We've opened the door to the SoccerBible Kit Vault once again, this time to reveal a gem from the continent – a mid-nineties Ajax home shirt. The white with red vertical stripe is an iconic jersey, that's been worn by some of the greatest players to ever grace the game!
This Umbro Ajax football shirt dates from the 1997-98 season, and adorned such great Ajax players as Michael Laudrup, Jari Litmanen, Sunday Oliseh, Nwankwo Kanu and Frank De Boer. During the 97/98 season the team recorded an Eredivise and KNVB Cup double, as the club enjoyed a flourishing period during the mid-nineties. A hot-bed for young talented footballers, by the time of this shirts release Ajax had already claimed a fourth European Cup in 1995, to add yet another great chapter to the history of the red and white jersey.
Iconic in the football world, the history behind the design of the white shirt with a vertical red stripe isn't actually the most romantic. The design dates back to the 1911 season, when the club got promoted to the top flight of Dutch football for the first time. Ajax were forced to change their kit because Sparta Rotterdam already had the same outfit, and with away strips not yet in existence, the newcomers had to change their kit so they opted for white shorts and white shirt with a broad, vertical red stripe over the chest and back.
The 1997/98 Ajax football jersey was designed and manufactured by Umbro, who were kit supplier for over ten years until the 99/00 season when adidas took over. Another long term association with the club was the sponsor ABN AMRO which features on this shirt, and who adopted the vertical design with their branding as they endorsed the club from 1991 through to 2008.
A predominant feature of this Ajax football shirt is the club crest, which appears on the shirt no less than 9 times! This vision of the Greek hero Ajax, which remains today, was quite a recent addition to the shirt after being re-worked in 1990 to an abstract version of the previous badge. The new logo still sported the portrait of Ajax, but drawn with just 11 lines to symbolize the 11 players of a football team.
Another proud feature of the 97/98 Ajax jersey is the 'School of Excellence' emblem, because during the mid-nineties if you were a promising young footballer Ajax was the place to be! The club can boast a who's who of great footballers passing through their ranks, which include; Marco Van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp, Johan Cruyff, Frank de Boer, Ronald de Boer, Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf, Edwin van der Sar, Marc Overmars, Ronald Koeman, Wesley Sneijder, Michael Laudrup, Brian Laudrup, Nwankwo Kanu, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Suarez and Christian Chivu...the list goes on!
The Ajax football shirt is a classic in the world of football, it's iconic and symbolises a brand of football celebrated throughout the game. For this reason it's hard for any manufacturer to stray from the recognised design, but during the 1997/98 season, Umbro certainly managed to create an eye-catching number!
Stay tuned to the SoccerBible as we reveal even more retro soccer shirts from the Kit Vault, showcasing the best retro and classic kits and bringing them back to life!