Graham Ruthven’s favourite Arsenal shirt pines of sophistication

We caught up with football writer Graham Ruthven to talk about; the iconic France 98 Scotland kit, a sophisticated Arsenal shirt and Wayne Rooney lashing in goals.

What was your first football shirt?

My first ever football shirt was the home shirt that Scotland wore at the 1998 World Cup. It wasn’t an especially well-designed shirt but it became iconic, given that it was the shirt Scotland wore the last time they made it to a major tournament.


Scotland, Umbro, 1998 (source:  classic football shirts)*

It will always remind me of John Collins’ penalty equaliser in the opening game against Brazil. Of course, it didn’t get any better than that for the Scots at France 98, but at that moment Scotland were a match for anyone, at least for a seven year old.

What is your favourite football shirt?

Now this is a tough question! Not sure I can pick one single shirt as my favourite, but a few certainly stick in the memory. The shirt Arsenal wore to mark the final season at Highbury was a beauty.


Get the 2005-06 Arsenal home shirt here

It gave Arsenal an edge of sophistication and class at a time when that’s exactly what their team was on the pitch.

Another of my favourites was the red third shirt that Real Madrid had a couple seasons back. They didn’t wear it very often, but it was so unusual to see Los Blancos in roja.

And if I’m going more recent, the centenary shirt that the USA wore throughout 2013 was fairly special.


2013 USA football shirt

It used the federation’s original badge, rather than the 1990s badge they normally use, and demonstrated perfectly how sometimes less can be so much more. It’s such a shame that they didn’t keep the retro bade for the World Cup.

What is your favourite goal?

Once again, it’s extremely difficult to pick just one goal as my favourite. The goal Wayne Rooney scored against Newcastle United for Manchester United all those years ago is one of my favourite, simply because it summed up what made Rooney so great at that time. Just seconds before he had been arguing with the referee, then lashed a volley into the net from 30 yards in a fit of seething rage.

Another Manchester United goal sticks in the mind, Cristiano Ronaldo’s strike against Porto in 2008. To even shoot from that range was ridiculous. To drive it into the top corner from there was unbelievable.

And my third pick would be Siphiwe Tshabalala’s goal in the opening game of the 2010 World Cup. It was a stunning goal, right in the top corner from an impossible angle, but the drama of the goal is what made it so special. The celebration wasn’t bad either.

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