Shirt stories: The famous 1988-1990 jersey

Lee Dixon in 1988

We have a long tradition of famous shirts that have been at the forefront of football fashion, featuring iconic designs and donned by some of our greatest-ever players. 

Here, Tony Carey from Kent has his say on what he deems to be our best during his lifetime, and one that would be worn during one of the most famous seasons in our history.

My favourite shirt is the glorious home shirt from 1988 to 1990. It was the first one my parents bought me as a child and it started my love for both Arsenal and the shirts they wear. I remember playing football in the garden with my older brother for hours wearing this shirt. He modelled his game on Tony Adams so I took plenty of kicks along the way that are hard to forget, even at that age!

I love the adidas three-stripe branding to the sleeves and the subtle embroidery of the cannons in the fabric. The adidas trefoil logo looks great and the traditional cannon badge is superb. It was the last to feature this style of badge until its return on the 2021/22 away shirt.

I associate so many players with this shirt – Dixon, Bould, Adams, Winterburn, Thomas, Smith and Merson to name a few – but the one player who stands out the most is David Rocastle. I loved everything about his game: incredible skills, tough tackling and some unforgettable goals. Rocky was miles ahead of his time and a true Arsenal icon who will never be forgotten.

Nigel Winterburn in 1990

There were plenty of memorable matches to choose from, given the era, and the ones I think of most are from the legendary 1988/89 league title-winning season. Nigel Winterburn’s rare right-footed stunner against Wimbledon always jumps to mind when I see this shirt.

Obviously my original shirt was a child’s size, but I’ve owned the adult version for years. It took me straight back to being a kid, which is what I love most about Arsenal shirts.

They capture a moment in time.

I wore this shirt so much as a child but I don’t wear it too often nowadays simply due to the amount of shirts I have, and the fact that I like to vary the era and styles that I wear. I own a match-worn number 7 shirt, and that is one is to be looked at only - it’s far too precious to wear!

Did you know?

  • We won our ninth league title wearing this shirt in 1989, a number that put us level with Everton on the all-time list of English champions behind Liverpool (17)
  • David Rocastle was one of three players, along with John Lukic and Nigel Winterburn, to feature in all 38 league matches that season

Check out more classic shirts on Arsenal Direct

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