WE CAUGHT UP WITH SHERIDAN BIRD, FOOTBALL WRITER AND CO-AUTHOR OF THE FOOTBALL TYPE, TO TALK ABOUT HIS FAVOURITE AC MILAN FOOTBALL SHIRTS AND REAL MADRID GOALS.
What was your first football shirt?
When I was 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 favourite 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.
England would have won the 2002 World Cup if we’d had inner vesting.
Argentina, Adidas, 2002 (Climacool)
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 10inch tins.
My other techno fave was the adidas 2010-12 “Techfit” range with plastic bands. Compression garments were fashionable a few years ago. These strap-like contraptions, which resemble sellotape, stopped muscles vibrating too much.
AC Milan, Adidas, 2011 (Techfit)
Here is my Milan home Techfit shirt 2011/12 with plastic strips on the reverse.
Perhaps that was a worry for physios and doctors at the time. I doubt they made a difference to professionals, but they inspired collectors to pay large amounts.
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.
France, Adidas, 1984
The French FA were so pleased with this top, they asked adidas to update the thick, horizontal red stripe style for the 1998 World Cup shirt. And Euro 2008. And World Cup 2010.
As a collector, I had a ‘hidden treasure’ moment in 2004. I was looking in a sports shop in my hometown and saw some late 1980s River Plate shirts.
River Plate, Adidas, 1980’s
The shopkeeper was vaguely aware of their rarity, but didn’t want to mess around with Ebay, so I bought all his stock. They are beautiful examples of the era. They have a slight tint but aren’t too shiny. The badge features “Leoncito”, a popular lion character.
My final choice is a calcio shirt with a personal touch. I have got a friend called Flaminia in Naples, and her boyfriend (now husband) was a professional. His name is Nicola Mora and he played for Napoli, Piacenza, Torino, Bari and Italy U21s. He gave me a matchworn Piacenza shirt in 2001.
Piacenza, Lotto, 2001
It’s great to have a jersey which was worn in Serie A. It’s made by Lotto, an understated but respected Italian brand. It’s baggy but not huge.
What is your favourite goal?
There are lots of goals I watch regularly on youtube. Cristiano Ronaldo for Manchester United v Porto in 2009, Emilio Butragueno for Real Madrid v Cadiz in 1986/87, Ronaldo for Inter v Spartak Moscow in 1998, Diego Milito for Inter v Roma in the 2010 Coppa Italia final, Roberto Baggio for Fiorentina v Napoli in 1989/90, Tony Yeboah for Leeds v Liverpool in 1996. And any compilation of Ronaldo at Barcelona in 1996/97.
But Roberto Carlos’s shot against Tenerife in 1998 still impresses me the most. It is outrageous. Power and swerve. He’d say it was on purpose and you can’t blame him.