Saltar al contenido
0 item

History of football jerseys: How football attire and accessories have evolved

14 May 2024

History of Football jerseys: How Football Attire and Accessories Evolved

The history of football jerseys began to be written in the 19th century, when a more modern form of football developed in England. Read about the early players wearing dense cotton shirts, heavy leather boots, but also about when synthetic materials began to be produced and who was the first to use them on the field.

The first jerseys in English schools

The first mention of attire specifically intended for football dates back to 1526. A pair of football boots was found in the wardrobe of Henry VIII. However, in the 16th century, football was exclusively played at secondary schools to motivate students to exercise.

Each school had its own rules reflecting local conditions, such as the size of the pitch and other factors.

According to an 1840 illustration titled "Commoners have red and Collegians blue jerseys," it can be assumed that color differentiation of teams was already occurring at that time.

A few years later, the same colors were mentioned in an article in Bell’s Life in London from 1858.

As the game evolved, there was a gradual transition to using special attire, which included stylish velvet jerseys and caps.

Professionalization of Football and jersey Modification

Until the establishment of the Football Academy, players wore various heavy cotton jerseys, knee-length trousers, or long trousers with belts or garters, and heavy leather boots. The star of early football, Lord Kinnaird, became famous for his long white trousers.

An exception was made for school players, who were dressed in more elegant striped jerseys resembling jockeys' or pajamas.

With the establishment of the Football Academy, football gradually began to professionalize, and the first standard jerseys with specific colors representing individual clubs began to appear. For example, Royal Engineers A.F.C. included red and blue, while Lincoln had white jerseys with red, white, and blue caps.

Many clubs adopted colors associated with schools or other sports organizations from which they originated.

Jerseys lacked numbers that would identify individual players.

With the professionalization of football, attire also changed. Bright colors were replaced by simple combinations of main shades to allow the growing number of spectators to easily identify individual players.

In 1890, it was decided that all member teams must have distinct colors to avoid confusing spectators. However, the rules were eventually slightly adjusted, and teams were required to have a second set of jerseys in a different color.

Since 1921, it has been mandatory to change the color of the jersey for the visiting team.

 First use of shin guards

At first, besides clothing and footwear, hardly any other equipment was used. It wasn't until 1874 when Nottingham Forest player Sam Weller Widdowson first appeared wearing shin guards. He made them by shortening cricket pads and placing them over his stockings. Although others initially mocked him, they soon became inspired by his idea.

By the turn of the century, shin guards were further modified. They were reduced in size and placed underneath the stockings.

History of the football jersey at the beginning of the 20th century

With the expansion of football around the world, clubs were also influenced in terms of their clothing and equipment. Teams abroad and on other continents adopted kits and often colors similar to those worn in the United Kingdom.

For example, in 1903, Italian Juventus adopted black and white stripes inspired by Notts County. Later, the Argentinian club Atlético Independiente wore red jerseys, which they saw at Nottingham Forest.

Around 1905, knee-length stockings, prescribed by the Football Academy, were replaced by shorter shorts.

From 1909, rules for goalkeeper attire changed, with goalkeepers starting to wear colors different from other players on the team. Initially, goalkeeper colors were designated as blue and red, with green being added in 1912. At that time, goalkeepers wore heavier clothing resembling sweaters or roll necks for distinction.

Adding numbers to jerseys.

The first major match where numbers appeared on players' jerseys took place in 1933 in the FA Cup final between Everton and Manchester City. Special sets of jerseys, red and white, were made, and the teams drew lots using a coin. Everton players wore numbers 1–11, while City players wore numbers 12–22.

It wasn't until around the time of the Second World War that the unwritten rule of assigning numbers to specific players became common practice. Initially, all teams numbered from one to eleven, with, for example, number one most often assigned to the goalkeeper and number nine used for the team's main striker.

In the history of Scottish football jerseys, there were only minor differences compared to England. For example, the Scottish club Celtic wore numbers on shorts rather than jerseys until 1975.


History of football jerseys in Brazil and Germany

At the beginning of the second half of the 20th century, changes to football jerseys were influenced by the development of synthetic manufacturing. Heavy cotton was replaced by lighter and more breathable materials, which were utilized by some European and South American countries.

German and Brazilian football clubs historically emulated those in Britain, but now they adapted to technological advancements earlier than the English pioneers. Their jerseys also began to differ in style, with collars and neckties gradually replaced by V-neck cuts.

The United Kingdom resisted new possibilities for some time and stuck to jerseys similar to those before the war.

Similarly, Eastern Europe leaned towards historical football shirts rather than new synthetic materials.

It wasn't until the arrival of the European Cup in 1954 and other international competitions that the new style spread across the continent. By the end of the 1950s, heavy shirts and pre-war boots had been completely phased out.

The transition to synthetic materials was also supported by advancements in textile industry technologies and the needs of modern football. These changes gradually led to football jerseys being almost exclusively made of polyester, nylon, or their blends today.

Development of Sponsorship Jerseys

From the 1970s onwards, there was the first production of sponsorship jerseys and fan jerseys. The idea was first introduced by Leeds United, which designed replicas of jerseys for fans. Soon, other clubs joined in, expanding their jerseys with product logos and other decorations.

In 1973, the German team Eintracht Braunschweig entered into an agreement with the local alcohol manufacturer Jägermeister and displayed its logo on the front of their shirts. Soon after, sponsorship deals spread to other teams.

In contrast, Spanish clubs FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao refused to display sponsorship logos. Barcelona, until 2011, wore the UNICEF logo instead of sponsors on their shirts and annually donated 1.5 million euros to charity.

The modern era of bold designs

In the 1970s, player names started appearing on jerseys. The North American Soccer League pioneered this, assigning each player a specific number instead of the traditional 1 to 11 numbering system.

In other countries, these ideas were gradually adopted.

From the 1980s, companies like Hummel and Adidas began designing increasingly intricate patterns with the advancement of technology.

A decade later, the color schemes of jerseys became more vibrant, and many designs from that era are considered some of the worst in history. However, plain gray jerseys introduced by Manchester United in 1996 were discarded due to poor player visibility.


Development of Football Footwear

Before specialized football boots were developed, players used regular leather boots or work footwear. They initially added leather strips to improve grip. The boots were heavy with hard toes and reached high above the ankles.

By the end of the 19th century, metal studs were added to the boots, helping players maintain stability on the grass and reduce slipping.

In the 1930s, with the development of synthetic materials and softer leathers, significant progress was made in boot production. By 1936, players in Europe wore boots that weighed only a third of the weight of those ten years older. Despite their flexibility and better control, they did not win favor with everyone, and some players called them ballet shoes.

In 1954, Adidas introduced the first boots cut below the ankles. Although their price doubled that of existing styles, the boots were hugely successful and solidified the German company's position in the football market. At the same time, Adidas also developed the first boots with screw-in studs, which could be changed according to the condition of the pitch.


Publicación anterior
Publicación siguiente

¡Gracias por suscribirte!

¡Este correo ha sido registrado!

Compra el look

Elija Opciones

Editar opción
Notificación de nuevo disponible
se agrega a su carrito de compras.
Términos y condiciones
this is just a warning