Watch: AC Milan v Barcelona European Cup final the “finest match ever”

  • We caught up with football shirt lover James Campbell
  • His first shirt was Italy 1990, favourite shirt is Brazil 1986
  • And favourite football moment was AC Milan v Barcelona
  • Grab 20% off vintage football shirts in our store this weekend

We caught up with football shirt loving New Yorker, James Campbell to talk Italia 90, topper kits and “the finest match ever watched” between AC Milan v Barcelona.

What was your first football shirt?

My first football shirt was the 1990 Italy shirt, probably purchased in the spring before the World Cup.

As perhaps for many people my age, Italia ’90 was a massive turning point in my appreciation of the game and all that comes along with it. “Made In Italy” by Diadora, the shirt was essentially identical to that worn by Italy at the previous World Cup. Imagine a host nation today not cashing in on the occasion with a brand new kit!

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1990 was the last major tournament before the introduction on shirts of names and front numbers, and before the FIGC allowed a manufacturer’s logo to appear on the national strip. It is pure perfection simply cannot exist nowadays. In Italy they still refer fondly to those World Cup matches as “notti magiche” after the official song of Italia ’90, when the Azzurri suffered the first of several painful penalty shoot-out defeats. Though it’s a size XL Boys, I wore this shirt for every Italy match during the 2006 World Cup: the victory was worth the wait.

In Italy they still refer fondly to those World Cup matches as “notti magiche” after the official song of Italia ’90, when the Azzurri suffered the first of several painful penalty shoot-out defeats. Though it’s a size XL Boys, I wore this shirt for every Italy match during the 2006 World Cup: the victory was worth the wait.

What is your favourite kit?

While the afore-cited Italy shirt is probably my true favourite, ironically I’d actually intended to buy this Brazil shirt, only to find it had been replaced by a new version with a different collar. Like Italy in the same period, the Brazil kits made by Topper saw only minor changes between the World Cups of 1982, 1986 and 1990.

I’d always been a fan of the ’86 shirt, and so I held out for almost nineteen years: when I finally got my hands on it in 2009 it was the first time I’d ever even seen it in the flesh. It even came adorned with Zico’s number ten on the back.

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Since commercially sold shirts were rarely personalised in those days, I suspect it came from the CBF kit room — and may have been prepared for the Flamengo legend himself. Discreetly positioned next to the Jules Rimet Trophy is a tiny Cafe do Brasil logo — a rare case of advertising on a national team shirt. But what I love most about these kits is the care in the colours: a proper sunshine yellow that darkens with sweat (the shirt is a polyester-cotton blend), forest green trim and azure shorts (not royal) with the little white stripes.

The Seleçao have won two more World Cups since ending their relationship with Topper in 1991, but they’ve never looked so good.

What is your favourite goal?

Choosing your favourite goal is a bit like choosing your favourite song: a tormenting and frankly impossible task, but one which grown men cannot possibly resist. When faced with this assignment, my mind went flickering back to the 1994 European Cup Final in Athens, a match that remains among the finest I’ve ever watched. Milan’s precise demolition of a strongly fancied Barcelona was so immaculate and emphatic that the goals have tended to be overshadowed by the performance.

When faced with this assignment, my mind went flickering back to the 1994 European Cup Final in Athens, a match that remains among the finest I’ve ever watched. Milan’s precise demolition of a strongly fancied Barcelona was so immaculate and emphatic that the goals have tended to be overshadowed by the performance.

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When the game is mentioned, Savicevic’s lob over Zubizarreta just after half-time is invariably replayed. Yet it’s Massaro’s goal the other side of the break that I will always remember. It lasted 47 seconds, featured thirteen passes and involved eight of Milan’s outfield players before the Italian forward’s left boot brought the move — and the contest — to a devastating close. “That second goal alone contained more virtue than most entire matches,” wrote Richard Williams in The Independent, later comparing it to “a great set-piece of cinema.”

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“That second goal alone contained more virtue than most entire matches,” wrote Richard Williams in The Independent, later comparing it to “a great set-piece of cinema.”
Whether or not the goal had been storyboarded by Fabio Capello remains a mystery, but certainly Milan’s leading men had been perfectly cast — and they knew the script by heart.

Read more about James Campbell’s collection.

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mjmaxwell

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