Top Five Serie A Classic Football Shirts, 1990-2010
Our Selection of the Best Vintage Football Shirts from Serie A
Italian football has been cast – always lazily, often unfairly – as paranoid, introverted and eternally defensive. But if the stereotype surrounding the Italian style of play is that it lacks flair, the Italian’s on-field fashion sense and classic football shirts are at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Serie A has seen almost as many great vintage football shirts as it has great players. The retro football shirts and the men wearing them are often inseparable in the mind’s eye, a sense of iconography fostered as much by the design on the front of the jersey as the name on the back. The recent history of the Italian top-flight is awash with historical football kit designs, from the kaleidoscopic, acid trip creations of the early 90s to the more restrained but equally resplendent looks of the late Noughties.
Here, we’ll outline five of our favourite old football kits from Serie A from 1990 to 2010. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we think you’ll agree with us when we say that these are intrinsically elegant, picturesque and – above all – quintessentially Italian
1. AC Milan 06-07, Away Classic Football Shirt
AC Milan rarely stray far from the tried and tested path in terms of their away kits. Adidas didn't do anything particularly revolutionary with the 06-07 iteration, using the same template they had adopted for dozens of teams across Europe. But, for whatever reason, the athletic design of this classic football kit worked beautifully.
An all-white retro football kit with red and black detailing and that distinctively curvaceous body contouring, AC Milan sported the shirt as they laid to rest the demons of Istanbul. They beat Liverpool in the Champions League Final in Athens, with Kaka pirouetting and gliding through the game. Kaka left for Madrid at the end of the following campaign and Milan have yet to reach those dizzy heights since. This vintage AC Milan kit bookended that era.
2. Inter Milan 1997-98, Third Classic Football Shirt
Some historical football kits leave such an impression that clubs spend years trying to recapture their former glory. Inter Milan's 2020-21 grey-black third classic football shirt pays homage to the one worn most famously by Ronaldo in the all-Italian 1998 UEFA Cup Final. Players, moments and shirts are inextricably linked. The 97-98 away retro shirt is the perfect example of this phenomenon.
The Brazilian was a blur of stepovers and raw energy, fizzing about the pitch in that fantastic two-tone Umbro creation. The kit featured blue and gold detailing, with that iconic Pirelli sponsor placed directly underneath a centralised crest. Instinctively, grey and black doesn't seem like the most inspirational combination, but Umbro married the two together perfectly. This vintage football kit is an exhibition in subtlety.
3. Classic U.C Sampdoria 1998-99, Away Shirt Classic Football Shirt
Certain classic football shirts from this era scream Football Italia. This Sampdoria-Asics masterpiece is the prototypical example; it feels like it should be soundtracked by James Richardson and Peter Brackley.
Sampdoria enjoyed the greatest era in the club's history from the mid-80s and early 90s. They won four Coppa Italia, fielding the likes of Roberto Mancini, Gianluca Vialli, Ruud Gullit and Trevor Francis. The peak came in 1990-91 when they won the first Scudetto in the club's history, just a year after triumph in the Cup Winners' Cup.
But in 1998-99, Samp were relegated. It's ironic that their worst season in that glistening era coincided with their greatest vintage jersey. The away shirt they wore that campaign was an instant classic. The iconic chest-stripe this time stretched across the sleeves too, with the club's secondary red and black colours also featuring in a unique collar design. On the back, the silhouette of the club’s crest elegantly framed name and number.
4. Classic Venezia F.C 2001-02, Home Shirt Classic Football Shirt
Football in Venice is an evocative prospect. I wonder just how many balls have been lost in the canals over the years.
Throughout their 113-year history, Venezia F.C have spent just 12 seasons in the top-flight. The most recent came in 2001-02 after promotion from Serie B under the stewardship of future Italy manager Cesare Prandelli.
Prandelli was sacked early on that season and Venezia were relegated after winning just three matches over the course of the entire campaign. It was an abject failure, but at least they looked good as they crashed and burned.
Venezia's unique colour palette – black, olive and terracotta – is put to extraordinary use in this Kelme-manufactured piece of art, the polo collar and underarm detailing providing romantic brushstrokes. Venezia have since updated their crest, but the thread work of the golden-winged lion of Venice gives the jersey a regal feel – apt considering the city's storied past.
5. Classic Parma A.C 1990-91, Home Shirt Classic Football Shirt
Parma became the cult team to end all cult teams in the 90s, winning the Coppa Italia, European Cup Winners' Cup and two UEFA Cups. They never got their hands on a Scudetto, though they came mightily close under Carlo Ancelotti in 1996-97.
Later in the decade, it's no exaggeration to say that they would field some of the most illustrious names in the history of the Italian game: Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Gianfranco Zola, Dino Baggio. There were foreign imports too: Lilian Thuram, Hernan Crespo, Juan Sebastien Veron, Faustino Asprilla.
But in 1990-91, Parma were playing their first-ever season in the Italian top-flight. The names on the team sheet were less historic, though they did have Cláudio Taffarel and Tomas Brolin among their ranks.
Their retro football kit for that maiden Serie A campaign might be the best they ever wore – and Parma have a history littered with gorgeous vintage football kits. The blue and yellow striped sleeves, the squashed Umbro logo, the holographic diamond pattern finish: this is about as good as it gets. That Parma were sponsored by Parmalat felt wonderfully meta also.
Guest contributor Adam Williams.
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- Lewis Davison