Classic football shirts: look for a hidden treasure in your wardrobe

Diehard football fans of a certain age will know all too well the ups and downs of following their favorite club over the decades. What many may not realize, however, is that the value of their football shirts over the years has only increased in one direction, according to research from online casino Casumo and vintage retailer Classic. Soccer Shirts.

“I think the popularity is driven by a few things, but mostly nostalgia,” says Gary Bierton of Classic Football Shirts. “Every football fan has memories – good and bad, and the shirt is the link that takes you back to those times in your life, whether it’s watching the game on TV, getting the autograph of your hero or recreate the goals in your backyard. The designs were imaginative at the time, particularly in the early 1990s, and there’s also more of a sense of innocence when you look at the football scene 25 years ago. “I think it appeals to the fans today who want to own that story in a unique way, even if it’s not necessarily their team’s shirt and wear something that stands out.”


Design is ‘crucial’ and many shirts, such as the ‘iconic masterpieces of Adidas’, have become part of popular culture. You can still see football shirts today that pay homage to previous incarnations. For example, Germany’s 2018 World Cup kit was inspired by elements of the historic kit from 1990, the year West Germany lifted the cup for the third and final time before to be reunited with her eastern half a few weeks later. And the Netherlands are reportedly working on a design inspired by the famous 1988 shirt for the delayed UEFA European Championship next year. “It’s been interesting to see how the football fashion trend connects to that,” says Bierton. 1990s shirts “that once might have been overlooked for being too bold or garish are now avidly worn as fashion pieces and shirt culture has even touched high fashion. This broader interest invariably affects value.”

A bet on the future

Other factors that affect value include what was happening on the pitch when the jerseys were worn. Leicester City’s shirt from 2015-16, when the club surprised many to clinch the league title, is worth considerably more than the shirt worn by the East Midlands side the previous season. Rarity is, of course, also important, as is the added interest that inevitably accompanies major tournaments. This can make buying football shirts a fun alternative to placing your bets before kick-off. If a memorable event occurs during the tournament, the value of the shirts can skyrocket. But whether old or new, it’s worth digging through the wardrobe to see what shirts you have. “The best 2010s shirts are already collector’s items in their own right and will increase in value as their heritage and rarity grows,” says Bierton.

The most valuable football clobber

Club shirts

1. Barcelona (1991-92 away kit)

£599.99 (MSRP: £27.99, Overall Rating: 2,044%)

This rare shirt was worn in FC Barcelona’s first-ever European Cup triumph under Johan Cryuff – one of the most famous nights in the team’s history.

2. Napoli (home jersey 1990-1991)

Worth £499.99 (RRP: £27.99, Overall Rating: 1686%)

The Napoli home shirt with the Scudetto shield and Mars sponsorship was worn by Diego Maradona in his final season at Napoli.

3. Manchester United (third shirt 1986-1988)

£449.99 (MSRP: £24.99, Overall Rating: 1701%)

To say third kits from this era are a hot commodity would be an understatement. It was also Sir Alex Ferguson’s first season in charge, and a classic Adidas design makes this one of Man Utd’s most prized shirts.

4. AC Milan (home jersey 1999-2000)

£399.99 (MSRP: £34.99, Overall Rating: 1043%)

This is a very rare home shirt worn during AC Milan’s centenary season and featuring a special club crest.

5. Arsenal (1991-93 away kit)

£374.99 (MSRP: £24.99, Overall Rating: 1,401%)

This North London team jersey features an iconic bruised banana design typical of bold designs from the early 1990s, and is extremely rare and increasingly sought after since Adidas ceased working with the side shortly thereafter. . This is a real collector’s item.

International shirts

Football shirts

1. Netherlands (home shirt 1988)

£599.99 (MSRP: £29.99, Overall Rating: 1,901%)

Arguably the most sought after football shirt of all time, the Netherlands 1988 features a geometric Adidas design. That, and the team’s success on the pitch, including Marco van Basten’s superb goal that led to victory at Euro 1988, made this shirt the most valuable international strip. The jersey debuted at the tournament and was not seen again.

2. United States (1994 jersey)

£499.99. (recommended price: £27.99, overall rating: 1329%)

The Adidas star and stripe “denim” design was worn by the host nation when the World Cup was first held in the United States.

3. Soviet Union (home shirt 1989-1991)

£449.99 (MSRP: £29.99, Overall Rating: 1400%)

This jersey, featuring a bold vintage design, was the last USSR jersey to feature at a World Cup.

4. Brazil (home shirt 1978-1989)

£399.99 (MSRP: £22.99, Overall Rating: 1640%)

This design was worn in the 1978 World Cup by the team dubbed the greatest ever to win the competition.

5. Denmark (home shirt 1986-1988)

£399.99. (RRP: £34.99, Overall Rating: 1329%)

Featuring a famous Hummel design and worn in the 1986 World Cup, this is one of the most popular collectible shirts ever made.

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