When Players Wear the "Wrong" Kits

Apropos of nothing in particular, enjoy these photos of players wearing the shirts of teams they've never played for.

Players in the "Wrong" Kits

The chances are that when you think of a football player, you imagine them wearing either the kit of one of the clubs they've played for or their national team. You've seen them dressed the same on countless occasions, you're familiar with their career history and you probably associate them with a certain kit or colour. So when a photo pops up of them wearing the shirt of another team, one they've never represented, it can make you do a double take. There's a curious novelty to it, much like when a goalkeeper wears an outfield shirt. For your enjoyment, we've put together as many of these instances as we could find. Check them out below and let us know in the comments if we've missed any.

Post-Match Shirt Swaps

The well-worn tradition of swapping shirts with the opponent after a match has provided us with the lion's share of the photos for this particular football kit niche. Rather than pull on a jersey drenched with another person's sweat, most players just take their newly acquired souvenir home to add to their collection. Thankfully, some of them don't let personal hygiene get in the way of creating a photo opp that serves as a window into a parallel universe where their career path took some different twists and turns.

Zidane - AC Milan and Partizan Belgrade

Rivaldo - England

Ronaldo - England

Thierry Henry - Brazil and Portsmouth

Lionel Messi - Fiorentina

Neymar - Uruguay

Gary Lineker - Ireland

Gary Neville - Feyenoord

Alessandro Del Piero - AC Milan

Eden Hazard - PSG

Alan Smith - AC Milan

Charity Matches and Testimonials

These ones can be the most jarring at first glance. You know that player has never payed for that club, but the photographic evidence before your eyes shows them playing a real match in their full kit.

Gianfranco Zola - West ham (Tony Carr testimonial match)

Paul Gascoigne - Arsenal /Paul Merson testimonial match)

Francesco Totti - Inter

This is thought to be the only photo of Francesco Totti wearing the the shirt of a club other than Roma. It came about when Roma and Inter took to the field in each other's kits ahead of their Serie A clash in 1995. The idea was to encourage better relations between rival fans and to honour the memory of Genoa fan Claudio Spagnolo, who had been murdered two weeks previously by a Milan ultra, hours before the two sides faced off.

Forgotten Moves and Switched Allegiances

A young Juan Mata at Real Madrid.

Early days, loan spells, short-lived adventures, forgotten transfers and the ones that got away. Most of these players' careers blossomed a while after these photos were taken, although a couple of them made unexpected detours well after they had established themselves in the game.

John Obi Mikel - Manchester United (cancelled transfer)

Harry Kane - Leicester (loan)

Nicolas Anelka and Nicklas Bendtner - Juventus (both loans)

The two former Arsenal strikers(Bendtner was actually contracted to Arsenal at the time) contributed a joint total of 13 appearances and 0 goals, but still managed to come away with a Serie A winners medal each from their baffling spell together in Turin.

David Beckham - Arsenal (trained with club to maintain fitness)

Johan Cruyff - PSG (played 2 games in 1975 Paris Tournament)

Hector Bellerin - Watford (loan)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Arsenal (trial)

Diego Costa - Brazil (later switched allegiance to Spain)

Jack Grealish and Declan Rice - Ireland (both later switched allegiance to England)

Andre Onana and Mauro Icardi - Barcelona (youth teams)

Raul - Atlético Madrid (youth teams)

Samuel Eto'o - Real Madrid


These players show that although their talent and ability is far superior to us mere mortals, we do at least have a shared appreciation for wearing football shirts in our free time for the sake of it.

Erling Haaland

Gregory Van der Wiel

Antoine Griezmann

Frank Kessié

Diego Maradona

Although he's featured in almost all of the above, Diego Armando Maradona deserves his own category as he truly was one of a kind. Probably invited to play in more charity matches and testimonials than anyone else, he was always fond of a shirt swap and when watching Boca Juniors or Argentina, he lived every moment from the stands with as much passion as the most fervent ultras. Even just a photo of Maradona wearing their club or country's shirt is enough to make fans dream of the magic that could have been with El Diego among their ranks.

Which photo is your favourite? Let us know about all the ones we missed in the comments.