Andorra

Home 2000-2001 – Reebok

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img_1822   andorra

The country

Tucked snugly away in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, the tiny principality of Andorra is something of a master at international hide and seek. Indeed, stop anybody in the street and ask them to locate Andorra on a map and they’ll say “Piss off, I’m late for work.” True story. Officially a ‘microstate’ (although they can also be oven cooked), Andorra is a mere 181 square miles, home to just 85,000 residents and arguably Western Europe’s most isolated nation. There are no airports or railways to speak of, no coastline and just two main roads heading in and out, both of which traverse the kind of dizzying terrain liable to deposit vehicles down the mountainside at any given moment.

Despite this diminutive status Andorra was the only country to (technically) fight both World Wars back to back, remaining in a state of conflict with Germany until 1958 after an oversight saw them left out of the Treaty of Versailles. Ironically no Andorrans actually made it onto the battlefield, which is probably just as well as the regular army comprises just twelve men and the entire military budget goes on blank ammunition for ceremonial purposes.

The country’s demographics also make for interesting reading.                   Native Andorrans comprise just 1/3 of the population (the majority are Spanish) and the principality’s two ‘monarchs’ are the President of France and the Bishop of the nearby Spanish Urgell county, meaning the people are both a minority in their own land and ruled over by unelected foreign elites. If there’s a local equivalent of the Daily Mail, presumably they do brisk business.

Of course, having only about 33% of an already tiny population eligible to play, the national team predictably aren’t much cop. Heavy clobberings in qualifying competition are very much the norm and Andorra have lost 123 out of 138 internationals since joining FIFA in 1996, winning just three times. Make no mistake though, unlike fellow minnows such as Liechtenstein and the Faroe Islands – who at least attempt something approaching football – Andorra are no plucky underdogs deserving of the neutral’s sympathy. The team’s style of play could politely be described as ‘robust’ and more accurately as outright thuggery, with superior (i.e. all) opponents subject to repeated kicks, elbows, goading and knee-high challenges, often simultaneously.

With such limited resources and a somewhat cavalier approach to discipline, tangible improvement seems pretty unlikely, and merely adding to their sole competitive victory (1-0 over Macedonia in a 2006 World Cup qualifier) looks a tall order. Andorra remain – along with the perpetually inept and equally unruly San Marino – the best argument for those who advocate some form of pre-qualifying rounds to weed out teams whose idea of kick and rush often neglects the rush part.

Then again, with Portugal lumped in Andorra’s 2018 World Cup group it’s tempting to see just how much happy slapping a certain Mr C. Ronaldo can withstand before the toys part company with the pram.

The shirt

Without doubt this absolute beast of a shirt is one of my absolute favourites in the entire collection. Like an obese child at an ice cream buffet trying to cram every flavour onto the plate at once, Reebok were clearly keen not to waste any of Andorra’s vivid national colours, resulting in a sickly yet strangely satisfying coming together of yellow, red and blue. The design was donned by the team for their debut World Cup qualifying campaign in 2000-2001. It didn’t end well. Landed in a tough group amongst the likes of Portugal, the Netherlands and Ireland, the Andorrans lost all 10 games, conceded 36 goals and, worst of all, etched themselves firmly onto Roy Keane’s naughty list.

Typically Andorra shirts don’t come cheap. I’ve seen this rare design priced up for £99.99 on sites such as classicfootballshirts.co.uk, so imagine my delight a few years ago when I stumbled upon an ebay seller hawking it for just £39.99. Naturally I bit their hand off, which seems appropriate as it’s probably only a matter of time before a rogue Andorran defender does this in a more literal sense to an unfortunate opposition striker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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