Deep in the second-half at the Camp Nou, and with the score already at 3-0, Lionel Messi seemed more determined than ever to get on the score-sheet against Osasuna. Ultimately he did, and few could have predicted what came next. As Messi approached the fans, he pulled off his Barcelona shirt to reveal a 1993/94 Newell’s Old Boys shirt, featuring the number 10 of Diego Maradona on the back.
At that moment, Newell’s Old Boys and their red and black, half and half shirt design were blowing up Instagram feeds and Twitter timelines around the world. This moment showed off the rich history, both in heritage and design, that Newell’s Old Boys possess, and we have been lucky enough to see that once again with the club’s latest home kit release for the 2021/22 season.
The shirt is a tribute to Newell’s 1991 title winning team, managed by Marcelo Bielsa. To learn more about the shirt, and Newell’s in general, we spoke to the club’s Community Manager, Natxo Torné.
Q: So Natxo, could you tell us a bit about your role with Newell’s Old Boys?
A: Despite living in Barcelona and Pamplona, I’m the current Community Manager of Newell’s with my mate Juan Mattos, who’s born and bred in Rosario. I feel a bit like an ambassador of the club for the ones living abroad.
Q: And for those who might not know, could you give a brief outline of Newell’s Old Boys as a club, and its place within Argentinian football?
A: Newell’s Old Boys has a tremendous ‘sense of belonging’, it’s a unique club in the world in terms of a football school. It’s about tradition, pride and talent. These are the origins of the club. That’s the reason behind the name. The Old Boys of Isaac Newell, an English-born pioneer who created the school ‘Colegio Comercial Anglicano Argentino’. Alongside FC Barcelona, we are the only club to have had both Messi and Maradona. The fans are crazy. The atmosphere, at its finest, is an unreal experience. The rest is history.
Q: The club’s new home shirt dropped recently, and it’s a stand out! What do you think of the shirt?
A: We work closely with the brand, hand-in-hand in order to immerse ourselves in the history and individual details only perceived and acclaimed by the fans. That’s the secret for us, especially with the easy colours of Newell’s and the historical half-and-half kit.
The away shirt is always in white and the 90’s designs were lit, a pure love for the design put on the pitch. That’s how we see our work with Umbro, a tribute to our history. A tale of love for our fans.
Q: It takes inspiration from the club’s 1991 shirt. Can you tell us about some of the history around that season and that shirt, and what makes it so important in the club’s history?
A: Can you imagine Marcelo Bielsa coaching the winning side at La Bombonera, winning a title after a maddening penalty shootout in a two-legged final? That's what happened in La Boca three decades ago. Inspired by those irreverent local talents grown in our club like Mauricio Pochettino, Norberto Scoponi, ‘Tata’ Martino, Juan Manuel Llop and Eduardo Berizzo. That’s the heritage we received as the new generations of Newell’s Old Boys.
Q: Given the connection to that season and title win, how have the fans reacted to your club’s new home shirt?
A: Incredibly, there was already hype before the official release. We always sell out, the variety of designs, alternative and limited edition kits are very important for the club and for the fans, considering the pedigree of this club and respect to our history and tradition.
Q: Lots of people in the UK have fallen in love with Marcelo Bielsa and his Leeds team, but what does he mean to Newell’s in particular?
A: For us he is the entire world. I mean, I don’t know what happens with Newell’s, but we are always there, worldwide known because of our history. Messi, Bielsa, Pochettino or Gabriel Heinze are not just players, they are prophets. That’s how I feel when wearing my Newell’s stuff, I need to spread the word.
Q: Last season, after Diego Maradona’s tragic death, Leo Messi famously celebrated a goal for Barcelona by revealing his own Newell’s shirt with Maradona on the back. What was that moment like from a Newell’s fan’s perspective?
A: It's just what I was referring to earlier. We are not from Buenos Aires and we appeared on the front pages of the most notorious and important newspapers around the world. Newell’s shirts in Japan, Australia, the States, the UK, Egypt, Turkey, Russia… I’m not joking at all! Cause me and Juan were dealing with it on our official social profiles!
A: It’s like you get verified on social media: you are there and people know it. He wore our colours to the world, the sense of belonging I mentioned before. It was short but tremendously intense, and marked the club for life. Like a summer love you will never forget.
Q: What is your favourite football shirt?
A: Should I admit and confirm Newell’s Adidas 92 with Yamaha on the front? That’s the easy one, but I would say the Umbro Newell’s third shirt from 2018, because I took part in the launch and it will always be my special one.
Thanks to Natxo for speaking with us about Newell’s and their 2021/22 shirts. The club and Umbro have also recently dropped their away shirt for the season, and it’s another amazing throwback!