Diego Maradona sadly died on Wednesday at the age of 60. There’s little we can add to the many tributes already penned on one of the greatest footballers of all-time – as well as being a kit-nerd, as evinced by the role he played in Argentina wearing two different blue change shirts at the 1986 World Cup, the tournament which he dominated.
A look at the kits Maradona wore during his career throws up more than a few examples that are considered classics – for instance, the Boca Juniors 1981 shirt was ranked at 12 in the Football Attic’s 2015 poll ranking the 50 best ever, with the Argentina 1986 home coming in at 19th.
The above isn’t a comprehensive list, and the 1994 Argentina away is probably Marmite, but people of a certain age will instantly recall it for the goal against Greece and subsequent exuberant celebration.
And ultimately, there is a case that all of the above shirts have their reputations buttressed by association with Maradona’s feats while wearing them. Is it a coincidence that most of those are from the earlier part of his career, with his star on the rise as a World Cup a two Scudetti were claimed?
By providing magic on the ball, Maradona could be said to have elevated relatively plain shirts to a higher level. Would the Bukta kit worn by Sevilla when he signed for them in 1992 be more highly regarded if he had been in a position to inspire them? In comparing the 1981 Boca shirt with its 1996 counterpart, we’d expect the older one to come out on top, but how much is aesthetics and how much is down to achievement?
It’s probably too philosophical a question and impossible to ever properly measure, but it’s an interesting one to think about.