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Which World Cup shirts, past and present, are selling like hot cakes?

Nobody knows kits better than Classic Football Shirts.

It’s not just old World Cup shirts that are encouraging fans of the beautiful game to part with their cash (Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport, Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport)
It’s not just old World Cup shirts that are encouraging fans of the beautiful game to part with their cash (Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport, Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport)

Retro football shirts are very much in demand right now, and in a World Cup year tops from previous tournaments are getting a lot of attention.

But it’s not just old World Cup shirts that are encouraging fans of the beautiful game to part with their cash.

Here, football shirt collectors and vendors Classic Football Shirts tell the Press Association which World Cup tops, old and new, have been selling particularly well in the build-up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and why.

Brazil 2002 (home)

(Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport)

Brazil might have won their fifth World Cup in this kit, but it wasn’t just their footballing success that makes it a desirable shirt.

“In terms of football design, Nike adopted this template in 2002 with pretty much every team they were kit manufacturer for. Manchester United, Arsenal, everybody was wearing that design,” said Gary Bierton, general manager at Classic Football Shirts.

“I think this is probably Nike at the top of their game in the early 2000s. People wanted their shirts to be made by Nike at the time. They were the coolest brand in the world, but this template is one where they really went for a stock style, and now 16 years later it defines an era and a moment in time.”

So despite Ronaldo’s eight goals and Brazil’s 2-0 final victory over Germany, it’s the era of shirt design that makes this one a classic?

“We could talk all day about Ronaldo and what happened at that tournament, but I think the main reason (for the shirt’s popularity) is the Nike takeover,” Gary continued. “We’d had the crazy designs of the 1990s, the baggy shirts, and this was a modern shirt with modern technical features.”

Italy 1994 (away)

(Phil O’Brien/EMPICS Sport)

This Italy shirt on the other hand is arguably all about what happened on the pitch. Italy had struggled through the group stage – finishing third and qualifying as one of four third-placed teams – and they struggled in the round of 16 too.

Losing 1-0 to Nigeria at the knockout stage, Roberto Baggio popped up with an equaliser which would keep Italy in a tournament where they would eventually reach the final.

“There’s a whole nation putting the pressure on Baggio in the build-up to that tournament and they didn’t start particularly well, beaten by the Republic of Ireland in the group stage,” said Gary.

“This is the moment where Baggio’s gone: ‘You’ve put all the pressure on me, and now I am the man and I’m answering you.’

“I’d say it’s one of the most sought-after World Cup shirts of all time. It’s the simple details on a Diadora Italy shirt, and the man it was worn by.”

England 1998 (home)

(Adam Butler/PA)

Twenty years on from Glenn Hoddle’s exciting 1998 England side, the Three Lions’ home shirt that year is starting to gain status as a retro classic.

“People in their twenties and thirties think: ‘I was a youngster wearing that shirt, I recognise the tournament, I remember my emotions at that tournament,'” said Gary.

“With football and shirts, that 20-year period is important when it comes to nostalgia. In 1999 you probably wanted to buy the England 1966 shirt or the England 1970 shirt.”

And what England did in that shirt is important, too. While they only reached the second round, their game against Argentina caught the imagination of many fans, who now link that match inextricably with that shirt.

“You’ve got the drama of four goals in the first half, the Michael Owen goal, the penalties. It felt like it just went on and on forever,” said Gary.

Nigeria 2018 (home)

(Nick Potts/PA)

Classic Football Shirts usually deal in old tops that jog the memory, but this very new Nigeria kit was already taking people back before the World Cup had even begun.

“I’ve not quite seen anything like it for quite a while,” said Gary. “I think the biggest thing to say about it is that, although it’s inspired by a retro design, there’s no cynicism. Nobody is saying: ‘Oh this shirt’s a rip-off of a retro design.’

“What Nike have done is really modernised it, and they’ve put their brand on it, very much focused on the London community, capturing London culture. When they can speak to the Nigerian community in London, I think it’s a masterstroke in generating hype and it’s led football shirts into fashion in a really organic way.”

And while its status as one of the best kits at this year’s tournament is assured, Gary said the shirt’s stock could rise further if Nigeria perform on the biggest stage.

“If they do anything at that tournament, which I think is possible, who knows where that shirt and that range end up in 20 years’ time,” he said. “It could well become the most recognisable shirt ever if there’s a moment while they’re wearing it.”

Germany 1990 (home)

(Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport)

Last but by absolutely no means least, it comes as no surprise to see Germany’s 1990 World Cup-winning home shirt is still in huge demand.

“It is the football shirt which seems to have stood the test of time,” said Gary. “Germany wore it at Italia 90, which has become a fairly mystical tournament in and of itself.”

However, while this shirt has become one of the most sought after, apparently it was almost scrapped before it could have its moment in the sun.

“Things didn’t go so well for Germany at Euro 88, so they were going to scrap it for 1990 apparently, but Franz Beckenbauer turned up at the head office of adidas and demanded that they keep it for the 1990 World Cup,” said Gary.

“People’s opinions of football and shirts are fairly volatile, but that one tends to be the one that’s up there on everybody’s list.”

Press Association


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