There is always something special about what an image on a football jersey brings, and especially to the club fans. It is a uniting factor, way beyond the jersey color, the image representing the shirt sponsor gives a club its second identity. European football has seen an incredible rise in revenues, fans are drawn from all across the globe, and corporates are on high alert to make their presence known, and to endear themselves with the rising potential. Filling big football arenas has always happened, both sets of fans showcasing their team colors with utmost pride.
Since the 1980s, we have witnessed a host of shirt sponsors come and go, some of which give us nostalgic memories of the great European nights. In this article, we will roll back the years with some of the most iconic shirt sponsors to grace the game in our time.
Crown Paints – Liverpool FC
If you were born somewhere before 1980, you probably watched Liverpool FC in the Crown Paints-sponsored kit. It was a time when Liverpool dominated European Football alongside other heavyweights such as Real Madrid, AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Marseille, among others. The vintage red home jersey is iconic even to this date. Some of the older fans are still keeping them in their archives just for the memories. Some are even wearing them during match days today.
Then came in Carlsberg…
Liverpool’s exploits across Europe brought about several suitors, from the first sponsor Hitachi, to candy, then Crown Paints. The most famous shirt, however, must be Carlsberg. I can’t possibly see a Liverpool great without a Carlsberg shirt, but I could be forgiven f0r being an 80’s kid. Ian Rush, John Barnes, Stevie G, Jamie Carragher, and of course Michael Owen shone in the Carlsberg jersey. What a time it was to be a Liverpool fan. Sir Alex Ferguson may have taken the glory out of Merseyside to Manchester, but the Scousers held their team jersey close to their chest, only second to the Liverbird on the crest.
Ariston – Juventus
The perfect fit for the Old Lady in the 1983/84 season, fans who thronged Turin to watch their side in the Tuesday/Wednesday European nights holds this jersey with a lot of pride. Juventus had grown to become one of the most feared teams not only in Italy but also across Europe. It was a time when AC Milan and Roma were strongly considered the top sides from Italy, but after the capture of top European talent, Juventus became a force. That development resulted in a bidding war between sponsors, with Ariston eventually winning the battle. It would not stay for long as their main sponsor as they lasted for only a single season.
Sharp on the treble!
Remember the invincible Manchester United team that won the treble in 1999? The likes of spice boy David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, and the assassin Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? It seemed synonymous with Sharp, and the Umbro design. Fans will forever hold the Sharp jersey with sheer nostalgia, the jersey they wore when they beat Bayern Munich in the finals of the European Champions League.
Talking of Manchester United, picture the famous Class of 92 in the same team jersey by Sharp. Like there is no other way. The group formed by Alex Ferguson to take the crown from Liverpool, to compete among Europe’s elite, and the team that was to become the leading sports entity in entire Europe; easily Betway88 football favorites in numerous competitions.
A Milan side without Emirates Logo?
Forget Opel, Milan had Mediolanum, designed by German sports giants Adidas. Probably very few can remember this shirt sponsor, but it is the jersey they wore as recently as 1988/89. Did you see Maldini senior? San Siro was the home of greats, and getting to sponsor a team of such magnitude was no mean feat; it still isn’t. They are available in team archives, but not many in the current crop can visualize their top stars in that jersey. Opel was a famous team sponsor, perhaps following the success that coincided with it, then came Emirates.
Sony went sporty!
Sony sponsored a host of European teams, most notably, the Italian National team of 1990. It was not the first national team to receive sponsorship, but owing to the team’s profile at that time, the SONY logo appeared prominently on both players’ and fans’ chests. The Kappa designed shirts of the Azzuris were popular on the terraces, making the famous Mexican waves in the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Given Italy was hosting the event, there couldn’t have been a better time for Sony to sponsor the tournament’s favorites. To date, Italians still hold the jersey with so much esteem as it gives them a lot of pride as a nation, only bettered by the triumphant 2006 team led by Fabio Cannavaro.