A bit about me.
Right, I’ve been meaning to set up a blog detailing my quite ridiculous collection of international football shirts for ages, but owing to a combination of time constraints, technological shortcomings and downright laziness I never got around to it before now.
First a bit of background: My name is Kris, I’m a Charlton Athletic supporter residing in Milton Keynes in merry old England, and from as far back as I can remember two of may favourite things have been football and geography. In 1990, at the easily excitable age of eight, I discovered the FIFA World Cup which seamlessly blended the two together and thus I became hooked on the international game.
Being English with an Irish mother my first rash of national shirts always sported either three lions or a shamrock but then, on a family holiday to Mallorca in 1993, I was seduced by the bright orange hues of a cheap (and quite obviously fake) Netherlands top featuring Ronald Koeman’s name on the back. Despite it’s inherent naffness I found myself wearing this shirt all the time which proved somewhat problematic a few months later when the dastardly Dutchman snuffed out England’s World Cup 94 aspirations via some grade A shenanigans in Rotterdam. Subsequently my garish knockoff was consigned to the back of my cupboard to keep my WWF action figures company. However I’d enjoyed the feeling of donning something foreign and (vaguely) exotic and my legitimate collection soon began in earnest.
Over the next ten years or so I snapped up international shirts where money allowed and by the time I started university in 2004 I’d accumulated around 20-25 countries represented in polyester. By this point I had the tentative notion that I would attempt to find a shirt from every nation to have played at the World Cup finals and after allowing the internet and eBay into my life this target seemed all the more feasible. At the time one of my classmates, having noticed that I’d often stroll into lecture resplendent in the colours of countries as diverse as Greece, Mexico and Morocco, enquired as to whether I had a shirt – or was trying to acquire a shirt – from every FIFA member.
Initially I considered this idea to be at best highly fanciful and more likely downright impossible. That is until a few years later when I stumbled upon the blog of a certain Mr Nick Warrick, a fellow national shirt enthusiast from Peterborough who was indeed trying to accomplish the protracted task of collecting an official shirt from every footballing nation in the world. Further online investigations yielded several other collectors attempting much the same thing and since making contact with this community my personal collection has ballooned to 212 countries strong. This tally includes 203 out of FIFA’s family of 211 – including, as I’d hoped all World Cup participants – plus nine non-affiliated national sides.
Due to the fact that the aforementioned gentlemen started blogging in conjunction with the beginning of their collections, I’ve obviously got some serious catching up to do. The most natural way forward I feel is to start posting the countries – FIFA or not – alphabetically. So, with this in mind I’ll get the ball rolling by putting up my Afghanistan shirt and then hopefully aim to display at least two shirts a week and see how long it takes me to get through them all.
For the record; as of the 29th of October 2016 the eight FIFA countries I’m still missing are Belize, Chad, Djibouti, Grenada, Libya, Madagascar, St Vincent & the Grenadines and Syria. So, if anyone reads this and knows where to get an authentic shirt from any of these teams, do get in touch.