Image from subsidesports.com

 

David Ginola has worn more hot shirts than you’ve had hot dinners. So many, in fact, that it’s nigh on impossible to pick out a favourite 10, let alone Jeff Whitley it down to a top 5. On that basis the rules have officially been bent – you’re getting a summary of Ginola sauce from 5 periods of his career from this smitten keyboard kitten, rather than just 5 kits. (NB, if you came here for shots of DG in his undercrackers then you’ll be disappointed, but do get in touch and I’ll hook you up.)

 

The Côte d’Allure

Close your eyes and picture it – late ‘80s, French Riviera, afternoon sun on your face, carafe of red and a pack of Gitanes at your disposal. Your local team, Toulon, are holding their own in the French top flight, and there’s a young, tall, dashing attacker with a tight mullet dazzling both defenders and onlookers. Take me there, now.

A young Ginola struck gold with his first few shirts in professional football, or bright yellow to be precise. That maillot jaune just seems apt for a team from a region famed for its sunshine, and matching it with blue bits and bobs is a pairing that Forest Gump’s mum would be approving of. In the 87/88 season, Ginola’s last in his local area, the colour scheme was flipped to give blue centre stage in one of that season’s strips which probably takes my vote as favourite DG Toulon number and sees him leave the club on a shirt high.

Whichever kit Davey wore in Toulon, the colours were loud and proud, but those oversized shirt sponsors synonymous with the era of French footy were even more so. I’m also taken by the unusual Toulon club crest – simply the club’s name housed in part of a two-tone sash coming over the left shoulder, seemingly destined to go no further across the body like an old seatbelt that’s been yanked too quickly.

 

The Racy Paris 1

Ginola’s second club was Racing Club de Paris, or Matra Racing, or Racing Paris 1, or Racing Club de France depending on which day of the week you were supporting them. When he joined, he walked straight into some late ‘80’s Adidas trefoil magic, but also into some rugby-looking shirts that oddly seemed to work, or maybe he’s the one working them? His first home shirt is a beauty, an Argentinian Pumas’ base of sky blue and white hoops, with a plunging V-neck and floppy collar hybrid. It’s brought together a treat by the thick navy-blue band on each sleeve that matches the club crest and Adidas logo, punctuated further by the brutal Matra sponsor across the chest.

In Dave’s second season the sponsor had changed but the tradition hadn’t, with new sponsor Loto Sportif maintaining the seemingly mandatory massive font size. The colour scheme also remained, but the hoops were replaced by a white band around the midriff of a sky-blue shirt, and then a further, solitary thin white line just below it. Adidas had seemingly caught the supersize bug from the sponsors, as this season’s trefoil was steroid-induced on the chest of the shirt. In this season it was the away strip that really caught my eye – same design as the home, but body of the shirt in a deeper blue with the sky blue used for the band. Sponsor in white, collar in white, Adidas 3 stripes (all the way) down the sleeve in white. Lovely job.

 

Better than d’accord in Paris

After a couple of years in Brittany with Brest, Ginola returned to the capital to turn-out for Paris Saint-Germain, where, frankly, his shirt collection got completely out of hand. It would go on to be defined by one brand (and ultimately one designer) and a million sponsors, but the early outings of his PSG career saw Ginola don the club’s late Adidas-made RTL-sponsored shirt which is a real link to the club’s past – clean blue and red segments, no fluff, familiar famous French sponsor.

Enter Nike, and enter Drake Ramberg. The next few seasons are all about this now-fabled collaboration that were at the forefront of football shirt design development in ‘90s Europe. Also enter, boatloads of sponsors… DG seemingly wore dozens of sponsor combinations during his time at PSG, some for league, others for cup, others in Europe. All massive, all slapped across the front (and sometimes back) of the shirt, whether they suited the shirt or not. Sometimes 2 at a time. Sometimes with sleeve sponsors thrown in for garish garnish. A shirt collector’s dream/nightmare depending on your viewpoint/liquidity.

For the home shirts, the established red centre panel and white pinstripes flanked by blue is generally an ever-present, barring the shirts from ‘92 & ‘93 that fade the colours into one another with some thinner red verticals. For the away efforts there’s a bit of license and a bit more jazz as a result. The best example is probably the 92/93 Nike away shirt – plain white body, red hybrid V-neck/floppy collar with white dashes as trim, then the deliciously mesmeric blue patterned sleeves. Seek out the long-sleeved version to get truly lost in them, brought back to earth with feather-light touch by cuffs that match the collar. Proper chef’s kiss gif stuff. The red Nike logo, club crest, and Commodore sponsor logo all match the white/red/blue scheme so nothing looks out of place. My favourite version is the one without the additional Tourtel sponsor, with the Commodore logo straight across the chest instead of arched. Just let the shirt breath, man.

The 94/95 season was where one of the Ramberg classic templates hit the Paris streets, and, of course, Ginola was rolling in that, too. Both home and away are the same design with alternating colour schemes, but what a design. It’s pretty simple in the main – stick to what works for the majority – those segments are there with their pinstripes for pronunciation, but let’s face it, we’re here for the collar. As you follow it around the neck it’s a crew, then it looks like it’s dropping into a V, but then a straight horizontal line cuts it off giving it a flat bottom edge, tickling your gullet. It works because it’s unusual and it stands out – 3 little stars and coordinated trim make sure of that, and provide a suitable little home for the Nike logo. PSG were also playing silly buggers with their club crest around this time, and that version of it, with the Eiffel Tower ditched for initials only, actually goes well with the fashion-forward shirt design.  Again, if you can get one with only a single sponsor so you’re more shirt, less advert, then you’re winning.

As a non-Ginola-related aside, do check-out the naughty ‘keeper kits that Bernard Lama was wearing for PSG during this period. Unless you’ve got epilepsy.

Image from classicfootballshirts.co.uk

L’ange du Nord-Est

In ’95 Ginola swapped Bastille Market for the Bigg Market, as Newcastle brought his Gallic charm on and off the pitch to Britain. He was handsomely rewarded with… rugby shirts, again, but just like at Racing Paris, if there’s one chap that can carry-off an over-sized sack with a collar you’d expect to see in a church, and giant buttons straight from your best winter overcoat, then wor man is the man. The Adidas/Newcastle/Newcastle Brown shirts from the 95/96 season are odd but original contraptions; that’s why I like them and why they’ve stuck with me years later. They’re massive, they look too heavy, the Adidas stripes don’t start until after the shoulder, and you’re only getting the Adidas name written on your chest rather than a trefoil or equipment logo. The away shirt is also more rugger than a lot of rugger shirts with it’s blue and purple hoops. But I love them, and I think it’s the collar that’s captured my heart. Never has it been so much graft to put a shirt on (aside from trying not to garrotte yourself in lace-up shirts), but as you clumsily fasten those chunky buttons up one by one and run your fingers along the inside of the cut-off collar to ensure it’s straight, just look how smart you look. And then look at how smart David looks. You’re 2 smart petit pois in a smart pod, and you’re also nice and toasty as your shirt probably went over 3 layers before it even started to pinch.

Image from classicfootballshirts.co.uk

Having an unmistakably local and now iconic sponsor in Newcastle Brown Ale only adds to the allure for me, and the logos used differ slightly between home and away shirts. The home carries the Newcastle Brown logo you’d see on a bottle of the muddy elixir when you turn to it after the bar at the gig venue has run-out of Red Stripe. A comforting feeling. The away drops the yellowy-orange colour from the logo and focusses on the star in the centre, blue with an outline of the Tyne Bridge in black.

It’s that revised logo that helps make the Newcastle 96-97 away shirt that Ginola floated around St James’ Park in one of the unsung Premier League gems. The body is bluey/silvery mesh-looking subtly-striped fayre from Adidas, but the makers really earn their corn with the collar and matching band around the middle. The collar is a massive black V-neck with Adidas 3 stripes in white – think elasticated cricket jumper collar. Get the right size or the inside edges are chaffing your gills before you know it, then you’re spending the next week trying to convince people it’s not a love bite. No-one will believe you. The band around the middle is the same setup as the collar, but with the round Newcastle Brown logo in the middle it looks like a Boxing belt that you can’t unfasten so you’ve tried to lift it over your head and it’s got stuck under your nips. One of those smaller belts, like the North East Champions Belt or something, not your Heavyweight crown. I love it.

During Ginola’s time at Newcastle, Bobby Robson apparently wanted to sign him for Barcelona but with no joy. I thought you should know. I’ll leave you to imagine DG parading around the Camp Nou in some late ‘90s Barca gear in your own time. Definitely NSFW.

 

Les Bleus brother

Let’s be honest, if you play for France at any point there’s a good chance you’ll be donning something sweet, especially if you popped-up in the 40-year Adidas/France era. Ginola only managed 17 caps over a handful of years (for well-trodden reasons), but true-to-form still got involved in some sizzling Adidas/France home/away action.

His debut was made in 1990 in an all-time classic white away shirt. Clean, quiet torso, then a party going on hosted by the shoulder panels. French Tricolor Adidas stripes on the peak, blocks of blue over the collar bone and red under the ‘pits, and then 3 red parallelograms staggered diagonally down each side of the chest. It’s a design so bold that stuff has to get out of the road for it – Adidas trefoil moves up a little, FFF crest down a little, but no harm done. Look it up, as I’ve absolutely butchered the description, there.

The Adidas templates used in the 92/93 shirts are classics of their time, used by nations and clubs alike – bold, block colour body with subtle striping, then 3 slabs of colour draped over each shoulder, of course in the colours of the Tricolor in this case.

Image from classicfootballshirts.co.uk

That shirt may not hold the fondest memories for French fans and Ginola in particular, given how their qualification for USA ’94 ended, but our man was still around for a little while longer, and long enough to roll-out in another classic Adidas template that took him up to his final France cap in ’95. Again, all the expanse is reserved for the trim, with the body of the shirt doing a noble job of providing a sturdy canvas. Whilst we’ve got Tricolor 3 stripes down the shoulders (and matching trim on the collar), the eye is immediately drawn to the 3 vertical stripes of little diamonds down the right-hand side, the again provide some Tricolor action but this time in a dazzling fashion. Like its predecessor, keep the design but swap the blue body for a white one for the away version. Both are beauties.

Despite all that classic ‘90s action, there’s really only one Ginola place for shirt perves to tickle their France shirt pickle, and that’s to hop on the niche train back to the 1987 edition of Le Tournoi, where our man was picking-up the Player of the Tournament award as France took home the trophy. The shirt they wore is an absolute ripsnorter, and looking at French shirts through the ages seems to be some sort of hybrid witchcraft. On top of the classic blue core, there’s the white V-neck/floppy collar mix seen in the late ‘70s and mid ‘80s, and this V is deeeeep. There are the Adidas Tricolor stripes along the shoulders, as seen on various shirts before and after, but then also the white block cut-offs at the point of the shoulder jutting down into the chest, which from what I can see don’t appear anywhere else until 1989/90-ish. The real scene-stealer though is the jumbo rooster on the chest. Just look at it, crowing loudly and proudly about how good its team are. The French national team aren’t historically shy of a whopping rooster, and this is still large by their own large rooster standards, reminiscent of the Honey I Blew Up the Rooster sized roosters of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s France shirts. They just cock-a-doodle-did it, and so did David Ginola. Any photos of this beauty are thin on the ground, with colour snaps even less so – if any of you shirt sharps out there know more about it, or know if it was used elsewhere by the senior side, then do come knocking, please.

 

Brest of the rest

I mean, he’s done alright for himself, hasn’t he, our Dave, with that shirt career? Even still, he’s danced in a few other delights that it’d be remiss of me not to mention in dispatches.

In-between his 2 spells in Paris, Ginola spent a couple of years in Brest, and unsurprisingly looked resplendent in their white and red ensembles. The first shirt he wore there was a basic Adidas number with the deepest of deep red Vs, but it was the shirts made by household name Izoard that stand-out to me – white shirts, couple of red slashes across the arms, floppy white collar and a block red triangle cutting it off at the la pomme d’Adam. There are 2 shirts in this vein that differ slightly only in colour of font used and sponsor, including food giant Eurest more famed for their Marseille shirt links, but both carry the same pièce de resistance – the Brest crest. The words ‘Brest Amorique’ in large type, with a football hurtling above it powered by a bunch of lightning strikes. Super stuff.

Later in his career, after King Kenny didn’t fancy Duke David at Newcastle, our hero rode south for a couple of seasons at Tottenham Hotspur which coincided with Spurs finishing their filthy affair with Pony and HP in favour of one last fling with the ex, Holsten, this time bankrolled by the voyeurs at Adidas. The latter are comfortably DG’s best Spurs shirts – they’re plain but clean and crisp – there’s always a place for a dinner suit in your wardrobe, isn’t there. You’re also getting those Adidas stripes from your neck to your watchstrap in the long-sleeved versions. You’ll hear no grumbles here. Ginola managed to escape White Hart Lane before suffering the ignominy of having to wear some skin-fit Kappa action, which no man of his elegance should be subjected to.

Image from classicfootballshirts.co.uk

Unfortunately, though, as his career on the pitch wound down, so did his luck with the shirts. His spell at Aston Villa ran head-on into some confusing Diadora and NTL-based lack of effort from Villa, and the less said about the busy Puma Everton One2One shirt with the massive crest, the better. Rest assured though, Dave looked better in those shirts than you or I ever would.

Image from classicfootballshirts.co.uk