It’s all too easy to moan about the dire state of football kits and how they’re so quickly banished season upon season in the modern game.
Truthfully, though, for the kit nerds around us, the excitement of a new jersey every year never truly goes away. Home, away and third, admittedly it’s an expensive upkeep and one that proves taxing on everyday supporters. But purely from a design point of view, it’s great fun.
Better yet is when every now and then, clubs spice it up a bit and shoehorn in a special edition release to commemorate an event, or launch a collaboration. The reins are off, the design brief of every year is chucked out of the window, and an often unforgettable strip is unveiled.
Sometimes, it can blow up in our faces – that half and half Tottenham shirt from 2007/08 springs to mind – and sometimes the kit can prove a bad luck charm and be crowned with a poor result. However, more often than not, fans are treated to scorchers when it comes to special edition jerseys.
We at GIVEMESPORT are celebrating that, by commemorating the 15 greatest special edition kits to be released.
13. Borussia Dortmund – Anniversary blackout (2019/20)
Be it boots or kit, you simply can’t go wrong with a blackout. PUMA executed it to perfection with the launch of Dortmund’s blackout strip in 2019/20, to celebrate the club’s 110th birthday. One for all occasions.
12. Inter – Centenary – 2007/08
Very much a marmite design, Nike’s efforts in 2007/08 cannot go unappreciated. Celebrating the club’s centenary, Inter played in a white away strip that donned a red St. George’s cross, the flag of Milan, in commemoration. Can’t miss it.
11. Juventus – 120 years – 2017/18
Admittedly, throwback shirts resembling a club’s earliest designs can sometimes look a little bit drab. This Juventus effort, though, was the opposite. Celebrating the 1897 formation of the Old Lady in November 2017, adidas released a stunning strip, donning their old two star badge and thick sleeve and neck cuffs.
10. Manchester United – European Cup anniversary – 2008/09
Memories of that 3-1 thrashing dished out to Arsenal at the Emirates, Manchester United‘s third kit in 2008/09 paid homage to their 1968 European Cup triumph. The all-over blue was classy and looked stellar on those Champions League nights, where they almost went all the way again. Who knows, perhaps if they’d have worn it in the final, they would’ve retained the Champions League that year.
9. AIK 1891 – Black Edition – 2018/19
Alright, blackout kits are cheating a little bit, because they’re impossible to do wrong really. Swedish outfit AIK have set the world alight with their special edition releases, though, in particular this 2019 Nike drop. Replacing their usual ‘AIK’ type on the front with ‘1891’, the kit harked back to the club’s formation. Only 128 shirts were made at the time of release, so if you’re after one, well, good luck.
8. Atletico Mineiro – Manto Da Massa – 2021/22
Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro ticked all the boxes with this special edition strip. Not only is it a serious work of art, from the colour combinations and blocking to the intricate design, it’s a work of art that was designed by a fan of the club. Plenty of subtle, incredible details which tie together an unbelievable 113th birthday celebration shirt.
Atletico Mineiro dropped their fan-designed kit for 2021/22 and it's on another level 📈— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) July 16, 2021
It features a map of the Minas Gerais, the Brazilian state the club are based in and celebrates the club's 113-year anniversary.#OptusSport pic.twitter.com/KMWYOFXBgM
7. Juventus x Palace Skateboards – 2019/20
Juventus‘ one and only dip into the fashion collaboration world, their work with adidas and Palace Skateboards in late 2019 was iconic. Dropping a full teamwear collection, the usual black and white was reworked, while hits of bright green and orange gave the shirt new life. Not for everyone, but definitely unforgettable.
6. Barcelona – Centenary – 1999/00
Centenary shirts are the easiest means for special edition kit, but not always the easiest to do well. Barcelona smashed it. Rocking an incredibly unique half/half design, their anniversary shirt did away with conventions and also added in a central logo, flanked by 1899 one one half and 1999 on the other. Add some navy details and a collar, and you’ve got a shirt for the ages.
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5. Chivas – Club World Cup – 2018
Ever wanted to turn up to five-a-side looking like a 1970s Mexican football starlet? Look no further. Chivas took on that look with a special edition shirt, designed to be worn in their 2018 FIFA Club World Cup campaign. Those thin stripes and the navy collar are seriously striking.
4. Italy – Renaissance – 2019/20
Unveiled towards the end of 2019, PUMA switched it up completely with Italy’s look for a year or so, and it paid off significantly. The deep green base was broken up with a detailed woven pattern, with the colour nodding towards an older Italian policy that stated the famous blue strip was only to be worn by the senior side, following a victory over Argentina in 1954. The kit symbolised a young national team rising again.
3. Napoli – Diego Maradona – 2020/21
Celebrating their ties to Argentina through their special connection with club legend Diego Maradona, Kappa dropped an Argentine-inspired Napoli fourth shirt in 2020/21. You simply cannot go wrong with those stripes, and it gave Napoli an entirely refreshed look while still feeling iconic and bedded in tradition. Timeless and a collector’s piece.
2. AIK 1891 – White and gold – 2018/19
As if one entry with an already striking black shirt wasn’t enough, AIK just had to steal the headlines in the limited edition kit world. Releasing after their blackout design, Nike flipped the switch again, maintaining the same template, but this time using a white base with stunning, golden accents across the shirt. Very, very difficult to top.
AIK were founded on this day 1891 🗓️— Classic Football Shirts (@classicshirts) February 15, 2021
In 2019 AIK brought out the Black and White Edition kits with their founding year as a sponsor.
We've managed to get our hands on each version! Take a look at them below as well as some of the other AIK shirts in our museum collection. pic.twitter.com/Fa2r8nwHaB
1. Arsenal – Highbury farewell – 2005/06
Tampering with the conventions of a home shirt for an entire season is a complete no-go for many, and understandably, but when Arsenal risked it in 2005/06, the reward was immense. In their final season at Highbury before moving to the Emirates, red and white was switched with a classy maroon base and golden accents across, with smaller details and – of course – a collar to tie things together. Thierry Henry balling out in this shirt will never not be iconic.