classic shirt


classic shirt

Having started out as manufacturers of ladies underwear, Leicester based company ‘Admiral’ began making football kits in 1966, after seeing England win the World Cup, and the potential financial rewards.


Approaching Leeds United manager Don Revie after a training session ‘Admiral’ were permitted to design kits and tracksuits for the English League Champions’ 1973-74 season.

A £7,000 per year deal was signed with the club to manufacture and sell Admiral branded Leeds United kits, thus becoming the first deal of its kind in professional football.


More clubs followed including Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Coventry City, West Ham United, Southampton, and the England national team, all partnering with Admiral.

Other sportswear firms like Umbro and Adidas soon followed, signing up clubs and manufacturing football kits for teams across Europe and the world.



In January 1976, Southern League side Kettering Town appeared with ‘Kettering Tyres’ across the front of their shirts, becoming the first British team to play with a shirt sponsor.

Threatened with a £1000 fine by the FA, the non-league club removed the advert after one game, only to see other League clubs citing the financial rewards, lobby the FA themselves for permission to have shirt sponsors.


Scottish side Hibernian became the first British team to appear with a sponsor in 1977, after signing with ‘Bukta’ the sportswear manufacturer and Liverpool the first English club in 1979, when they wore the famous red ‘Hitachi’ Umbro kit.


Throughout the 1970’s selling replica kits was becoming big business and every child in the country was a potential customer. For the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Admiral produced the first adult sized shirts for England supporters, capitalising on the ever expanding market of football merchandise.


By the 1980s almost every league club in Europe had a manufacturer's logo and shirt sponsor, and every club and national team had their very own identity through football kits.


Today vintage shirts are much sought after collector's items, some changing hands for £1000s, and match worn classics going for six figure sums at auction.

Some shirts are now looked at as works of art, and there was recently an exhibition of classic football shirts on show in East London.


Looking back most people associate memorable classic shirts with a past player, goal or time in their own lives.


Here we have ‘11 classic shirts from the 1980s.’ They appear in no particular order, as I’m sure everybody has their favourite.

classic shirt
classic shirt
classic shirt
classic shirt
classic shirt

This iconic England shirt is most fondly remembered and associated, with the 1982 World Cup, in Spain.


It was first worn in a friendly against Argentina, followed by the home Championships and Euro ‘80 in Italy, where England crashed out at the group stage. 


In Spain ‘82, England won all three group games, before going out in the second group stage, with Captain Kevin Keegan, infamously missing a glorious chance to score against Spain with a header, only to see the three lions knocked out.


A new decade meant a new style for Admiral, who brought in a V neck with red, white and blue trim. Across the shoulders a horizontal red and blue panels, with a white and blue stripe underneath. On the breast a red Admiral logo and the three lions crest.


During Euro ‘80 no advertising was allowed on shirts, which meant was no Admiral logo on the shirt, just the three lions badge.


This fan’s favorite was the last Admiral shirt worn by England, as the company was experiencing financial difficulties and the contract was at an end, after an eight-year association with the national team, and Umbro became the new manufacturer.


Design: Admiral  Season: 1980-83  Players: Kevin Keegan, Bryan Robson, Glenn Hoddle

classic shirt
classic shirt
classic shirt

A classic vintage shirt made by Meyba and worn by Barcelona, for an incredible seven seasons between 1982-89. This Barca favourite was a popular choice amongst British holidaymakers to Spain, throughout the 1980s.


With Terry Venables installed as Manager between 1984-89, he led Barcelona to their only La Liga Championship win of the decade in 1985 and European Cup Winners Cup glory in 1989.


England striker Gary Lineker, Welsh forward Mark Hughes and Scotland’s Steve Archibald all had spells at Barcelona, throughout ‘El Tel’s’ time in charge at Camp Nou.


With its silky looking collars and loose open neck design, very much suited to the Spanish climate. Along with the thick dark red and blue, traditional Barca Stripes makes this shirt instantly recognizable.


With the Meyba track lines from the shoulders down the sleeves, this is definitely an iconic ‘80s shirt.


Other players to wear the stripes of Barcelona in the 80s were Diego Maradona, Bernd Schuster, and striker Enrique Castro ‘Quini’, who survived a 25-day kidnapping while at the club. 


Design: Meyba  Season: 1982-89  

Players:  Gary Lineker, Diego Maradona,

Mark Hughes 

classic shirt
classic shirt
classic shirt

This stylish but casual looking shirt was worn by Euro ‘84 host nation and eventual winners, France.


This ‘80’s classic which was used for one tournament only is most associated with France captain and Euro ‘84 top scorer, Michel Platini, who famously lifted the trophy.


With its distinctive red horizontal chest line, which makes the white Adidas trefoil stand out and on the opposite side, an oversized golden cockerel, sitting on a plinth reading FFF, this shirt could only be worn by Les Bleus.


Along with the three white stripes beneath the red band, it’s thin collars and loose open neck, this shirt looked more like it was based on something worn on the Tennis courts of ‘80’s continental Europe. Especially the white second shirt.


The Adidas stripes on the shoulders continuing down the sleeves in the Bleu, Blonde, Rouge of the French Tricolour is also a stylish touch. 

This shirt is definitely a French design classic and was replicated for the France ‘98 World Cup, which Zidane and Co. won. It was also used as the design for Euro 2000 which the French won, as well as Euros 2004 and 2008.


Design: Adidas  Season: 1986  Players: Michel Platini, Jean Tigana, Alain Giresse

classic shirt
classic shirt

Manchester United adopted this original and unique looking home shirt, designed by Adidas between 1984-86.


In traditional United red, this 80s V neck, with red, black and white striped trim, had a striking flash of white at the shoulders. 


With the United crest in the centre of the chest, above the Sharp sponsorship logo, Adidas Trefoils badges were placed on each sleeve, making this shirt instantly recognisable as a Manchester United classic shirt.


The shirt was worn during two 4th placed finishes in the First Division, under Manager Ron Atkinson and the 1985 FA Cup Final win over Everton, where Norman Whiteside scored a wonder goal and Kevin Moran was sent off. 


United Captain Bryan Robson, who lifted the trophy at Wembley, later said “ It became a favourite for the players and the supporters...Of the kits I wore, this is my favourite.”


Design: Adidas  Season: 1984-86  

Players: Bryan Robson, Norman Whiteside, Mark Hughes

classic shirt
classic shirt
classic shirt

Along with big perms and Magnum style moustache’s, Liverpool wore some iconic Umbro kits in their European triumphs of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s.


But for the start of the 1985-86 season, the club switched to every scousers favourite manufacturer, Adidas.


Worn during player-manager Kenny Dalglish’s double-winning season, it soon became a favourite amongst Liverpool supporters.


With its V neck with slight yellow trim, LFC Liver bird badge, Adidas trefoil and three stripes on the shoulders, this shirt is a classic Adidas design.


Many will remember this shirt being worn during the 1986 FA Cup Final when Ian Rush scored two and Craig Johnston the other, in a 3-1 win over neighbours Everton. 


This shirt was also worn for the 1986-87 season with the Crown Paints sponsor over two lines.


Other players to appear in this shirt during the double winning season include Jan Molby, Ronnie Whelan and England midfielder Steve McMahon.

Liverpool also wore an all yellow version, with red trim as their second kit and a rarely worn all white third kit.


Design: Adidas  Season: 1985-87  

Players: Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Craig Johnston

classic shirt
classic shirt
classic shirt

This simple but instantly recognisable Argentina shirt, worn at the Mexico ‘86 World Cup, is one of the most iconic shirts of the 1980s.


Worn by Argentina number 10 Diego Maradona, who almost single-handedly won the World Cup for the South American’s, in what proved to be a show of genius, by the greatest player in the World.


With its plain white round neck, thick sky blue and white stripes, this shirt is both clean and stylish in design.

Worn with black shorts and white socks, even the large black Le Coq Sportif logo, looks like it belongs, balancing the gold and blue AFA logo, on the opposite side.

Although worn during the majority of the games at Mexico ‘86, it was not worn for the most famous game of the tournament, when Argentina met England in the Quarter-Finals.


Instead, the second kit of dark blue shirts and black shorts was worn as Maradona scored the infamous Hand of God goal, followed by the goal of the century, to send England home. 


Other players to wear the stripes of Argentina during Mexico '86 were, Jorge Burruchaga, Hector Enrique and striker Jorge Valdano.

Design: Adidas  Season: 1986  Players: Diego Maradona.

classic shirt
classic shirt
classic shirt

This beautiful looking Danish home shirt, made by German manufacturer Hummel, is one of the rarest and sought after vintage shirts around.


Worn by Denmark for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, beating Scotland, Uruguay and West Germany in the group of death, before going out 5-1 against Spain in the Quarter-Finals.


The “Brazil of Europe” led by the supreme Brian Laudrup, along with teammates Frank Arnesen and Jesper Olsen, Played entertaining, total football, gaining many supporters at Mexico ‘86


The smart V necked shirt is split 50/50 with red and white Pinstripes and red block design, with red and white chevrons running along the shoulders and sleeves.


The Danes also wore a mirrored second kit, with white replacing the red blocks on the front and sleeves. The ultra cool looking shirt has become a supporters and collector's favourite.


The design was later adopted for a virtually identical Southampton shirt, with Coventry and Aston Villa also sporting this Hummel classic.


Design: Hummel

Season: 1986

Players: Brian Laudrup, Frank Arnesen, Jesper Olsen

classic shirt
classic shirt

Italy wore this stylish, continental looking home shirt for the Mexico ‘86 and Italia ‘90 World Cups and Euro ‘88.


This classic Italian looking shirt, has a blue-collar with red, white and green trim, with a small V neck, every inch the 1980’s continental, cool look.


With no Diadora logo on the national team jersey, only the red, white and green of the circular Italia badge on the chest, making this a minimalist, chic looking design.


Although a great looking shirt, there was no sporting glory to come with it, as Italy stuttered through the group stages of the 1986 World Cup, only to go out in the last 16 against France.


During Euro ‘88 and Italia ‘90, where they were the host nation, the Azzurri went out at the Semi-Final stage.


Players famed for wearing the Italian blue between 1986-1990 include Altobelli, De Napoli, Rossi and Ancelotti, Mancini, Vialli and Schillaci.


Design: Diadora

Season: 1986-90

Players: Paulo Rossi, Fernando De Napoli, Salvatore Schillaci

classic shirt
classic shirt
classic shirt

Worn by the Netherlands during Euro ‘88, for one tournament only, with a daring orange and white geometrical design, this is probably the most sought-after shirt, on any collector's wish list.


The same design was worn in red by the USSR and green for West Germany’s second kit, but it is the Dutch worn orange, which is best remembered and most iconic.


What may have helped this shirt become a classic, is the players who wore it, as they won Euro ‘88 in typical Dutch style, with a free-flowing total football, scoring some of the most memorable goals in history.


Along with the super cool looking Ruud Gullit with his flowing dreadlocks, was the best striker in the world and Euro ‘88 top scorer with five goals, Marco Van Basten. Who is best remembered for scoring a stunning volley, against USSR in the final.


Also starring in one of the greatest modern day teams were the Koeman brothers Ronald and Erwin and Frank Rijkaard.


This imaginative design with a white V neck and black KNVB logo and Adidas trefoil look great with the three white stripe on the shoulders.


Design: Adidas

Season: 1988

Players: Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten, Frank Rijkaard

classic shirt
classic shirt
classic shirt

This instantly recognisable West Germany shirt is most associated with their Italia ‘90 World Cup win but was in fact first worn for Euro ‘88.


Managed by German legend Franz Beckenbauer, the host nation crashed out of Euro ‘88, to eventual winners Holland in the semi-finals, in what was a battle of the classic shirts.


The horizontal tricolour of black, red and gold across the front is now a design classic, with its round neck, Adidas trefoil logo and German eagle on the chest, this is one of the most iconic football shirts ever worn.


Now etched in football fans memories as the shirt worn during Italia ‘90, by Rudi Voller as he infamously got spat on by Frank Rijkaard, and Jürgen Klinsmann as he dived like an Olympic swimmer, beating Maradona’s Argentina in the final, to lift the World Cup.


Design: Adidas

Season: 1988-90

Players:  Lothar Matthäus, Jürgen Klinsmann, Rudi Völler

classic shirt
classic shirt
classic shirt

Worn by Arsenal during the 1988-89 season, this shirt became iconic after a Friday night Championship decider, when the Gunners beat Liverpool 2-0, at Anfield in May 1989.


Arsenal in second place needed to beat table toppers Liverpool by two goals, to overtake them and claim the top spot. Following an Alan Smith goal, Michael Thomas scored a stunning injury time winner, to send the title to north London.


Made by Adidas, in traditional second kit colours of yellow and navy blue, It featured the JVC sponsor, in navy blue with a red outline, across the front of the shirt


In bright yellow, with navy blue shoulders and sleeves, navy V neck with yellow piping and yellow Adidas stripes on the shoulders, it certainly stood out on the field and was popular with supporters.


On the chest was the navy blue Adidas trefoil logo on one side, and the clubs former badge, a Cannon and three cannonball's on the other.


Most people who see this shirt associate it with the famous Michael Thomas goal, which is surely the reason this shirt has become so iconic. Other players to wear this Arsenal second shirt include David Rocastle, Paul Merson and Captain Tony Adams.


Design: Adidas

Season: 1988-89

Players: Michael Thomas, David Rocastle, Alan Smith

classic shirt
classic shirt
classic shirt