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Karşıyaka SK 1996-1997, Away Shirt Match Worn 4

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Since posting two posts concerning Karşıyaka SK, it seems only fitting that I also post a picture of one of their shirts. I have a few, but this is far and away the rarest of the Karşıyaka shirts I own. Karşıyaka—or Kaf Sin Kaf—as they are affectionately known by their fans (the names of the Arabic letters that spell out KSK—Karşıyaka Spor Külübü) are the team from the eponymous district of Izmir, located on the northern shore of the Izmir Bay. It is a traditionally western district of Izmir, not to mention the home of my family in Turkey. I have been a fan of the team since childhood; when a team’s colors are red and green, the colors of Christmas, it makes it easier for an American kid to gravitate towards them I suppose.

This is a match worn example of a Karşıyaka shirt from what I can only assume to be the 1996-1997 season. It is a typical Adidas design from the era, and the heat pressed felt number “4” on the back also fits with the era’s shirts. Aside from being a unique design for Karşıyaka (their shirts tend to emphasize the green and red instead of the white), the sponsor patch on this shirt is very interesting. The Yaşar Yatırım that we see here has actually been sewn on above another sponsorship. Interestingly, Yaşar Yatırım refers to a business pursuit of a wealthy Turkish businessman from Izmir, Selçuk Yaşar. He founded the Selçuk Yaşar Sports and Education Endowment and as such his name adorns many schools in Izmir, as well as the Yaşar University. He has been a major player in the Izmir sports scene, even serving as the honorary president of Karşıyaka SK. His current holding group, Yaşar Holding, was founded in 1945 and includes many famous Turkish brands including the foodstuff company Pinar and Dyo Paints.

This is all, of course, beside the real point here: The shirt. It is a typically thick fabric from Adidas, as shirts produced under the Adidas license in Turkey tended to be in that era. The thin Adidas stripes within the fabric prove it to be authentic, and the fact that the trademark three stripes on the shoulder alternate in red green and red add subtle detail to a truly unique Karşıyaka SK shirt.

As the fans would say . . . KAF KAF KAF, SIN SIN SIN, KAF SIN KAF SIN KAF!

 

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Sparta Prague 1992-93, Home Shirt

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I decided to eschew a shirt from the store at Sparta’s Letna stadium since the only ones on offer at the time were fairly boring Nike designs; I saved my money for a Bohemians Praha shirt. But that didn’t stop me from finding a Sparta Prague shirt via the internet upon returning home. I had wanted a Sparta shirt sporting this classic Adidas design (please see my Liverpool and Levski Sofia entries) since watching Sparta face Galatasaray in the 1995/96 Uefa Cup as a kid.

Amazingly, I remember the night like it was yesterday. We were in my grandmother’s house as my late grandfather sat on the couch listening to his classical music. On TV was the team I would learn to love, Galatasaray. My eyes caught Sparta Prague’s maroon Nike kits—with the Opel sponsor in the center of the chest. To a kid growing up in America it was all foreign—especially the Opel. Weren’t they just Chevrolets, after all? Still, the shirt reminded me of a fake Bayern Munich shirt my parents had bought me, which carried the Opel sponsor as well. Later I learned that the Bayern shirt was a copy of the era’s design (the same Adidas template and same Opel sponsor as this shirt only on a red background with blue stripes) which Sparta had also worn. Ever since that night I had wanted a Sparta Prague shirt with an Opel sponsorship and here it is.

The fabric is standard Adidas from the era and in Sparta’s trademark maroon with “Opel” printed on the front but with no club badge. I honestly have no idea if this is a latter-day imitation of the shirt (photos and videos from the period include shirts with no badge and the tags are definitely from the era, but one can never know). Still, this Sparta Praha shirt represents a childhood dream fulfilled and that is all I can really ask for at this point.

The shirt being worn against Werder Bremen:

 

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Top Five World Cup 2014 Shirts and Top Five Classic World Cup Shirts

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Although I am not a huge World Cup fan since the tournament has become the definition of industrial football and mainly a cynical money making machine in recent years, I still can’t ignore the shirts. With the games in full swing I thought I would do what some sites have been doing and rank the top five shirts from World Cup 2014, along with the top five from the past World Cups that I have watched. As with everything on this blog all opinions are my own, so don’t be offended if your favorite shirt—or team—does not make an appearance. Personally, it is always hard to rank the newer shirts because the old ones hold a special place in my heart but here goes nothing.

 

World Cup 2014:

Number 5: Japan (Adidas)

Japan 2014 World Cup Home Kit (1) Japan 2014 World Cup Home Kit (2)

Japan 2014 World CUp Away Kit 4 Japan 2014 World CUp Away Kit 5

Images Courtesy of: http://www.footyheadlines.com/2013/06/exclusive-japan-13-14-2013-2014-2014.html

 

The “electricity” colored away shirt obviously needs no explanation, but the blue home shirt has a few details that make it, in my opinion, one of the best shirts of the 2014 World Cup. The rising sun motif around the badge is special, giving a sort of Japanese authenticity to the shirt. On the back, however, is a pink stripe that gives this jersey a unique detail that—when seen in person—really gets your attention. Adidas did a nice job with the socks as well, carrying that color through the kit instead of leaving it as a one-off detail on the shirt. It also harkens back to the red used in Japan’s 1995-96 kit, manufactured by Asics.

 

Numbers 4 and 4.5: Cameroon Home (Puma)

Cameroon 2014 World Cup Home Kit

Image Courtesy of: http://www.footyheadlines.com/2013/10/unique-cameroon-2014-home-and-away-kits.html

Ghana Away (Puma)

Ghana 2014 World Cup Away Kit 1

Images Courtesy of: http://www.footyheadlines.com/2013/11/ghana-2014-world-cup-home-kit-leaked.html

 

This is really a tie, and I chose to include both because each team’s other jersey (Cameroon Away and Ghana Home) are too light colored to see any of the details which make the darker colored shirts so special. Apparently the design on the Cameroon shirt is taken from cave paintings, with “Les Lions Indomptables” written across each line. This comes from the team’s nickname, “The Indomitable Lions”.

Ghana’s away shirt is a similar design, this one with Ghana’s nickname “The Black Stars”. The sleeve details are also good looking—while not being as eye-catching as the Kente design on the home shirt, the dark red is just too nice of a color to be ignored. I might still prefer Ghana’s 2012-13 kit (the fade is something I enjoy in shirts) but this year’s is still a unique piece produced for Ghana, and that is worth something in itself.

 

Number 3: Belgium (Burrda Sports)

Belgium 2014 World Cup Home Kit Belgium 2014 World Cup Away Kit Belgium 2014 World Cup Third Kit

Image Courtesy of: http://www.footyheadlines.com/2014/02/burrda-belgium-2014-world-cup-kits-jerseys.html

 

This is the only shirt in this World Cup manufactured by the Swiss/Qatari company Burrda Sports—perhaps they’re getting ready for 2022? All three of these shirts carry elements of the Belgian flag, with the black away version the best looking in my opinion with the red and yellow sash across the chest. Belgium are being picked by many as a dark horse; while the outcome of their World Cup campaign may be uncertain one thing is certain—they’ll look good, win or lose.

 

Number 2: Germany (Adidas)

Germany 2014 Home kit Adilite 1 Germany 2014 World Cup Away Kit (1)

Image Courtesy of: http://www.footyheadlines.com/2013/05/germany-1314-2013-2014-world-cup-home.html

 

Germany’s white home shirt has a “V” design around the neck, which doesn’t represent too much of a change from their jerseys in previous years. The away shirt, however, represents a completely new move for “Die Nationalmannschaft”. Even if the red and black hoops and collar buttons make this shirt reminiscent of a rugby shirt I still found it extremely attractive when I saw it in person. In 2006 Germany moved to the black and red color scheme for their away shirts before moving to black for the 2010 World Cup. I think this represents the best Germany away shirt since they moved away from their classic emerald green kits (the Irish-looking green of Euro 2012 doesn’t count for me).

 

Number 1: Russia (Adidas)

 

Image Courtesy of: http://www.footyheadlines.com/2013/11/russia-2014-world-cup-home-kit-leaked.html

Russia 2014 World Cup Away Kit (1)

For me, Russia’s away shirt is without a doubt the best jersey in the 2014 World Cup, and I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment. Just below the collar is a view of the earth from space which then fades into white. Of course, this is in memory of the Soviet space program and Yuri Gagarin—the first human being in space. This shirt, of course, has a political connotation as well considering recent developments in Russia. As Putin looks to re-assert Russia’s strength in the modern era, this shirt advertising the greatness of Russia’s past on the world stage makes a bold nationalist statement. It will be interesting to see if this shirt starts a trend of countries visually representing their histories on football shirts—football shirt nationalism by using elements of The Modern Janus Theory (made famous by Tom Nairn).

 

 

Classic World Cups:

Number 5: Nigeria World Cup 1994 (Adidas)

Nigeria Home and Away Kits World Cup 1994

Image Courtesy of: http://kirefootballkits.blogspot.com.tr/2011/10/nigeria-kits-world-cup-1994.html

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Dancin’ the night away–in pajamas?!

Image Courtesy of: http://www.footballfoundout.com/top-five-worst-world-cup-shirts-ever/

I have no idea what this design is but it is definitely unique. Perhaps this was the beginning of the trend of providing special designs for African teams that we see now, since I have never seen this design used in any other team’s shirt. The white version looks a little pyjama-esque (hence its ranking as the ugliest World Cup shirt in history on one of the above lists) but, for my money, its still an unforgettable shirt. And that is what I look for.

 

Number 4: Croatia World Cup 1998 (Lotto)

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Image Courtesy Of: http://www.croatiaweek.com/tag/brazil/page/3/

 

This shirt really needs no introduction as it is a piece of history, one of many legendary designs worn by Croatia since 1996. What makes this shirt special is the fact that just half the shirt is checkered. No one will forget Croatia’s historic run to third place while wearing this shirt, fueled by legends Davor Suker, Robert Prosinecki, and Zvonimir Boban (whose kick, some say, started a war). I’m counting on Bosnia-Herzegovina to make a similar run in this World Cup, even if their shirts aren’t quite as special.

 

Number 3: Mexico World Cup 1998 (Aba Sport)

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Luis Hernandez makes another World Cup disappointent look good

Image Courtesy Of: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1936489-mexicos-best-and-worst-world-cup-jerseys/page/4

mexico-home-football-shirt-1996-1998-s_3660_1

Image Courtesy Of: http://www.oldfootballshirts.com/en/teams/m/mexico/old-mexico-football-shirt-s3660.html

 

A few lists, including the one at the link above, have cited this shirt as one of the best World Cup shirts of all time and for good reason. This shirt is in Mexico’s classic shade of green with an interesting detail unique to Mexico: printed into the fabric is a design of the Aztec calendar. While this year’s Mexico design by Adidas is among the better designs on display this summer, I still think that nothing can come close to the France ’98 kit.

 

Number 2: USA World Cup 1994 (Adidas):

US national team defender Alexi Lalas jumps in the Roy Wegerle

Alexei Lalas jumps for joy at World Cup ’94, Roy Wegerle isn’t sure what to make of his kits

Images Courtesy Of: http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_spot/2014/05/19/u_s_soccer_denim_kit_the_horrifying_true_story_of_the_ugliest_jerseys_in.html

 

This shirt has been derided by so many that it feels funny posting it as the number two best shirt—please see articles at Mashable.com and Slate.com for more on this shirt (albeit from a negative angle). Personally, I do not see why this shirt has so many critics–as you can see above, Alexi Lalas seems more than enthused to be wearing the shirt (!) even if Roy Wegerle gives us a more bemused expression.

The point of a football shirt, in my opinion, is to represent a country in a unique and instantly recognizable way. For me, that is exactly what the United State’s 1994 kit did. The denim look was certainly unprecedented, and it is true that it bore no relation to anything Adidas had—or has since—produced. But it was unique. In fact, it was uniquely American. As a kid watching the 1994 World Cup in I didn’t even notice the denim factor—I just thought it was a blue background with white stars, a representation of the national flag, which is fine. And for those critics of this shirt, I’d like to point out that if a USA shirt need be criticized the USA away shirt for the 2014 World Cup (a shirt I myself own) looks more French than it does American.

I would like to think that like a fine wine, football shirts also get better as the years go by. That sentiment is confirmed for me by the number one shirt on this list . . .

 

Number 1: Germany World Cup 1998 (Adidas)

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Image Courtesy of: http://37.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lwcb1unOX11r6mwuno1_1280.jpg

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Klinsmann et al make bracing for impact look good . . . or at least half-way decent

Image Courtesy Of: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/worldcup2010/article-1282545/John-Motson-Ten-greatest-World-Cup-games.html

And now we come to the shirt that—I think—is hands down the best shirt in World Cup history. If Helen of Troy’s face is the one that launched a thousand ships, then this is—undoubtedly—the design that launched a thousand kits. After Germany made this Adidas “basket weave” pattern famous the design became a staple for Adidas kits around the world between 1995 and 1996. The reason this kit in particular is so stunning is that the bold colors of the German flag really jump off the shirt’s white background and right into the viewer’s eyes. Adidas really did their country justice with this well designed shirt, a shirt that hasn’t lost any of its luster twenty years on.

 

 

 

AEK Athens 2006-2007, Away

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I wrote about AEK Athens earlier this year, as such it is fitting to put their shirt on this blog. I got it on my first visit to Thessaloniki in 2006, when I was—for some reason—unable to find either an Aris or PAOK shirt. The best part of this shirt to me is the Greek flag on the arm. It is a lightweight Adidas fabric sporting a design typical of the year, the LG and Diners Club sponsors are both printed on in a quality fashion. Once while wearing this shirt at home in Rhode Island someone called out to me in Greek. When I didn’t understand and told him I was part Turkish he just walked away—I suppose he didn’t understand the brotherhood that football is.

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Legia Warsaw 2012-2013, Away Shirt

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This shirt was purchased in the Legia shop at the team’s Pepsi Arena. The shirt is a nice modern Adidas design, sporting the team’s classic “L” badge. The Active Jet and Krolewskie sponsors are professionally applied in a felt-like material, and the red accents on the sleeves and collar match well with the sponsor–many shirts are ruined when the sponsor looks out of place. The fact that this shirt is in the team’s traditional green makes this a good addition to the collection, even if it is not vintage (Legia have some amazing vintage designs as can be seen at oldfootballshirts.com).

 

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Skonto Riga 1996-1997, Home Shirt 27

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A classic Adidas design from the mid 1990s in the same vein as the Levski Sofia shirt seen here. I got this one from a fellow collector since I just didn’t think that the Skonto shirt I got at the Skonto Stadium was really representative of the team—after all, the maroon color used for this design is the same maroon of the Latvian flag. The “27” here is screen printed onto the shirt’s fabric, which is the standard Adidas fabric from the era.

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Latvia 1994-1995, Away Shirt 10

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After visiting Latvia (and gaining a love for the country) I was lucky enough to come across this beautiful shirt for sale on the internet. It is truly a stunning one, as many of the Adidas “basket weave” patterned shirts are (think Germany’s 1994 World Cup shirt) when the national colors are arranged perfectly around the collar. The Black and maroon look great on the white background, and the small details—like the Adidas writing in the numbers on the back—make this shirt even more special. The badge is embroidered onto the shirt, while the numbers on the front and back are screen printed in a quality material.

 

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