We are in the middle of what feels like an extended period of mourning for the greatest footballer of all time, and over the weekend those feelings were embodied by a variety of touching shirt related tributes.
Several teams and individuals honoured the legacy of D10S with both planned tributes and spontaneous nods, and it was simply wonderful to see in so many ways.
Here are just some of the tributes I’m aware of, though even as I write this, more instances are being brought to my attention. If you know of any other shirt related mark of respects, please get in touch and leave a comment.
2020 Napoli 4th kit
Arguably the most notable tribute came courtesy of Maradona’s spiritual home, Napoli. Gli Azzurri took to the field wearing a magnificent design evoking the famous blue and white stripes of Argentina. What’s more, the team also paired the shirt with black shorts, further cementing the Albiceleste aesthetic.
Although the tribute might have looked like an immediate reaction to the sad news from a few days ago, the kit was actually something which had been in the works for over a year (as per a typical shirt release process). According to the club, there were even plans that Maradona might have worn the shirt, only raising the poignancy of the moment.
Though the shirt in itself would have been enough of a tribute, Napoli also rose to the occasion with a 4-0 demolition of their opponents Roma. All things considered, the 2020 Napoli 4th kit might just be the most significant and memorable shirt of the year.
As a side note, it’s worth pointing out that yesterday’s design wasn’t the first blue and white striped effort in Napoli’s history, and though the 2002 home shirt from Diadora and the Kappa 2005 third shirt were previously quite forgettable, they will now be highly sought after as collectors items.
Boca Juniors vs Newell’s Old Boys
In another incredibly poignant turn of events, two of Maradona’s ex-clubs faced off against each other in a competitive game a matter of hours after the legend’s passing.
The match itself was understandably completely covered in a blanket of emotion, and the shirts of both Boca Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys included nods to D10S. All of Boca’s players wore Maradona’s name on the back of their shirts, whilst Newell’s shirts included a special patch of the number 10 next to the crest, in the same typeface as when Maradona played for the club in 1993.
Both teams also lined up pre-game in Argentina shirts with a silhouette of Maradona in the centre, joining with players from other Argentinian clubs and officials who all warmed up with the same shirts over the weekend.
Lionel Messi – Newell’s shirt tribute
Lionel Messi, the closest we will likely ever come to Maradona incarnate, surprised the footballing world by unveiling a 90s Newell’s Old Boys shirt (complete with number 10 on the back) underneath his Barcelona kit after scoring against Osasuna.
Messi, a lifelong supporter of Newell’s, joined his boyhood club as a six year old around the same time as Maradona was playing for the team. Of course, the links between players run deep in so many ways, and images of the tribute will live long in the memory.
FC Pakhtakor Tashkent – Uzbekistan
As if we needed confirmation, Maradona’s truly global impact was demonstrated with a tribute from one of Uzbekistan’s top clubs, FC Pakhtakor Tashkent. Pakhtakor warmed up in an incredible design which combined the look of their usual home shirt with the blue and white of Maradona, with shirts including the details of a number 10 and a patch and signature from Diego.
It’s simply remarkable that a team from Uzbekistan would feel compelled to pay tribute to an Argentinian football player, with no more than a couple of days to create and produce the shirt, but few tributes could tell a more powerful story.
The football shirt landscape will continue to be shaped in different ways by the death of Diego Maradona, but when we think back in 5, 10, 20 years time to the events of this past week, the shirts that helped tell the story will likely be some of the images we recall first.