The 15 greatest special edition football shirt releases

It’s all too easy to moan about the dire state of football kits and how they’re so quickly banished season upon season in the modern game.

Truthfully, though, for the kit nerds around us, the excitement of a new jersey every year never truly goes away. Home, away and third, admittedly it’s an expensive upkeep and one that proves taxing on everyday supporters. But purely from a design point of view, it’s great fun.

Better yet is when every now and then, clubs spice it up a bit and shoehorn in a special edition release to commemorate an event, or launch a collaboration. The reins are off, the design brief of every year is chucked out of the window, and an often unforgettable strip is unveiled.

Sometimes, it can blow up in our faces – that half and half Tottenham shirt from 2007/08 springs to mind – and sometimes the kit can prove a bad luck charm and be crowned with a poor result. However, more often than not, fans are treated to scorchers when it comes to special edition jerseys.

We at GIVEMESPORT are celebrating that, by commemorating the 15 greatest special edition kits to be released.

13. Borussia Dortmund – Anniversary blackout (2019/20)

Be it boots or kit, you simply can’t go wrong with a blackout. PUMA executed it to perfection with the launch of Dortmund’s blackout strip in 2019/20, to celebrate the club’s 110th birthday. One for all occasions.

12. Inter – Centenary – 2007/08

Very much a marmite design, Nike’s efforts in 2007/08 cannot go unappreciated. Celebrating the club’s centenary, Inter played in a white away strip that donned a red St. George’s cross, the flag of Milan, in commemoration. Can’t miss it.

Inter's 2008 centenary kit was creative
MILAN, ITALY – JANUARY 20: Esteban Cambiasso of Inter celebrates scoring during the Serie A match between Inter Milan and Parma at the San Siro Stadium on January 20, 2008 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by New Press/Getty Images)

11. Juventus – 120 years – 2017/18

Admittedly, throwback shirts resembling a club’s earliest designs can sometimes look a little bit drab. This Juventus effort, though, was the opposite. Celebrating the 1897 formation of the Old Lady in November 2017, adidas released a stunning strip, donning their old two star badge and thick sleeve and neck cuffs.

Gonzalo Higuain wearing Juventus' 120th anniversary kit
TURIN, ITALY – NOVEMBER 05: Gonzalo Higuain of Juventus in action during the Serie A match between Juventus and Benevento Calcio on November 5, 2017 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images)

10. Manchester United – European Cup anniversary – 2008/09

Memories of that 3-1 thrashing dished out to Arsenal at the Emirates, Manchester United‘s third kit in 2008/09 paid homage to their 1968 European Cup triumph. The all-over blue was classy and looked stellar on those Champions League nights, where they almost went all the way again. Who knows, perhaps if they’d have worn it in the final, they would’ve retained the Champions League that year.

Manchester United's all blue 2008/09 third kit
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 05: Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United celebrates scoring the second goal of the game during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on May 5, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

9. AIK 1891 – Black Edition – 2018/19

Alright, blackout kits are cheating a little bit, because they’re impossible to do wrong really. Swedish outfit AIK have set the world alight with their special edition releases, though, in particular this 2019 Nike drop. Replacing their usual ‘AIK’ type on the front with ‘1891’, the kit harked back to the club’s formation. Only 128 shirts were made at the time of release, so if you’re after one, well, good luck.

8. Atletico Mineiro – Manto Da Massa – 2021/22

Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro ticked all the boxes with this special edition strip. Not only is it a serious work of art, from the colour combinations and blocking to the intricate design, it’s a work of art that was designed by a fan of the club. Plenty of subtle, incredible details which tie together an unbelievable 113th birthday celebration shirt.

7. Juventus x Palace Skateboards – 2019/20

Juventus‘ one and only dip into the fashion collaboration world, their work with adidas and Palace Skateboards in late 2019 was iconic. Dropping a full teamwear collection, the usual black and white was reworked, while hits of bright green and orange gave the shirt new life. Not for everyone, but definitely unforgettable.

Juventus collaborated with Palace Skateboards
TURIN, ITALY – OCTOBER 30: Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus looks on during the Serie A match between Juventus and Genoa CFC at on October 30, 2019 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

6. Barcelona – Centenary – 1999/00

Centenary shirts are the easiest means for special edition kit, but not always the easiest to do well. Barcelona smashed it. Rocking an incredibly unique half/half design, their anniversary shirt did away with conventions and also added in a central logo, flanked by 1899 one one half and 1999 on the other. Add some navy details and a collar, and you’ve got a shirt for the ages.

Barcelona celebrated their 100th birthday with a special edition kit
29 Sep 1999: Rivaldo of Barcelona is challenged by Patrick Rieira and Martin Keown of Arsenal during the Champions League match played at the Nou Camp Stadium in Barcelona, Spain. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. \ Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill /Allsport

Rio Ferdinand delivers damning Rangnick verdict (Football Terrace)

5. Chivas – Club World Cup – 2018

Ever wanted to turn up to five-a-side looking like a 1970s Mexican football starlet? Look no further. Chivas took on that look with a special edition shirt, designed to be worn in their 2018 FIFA Club World Cup campaign. Those thin stripes and the navy collar are seriously striking.

Chivas used a special kit at the Club World Cup
AL AIN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – DECEMBER 15: Josecarlos Van Rankin of CD Guadalajara battles for possession with Hiroki Abe of Kashima Antlers during the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 Second round match between Kashima Antlers and CD Guadalajara at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on December 15, 2018 in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

4. Italy – Renaissance – 2019/20

Unveiled towards the end of 2019, PUMA switched it up completely with Italy’s look for a year or so, and it paid off significantly. The deep green base was broken up with a detailed woven pattern, with the colour nodding towards an older Italian policy that stated the famous blue strip was only to be worn by the senior side, following a victory over Argentina in 1954. The kit symbolised a young national team rising again.

Italy's colours went green in 2019/20
ROME, ITALY – OCTOBER 12: Players of Italy sing their national anthem before the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier between Italy and Greece on October 12, 2019 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

3. Napoli – Diego Maradona – 2020/21

Celebrating their ties to Argentina through their special connection with club legend Diego Maradona, Kappa dropped an Argentine-inspired Napoli fourth shirt in 2020/21. You simply cannot go wrong with those stripes, and it gave Napoli an entirely refreshed look while still feeling iconic and bedded in tradition. Timeless and a collector’s piece.

Napoli wore an Argentine design in 2020/21
NAPLES, ITALY – NOVEMBER 29: Lorenzo Insigne of SSC Napoli celebrates after scoring their sides first goal during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and AS Roma at Stadio San Paolo on November 29, 2020 in Naples, Italy. Sporting stadiums around Italy remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

2. AIK 1891 – White and gold – 2018/19

As if one entry with an already striking black shirt wasn’t enough, AIK just had to steal the headlines in the limited edition kit world. Releasing after their blackout design, Nike flipped the switch again, maintaining the same template, but this time using a white base with stunning, golden accents across the shirt. Very, very difficult to top.

1. Arsenal – Highbury farewell – 2005/06

Tampering with the conventions of a home shirt for an entire season is a complete no-go for many, and understandably, but when Arsenal risked it in 2005/06, the reward was immense. In their final season at Highbury before moving to the Emirates, red and white was switched with a classy maroon base and golden accents across, with smaller details and – of course – a collar to tie things together. Thierry Henry balling out in this shirt will never not be iconic.

GettyImages 57399364
LONDON – APRIL 22: Thierry Henry of Arsenal celebrates after scoring the equalising goal during the Barclays Premiership match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Highbury on April 22, 2006 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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