My first football shirt: Neal Heard

We caught up with football shirt connoisseur and author Neal Heard to talk about his first Liverpool shirt, his love for St Etienne and football being rubbish without fans.

The chat below is an extract from Your First Football Shirt, our illustrated book that’s raising money for CALM and Willow. A bunch of famous names you’ll all know took part, including ex-footballers like Alan Shearer and authors like Michael Cox. The book came out in 2018, but copies are still available to buy in our marketplace.


Q: What was your first shirt? Is there a story behind it?

It is between two. The Wales Admiral 1976 shirt, that stands the test of time, or the Scotland shirt from the same era that they wore to the World Cup.

I’m a Welsh boy but I was also a Liverpool fan and I loved Kenny Dalglish who was Scottish, so I ashamedly got a Scotland shirt (and they knocked Wales out of the World Cup!).

I particularly remember getting the Scotland one for Christmas. It came in a box made by Umbro and I still remember picking it up.

Q: What is your favourite shirt? Why is it your favourite?

That’s the impossible question. I always go back to the Saint-Étienne 1981 shirt (made by Le Coq Sportif).

It struck a chord at the time, especially as you didn’t hear much about foreign teams. Then you saw it. Green-and-white pin stripes with a massive sponsor. It was so exotic.

Q: What is your favourite football moment?

Illustration of Pele dummying the ball

Pele dummy by Marcus Marritt

On the pitch, I always go back to when Pelé dummied the ball past the goalie in the World Cup final. I know he bloody missed but it is genuine genius. The speed of how he did it, I’ve never seen anyone try and do it since.

Great moments with the fans always get to me. Pitch invasions like Man City. That is what it’s all about for me. Football without fans is nothing.


Big thanks to Neal Heard for chatting with us. There’s something truly special about Saint-Étienne shirts; without a doubt one of the best teams for kits in the 80s!

To find out more about our book Your First Football Shirt, check out our blog. Here’s a further taste of the illustrations included, with contributions from a range of prominent designers in the game.

mjmaxwell

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