Strip Club–ATF Edition
The FC Barcelona centenary jersey is one of my favorite jerseys of all time, and the moment it arrived in my mailbox, I felt that my life was complete.
My first exposure to the Blaugrana was their demolition of Manchester United during the 94-95 Champions League Group Stage. I was stunned when my best friend told me the score and figured this team had to be pretty good. Little did I know that I had just missed the Dream Team and their first European Cup triumph (1992).
Due to limited TV coverage, the first time I actually saw them play was the 96-97 UEFA Cup Winners Cup Final, a drab game decided by a penalty kick from the original Ronaldo and after his one season with the club, he would go on to Inter. For the next couple of years, ESPN would show a Spanish game on Monday afternoons, which were must viewing for me, and I would reschedule soccer practice so that we could watch the games, with games involving FCB involving mandatory participation.
The 1999-2000 squad had great players, like Rivaldo, Figo, Luis Enrique, and a large Dutch contingent—the de Boer’s, Reiziger, Zenden, Cocu and Kluivert—and a certain Pep Guardiola. That season they finished empty handed, losing the Spanish Super Cup, finishing second in the league, getting crushed 6-0 on aggregate by Atletico Madrid in the semis of the Copa del Rey, and being knocked out of the Champions League by Valencia in the semis. After this season Van Gaal and Nunez left the club and, lest we forget, Figo signed with the enemy.
The kit is not a typical FCB jersey with the multiple blue and red/burgundy stripes, instead it is just half and half (with a very interesting shade of metallic blue) with navy sleeves, a bold reminder of Joan Gamper’s Swiss influence so many years ago. The half and half design was a call back to the original shirt and a precursor of the jersey worn during the magical treble season of 08-09. As for the jersey itself, it is lightweight, classy and timeless. I almost never wear this one to play in because I don’t want anything to happen to it.
As the image shows, burgandy accents the navy blue cuffs and a dynamic centenary patch brings attention to the historical year for the club. The club crest and historical markers are simple and understated, and the gold name/number set were a nice touch. (I wish now that I had mine personalized). It took me a while to realize that the kit did not have a sponsor. Of course money eventually won the day, with the club needing an additional revenue streams to maintain their status on and off the field. In the end, the strip is not from a memorable season but the jersey itself is one for the ages.