FourFourTwo’s 6 favourite shirts of our lifetime
Wearing this shirt, Thierry Henry became only the fourth player in Premier League history to reach the 30-goal mark in a single season, and the first to win the PFA Players’ Player of the Year for a second straight season. He also fired Arsenal to their third Premier League title in seven seasons.
Oh, and they just so happened to go the entire league season unbeaten – an historic feat last achieved by Preston North End in 1888/89, when the league consisted of just 12 teams. “We were walking out onto the pitch every week thinking we couldn’t lose,” Henry later explained.
Long before the inflatable unicorn-riding golden generation of Harry Maguire, Jesse Lingard, Harry Kane & Co. came the side that originally inspired a nation to believe football was coming home – Tony Adams, Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer, and the rest.
To a soundtrack of Britpop and, for some reason, Uri Geller, Terry Venables’ side came within a whisker of ending 30 years of hurt and winning a second major trophy on home soil. Not for the first time, they were foiled in a penalty shoot-out, but to a generation, this team inspired a love affair with the game.
The common misconception about Manchester United’s infamous grey away strip is that it caused Fergie’s boys to lose 6-3 at Southampton. That Hampshire-based humbling actually came the following season – the game in which United changed kits at half-time, having gone in at the interval 3-0 down because they were supposedly unable to see each other in the first half, ‘only’ finished 3-1.
Regardless, it was a humiliating afternoon for a side including Roy Keane, Eric Cantona and David Beckham (wearing his less-than-iconic No.24 shirt). Still, now United fans can look back and laugh, particularly as they went on to win the Double that season.
Pep Guardiola’s status as the game’s most successful manager – creating near-unstoppable teams at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now Manchester City – has overshadowed his achievements as a player.
Pep was considered one of the best midfielders of his generation by no better judge than Johan Cruyff, and his creativity and tactical awareness was crucial to Barcelona not only winning the La Liga title in this kit in 1999, but also the European Cup against Sampdoria at Wembley in 1992. In total he made 382 appearances for Barça in a decade at the heart of the Catalans’ midfield.
The lingering image of the 1996 FA Cup Final was not Eric Cantona’s winner for Manchester United, but instead the garish cream-coloured Armani suits worn by Liverpool’s ‘Spice Boys’. The Anfield side got as much stick for their fashion sense as their on-pitch performance, so it was a surprise when the club unveiled a cream (official name: ecru) away kit for the following season.
It didn’t bring them any more luck, as Roy Evans’ team were beaten twice by United on the way to an uninspiring fourth-place finish. Still, at least Robbie Fowler rattled in 31 goals, helping to make it an ironic cult classic.
Back when FFT was in its infancy, big-name foreign imports to the Premier League were few and far between. Arguably the biggest in 1994 was Germany striker Jurgen Klinsmann, who surprisingly swapped Monaco for the arguably less-glamorous surrounds of Tottenham.
He formed an instant bond with strike partner Teddy Sheringham – not to mention the club’s fans. His debut goal – a diving header away at Sheffield Wednesday – was followed by his now-iconic dive celebration, a less-than-subtle nod to his reputation for simulation. He scored a total of 29 goals in 51 matches, before falling out with Spurs chairman Alan Sugar, and fleeing for Bayern after just 12 months.