The ten best shirts of the Premier League era

Call us grumpy old curmudgeons, but here at BackPageFootball we feel the football shirt options from this season’s Premier League teams are, well, a bit ‘meh’. There’s nothing particularly wrong with them, we just feel that perhaps there something lacking from the 14/15 bunch that shirts of previous Premier League seasons had in abundance. So we felt it only right and proper to list out top ten jerseys of the premier league era, it wasn’t easy – with over 20 seasons and hundreds of shirts to consider, but we reckon we’ve put together a fairly unbeatable top ten.

Manchester United 2nd/3rd – 2001/02

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 16.38.00If there is one team that comes to define the Premier League era of English football it is Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils. Whilst the many incarnations of the red home shirt may be more iconic and there are many more standout away jerseys, there are few shirts that come to represent where the club was at that time – an era of unprecedented success and a centenary anniversary celebrated in a unique reversible white and gold shirt.

Tottenham Hotspur Home – 1997/99

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 17.52.10The current trend amongst kit designers seems to be keep it simple with varying degrees of success – there is a fine line between ‘classic’ and ‘boring’. Aforementioned designers could do worse than take inspiration from this beauty from, lets face it, simpler times at White Hart Lane. David Ginola’s goal against Barnsley was scored in this shirt, and if that does not validate its inclusion we don’t know what will!

Southampton Home – 1995/97

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 17.52.21These days the Saints are rather preoccupied fielding multi-million pound bids for their players from their modern offices at St. Mary’s Stadium, but in the not too distant past at the Dell – a wonderful place that resembled an odd cross between a league two ground and a garden centre – a team led by the genius of Matt Le Tissier put six past Manchester United.

Arsenal Home – 2005/06

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 17.53.22It would have been very easy to have gone for the Arsenal shirt from the previous season where Arsene Wenger’s ‘Invincibles’ went the whole season unbeaten. But this shirt holds equally as special memories for the Gunners. Initially derided because of its colour, the jersey to commemorate Arsenal’s last season at Highbury has since become on of their most cherished jerseys.

Manchester City Home – 1995/97

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 17.52.33The saying goes that to know where you are going you need to know where you’ve come from. And for Manchester City fans enjoying an era of blinding riches and unmapped European adventure perhaps a look to the past will help them remember how far they have travelled. This shirt does that, along with memories of relegation, the Kippax stand and Kinkladze’s mazy dribbling.

West Ham 3rd – 1999/01

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 17.57.26In terms of domestic cheer Upton Park has been an arid place in recent years. Relegations heaped upon near bankruptcy haven’t helped, but more than anything fans of the Hammers want some excitement – this shirt, worn by talents such as Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Rio Ferdinand and of course Paulo Di Canio, harks back to an era of exciting football and unpredictable results.

Liverpool Home – 1995/96 

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 17.52.44One of the best Liverpool shirts of all time? Perhaps there have been those associated with greater success, but few prettier – a shirt that retains heritage – especially with that massive v-neck – but also adds a modern twist. The shirt can also claim to have been part of one of the greatest Premier League games of all time, all together now: “Barnes, Rush, Barnes…still Barnes..Collymore closing iiiiiiiiinnn!”

Middlesborough Home – 1996/97

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 17.51.46Another club that hasn’t enjoyed the greatest of times in recent years. But that, in one way, is the beauty of a football shirt. Far from being merely commercial exercises in generating revenue they are time machines that can call forth various players, games and emotions. Middlesborough may have hit harsher times, but this shirt reminds them that for a short while Ravanelli, Juninho, Emerson took to the field for Boro.

Chelsea Home – 2003/05

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 17.52.57This is Chelsea’s genesis jersey. The one that was worn when the takeover, the big money signings, the title, Mourinho all came together – the big bang. For what its worth the shirt is an absolute winner on its own with a simple, classic design. But it looked a whole lot better when worn by the likes of John Terry, Claude Makélélé, Arjen Robben and of course Didier Drogba.

Newcastle GK – 1995/96

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 17.51.32A compendium of Premier League kits wouldn’t be complete without the addition of a goalkeeper jersey, and thanks mainly to the entire decade of the 1990s there were some absolute stunners to choose from. However we’ve plumped for this street-art inspired number that Pavel Srnicek modeled for the magpies. Not just simply a design classic this jersey would be ideal for a music festival/rave, hanging around gluten-free delis in Shoreditch or perhaps hanging on a scarecrow to protest your lettuces.


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All these shirts and many, many more are available from the number one stockist of classic, rare, retro and vintage football shirts from around the world, new and used from Premier League to J-League, training gear to classic football boots.  

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