This memory of Ronaldo playing for Barcelona will make you wish it was 1996

  • Rupert Fryer’s first shirt was the 1987 Oxford United shirt
  • He loves Boca Junior shirts
  • And his favourite memory is Ronaldo’s goal for Barcelona.
  • You can get that Barcelona shirt in our marketplace
  • We’ve taken 20% off when you enter ZIZOU at checkout

We caught up with Rupert Fryer, football writer and editor of Brazil Global Tour to talk hand-me-down Oxford shirt, collecting Boca Juniors shirts and memories of watching Ronaldo play for Barcelona.

What was your first ever football shirt?

My first ever football shirt was the 1987-88 Oxford United shirt. It was a hand-me-down from my brother. I would have been four-years-old or so at the time and just begun to realise there was something important about this sport.

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My brother, father and grandfather had gone to Wembley to see Oxford in the Milk Cup final the previous year. I didn’t go, and had never really taken much of an interest at all in football up to that point, but that day felt special, like something really big was happening to my family. When they came home I put a bottle of squash on my head and danced like I’d seen our captain Malcolm Shotton do with the trophy at Wembley that afternoon.

Last year, Oxford won promotion to the third-tier of English football for the first time in over 15 years. I took my 18-month old son to the open-top bus parade in the city. He was draped in that same shirt.

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What is your favourite ever football shirt?

Boca Juniors limited edition shirt to mark their 105th anniversary, in 2010. Colours mean so much to football fans and, throughout my life I’ve always been drawn to teams playing in yellow, particularly yellow and blue. There aren’t many of us.

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I began collecting Boca shirts about decade ago. I have dozens from over the years. Most are in the attic, but I have a few out for the odd night I dust off my astro-turfs and go out in search of as many nutmegs as I can manage.

I was in Buenos Aires and in 2010 and paid a small fortune for this shirt (about £90). It was designed with the cross of the Swedish flag, from which the club’s founding members took their colours. Legend has it they sat at the docks in La Boca and said they would adopt the colours of the next ship that came into port.

What is your favourite football moment? 

For reasons of fandom, the moment the pint-sized duo of Sam Deering and Alfie Potter galloped away at Wembley to settle the 2010 Conference Premier play-off Final in the final minutes. It was the moment that ended almost four years which proved the most depressing of my football supporting life. The conference was a horrible place to be.

For reasons more personal and emotive, Ronaldo’s 1996–1997 La Liga season for Barcelona. I’d never seen anything like him before, and haven’t since. He remains the best I’ve ever seen. He was just remarkable. He was so good it felt unfair that he was even allowed to play. It was like at lunch-break when that kid from the four years ahead inexplicably joins your game and nobody can get the ball off him.

I think that was the first season Sky had showed Spanish football. My mother had left the house a few years previously and the first thing my dad did was get the Sky TV she didn’t want. A single parent with three kids, my dad worked day and night. I didn’t see a huge amount of him, but every week he’d say, ‘Do you want to watch Ronaldo tonight?’ We knew we were seeing something very special. And I was always thankful to share it with my dad.

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