has seen a renewed interest in shirts of yesteryear thanks to football jersey collectors. Websites such as Classic Football Shirts and other re-sellers of classic tops have popped up supplying fans with some of the coolest jerseys from the past. Now for a look down member lane some of the most iconic jerseys in football.

Manchester United – 1994-95 home shirt

One of the most iconic sights ever produced by football was Manchester United great Eric Cantona wearing the club’s 1994-95 shirt with the collar popped up. Cantona made the turned-up collar look famous and millions of Manchester United fans copied the Frenchman’s look.

The Red Devils’ 1994-95 shirt was produced by long-time British kit provider Umbro. Featuring a blood red shirt with black accent and large club badge, there are few Manchester United home jerseys as memorable as this one. It also featured the Sharp sponsor logo which supporters of a certain generation remember fondly.

The 1994-95 shirt was released during a time in which the Premier League was beamed around the globe for the first time. It was also a time period in which the English top flight grew out of the dull 1980s and into the neon lights of the 1990s. For many football fans, Manchester United wearing this shirt was their first glimpse of the Premier League. It didn’t hurt that Cantona wore the jersey so well.

Genoa – 1992-94 home shirt

Genoa are one of Italy’s most successful teams. They are nine-time Scudetto winners, although all nine championships came between 1898 and 1924. Since their last Italian championship in the mid-1920s, Genoa have struggled to recapture their previous successes.

The club’s blue and red shirt is one of the most famous on the peninsula. Since donning the half blue, half red shirt in 1901, Genoa have kept the colour combination for their home tops. In 1992, the Grifone’s shirts were produced by kit manufacturer Errea and featured the club’s famous colourway. Errea added starburst detail to the jersey giving it subtle flair that made the colours stand out even more.

Errea also added a proper button collar and detail around the sleeves. The badge used on the shirt was adopted in 1991 and only lasted until 1998 when it was changed to one more similar to the current badge. It is a logo that many fans want the club to go back to.

Boca Juniors – 1981 home shirt

No Argentine club have a more iconic home kit than famed South American side Boca Juniors. Their traditional blue shirt with yellow stripe across the chest is adored by football fans around the world – except for supporters of long-time rival River Plate.

The 1981 Boca Juniors home shirt is one of the most memorable thanks to one of the men that wore it, Diego Maradona. The Argentine great led the club to the top flight title, the only one he achieved in his home country. The shirt had no club badge on it and was simply identifiable by the yellow sash that wrapped around it.

Football fans may associate the blue and yellow kit with Boca Juniors, but not realise what inspired the look. The Buenos Aires club adopted the blue and yellow colours after gaining inspiration from the national flag of Sweden. As the club were based in the city’s docklands, a Swedish ship in the port gave the club inspiration to wear a strip of blue and yellow.

Lazio – 1982-83 home shirt

Lazio sported one of the most iconic designs in football history in the early 1980s when they wore the eagle shirt. The shirt had the club’s mascot, an eagle, stretched across, giving the Italian team a unique look. In 2018, Lazio brought the shirt back to the delight of fans and shirt collectors alike.

The 1982-83 shirt was Lazio’s shot at a rebrand. After suffering through seasons in Serie B, Italian sportswear company Ennerre produced the kit to inspire the team to win promotion. Seleco, an electronics company, joined up as the club’s new sponsor. Designer Otello Cecchi create the dramatic look that adorned the shirt with a stylised eagle stretching across the front of the chest.

After wearing the style for a few seasons, the eagle was used on the club’s badge rather than the front of the shirt. According to lore, the reason Lazio went away from the iconic shirt was due to not owning the rights to the design.

United States National Team – 1994 away shirt

The 1994 World Cup took the football tournament into the modern era. The tournament also introduced the United States National Team to the entire world. Team USA had a strong showing making it to the knockout stages where they were defeated by Brazil.

The Yanks arrived at the World Cup dressed in denim. The team wore a denim blue away shirt with white stars moving diagonally from right to left. The shirt has long been critised by US soccer fans, yet praised by football shirt collectors from around the globe. Paired with red shorts and navy-blue socks, the Yanks have never looked better on the football pitch.

UNAM Pumas – 2018 Dias de los Muertos special shirt

Mexico’s UNAM Pumas have one of the most recognisable shirts of any club outside of European football. Pumas have long sported a jersey featuring a large badge on the chest and stomach. The club’s puma badge is so large it takes up most of the shirt itself.

In 2018, Nike produced a special Pumas shirt to celebrate Dias de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. The gold jersey featured the iconic puma head on the shirt in navy along with crossbones. The Mexican club paired the golden shirt of puma and cross bones with navy blue shorts and socks. Pumas’ shirts have become popular with shirt collectors thanks to deigns like the 2018 Dias de los Muertos top.

Arsenal – 2005-06 home shirt

Arsenal’s last season at Highbury was marked by one of the best-looking shirts worn in the club’s history. The shirt was a reinterpretation of the Gunners’ 1913 shirt when they moved to Highbury. The Nike-made shirt saw Arsenal move away from their usual red colour in favour of a deeper red flavour. Arsenal’s badge was placed in the middle of the shirt rather than over the heart.

Nike’s swoosh and shirt sponsor O2’s logo adorned the jersey in glorious gold. Arsenal have not worn the same shirt design since truly making the top a unique one. Perhaps the next time they wear it will be when the club move away from the Emirates Stadium.

Sporting KC – 1996 home shirt

18 Jul 1996: Tampa Bay Mutiny team photo taken before an MLS game against the Kansas City Wiz played at Tampa Stadium in Tamps, Florida. The Mutiny won the game, 3-2.

Originally known as the Kansas City Wiz when debuting in Major League Soccer in 1996, Sporting KC had one of the most unique kits in the league’s history. The kit was inspired by the Wizard of Oz with its rainbow design that ran from the left shoulder diagonally to the waist.

The team’s home shirt was white and blue, while the away shirt was black and blue. It was the white home version that really caught the eye. The kits were designed by Adidas and featured a one button Chinese collar. Major League Soccer did not allow teams to have sponsor logos on the jersey. The club’s name was written across the shirt with each player’s number on the front.

In recent seasons, Sporting KC have worn throwback replicas of the original 1996 shirt. It is unlikely many of the original shirts still exist today due to fans thinking they were so garish at the time.

Nigeria National Team – 2018 home shirt

Nike debuted Nigeria’s World Cup 2018 shirt to worldwide praise. The shirt was so popular that the jersey sold out shortly after release as three million pre-orders were received for it. The shirt’s popularity was so great that football fans and shirt collectors camped outside of Nike’s London store to be the first to buy it. The shirt was a combination of wavy lines, shades of green, and white.

The shirt’s popularity was so great that Nike dressed the Nigerian women’s team in the jersey the following year. The women’s team sported the iconic shirt at the Women’s World Cup 2019. Although they didn’t perform very well, the team looked great in the shirts.

Liverpool – 1989-90 home shirt

Liverpool’s 1989-90 home shirt is one of the best ever worn by the Reds. It was an audacious shirt especially for a club known for wearing simple all-red kits. Created by Adidas, the Liverpool home shirt had white triangular line patterns. The shirt also featured the iconic Candy sponsorship logo. Adidas’ three stripes decorated the shoulders in white. The collar also featured white accent.

The shirt featured a badge that Liverpool began using in 1987. It was a badge that brought the club’s marketing more in line with the times. In 1992, to mark the club’s centenary, Liverpool altered their badge to more resemble the one currently used. Fans can still purchase replica versions of the famed 1989-90 ‘Candy’ shirt. It is a jersey that lives on thanks to the impact it made on fans.

Paris Saint-Germain – 1993-94 home shirt

Paris Saint-Germain's 1993-94 home shirt was created by Nike and featured the sportswear manufacturer’s vintage logo. The navy-blue shirt had a combination of thin and thick red vertical lines.

The club’s sponsorship logos were in your face, something many French teams’ shirts still are in term of sponsorships. The shirt was produced in Nike’s second year of making the club’s jerseys. Nike has been creating Paris Saint-Germain's shirts ever since.

Tottenham Hotspur – 1985-87 home shirt

Danish sportswear company Hummel produced some memorable kits during the 1980s. One of the company’s best releases was Tottenham Hotspur’s 1985-87 home jersey. The Danish brand took Spurs’ traditional white home jersey to the next level adding chevrons across the chest and diagonal lines on the shoulders.

The shirt was also adorned with sponsor Holsten’s name across it. The German beer maker sponsored the club from 1983 to 1995. The beer brewer’s name is one associated with a golden era of jerseys for the London club.

England National Team – 1990 third shirt

The 1990 England third shirt is one that would have been loved at the time but loathed by the end of the decade. However, modern shirt collectors and fans will have fallen in love with its unique design. Umbro designed the shirt with overlaid blue and white diamonds that littered the shirt.

The third shirt was England’s alternative to their home white and away red jerseys. England never wore the third shirt in matches. All seven of the national team’s matches at the World Cup 1990 featured them in white. The shirts popularity 30 years on from the 1990 World Cup has led to replicas being made and sold. The blue shirt was originally seen in England’s World Cup promotional video in which New Order singer Bernard Sumner wore the jersey.

Barcelona – 1982-89 home shirt

Modern football fans are used to their favourite clubs releasing a brand-new set of kits each season. But there was a time when football clubs kept the same shirts for long periods. Barcelona are an example of one of those clubs to have one specific shirt for a long period and due to the seven seasons in which they wore it, the jersey has become iconic.

The 1982-89 shirt was produced by local Spanish swimwear brand Meyba. For the most part, the club’s shirts were very simple, something they no longer are thanks to Nike. The 1980s were a meek time period for Blaugrana as a clutch of Copa del Rey trophies and one La Liga win was all the club could muster. At least fans were left with these iconic jerseys.


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Gavin Davison

Gavin is a full-time copywriter based in the UK and has developed in-depth knowledge of the igaming world by working in the betting industry for over five years. During this time, he has written thousands of articles covering various topics, including bookmaker reviews, ‘how to’ guides, bonus comparisons and much more.