We caught up with football writer Jonny Sharples to talk about; pledging his loyalty to Newcastle United after Euro 96, his massive Nolberto Solano shirt and Albert lifting the ball over Schmeichel.
What was your first shirt?
My first football shirt was the maroon and blue, grandad collared Newcastle United away kit of 1995-96.
After not caring for football beforehand, I got swept up in the collective euphoria of Euro ’96 and decided to follow Alan Shearer’s lead after the tournament and pledge my loyalty to Newcastle United. As a nine year old, I didn’t fully comprehend geography nor appreciate that Newcastle was almost 150 miles away from my home in Preston.
The small town I lived in had one sports shop, which is now one half of an Italian restaurant, and that small sports shop just happened to have one Newcastle shirt – which is now one of the most iconic the club have had. My parents bought it for me, and my love of the team grew from there, and the equally iconic home shirt was added to by wardrobe shortly afterwards.
What is your favourite shirt?
My favourite Newcastle United shirt is the home shirt from 1998-1999, the final shirt we had under the sponsorship of Newcastle Brown Ale. The grandad collar may have disappeared, and thankfully so did the shield on the back of the shirt from the 1997/1998 season, but the added blue trim made it stand out.
I got this shirt for my birthday, complete with SOLANO 15 on the back, with the promise from my parents that I would grow into it. Twenty years later and I’m still waiting to grow into it.
Away from Newcastle kits, I adore the Boca Juniors shirt – specifically the home shirt from 2009. I had to trawl the internet for a long, long time to get hold of one. When I was younger and creating my own clubs on FIFA or Football Manager, the kit would always imitate the blue and gold design of the Argentine side.
What is your favourite football moment?
I love Newcastle United, and it’s the 1996/97 side in particular that stole my heart, and from that team there can only be one stand out moment; with Newcastle already 4-0 up against Manchester United, Philippe Albert got the ball midway through the opposition half – a couple of touches later and he was lifting the ball over Peter Schmeichel’s head.
In the words of Martin Tyler, it was absolutely glorious and life as a Newcastle United supporter probably peaked at that very moment.