With an exciting style of play and huge success on the field over the last decade, Barcelona is arguably the most popular soccer teams in the world. The Catalan club is well-known for their red and blue jerseys which according to some stories they stole from Switzerland’s FC Basel.
The club’s founder and first president, Joan Gamper, is credited with selecting the iconic colors by most fans. The Winterthur, Switzerland native was an early captain of FC Basel. Gamper is responsible for saving the club in the early years. He famously said, “Barcelona cannot die and must not die. If there is nobody who is going to try, then I will assume the responsibility of running the club from now on.”
2 other myths behind the club’s colors are that first club president Arthur Witty based them on the colors of the Merchant Taylor’s School team and that they were based on the colors from Robespierre’s First Republic.
It is not surprising that most fans see as the truth Gamper’s connection. To this day, Gamper remains a figure of respect and admiration in and around the Camp Nou. Since 1966, Barca has hosted a pre-season tournament where invited teams compete for the Gamper Trophy.
From its formation in 1899 until the 1920s, the Catalan team sported a jersey that was bisected from the collar to the waistline with one half red and the other blue, the design was reprised for the 1999/00 campaign to mark the club’s centenary.
The halved jerseys were replaced by multiple vertical stripped jerseys but staying true to the Blaugrana (blue and red) colors. Various widths have been used for the vertical stripes over the years to give unique styles to different jerseys.
Barcelona FC and the club’s technical sponsor, Nike, shocked the world not to mention the clubs culés (supporters) with the launch of the 2015/16 home jersey. The famous vertical stripes had been replaced with horizontal stripes.
The new design lasted only one season and Barcelona has since reverted to its traditional look. The controversial kit didn’t stop Luis Enrique’s side from performing out on the field however, as Barca retained the La Liga and the Copa del Rey titles although they fell short of expectations in the UEFA Champions League that term.
But not all fans were put off by the new look as it topped the Best Selling Official Jersey list for 2015 in the U.S. for the year.
Perhaps the most iconic Barca jerseys were those worn in the 1990’s produced by Kappa. It certainly helps that the Johan Cruyff-managed ‘Dream Team’ was sweeping all before them in that era, winning four consecutive La Liga titles as well as the 1992 European Cup (now known as the UEFA Champions League), the first time the club ever lifted Europe’s most prestigious trophy.
Ironically, Barca wore their orange away jersey in the 1-0 win over Sampdoria at Wembley Stadium to claim the trophy. But the players were quick to change into their iconic home jersey to celebrate the club’s first European Cup trophy.
Resplendent in blue and red with the iconic Kappa logo running along their sleeves, Michael Laudrup, Ronald Koeman, Hristo Stoickov and Romario were entertaining and effective in equal measure.
And they did so with great style and panache. Cruyff’s team was built on a possession-based platform that Pep Guardiola, a player on that ‘Dream Team,’ took to new heights while in charge at the Camp Nou between 2008 and 2012.
Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi have significantly added to the romance associated with Barca’s famous colors in the decade-and-a-half that followed.
Indeed, many of the game’s all-time greats have worn the Barca shirt, with varying degrees of success.
As a player, Cruyff moved to Catalonia from Ajax when Barca were an unfashionable club in the shadow of the likes of Real Madrid and Athletic Club. He was widely regarded as the best player in the world at the time and shunned offers from more successful sides to embark on a passion project. For the way he reshaped the Camp Nou side, he is undoubtedly the most important figure in the club’s history.
The great Diego Maradona was also thought of as the most gifted forward on the planet when he moved to Barca in 1982. With 38 goals in 58 appearances, his two-year stay in Spain was not world changing but hardly a disaster.
If there is one player who could challenge Maradona’s status as the greatest of all-time, it’s Messi. A product of Barca’s famous La Masia academy, the 29-year-old magician has broken every record and won every trophy possible, producing jaw-dropping performances with unnerving regularity.
The special players and revolutionary coaches that have broken football’s boundaries and taken the game to new levels within walls of the Camp Nou have all fed into the unique history of the Barcelona shirt and its famous colors. Few jerseys evoke such emotion, reverie and respect as the red and blue (vertical) stripes of Barca.
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