The most iconic goalkeeper jerseys of all time – The good, bad and ugly
There have been plenty of memorable goalkeeper jerseys over the years – for the right and the wrong reasons.
Often, in fact, it’s the most outlandish designs that stick in people’s memories the longest, but there have also been some simple classics.
This list is completely subjective, of course, but here are 10 jerseys I won’t be forgetting in a hurry…
Dynamo Moscow and Russia 1950-70
Long before the Milk Tray man had thought of it, Lev Yashin swore by an all-black outfit, prompting such nicknames as the Black Spider, the Black Panther and the Black Octopus.
Only the brown cap he sported occasionally or the small ‘D’ for Dynamo offered any contrast to the rest of Yashin’s garb.
It isn’t entirely clear why he was so wedded to the idea of wearing the darkest shade, but it certainly did him no harm as he excelled at four World Cups with Russia and kept Dynamo Moscow’s goal for 22 seasons. He was seen as the godfather of modern goalkeeping and was named the greatest goalkeeper of the 20th century by FIFA.
Black became popular among goalkeepers in England once the rules governing goalkeeper’s get-up had been relaxed. When the birth of the Premier League brought with it referees in green, Neville Southall opted for black, while Liverpool’s Bruce Grobbelaar and Arsenal’s David Seaman also sported near-identical all-black designs.
Southall later explained: “I wore a black shirt but not to stand out. I thought a striker would have to look twice to make sure I was there.”
The fact it also looked cool as f*ck was probably a secondary concern to the keeper nicknamed ‘the Binman’.
Italy clung on to tradition for longer than most nations, with even the manufacturer’s logo kept away from the crisp Azzurri jersey until the late 1990s.
For decades prior to that inevitable point, Italy’s classic home kit was always complimented by a grey goalkeeper’s jersey, with blue collar and cuffs.
The most iconic example was that modelled by Dino Zoff when he lifted the World Cup in 1982. Made by Le Coq Sportif, though you wouldn’t know it, the jersey was identical to that of the 1960s and 70s, but few wore it as well as Zoff.
Complimented with black shorts and the number 1 in 3D font, the ’82 vintage was enhanced by the veteran’s white captain’s armband and the red palms of his Uhlsport gloves.
Giovanni Galli and Walter Zenga carried the look through the next two World Cups before Diadora dispensed with tradition at USA 94, adding a dash of colour to Gianluca Pagliuca’s sleeves.
Nike brought back the traditional look in time for France 1998 and it was fitting that Gianluigi Buffon played his 1000th career match last week in the same shade sported so elegently by Zoff.
Spain 1982 and 2010
Spain won only one of their five World Cup games on home soil in 1982, with Luis Arconada’s mistake gifting Northern Ireland their famous win in Zaragoza. But if you’re going to drop a b*llock, you may as well look smart while you’re doing it.
Until the 1980s, goalkeepers jerseys were only ever a single block colour, but Adidas introduced a two-tone template for the Euros in 1980. Arconada was treated to some special detailing on his blue and black kit, with yellow stripes and red piping on the sleeves and shorts.
Jim Leighton won the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Aberdeen wearing the basic green and black template, but even that was too racy for the Football League, which still insisted on keepers wearing one block colour.
Adidas updated the look for Iker Casillas at the World Cup in South Africa, ensuring the Spain captain looked the mutt’s nuts when he lifted the trophy in Johannesburg.
If all eyes weren’t on Peter Shilton before he stepped out for his 100th England cap, they certainly were when he came up the steps into the Dusseldorf sunshine to face Holland at Euro ’88.
Gone was the nondescript grey jersey the England keeper had worn in their opening defeat to Republic of Ireland, with Shilton instead sporting a radical, fluorescent yellow and black zig-zigged garment for his landmark appearance.
The garish get-up obviously didn’t distract Marco van Basten, who scored a hat-trick to beat England and dump Bobby Robson’s side out of the tournament.
Chris Woods wore the same jersey in the final group game, a 3-1 defeat against USSR, after which Shilton received a smack from Bryan Robson after getting too lippy with Captain Marvel in a hotel bar.
Dark days, indeed, for England, but at least you could spot their keeper in a power cut.
Like their Italian counterparts, Brazil’s goalkeepers had a distinctive look throughout the latter half of the 20th century, until Umbro came along in 1991 and ruined everything.
Prior to that, from Gilmar in 1950 through to Taffarel, you could tell a Brazil stopper from the V-shaped neckline and the oversized crest in the middle of the chest, with ‘BRASIL’ arched sometimes underneath, but more often in the end, over the top.
Taffarel never looked as good as he did in 1990, with the classic Topper kit, sleeves rolled up, Reusch mitts, spraying side-volleys around long before the technique became the norm for modern keepers.
West Germany 1990
As well as featuring some classic designs, like Italy and Brazil, Italia 90 also threw up – some may say literally – some more outlandish templates, particular among the Adidas-sponsored teams.
Not surprisingly, Rene Higuita sported one of the German brand’s more colourful and experiemental efforts – the same one Sergio Goycochea displayed for Argentina.
But Goycochea’s opposite number in the final perhaps modelled the most memorable design, certainly for England fans who remember Bodo Illgner’s semi-final penalty save from Stuart Pearce and his one-fisted celebration after watching Chris Waddle’s penalty fly off into the Turin night’s sky.
Illgner wore at least three different colourways of this swirling-striped offering, which appeared exclusive to Germany for the World Cup before many followed their lead over the next couple of seasons.
Manchester United were forced to hastily print ‘SHARP’ on the front of one in 1991 when it emerged they did not have one of their usual jersey’s in size XXXL for Peter Schmeichel ahead of his Old Trafford bow in Sir Matt Busby’s testimonal.
Boca Juniors 1995-96
— PintadoDeAzulYOro (@pintadoazulyoro) July 25, 2016
Jorge Campos is famous for his customised kits, but the little Mexican’s flamboyant patterns appeared almost drab in contrast to Carlos Navarro Montoya’s natty outfit through the 1995-96 season.
The Boca Juniors keeper, who had spent the previous eight years with the Argentine giants, took to the field in his final season with the club in a yellow jersey – white, in the event of a clolour clash – with the image of a cartton truck plastered across the front, with Montoya behind the wheel.
As if that wasn’t enough, the sleeves, shorts and socks were a psychedelic mess. Why? Why not…
England away 1996
Those must have been some mind-bending drugs being passed around Umbro kit designers in the early to mid-1990s if the state of their goalkeeping jerseys are any clue.
Peter Schmeichel and Ian Walker were subjected to a dreadful template from the 94-95 season, while Dimitri Kharine at Chelsea had to pair his long johns with all manner of psychedelic patterns.
But Umbro’s worst offering was saved for the biggest stage.
Ahead of Euro 96, England had been presented with a denim grey away kit, designed to look good with jeans. If the 10 outfield players looked a little conservative, Spunky in the sticks more than made up for it, with a predominantly red jersey, which seemingly took it’s inspiration from a low-budget acid house video.
Seaman had to wear it only once, but that was against Germany in the semi-final. And that was a toned-down version too.
The socks modelled by Tim Flowers at the kit’s launch were made up of far more garish red, green and yellow hoops compared to the more plain hosiery Seaman sported in the semi.
Seaman was already well versed in losing big games while wearing dubious clobber. Being lobbed by Nayim was bad enough, but Nike compounded the Arsenal keeper’s misery by dressing him in something that would look more at home hanging in a US Army locker than a football dressing room.
Nike had just taken on the Arsenal kit deal in what was their first real foray into the football market. The American brand certainly put its own stamp on the Gunners’ outfits, with a lightning theme running through the home and away jerseys.
The goalkeeper kit, though, had a massive star plastered across the front, and surrounding that were dozens of smaller stars, which were circled with the word ‘PREMIER’. Answers on a postcard, please…
The home version was, at least, grey and black. The red and green away template took the nastiness to an entirely different level.
Their Newcastle Brown Ale-sponsored kits proved that a star could be the prominent design feature of a jersey without it looking hideous.
Unfortunately for the Toon’s keepers, Asics and Adidas were in far more experimental mood when they designed their outfits, compared to the more classic cuts reserved for the likes of Beardsley, Shearer and Ginola.
The first Adidas template, modelled by Shaka Hislop during the season they collapsed in the title race, was a horror to match their run-in.
The following season, though, Adidas came up trumps, taking the Newcastle city skyline detail from the blue star, and making it a feature of the body of the shirt. Paired with black shorts and white socks – classic goalkeeper chic – it looked the business.
By Ian Watson