Band of Gold: The Legendary Boca Juniors Shirt

The colours of Boca Juniors are among the most unique and easily recognisable in world football.

Thanks to a suggestion from Paul Patrick, member 000001 of the Belfast branch of the Boca Juniors Supporters Club, here’s our tribute to a special shirt from the Buenos Aires giants’ history of kits.

Boca Juniors’ colours are known across the globe, made famous by Maradona, Tevez, Batistuta and Caniggia; their shirts have that awesome quality of instant recognition from 100 metres that very few clubs can match.

That band of gold across a sea of blue is unmistakable.

Those colours belong to Boca.

Boca Juniors, Nike, 2000, Shirt, Camiseta
Boca Juniors’ jersey from the year 2000

For more than a century, Boca Juniors have come to symbolise the passion, the romance, the trickery and the artistic flair of the district they call home.

Yet it could have been an entirely different story if 90 minutes of football and the order of ships sailing into Buenos Aires had turned out differently.

Founded in 1905 by Greek and Italian immigrants to the working class neighbourhood of La Boca in Buenos Aires, Club Atlético Boca Juniors have traditionally been characterised as representing Argentina’s down-trodden, whilst Los Millonarios of rivals River Plate are cast as the entitled elite.

Boca originally wore white shirts with narrow black stripes, before colour clashes with Nottingham de Almagro led to them challenging their fashion rivals to a 1906 match to see who would keep the colours.

Boca lost.

Boca Juniors, Quilmes, Xeneizes
The back of the Boca shirt carries the logo of sponsor Quilmes and the club’s nickname, Xeneizes

Needing to find a new look, legend has it that fate chose their Azul y Oro (Blue and Gold) after the club decided to adopt the colours of the flag of the first boat to sail into port at La Boca.

This proved to be a Swedish ship, therefore the yellow and blue of Sweden’s flag were chosen as the new club colours, with the first incarnation of the now iconic Boca shirt having a yellow sash from right shoulder to left hip.

Pause on that for a moment.

Imagine how a Superclásico derby with eternal enemies River Plate would look if the boys from La Bombonera were dressed like Grimsby Town?

Suddenly the world of football is a little more drab, somehow Maradona in monochrome doesn’t quite cut it.

This loosely-cut Nike shirt we feature here is nearly 20 years old, boasts the name of Argentina’s favourite beer, Quilmes, and was worn by Boca as they beat Brazil’s Palmeiras over two legs to win the Copa Libertadores back in the year 2000.

Riquelme, Boca, Real Madrid, 2000, World Champions
Boca number ten Juan Riquelme evades Luis Figo of Real Madrid

Two goals from left-back Rodolfo Arruabarrena earned Carlos Bianchi’s men a 2-2 draw in Buenos Aires, before a goalless stalemate in São Paulo meant the match hinged on penalties; with Juan Román Riquelme and Martín Palermo among the scorers as Boca claimed their 3rd South American championship.

Los Xeneizes (Genoese) then marched to Tokyo to meet Real Madrid in the Intercontinental Cup where an early brace from Martín Palermo secured a 2-1 victory over Los Galacticos and saw Boca crowned champions of the world for the second time in their history.

Boca Juniors, fan, nike
Boca Juniors fan Paul Patrick in the 2000 Nike shirt

For it’s association with a season where Boca Juniors upset the odds to become world champions, for it’s baggy cut, beer sponsored, turn of the century Nike aesthetic; this shirt is a fine example of one of football’s most famous kits and more than deserves it’s place in the annals of Sartorial Soccer.

Massive thanks go to Paul Patrick for his help in putting this story together and for the pictures of the shirt.

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