JANUARY SALE - 50% OFF ISSUES 1-16!
Fashion

Kitman

Meet Doug Bierton – if you can spot him among the rows upon rows of retro football shirts that are behind his booming business

WORDS Paul McNamara | PHOTOGRAPHY Victoria Haydn

Ricky and Greg, the two chaps responsible for painstakingly separating mountains of Classic Football Shirts’ stock, are only half-joking when they allude to pumping a portion of their salaries back into the thriving business.

A Juventus baseball cap is perched on Ricky’s head; his retro Ajax jersey is paired with Manchester United tracksuit bottoms. Sure, we’re standing in an Aladdin’s cave of football kits, a 6,500m² monument to the worldwide appetite for classic shirts, but Ricky’s taste in fashionwear is now a common sight beyond these four walls.

The negative connotations associated with wearing football shirts softened around the turn of the century. However, the leap from limited-appeal leisurewear to widely coveted attire occurred more recently according to Doug Bierton, Classic Football Shirts’ (CFS) co-founder.

“A big factor in the rise of the cult of football shirts was Nigeria’s jersey for the 2018 World Cup,” says Bierton of a green zigzag design that attracted 3 million pre-orders. “It went beyond people who liked football wanting that shirt. It was out there and captivating. People wanted to wear it socially.

“Around that time, brands paid more care and attention to designs and realised people were after something that went beyond the terraces; that someone from Manchester, say, would buy an Ajax shirt if it had an element of style.

“When we started the business in 2006, classic shirts were niche items. It was primarily new shirts in demand. Over the past five years it’s become far more acceptable and mainstream to wear the old jerseys. That’s also partly driven by ’90s fashion and style growing in popularity.”

Bierton is a self-confessed “football shirt geek”. He credits West Germany’s 1990 World Cup jersey – white with three stripes in the colours of the German flag across the chest – for kindling his love of the sport. And the one he would grab from a burning building? “My first shirt – Manchester United’s home one from 1990. I’ve now got a long sleeve No10 Mark Hughes version of it.”

Right: Bierton, suitably attired for our chat at the Classic Football Shirts warehouse in Manchester

The young Bierton’s wish to wear something “head turning” for football training led to the holiday purchase of “an Espanyol shirt with ‘Lardín’ on the back, even though I didn’t know who Lardín was”. Today there is a booming market for the shirts of such less heralded clubs. Ricky and Greg explain that Villarreal’s distinctive, vivid yellow shirts are hot property whenever the Spanish club venture deep into European competition.  

Bierton is anticipating a similar clamour for Napoli’s pale-blue number as this season’s Champions League reaches its business end. “And,” he adds, “there is a spike in interest in unusual teams in the group stage: people wanting Malmö or Maccabi Tel-Aviv shirts.”

It is impossible, with three large daily deliveries and shirts selling hand over fist, to put a number on the items owned by CFS. Bierton has it at about 500,000 shirts, with jackets, boots and additional goods lifting the total beyond a million.

Squirrelled away here is an archive room containing stock off limits to buyers, while talks over opening a museum have tentatively begun. But what are the characteristics, in Bierton’s view, that confer classic status on a shirt? “There are three main things,” he begins. “It must stir an evocative personal memory – like someone’s first match – or something significant, such as winning a Champions League, must have happened in the shirt. Then the design must be innovative or out there. And, finally, the players who wore it have an influence.  

“The Netherlands 1988 shirt is a prime example of combining those three elements. A lot of people think it’s the best of all time. But would it be the best if the Netherlands went out of EURO 88 at the group stage? Probably not. It’s because they won it and Marco van Basten scored that volley. Then you have Ruud Gullit with his dreadlocks and Frank Rijkaard and Ronald Koeman. And the design, iridescent orange, raises it beyond their other shirts.”

The same rule of thumb applies to Champions League jerseys that gain enduring popularity. “The Champions League is about the glory,” continues Bierton. “The big nights, the teams who have won and made those memories: Ajax in 1995, Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and late-1990s Manchester United.”

“Many people think the 1988 iridescent orange Netherlands shirt is the best of all Time”

A crackerjack Champions League fixture of recent vintage spawned a market for the shirts of both combatants: Tottenham Hotspur were kitted out in a little-sighted green shirt when Mauricio Pochettino’s team completed a staggering comeback in Amsterdam to beat Ajax in the 2018/19 semi-finals. “That was Tottenham’s third shirt, so it wouldn’t have been mass produced,” says Bierton. “Because of that famous victory and the design and rarity of the shirt, the retail price has tripled in under four years. And Ajax’s run in that competition captivated audiences. It was the team of [Matthijs] de Ligt and [Frenkie] de Jong. Erik ten Hag was manager. All those factors end up giving the jersey legacy value and it becomess a modern classic.”

Bierton earmarks shirts that will become future classics too, monitoring significant events and harnessing a sense for emerging cult heroes. A decade from now, he reckons, there will be no mistaking jerseys from 2018 to 2022. “It is a classic era of graphic design,” he says. “Teams often go wilder with their third shirts. Manchester United beat Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 wearing a pink jersey, and they’ve had the zebra away shirt. Tottenham’s shirt from 2021, purple with what looks like a paint splodge, is typical of the era.

“Shirts in the ’80s were tight fitting: a large was the equivalent of today’s small. From about 1988 onwards, we had the first graphic design period and the early ’90s was the high watermark for complete craziness. The bagginess of sleeves grew bigger until around 1998, then tapered down. Collars disappeared around 2002, then the physical feel of shirts from the mid-2000s is different.”

A number of CFS’s 125 staff operate on a slick assembly line. Shirts removed from piles of boxes are divided into large cages, according to club or international identity. An indefatigable washing machine, capable of holding 150 shirts, ploughs through ten cycles per day. The shirts are steamed before a listing team conducts quality and authenticity checks and determines pricing. Photographers capture the jersey and it is posted online.

Damaged goods are ‘upworked’ by the genius digits of Helena, the skilled seamstress who is integral to CFS’s aim of operating a wholly sustainable business. We see a Manchester City cotton tote bag and an Aston Villa bucket hat, both adroitly crafted from spoiled jerseys.

A host of footballers have witnessed this operation first hand, says Bierton, with the shirts “stirring playing memories and transporting the players back to their childhoods. Ian Wright was fixated on an Allan Clarke Leeds shirt – it turned out he was one of his heroes.”

Clarke was prolific in the ten years until 1978, and the passage of time naturally swells the classic market. “Classic is ever-expanding and captures more and more people,” adds Bierton. “Customers in their fifties and sixties want shirts from the ’80s. I am drawn to the ’90s. A child who watched the World Cup final will treasure that memory in 15 years and might want a Messi or Mbappé shirt from the match.”  

He finishes on a philosophical note. “There is nothing more powerful than seeing a shirt and being instantly taken back to a specific time. For football fans, it is often more pleasant to live in the past than the present.”

Doug Bierton picks the cream of the crop from his collection
My favourite shirts

Ajax, 1995 Champions League final

“This was Louis van Gaal’s cool young Ajax side that beat AC Milan in the final in Vienna, so that adds to the shirt’s lustre. But it ticks a lot of other boxes for a football shirt geek. This was the first time we saw the Champions League starball patch – how powerful is that? – and the first game in the competition when players’ names appeared on the back of their shirts. Both teams wore away shirts too, another collectors’ item.”

Real Madrid, 2002 Champions League final

“This was Real Madrid’s centenary shirt, so there is no sponsor and minimal branding, and it goes against everything you expect in terms of design aesthetic. I love the collar and simplicity, but it’s all about what happened in it: the Zidane volley, Raúl and Luís Figo, and those Galácticos dismantling teams. The shirt Real wore to win the 1998 final was more niche, but the team didn’t have the same star quality, so the 2002 version is more popular.”

Juventus, 1996 Champions League final

“Juventus won only one of three successive finals and this was the shirt Fabrizio Ravanelli wore to score their goal in that match. We bought it from the Ajax player Ravanelli swapped with, but I’m sworn to secrecy over his identity. It conjures images of that great team – and Gianluca Vialli in his last game for Juventus – lifting the trophy. The shirt was made by Kappa back when the title of Champions League-winning kit brand was up for grabs.”

Borussia Dortmund, 1997 Champions League final

“My favourite from the Champions League era. This is Karl-Heinz Riedle’s shirt from the final; he scored twice and it’s a museum piece we are very lucky to have. I watched the game thinking, ‘They didn’t wear this in the last round. Where have they pulled it from?’ It was the 1997/98 kit, with the old sponsor. UEFA regulations demanded the club fix a strip of fluorescent tape over the Dortmund text on the back of the shirt. Can you imagine that happening today?”

Manchester United, 1998/99 Champions League

“This reminds me of Champions League nights: switching on ITV and hearing Clive Tyldesley, and how big the matches seemed. United had a special shirt for European fixtures and it felt like they played up to it. This is David Beckham’s from the hammering of Brøndby at Old Trafford, which was one of my favourite games. I thought they had thrown it all away in the final… It will never be as good as that again.”

Ricky and Greg, the two chaps responsible for painstakingly separating mountains of Classic Football Shirts’ stock, are only half-joking when they allude to pumping a portion of their salaries back into the thriving business.

A Juventus baseball cap is perched on Ricky’s head; his retro Ajax jersey is paired with Manchester United tracksuit bottoms. Sure, we’re standing in an Aladdin’s cave of football kits, a 6,500m² monument to the worldwide appetite for classic shirts, but Ricky’s taste in fashionwear is now a common sight beyond these four walls.

The negative connotations associated with wearing football shirts softened around the turn of the century. However, the leap from limited-appeal leisurewear to widely coveted attire occurred more recently according to Doug Bierton, Classic Football Shirts’ (CFS) co-founder.

“A big factor in the rise of the cult of football shirts was Nigeria’s jersey for the 2018 World Cup,” says Bierton of a green zigzag design that attracted 3 million pre-orders. “It went beyond people who liked football wanting that shirt. It was out there and captivating. People wanted to wear it socially.

“Around that time, brands paid more care and attention to designs and realised people were after something that went beyond the terraces; that someone from Manchester, say, would buy an Ajax shirt if it had an element of style.

“When we started the business in 2006, classic shirts were niche items. It was primarily new shirts in demand. Over the past five years it’s become far more acceptable and mainstream to wear the old jerseys. That’s also partly driven by ’90s fashion and style growing in popularity.”

Bierton is a self-confessed “football shirt geek”. He credits West Germany’s 1990 World Cup jersey – white with three stripes in the colours of the German flag across the chest – for kindling his love of the sport. And the one he would grab from a burning building? “My first shirt – Manchester United’s home one from 1990. I’ve now got a long sleeve No10 Mark Hughes version of it.”

Read the full story
Sign up now – or sign in – to read the rest of this feature and access all articles for free. Once you have signed up you will also be able to enter exclusive competitions and win great prizes.
Right: Bierton, suitably attired for our chat at the Classic Football Shirts warehouse in Manchester

The young Bierton’s wish to wear something “head turning” for football training led to the holiday purchase of “an Espanyol shirt with ‘Lardín’ on the back, even though I didn’t know who Lardín was”. Today there is a booming market for the shirts of such less heralded clubs. Ricky and Greg explain that Villarreal’s distinctive, vivid yellow shirts are hot property whenever the Spanish club venture deep into European competition.  

Bierton is anticipating a similar clamour for Napoli’s pale-blue number as this season’s Champions League reaches its business end. “And,” he adds, “there is a spike in interest in unusual teams in the group stage: people wanting Malmö or Maccabi Tel-Aviv shirts.”

It is impossible, with three large daily deliveries and shirts selling hand over fist, to put a number on the items owned by CFS. Bierton has it at about 500,000 shirts, with jackets, boots and additional goods lifting the total beyond a million.

Squirrelled away here is an archive room containing stock off limits to buyers, while talks over opening a museum have tentatively begun. But what are the characteristics, in Bierton’s view, that confer classic status on a shirt? “There are three main things,” he begins. “It must stir an evocative personal memory – like someone’s first match – or something significant, such as winning a Champions League, must have happened in the shirt. Then the design must be innovative or out there. And, finally, the players who wore it have an influence.  

“The Netherlands 1988 shirt is a prime example of combining those three elements. A lot of people think it’s the best of all time. But would it be the best if the Netherlands went out of EURO 88 at the group stage? Probably not. It’s because they won it and Marco van Basten scored that volley. Then you have Ruud Gullit with his dreadlocks and Frank Rijkaard and Ronald Koeman. And the design, iridescent orange, raises it beyond their other shirts.”

The same rule of thumb applies to Champions League jerseys that gain enduring popularity. “The Champions League is about the glory,” continues Bierton. “The big nights, the teams who have won and made those memories: Ajax in 1995, Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and late-1990s Manchester United.”

“Many people think the 1988 iridescent orange Netherlands shirt is the best of all Time”

A crackerjack Champions League fixture of recent vintage spawned a market for the shirts of both combatants: Tottenham Hotspur were kitted out in a little-sighted green shirt when Mauricio Pochettino’s team completed a staggering comeback in Amsterdam to beat Ajax in the 2018/19 semi-finals. “That was Tottenham’s third shirt, so it wouldn’t have been mass produced,” says Bierton. “Because of that famous victory and the design and rarity of the shirt, the retail price has tripled in under four years. And Ajax’s run in that competition captivated audiences. It was the team of [Matthijs] de Ligt and [Frenkie] de Jong. Erik ten Hag was manager. All those factors end up giving the jersey legacy value and it becomess a modern classic.”

Bierton earmarks shirts that will become future classics too, monitoring significant events and harnessing a sense for emerging cult heroes. A decade from now, he reckons, there will be no mistaking jerseys from 2018 to 2022. “It is a classic era of graphic design,” he says. “Teams often go wilder with their third shirts. Manchester United beat Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 wearing a pink jersey, and they’ve had the zebra away shirt. Tottenham’s shirt from 2021, purple with what looks like a paint splodge, is typical of the era.

“Shirts in the ’80s were tight fitting: a large was the equivalent of today’s small. From about 1988 onwards, we had the first graphic design period and the early ’90s was the high watermark for complete craziness. The bagginess of sleeves grew bigger until around 1998, then tapered down. Collars disappeared around 2002, then the physical feel of shirts from the mid-2000s is different.”

A number of CFS’s 125 staff operate on a slick assembly line. Shirts removed from piles of boxes are divided into large cages, according to club or international identity. An indefatigable washing machine, capable of holding 150 shirts, ploughs through ten cycles per day. The shirts are steamed before a listing team conducts quality and authenticity checks and determines pricing. Photographers capture the jersey and it is posted online.

Damaged goods are ‘upworked’ by the genius digits of Helena, the skilled seamstress who is integral to CFS’s aim of operating a wholly sustainable business. We see a Manchester City cotton tote bag and an Aston Villa bucket hat, both adroitly crafted from spoiled jerseys.

A host of footballers have witnessed this operation first hand, says Bierton, with the shirts “stirring playing memories and transporting the players back to their childhoods. Ian Wright was fixated on an Allan Clarke Leeds shirt – it turned out he was one of his heroes.”

Clarke was prolific in the ten years until 1978, and the passage of time naturally swells the classic market. “Classic is ever-expanding and captures more and more people,” adds Bierton. “Customers in their fifties and sixties want shirts from the ’80s. I am drawn to the ’90s. A child who watched the World Cup final will treasure that memory in 15 years and might want a Messi or Mbappé shirt from the match.”  

He finishes on a philosophical note. “There is nothing more powerful than seeing a shirt and being instantly taken back to a specific time. For football fans, it is often more pleasant to live in the past than the present.”

Doug Bierton picks the cream of the crop from his collection
My favourite shirts

Ajax, 1995 Champions League final

“This was Louis van Gaal’s cool young Ajax side that beat AC Milan in the final in Vienna, so that adds to the shirt’s lustre. But it ticks a lot of other boxes for a football shirt geek. This was the first time we saw the Champions League starball patch – how powerful is that? – and the first game in the competition when players’ names appeared on the back of their shirts. Both teams wore away shirts too, another collectors’ item.”

Real Madrid, 2002 Champions League final

“This was Real Madrid’s centenary shirt, so there is no sponsor and minimal branding, and it goes against everything you expect in terms of design aesthetic. I love the collar and simplicity, but it’s all about what happened in it: the Zidane volley, Raúl and Luís Figo, and those Galácticos dismantling teams. The shirt Real wore to win the 1998 final was more niche, but the team didn’t have the same star quality, so the 2002 version is more popular.”

Juventus, 1996 Champions League final

“Juventus won only one of three successive finals and this was the shirt Fabrizio Ravanelli wore to score their goal in that match. We bought it from the Ajax player Ravanelli swapped with, but I’m sworn to secrecy over his identity. It conjures images of that great team – and Gianluca Vialli in his last game for Juventus – lifting the trophy. The shirt was made by Kappa back when the title of Champions League-winning kit brand was up for grabs.”

Borussia Dortmund, 1997 Champions League final

“My favourite from the Champions League era. This is Karl-Heinz Riedle’s shirt from the final; he scored twice and it’s a museum piece we are very lucky to have. I watched the game thinking, ‘They didn’t wear this in the last round. Where have they pulled it from?’ It was the 1997/98 kit, with the old sponsor. UEFA regulations demanded the club fix a strip of fluorescent tape over the Dortmund text on the back of the shirt. Can you imagine that happening today?”

Manchester United, 1998/99 Champions League

“This reminds me of Champions League nights: switching on ITV and hearing Clive Tyldesley, and how big the matches seemed. United had a special shirt for European fixtures and it felt like they played up to it. This is David Beckham’s from the hammering of Brøndby at Old Trafford, which was one of my favourite games. I thought they had thrown it all away in the final… It will never be as good as that again.”

Ricky and Greg, the two chaps responsible for painstakingly separating mountains of Classic Football Shirts’ stock, are only half-joking when they allude to pumping a portion of their salaries back into the thriving business.

A Juventus baseball cap is perched on Ricky’s head; his retro Ajax jersey is paired with Manchester United tracksuit bottoms. Sure, we’re standing in an Aladdin’s cave of football kits, a 6,500m² monument to the worldwide appetite for classic shirts, but Ricky’s taste in fashionwear is now a common sight beyond these four walls.

The negative connotations associated with wearing football shirts softened around the turn of the century. However, the leap from limited-appeal leisurewear to widely coveted attire occurred more recently according to Doug Bierton, Classic Football Shirts’ (CFS) co-founder.

“A big factor in the rise of the cult of football shirts was Nigeria’s jersey for the 2018 World Cup,” says Bierton of a green zigzag design that attracted 3 million pre-orders. “It went beyond people who liked football wanting that shirt. It was out there and captivating. People wanted to wear it socially.

“Around that time, brands paid more care and attention to designs and realised people were after something that went beyond the terraces; that someone from Manchester, say, would buy an Ajax shirt if it had an element of style.

“When we started the business in 2006, classic shirts were niche items. It was primarily new shirts in demand. Over the past five years it’s become far more acceptable and mainstream to wear the old jerseys. That’s also partly driven by ’90s fashion and style growing in popularity.”

Bierton is a self-confessed “football shirt geek”. He credits West Germany’s 1990 World Cup jersey – white with three stripes in the colours of the German flag across the chest – for kindling his love of the sport. And the one he would grab from a burning building? “My first shirt – Manchester United’s home one from 1990. I’ve now got a long sleeve No10 Mark Hughes version of it.”

Right: Bierton, suitably attired for our chat at the Classic Football Shirts warehouse in Manchester

The young Bierton’s wish to wear something “head turning” for football training led to the holiday purchase of “an Espanyol shirt with ‘Lardín’ on the back, even though I didn’t know who Lardín was”. Today there is a booming market for the shirts of such less heralded clubs. Ricky and Greg explain that Villarreal’s distinctive, vivid yellow shirts are hot property whenever the Spanish club venture deep into European competition.  

Bierton is anticipating a similar clamour for Napoli’s pale-blue number as this season’s Champions League reaches its business end. “And,” he adds, “there is a spike in interest in unusual teams in the group stage: people wanting Malmö or Maccabi Tel-Aviv shirts.”

It is impossible, with three large daily deliveries and shirts selling hand over fist, to put a number on the items owned by CFS. Bierton has it at about 500,000 shirts, with jackets, boots and additional goods lifting the total beyond a million.

Squirrelled away here is an archive room containing stock off limits to buyers, while talks over opening a museum have tentatively begun. But what are the characteristics, in Bierton’s view, that confer classic status on a shirt? “There are three main things,” he begins. “It must stir an evocative personal memory – like someone’s first match – or something significant, such as winning a Champions League, must have happened in the shirt. Then the design must be innovative or out there. And, finally, the players who wore it have an influence.  

“The Netherlands 1988 shirt is a prime example of combining those three elements. A lot of people think it’s the best of all time. But would it be the best if the Netherlands went out of EURO 88 at the group stage? Probably not. It’s because they won it and Marco van Basten scored that volley. Then you have Ruud Gullit with his dreadlocks and Frank Rijkaard and Ronald Koeman. And the design, iridescent orange, raises it beyond their other shirts.”

The same rule of thumb applies to Champions League jerseys that gain enduring popularity. “The Champions League is about the glory,” continues Bierton. “The big nights, the teams who have won and made those memories: Ajax in 1995, Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and late-1990s Manchester United.”

“Many people think the 1988 iridescent orange Netherlands shirt is the best of all Time”

A crackerjack Champions League fixture of recent vintage spawned a market for the shirts of both combatants: Tottenham Hotspur were kitted out in a little-sighted green shirt when Mauricio Pochettino’s team completed a staggering comeback in Amsterdam to beat Ajax in the 2018/19 semi-finals. “That was Tottenham’s third shirt, so it wouldn’t have been mass produced,” says Bierton. “Because of that famous victory and the design and rarity of the shirt, the retail price has tripled in under four years. And Ajax’s run in that competition captivated audiences. It was the team of [Matthijs] de Ligt and [Frenkie] de Jong. Erik ten Hag was manager. All those factors end up giving the jersey legacy value and it becomess a modern classic.”

Bierton earmarks shirts that will become future classics too, monitoring significant events and harnessing a sense for emerging cult heroes. A decade from now, he reckons, there will be no mistaking jerseys from 2018 to 2022. “It is a classic era of graphic design,” he says. “Teams often go wilder with their third shirts. Manchester United beat Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 wearing a pink jersey, and they’ve had the zebra away shirt. Tottenham’s shirt from 2021, purple with what looks like a paint splodge, is typical of the era.

“Shirts in the ’80s were tight fitting: a large was the equivalent of today’s small. From about 1988 onwards, we had the first graphic design period and the early ’90s was the high watermark for complete craziness. The bagginess of sleeves grew bigger until around 1998, then tapered down. Collars disappeared around 2002, then the physical feel of shirts from the mid-2000s is different.”

A number of CFS’s 125 staff operate on a slick assembly line. Shirts removed from piles of boxes are divided into large cages, according to club or international identity. An indefatigable washing machine, capable of holding 150 shirts, ploughs through ten cycles per day. The shirts are steamed before a listing team conducts quality and authenticity checks and determines pricing. Photographers capture the jersey and it is posted online.

Damaged goods are ‘upworked’ by the genius digits of Helena, the skilled seamstress who is integral to CFS’s aim of operating a wholly sustainable business. We see a Manchester City cotton tote bag and an Aston Villa bucket hat, both adroitly crafted from spoiled jerseys.

A host of footballers have witnessed this operation first hand, says Bierton, with the shirts “stirring playing memories and transporting the players back to their childhoods. Ian Wright was fixated on an Allan Clarke Leeds shirt – it turned out he was one of his heroes.”

Clarke was prolific in the ten years until 1978, and the passage of time naturally swells the classic market. “Classic is ever-expanding and captures more and more people,” adds Bierton. “Customers in their fifties and sixties want shirts from the ’80s. I am drawn to the ’90s. A child who watched the World Cup final will treasure that memory in 15 years and might want a Messi or Mbappé shirt from the match.”  

He finishes on a philosophical note. “There is nothing more powerful than seeing a shirt and being instantly taken back to a specific time. For football fans, it is often more pleasant to live in the past than the present.”

Doug Bierton picks the cream of the crop from his collection
My favourite shirts

Ajax, 1995 Champions League final

“This was Louis van Gaal’s cool young Ajax side that beat AC Milan in the final in Vienna, so that adds to the shirt’s lustre. But it ticks a lot of other boxes for a football shirt geek. This was the first time we saw the Champions League starball patch – how powerful is that? – and the first game in the competition when players’ names appeared on the back of their shirts. Both teams wore away shirts too, another collectors’ item.”

Real Madrid, 2002 Champions League final

“This was Real Madrid’s centenary shirt, so there is no sponsor and minimal branding, and it goes against everything you expect in terms of design aesthetic. I love the collar and simplicity, but it’s all about what happened in it: the Zidane volley, Raúl and Luís Figo, and those Galácticos dismantling teams. The shirt Real wore to win the 1998 final was more niche, but the team didn’t have the same star quality, so the 2002 version is more popular.”

Juventus, 1996 Champions League final

“Juventus won only one of three successive finals and this was the shirt Fabrizio Ravanelli wore to score their goal in that match. We bought it from the Ajax player Ravanelli swapped with, but I’m sworn to secrecy over his identity. It conjures images of that great team – and Gianluca Vialli in his last game for Juventus – lifting the trophy. The shirt was made by Kappa back when the title of Champions League-winning kit brand was up for grabs.”

Borussia Dortmund, 1997 Champions League final

“My favourite from the Champions League era. This is Karl-Heinz Riedle’s shirt from the final; he scored twice and it’s a museum piece we are very lucky to have. I watched the game thinking, ‘They didn’t wear this in the last round. Where have they pulled it from?’ It was the 1997/98 kit, with the old sponsor. UEFA regulations demanded the club fix a strip of fluorescent tape over the Dortmund text on the back of the shirt. Can you imagine that happening today?”

Manchester United, 1998/99 Champions League

“This reminds me of Champions League nights: switching on ITV and hearing Clive Tyldesley, and how big the matches seemed. United had a special shirt for European fixtures and it felt like they played up to it. This is David Beckham’s from the hammering of Brøndby at Old Trafford, which was one of my favourite games. I thought they had thrown it all away in the final… It will never be as good as that again.”

close
To access this article, as well as all CJ+ content and competitions, you will need a subscription to Champions Journal.
Already a subscriber? Sign in
Special Offers
christmas offer
Christmas CHEER
Up to 40% off
Start shopping
50% off
game night flash sale!!!
Don't miss out
00
Hours
:
00
minutes
:
00
Seconds
Valid on selected products only. subscriptions not included
close