FourFourTwo's 50 favourite football shirts... EVER

Behold, the (footballing) pornography you can actually get away with looking at, lovingly curated by football shirt connoisseur Neal Heard. Just about safe for work...

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What makes a great football shirt? (Unfortunately the answer isn't just 'anything that's not Norwich 1992-94'.)

Is it what it looks like? Who wore it? Whether a team won stuff in it? Whether it makes you smile? Misty-eyed? Well, it's all of those things and yet maybe even none of them; for football shirts are a completely subjective entity, and largely difficult to evaluate. And yet, we can still all agree on many of the beauties out there. 

In The Football Shirts Book, Neal Heard (find him on Instagram here, Twitter here) sets out to rejoice about more than mere design. "I find it's more about sharing memories with people," he says. "I like the fact that around the globe you can wear a shirt and someone will stop you to ask the immortal question: 'Where'd you get that?'"

Well, quite. Good luck getting your grubby hands on the sought-after selections below – picked by Neal, ranked by FFT – but just go ahead and admire them anyway. Talk to us (@FourFourTwoUSA) about them at #FFTGreatShirts and we'll get some conversation going on Twitter.

50. Gamba Osaka, home (1996-97)

J League exuberance: the crescendo of lightning bolts – aptly enough descending into Panasonic’s logo over the chest – is simply electrifying.

49. USA, away (1994)

Best modeled by Alexi Lalas – a flame-haired, wizard-bearded giant for whom a cameo as part of the Night’s Watch is surely still on the cards. This none-more-American kit featured faux denim and massive stars, and was like nothing that had ever been seen before.

48. Greenbank U10s (2006) 

Back in 2006, a group of under-10 cherubs from Lincoln petitioned Lemmy to let them wear the rocker’s famous Motorhead logo on their shirt – and the warty metal maestro agreed, adding: “Kick everything really hard.” Eventually he met the team, while the tots gave the ‘sign of the horns’. Winner.

47. Scotland, home (1978) 

Archie Gemmill chipped the Dutch keeper at World Cup ‘78 to score one of the tournament’s most beautiful goals ever – and he looked the part in a great Umbro design, with the logo dotted all along the sleeves.

46. Blyth Spartans, home (1993-94)

The Geordie genius of Viz is arguably the North East’s greatest contribution to British culture – and its sponsorship of Northumberland upstarts Blyth was entirely fitting, as well as looking great.

45. Milan, home (1989-90)

Few better teams, few better shirts: say ‘Milan’ to a fan of a certain age and they can’t help but picture Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten posing in this Umbro cracker, high on their own brilliance.  

44. PSG, home (1993-94)

Sometimes more is more: a wild collision of thickening-then-thinning stripes, bold colors and in-yer-mush sponsors logos, this Parisian party somehow works.

43. Newport County, home (2004-05)

Ah, the golden years of Welsh comedy rap. Enriched by their international hits Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do and the searing social commentary of Your Mother’s Got a Penis, Newport-based hip hop collective Goldie Lookin Chain became kit sponsors for the side’s FAW Premier Cup run, and slapped a massive GLC on the actual shirt.

42. Barcelona, home (1982-89)

Another club with very few bad shirts in its back catalogue thanks to an irresistible color combo and simple execution, their high point was perhaps the decade in which local Barça brand Meyba – better known for swimwear – made the jersey.

41. Colorado Caribou, home (1978)

The NASL always toyed with the boundaries of acceptability – it’s the American way – and none more than this Caribou top. It featured a tassled ‘rodeo fringe’ around the midriff, making former Wrexham midfielder Brian Tinnion and the rest of the Denver side – founded and disbanded in the same year – look like demented line dancers. Coyote ugly but somehow marvelous.