AC Milan's 2023/24 Serie A campaign is off to a great start. With 8 matchdays now in the books, the Rossoneri are sitting pretty at the top of the table with a 2 point cushion over their inter-city rivals Inter. That cushion might not have been there though had it not been for the heroics of striker Olivier Giroud in his own half of the pitch last weekend.
How did AC Milan react when Olivier Giroud went in goal
In one of the crazier conclusions to a match you'll see all year, Giroud was forced to don the shirt and gloves of regular goalkeeper Mike Maignan for the final minutes after Maignan was sent off deep into injury time, with Milan holding a slender 1 goal advantage over opponents Genoa. Having already made 5 substitutions during the game Milan were unable to bring on either of the 2 reserve keepers they had on the bench. Step forward Giroud, who ended up being more than just a casual spectator. In the dying seconds of the game the Frenchman advanced from the edge of the six yard box to punch the ball away from Genoa striker George Pușcaș, before reacting well to gather the loose ball with another attacker bearing down on him.
We all love an outfield player in goal, not least for the fact that we get to see players wearing keeper kits that they wouldn't otherwise wear. There have been some great examples over the years, from Harry Kane to John Terry to Kylian Mbappé. A memorable recent example came courtesy of Kyle Walker, who wore City's bright pink goalkeeper shirt at the conclusion of a Champions League match against Atalanta in 2019. For today's Collectors Club, I want to highlight just how well AC Milan reacted to the Giroud cameo, demonstrating marketing savvy and elevating an otherwise pedestrian keeper shirt to mythical status.AC Milan jumped on the opportunitiy
Like any good social media team, AC Milan got straight down to business as the final whistle blew, sharing plenty of Olivier Giroud love including a short but enjoyable thread on X (which has 7.8 million impressions at time of writing) of pictures of Giroud in goal. Giroud then recorded a short video for Milan socials whilst wearing Mike Maignan's shirt backwards, and things only ramped up from there.
The day after the game AC Milan embraced the meme by listing Giroud as a goalkeeper in the 'First Team' section of their website. The stunt was all part of a promotional campaign which gave fans the chance to buy a Milan keeper top with Olivier Giroud's name and number on the back. Indeed the team rejigged their online store to prominently feature Giroud and their GK shirts.
At this point it's worth noting that, for nerds and purists like me, Giroud never actually wore the green goalkeeper shirt with his name and number in the Genoa match as he was forced to wear the shirt of Maignan. Still, this clearly didn't put off fans and collectors as the shirt promptly sold out online.
This feat alone is impressive, especially when you consider the fact that the shirt is a largely unremarkable Puma template which isn't bespoke to the team. These sorts of designs fulfil their purpose but do little more, often lingering on store shelves deep into any given season. For the shirt to sell out at RRP (£75.00) is a big win for Milan, who will now have the chance to do a full restock of the shirt, potentially before key selling windows such as Black Friday and Christmas.
As if there were any more gains to be had, this week has seen further exposure for Giroud and Milan unlike anything I've seen before. It started with Giroud being named in the official Serie A 'Best XI' as the goalkeeper; a nod which, though deeply unserious, helped make the matchweek 8 lineup 200 times more viewed than the previous week (3.2 million views vs 15,700 views). Later that day, the popular crypto-based trading card game Sorare announced a special edition Olivier Giroud card, complete with green goalkeeper shirt. And, just yesterday Giroud mania continued to go to the moon with an appearance as a goalkeeper in EA SPORTS FC's 'Team of the week', with a solid rating of 84 no less.
Of course, much of the fanfare from these third parties mentioned above may have occurred regardless of how AC Milan reacted themselves, but I can't help but give credit to Milan for leaning heavily into the bizarre nature of events last weekend. These sorts of stories are powerful, and when it comes to football shirts and football shirt collections it's the stories that help make a kit truly special. Whether it's the story of how you managed to obtain a particular shirt, or the memories of seeing a design for the first time in person or on T.V., there's a reason we wrote a book on it! As more stories unfold in the 2023/24 season, clubs would do well to take a leaf out of Milan's book.
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