Although just a few weeks old, Napoli’s 2020 4th kit might just be the most notable shirt of the year for a number of reasons.
The shirt serves as a striking and poignant reminder of the legendary Diego Maradona, who passed away last month. The fusing together of Argentina and Napoli is pretty much the ultimate tribute you could pay in the form of a football kit, and the fact that the Kappa design had been in the works for months beforehand, with the intention that Maradona himself might have worn the kit, only adds to the emotion of the release.
One of the most fascinating things since the initial unveiling against Roma is that the shirt isn’t going anywhere. In fact, after a 4-0 win in its debut, the 4th kit was also worn in a subsequent league game against Cagliari (which incidentally, also ended up on the right side of a 4-0 win).
Then last weekend Napoli wore the shirt again, in the first Serie A game at the renamed Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Without wanting to sound too superstitious, Napoli maintained their 100% record in the kit with another win, this time against Sampdoria, and now we have to ask ourselves is a full-time kit change is on the cards.
If Napoli were to effectively ‘replace’ their home kit with the 4th kit, it would cement the design’s legacy for decades to come, and though it’s too early to be making any predictions, any sort of trophy whilst wearing the shirt would round off the story in a plotline good enough for cinema.
Several teams release ‘European shirts’ specifically for continental competitions, but how unprecedented is a midseason home shirt switch, if at all? Two very recent examples show that Napoli wouldn’t be the first to flip.
2019 Lazio home shirt change
In January of last season (or the start of this very long calendar year) Lazio released an anniversary shirt to coincide with the club’s 120th anniversary, resurrecting the popular home shirt design used between 1998-2000 and in turn replacing the relatively forgettable shirt the team started the season with.
Interestingly, that late 90s shirt was produced by Puma, but current Lazio manufacturer Macron faithfully recreated the design right down to the grid-like texture seen throughout the body of the shirt.
Reports at the time suggested that the team would only wear the anniversary design in one league match against Napoli but, whether premeditated or not, Lazio stuck with the popular anniversary shirt as a home shirt for the rest of the season.
On a personal note, I was quite happy to see more of the anniversary shirt given how much of an upgrade the design was. It’s also worth noting that this season’s European shirt somewhat echoed the design, with an unbroken black bar across the chest as opposed to the broken bar of the ‘98 shirt and 120th anniversary shirt.
Sometimes, changes are made in more fraught circumstances however…
2019 Deportivo home shirt change
Deportivo La Coruña have been in a state of flux for a number of seasons, but one thing you could always count on was their timeless blue and white striped home shirt. That was until the start of last season when Macron mixed things up with a completely horizontal design, much to the ire of the fanbase.
It was one thing to upset the applecart, but the player did Macron no favours by starting the season in disastrous fashion, sitting rock bottom in the second division by the turn of the year. With 2020 came a fresh change, in the form of a very simple, but crucially vertically-striped, home kit.
Like the new manager bounce, the team promptly won their first couple of games in the traditional getup, though sadly for Dépor fans the team couldn’t maintain their newfound form, crashing down a further division after relegation. It would take a very brave (/stupid) manufacturer to try and lift the curse with a horizontal shirt after what took place…
With Napoli changing home shirt (potentially) and following in the footsteps of Lazio and Deportivo, you could argue that the midseason switch is becoming a bit of a mini-trend, or at least a curiosity worth paying attention to.
Changes can happen for a variety of different reasons, but in almost every case they add intrigue to shirts on either side of the substitution.
Speaking of Napoli and Lazio, we have vintage shirts from both teams on our marketplace. Shop for a classic kit that’ll blow the socks off your mates.