Looking at Some of the Worst Designs in Football’s History
With every new football season comes a large variety of new football shirts, now so more than ever. Gone are the days of the 2 year shirt cycle, and now every top club releases at least 2 brand new shirts every year.
While it’s impossible to please everyone, occasionally a shirt is released to universal derision from fans the world over. Here are our picks for the 10 worst in history (so far).
1. A Ketchup Mishap
In 2004 La Liga side Athletic Bilbao released a shirt (see right!) designed by Basque artist Dario Urzay to commemorate the club’s centenary year, apparently inspired by the works of art in Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum.
A well meaning effort perhaps, but one that shares more in common with a ketchup mishap than fine art.
2. The Tigers
This Hull City shirt from 1992 gave fans an unexpected glimpse of the future. The club is nicknamed the Tigers due to the traditional black and amber stripes that adorn their home shirts.
New owner Dr. Assem Allam took things one step further this year when he attempted to Americanise the club by officially changing its name to the Hull Tigers, hoping to increase commercial revenue.
The idea was thankfully rejected by the Football Association, which is just as well; nobody wants to see another shirt like this.
3. Word Art
Five years after that Hull abomination you would think kit manufacturers might have got the hang of it.
And yet when someone at Asics discovered Word Art while designing this Stoke City away shirt, they just couldn’t resist showing off their new skills.
Word Art is all but banned these days, but back in the nineties it was clearly all the rage still.
Their mid-table finish in the old second division in the 1996-97 season is about all they deserved while wearing this little number.
4. Unfortunate Fiorentina
Back to the 1992-93 season, and this time to Italy’s Serie A side Fiorentina. Usually famed for their bright purple shirts, this season saw them take the field in a more muted white and purple outfit.
What’s not immediately obvious, to the shirts designers and fans alike, is that sections of the geometric sleeve design actually make out swastika-style shapes.
It wasn’t until Christmas that season that anybody noticed what the manufacturers referred to as an unintentional “optical effect”.
5. The Vegetable Garden of Spain
As Spanish fourth division side La Hoya Lorca prove with our next choice, terrible kits don’t go unnoticed just because they’re not on the backs of the worlds most high profile players.
The Muricia based club seemingly used the region’s reputation as ‘the vegetable garden of Spain’ as the inspiration for 2012’s broccoli-esque effort.
They had the last laugh though, as they were crowned Tercera Division champions and duly commissioned a similar shirt for following season.
Staying with the green theme for our next choice, we see the the first entry by a national side.
For 2004’s African Cup of Nations, Cameroon saw fit to debut an all in one shorts and shirt combo, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone else. We must spare a thought for the players on this one.
As if the look itself wasn’t embarrassing enough, due to the unorthodox nature of the design FIFA tried to fine the Cameroon Football Federation and dock them six World Cup qualifying points.
Thankfully, the decision was later overturned.
7. Goalkeeper Woes
While we’re on the subject of international shirts, it would be impossible not to mention at least one of the horrifying goalkeepers shirts they’ve had the misfortune of wearing over the years.
David Seaman’s red outfit from Euro 96 immediately springs to mind. But it’s Mexico goalkeeper Jorge Campos who makes it on to our list.
This fluorescent monstrosity would put off any striker bearing down on goal, but extra points go to Campos as he actually designed this 1994 World Cup shirt himself.
8. Napoli Denim
Our next pick is the first from the current 2014-15 season.
Not content with last season’s bizarre camouflage shirt, Serie A side Napoli are now sporting this rather strange “denim look” shirt.
This kit was upposedly designed so it can be worn as a casual piece, so we’ll lay the blame for this one squarely with Napoli’s eccentric chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis.
9. Not So Cultural
Back to Spain now, and this time to the second division club Cultural Leonesa who this year decided they wanted to hit the pitch in style.
Just perhaps not the style befitting the occasion.
For what is likely the first tuxedo shirt in world football, we’ll give the manufacturers full marks for originality, but zero for execution.
10. A Grey Day
Last, but by no means least, we come to one of the most infamous shirt disasters in the modern game, Manchester United’s ‘invisible’ grey shirt from the 1995-96 season. They wore the shirt a total of 5 times, never winning in it.
In the 5th game Sir Alex Ferguson ordered his players to change into their blue and white third strip while 3-0 down at half time against Southampton, as the players were complaining they couldn’t see each other against the backdrop of the crowd.
Despite an improvement they still lost the game 3-1, and more importantly they never wore the dreaded shirt again.
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