Sometimes coming late to the football shirt game is a bonus, because it allows you to explore all the kits on offer, vintage or modern, with a fresh and slightly less biased eye. This was Carl Anka's experience, and it is likely the reason he takes a fashion-first approach to his shirt buying.
We caught up with The Athletic journalist and author Carl Anka to chat about not being allowed to buy Manchester United shirts growing up, Drake's pink Juventus shirt and going full J.League with his next shirt purchase.
What was your first football shirt?
I was a real late comer to football shirts. My Dad supported Spurs and didn’t want me to inherit that sickness, my very Christian mum didn’t see the point in dropping £40+ on a t-shirt with the Devil on it. (I live in Essex and I support Manchester United, get your jokes in).
The first kit I got I bought myself: the Manchester United home shirt from 2007/08. It’s red, it has a white stripe on the back, it had peak Ronaldo, Rooney and Tevez nicking a Champions League victory in it. Decent.
Most of the football kits I wear, I do so for fashion reasons over tribalism. I own a version of the Pink Juve top because Drake wore it. I’m trying to hunt down the Fiorentina 98/99 kit for the massive Nintendo sponsor on the chest. I’m *very* close to going all in on a few J League shirts and going full hypebeast.
For my money, Netherlands at Euro 1988 is the best kit ever. Lovely shade of Orange, lovely angular inventive print design, and some of the best footballers of that era bossing it. Grand.
What is your favourite moment?
Volleys, headers and thunderbolts > team goals that you need to play on 150% speed. Goals that are complete freaks > goals from talented players will score two or three of a similar type in their career.
Recency bias makes me think Robin van Persie’s goal against Spain in the 2014 World Cup was amazing. As a United fan, nothing has ever made me yelp more than Rooney’s volley (it was a shin-er) against City 2011.
But the goal I celebrated hardest was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s against Bayern in 1999. Obviously.
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