HOME / 1995-96
BY CHARLIE COTTRELL
Any of Newcastle United’s shirts from the Newcastle Brown Ale era would’ve been worthy of harking back to. Baggy, collared and beautiful, you’re equally likely to spot one at 4am in Glastonbury Festival’s South East Corner as at St James’ Park on a match day these days, fashionable as they are.
A shirt sponsor to be proud of too, Newccy Brown is as symbolic to the great North East city as its black-and-white stripes. Indeed, their more recent sponsors pale in comparison. In fact, they are aesthetic disasters in comparison. Wonga? Eugh.
Yes, any of those shirts would’ve been deserving of a place on the mantle, but it would be churlish to wax lyrical about Newcastle’s fine match wear without reference to their finest player. Alan Shearer’s debut season for the Magpies is as good a season as any to allow for infatuation.
Newcastle broke the world transfer record to bring Shearer to the club. Shearer had finished as the tournament’s top scorer in that summer’s European Championships, and for £15 million returned to the club already a hero, where once he was just a ballboy.
Now in a team besides the conjurer David Ginola, a top strike partner in Les Ferdinand, and other English icons such as David Batty and Peter Beardsley, Newcastle possessed a team of eye-watering talent.
Yet it proved not quite enough. Foiled again by Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, Newcastle were destined to be the bridesmaid once more. Not quite able to mount the title challenge of the previous year famed for Kevin Keegan’s ‘I would love it if we beat them!’ line, instead the club saw the manager step down in January.
Despite a late surge mounted by Kenny Dalglish, ultimately the greatest success was qualification for the European Cup and Alan Shearer’s impressive 25 league goals. That, and of course, looking the absolute part in their delightful black-and-white kit.
HOME / 2016-17
BY JAMES YOUNG
Pumas UNAM’s home shirt for the 2016-17 Liga MX Apertura is a work of art. It is a swoozy Nike number with an absolutely wonderful Aztec motif from a local library covering the shirt.
The attention to detail on this is actually quite frustrating to look at as it is so good that it poses the question that why doesn’t Nike do this sort of thing more often?
Compared to their rather minimal template efforts over the past couple of seasons (especially for Premier League sides), this goes against everything Nike have been doing which makes it even more interesting that they’ve specifically designed a shirt for a Liga MX side.
To top the Aztec motif off, this shirt also has the trademark Pumas logo of a massive intimidating puma in the centre of the shirt in a great accompanying navy blue.
It drips in gold does this shirt. Even having it for a couple of years makes the shirt look so fresh due to the vivid colour and design of the shirt – similar to those Instagram food videos of when things get covered in chocolate.
Unfortunately, though for Pumas, they couldn’t quite match the success on the pitch. They finished 6th in the Apertura, (winter stage of the league. Mexico has two leagues each season, Apertura and Clausura) Which meant they qualified for the Ligiulla, a knockout between the top 8 teams of the league. They went out at the first stage to Tigres.
They probably should have gone further, but at least they went out in style wearing quite a nice shirt.
Seriously though, Imagine playing against a team wearing this? You’d be scared for your life.
HOME / 2010
BY RYE-PAUL MOOLLA
Despite qualifying for their first World Cup in 2006, 2010 was the year that Ghana rose to footballing prominence, with a near history-making run in the World Cup and a second-place finish in the African Nations Cup. That year brought about the first World Cup played on African soil, a landmark event for the world’s most popular game, in the birthplace of humanity.
Although the hosts, South Africa, did not achieve success, Ghana ensured that Africa and neutrals across the world had a team to root for. They were a Luis Suárez handball and Asamoah Gyan penalty from being the first African team to reach the final four. In fact, they became only the third African team to reach a World Cup quarter-final.
This shirt makes the list because of a simple fact, ask a football fan to reminisce about the 2010 Ghanaian side and they will likely reference their red-and-yellow striped shirts donned by Black Stars during their quarter-final defeat to Uruguay.
Yet, the 2010 home jersey is arguably the nicer of the two kits but was only worn by the team during the group stage in which Ghana won, drew and lost a game. This shirt has one distinguishing detail, a black star that sits just below the right shoulder. The faded black star feature is apropos as Ghana’s national team is nicknamed the Black Stars; the black star also features on the country’s flag.
This kit is a reminder that there is beauty in simplicity.
HOME / 2013-14
BY RYAN PLANT
Oh Kappa. The beauty of Barcelona’s 1996-97 kits, which were embellished by Ronaldo’s artistry, the traditional, yet nuanced, AC Milan and Juventus strips of the 1980s and 1990s and the Real Betis colours worn by the world-record transfer in 1998, Denilson. Beautiful.
But the Torino home shirt of 2013-14 often goes unmentioned in the pantheon of alluring Kappa tops. As is common with their strips, this shirt stays traditional to the club’s poignant history with its own subtleties. A claret body is decorated with white trim, a large, stitched badge and sponsors Fratelli Beretta, a food production company based less than 200 kilometres away from Turin proudly boasting a 20-year association with the club.
And then there’s the success Giampiero Ventura’s side enjoyed in the 2013-14 season. After a miserable 2012-13 campaign, in which they finished 16th in Serie A whilst still licking their wounds from the Scommessopoli scandal, the following year promised to be a battle to avoid a return to Serie B.
The sale of Rolando Bianchi did little to boost the morale of Il Toro’s faithful, too. Nor did the uninspiring signing of his replacement, Ciro Immobile, who had struggled in front of goal for Genoa on loan from Juventus. They won only twice between August and November 2013, but a 4-1 victory against fellow relegation candidates Catania, in which Immobile opened the scoring, became the platform for a European charge.
He scored a hat-trick in a 3-1 win against Livorno, before one of the club’s most memorable results: after going 1-0 behind against Genoa, Immobile scored a 92nd-minute equaliser before Alessio Cerci’s 25-yard stunner a minute later completed an injury-time turnaround.
European qualification came down to a penultimate-day clash with Parma. A win would’ve seen them finish sixth, but Cerci missed a last-gasp penalty with the score at 2-2, leaving them seventh. For a while, Torino’s hopes of European qualification for the first time since the club’s bankruptcy and subsequent reformation in 2005 were in tatters – until Parma’s own financial trauma handed them a reprieve after UEFA refused them entry into the 2014-15 Europa League.
Torino became victims of their own success in the close season, though. Immobile was signed by Borussia Dortmund to replace Robert Lewandowski, and Cerci joined reigning LaLiga champions Atlético Madrid. And with their departures, it was back to normality for Torino. They finished ninth in 2014-15 and were eliminated by Zenit St. Petersburg in the Europa League.
The 2013-14 shirt captures the brilliance of one season. Torino won’t see a kit – or season – quite like it again.
THIRD / 2015-16
BY RYLEY GRETTON
Rayo Vallecano perhaps don’t have the most storied history on the pitch, but they most certainly have a taste for some simply exquisite kits, leading us to this simply exceptional jersey
The 2015-16 season was not a particularly awe-inspiring one for the Madrid club, finishing in 18th and being relegated to Spain’s Segunda División.
They narrowly missed out on an 18th stint in the top tier of Spanish football by a single point to Sporting Gijón, with their top scorer Javi Guerra netting nine goals.
Off the pitch, however, their kit manufacturer Kelme crafted a relative masterpiece with Peruvian inspiration at its core.
This came in the form of Vallecano’s third kit for 2015-16, with a rainbow sash going from the left shoulder to the bottom right of the shirt.
Not only is this gorgeous sash good enough on any background, but it is also accentuated ten-fold by the black base colour, letting every colour stand out.
The design itself, replicated on the bottom of the sleeves also, is a magnificent one by itself, but the causes as to why the shirt is designed this way are truly beautiful as well.
Each individual colour on the rainbow-striped sash stands for a different cause – £5 from every sale of the shirt went to the seven different causes represented in it.
The first was for those dealing with cancer, represented in red. Orange is people advocating for the integration of disabled people, yellow is for anyone suffering from mental health-related issues.
Green represents people fighting to protect the environment, blue is for people fighting against child abuse and pink is for the victims of domestic violence.
The seventh and final cause relates to the rainbow colours as a whole, and that is groups and individuals from LGBTQ, backgrounds who face daily struggles of discrimination.
Shirts rarely reach a cult or iconic following, let alone also manage to aid such wonderful causes in the process, Rayo, however, hit two birds with one stone with this kit.
A simple yet tried and tested design, with bold and brilliant colours that not only make for a wonderful kit but help out some truly wonderful people as well.
THIRD / 2004-05
BY ENZO DEL LLANO
Until 1976, Lyon weren’t really a relevant club in the upper echelons of French football. After years of underachieving and mediocre results, Edouard Rouchet, then president of the club, had a crazy idea. He decided to match the red colours of recent UEFA Cup champions Liverpool, in order to bring the same aura from the Anfield side to his club.
Unfortunately and rather unsurprisingly, that idea never worked out and after a decade-and-a-half, the red was dropped from Lyon’s shirt and they returned to their famous white. In 2003, however, the red returned as they were ready to make their mark on the European stage. This time, the colour was used in their third shirt, which was to be used exclusively in Champions League matches.
Manufactured by Umbro, the kit was a clear representation of the history of the club. It had two vertical blue and white lines, as the club’s shirts did in the 1970s and 1980s – maintaining their ties with the city’s badge and flag. The main vertical lines were also accompanied by a series of small, thin white lines that made the shirt very appealing.
The squad that season was formed by goalkeeper GrégoryCoupet, one of the best in the club’s history. Further up front, Mahamadou Diarra, Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, and Juninho Pernambucano formed a formidable midfield as the side reached the quarter-finals of Europe’s biggest club cup competition.
Placed in a group against Celtic, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht, they would finish at the summit, whilst they would also go on to face Real Sociedad and Porto in the knockout rounds, falling short to the Portuguese in the season that they went on to win the competition.
That campaign was also the third in a magnificent run of seven straight league title wins for the Rhone side. It was a historic achievement and the third kit was a tribute to the city’s history and culture. Shirts are a way to remind people what a club and its city represent, and that red Lyon shirt did just that.