Originally written for Football365.com, here are our top ten shirts from across the globe that range from the ridiculous to the sublime.
Club Deportivo Guijuelo (Away), 2018-19
If you keep an eye on the strange world of football, and it’s sometimes baffling sartorial choices, chances are you’ve seen the similar CD La Granja home shirt back in 2015, when the Spanish minnows decided to dedicate their strip to the local produce: judión beans. It generated a massive amount of PR, which was no doubt the thought behind making such a weird kit (it’s here if you’ve yet to marvel at its charms), so following on from that success (which was actually a follow on itself, from a 2013 strip involving broccoli), the manufacturer Daen rolled the dice again and slapped a whole lot of ham on the front of CD Guijuelo’s away shit for the 2018/19 season, as a homage to the Salamanca region’s most treasured export.
Tjørring IF (Home) 2014-15
Well, what’s so random about this plain claret and blue shirt? I hear you ask. Well, I suppose the interesting part of this story isn’t so much the final strip, which to be honest, looks exactly like a training top with a crest stuck in the top corner, but how a small side that currently plays in the 5th tier of Danish football ended up in claret and blue. According to the good people at Classic Football Shirts, the tale is that back in the early 80s, the club were bored with their strip and needed some inspiration in how to jazz it up. So, bored and watching some TV, they chanced upon the highlights of a clash between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs lost, so the Danes opted to convert their kit into a fetching claret and blue affair in honour of the victorious hammers.
Los Angeles Aztecs (Home) 1978-79
OK, time for something actually quite nice now, so we travel back in time to the proto-MLS, the NASL. Americans and football (or soccer if you prefer) have had a somewhat tempestuous relationship over the past century or so, but attempts in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, to launch & maintain a North American Soccer League had their ups and downs to say the least. Towards the end of the 70s, however, the teams involved in the league churned out some of the most extraordinarily cool and stylish shirts I’ve ever laid eyes on, with this one being one of my absolute favourites. So understated and slick.
Nagoya Grampus 8 (Home) 1992-94
Probably the only time you’ve ever heard of this J-League side is because a injury-ridden Gary Lineker opted to see out his last few seasons as a professional footballer for the team in the early 90s. That aside though, there’s something amazingly 90s about putting red and yellow together on a strip also involving a club crest of a cartoon Grampus dolphin. It’s somehow brilliant and gaudy at the same time, and I suppose you have to applaud any team for adopting the colour scheme of the Caramac.
Peña Deportiva Ibiza (Third) 2018-19
Another one from the depths of Classic Football Shirt’s inventory, here we have Hummel opting to represent the white isle’s side with what looks like a dodgy psy-trance compilation album from 1997. Absolutely bonkers, and totally awful. Brilliant.
Zaire (World Cup) 1974
Zaire, now the DR Congo, used to rock this bright yellow strip with huge block lettering, which does the seemingly impossible by looking both amazingly stylish and being bright yellow at the same time.
NAC Breda (Home) 1981-82
In keeping with the yellow theme, here’s an early 80s jersey from the Dutch team NAC Breda. As a fan of nice minimalist design and cool graphics, this one is ticking so many boxes, it’s hard to keep track. I just want to say I bloody love this shirt – the font, the layout, the colours, everything. It could almost be a band shirt, or one of those hipster shirts that were popular a few years back, with some obscure long-defunct company on the front but just so happens to have an amazing design. I’m fully aware I’m sounding like a million ‘your boyfriend’ jokes here, but I also don’t really care.
Bedale AFC (Home) 2018-19
Designed to make each player look like an actual hotdog, you could be forgiven for thinking that this outrageously ugly kit is nothing more than a cheap PR stunt by sponsors, the sausage makers Heck (themselves no strangers to unfortunate and somewhat bizarre PR stunts involving Boris Johnson). You would be half-right there I suppose, because as well as being a PR stunt for all involved, it’s actually also a charity strip designed to raise money and awareness for Prostate Cancer UK, which is a vital charity doing brilliant work.
Manchester United (Away) 1995-96
Not exactly obscure this one, nor wonderful, but firmly in the weird category. It’s monstrously boring for a kick off, I mean, who wants to play in dark grey?! I remember seeing this shirt everywhere when I was a kid, and it didn’t exactly look amazing then, but looks even worse from a 2019 perspective. Anyway, the story goes that even the United players didn’t much like this TV-static-looking away strip, and famously ditched it at half time during a game with Southampton, because apparently they couldn’t see each other on the pitch due to the hideous shade the kit was coloured in. A short lived top, it would end up being as outdated as the Sharp Viewcam emblazoned on the front.
ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar (Home) 2018-19
To finish, we’re heading to top tier Icelandic league football, and ÍBV. For context, the Icelandic league works differently to most, as they can only play when pitches aren’t covered in ice and snow, so whilst other leagues around the world have the summer off, they have it most definitely on. ÍBV are based on the tiny Vestmannaeyjar (or Westman Islands to non-Icelandic speakers), and have crafted a shirt here that probably looks great if it wasn’t for the gigantic, drunk looking bright pink pig of Bónus, the cut price supermarket (ironically, a bit like getting Iceland to sponsor a UK team) taking up that prime real-state on the shirt’s front (modelled beautifully by former Middlesbrough U-19’s Priestley Griffiths). Still, I suppose we can’t all be sponsored by checks notes gambling companies, so maybe they’re onto something.