It’s a bit like looking at a high-rise building through somebody else’s specs. From a distance, it looks like a pretty standard-issue, safe, various-shades-of-blue keeper shirt. Then you get up close to it, and suddenly you’re dizzy, and the pitch is swirling beneath your feet and then, shit, Antti Niemi is on top of you. Why are you on the floor? What’s happened there, then?
The ‘Friends Provident’ sponsor logo on the front is made of that thick, velvety felt material that was once a staple of football shirts. None of this sticker rubbish that scrapes off after the first time you chest down a rushed, hopeful clearance from the keeper. This is proper, three-dimensional, quality sponsorship.
Friends Provident were a life insurance company. Southampton got relegated in this shirt, shortly before Harry Redknapp left for rivals, Pompey. There’s absolutely no way these facts could be linked. No way at all.
This is a goalie jersey of hidden truths. The closer you look, the more is revealed. Like a da Vinci painting. Get a UV light on it, and you’ll probably uncover hidden satanic messages written in code or something. Or it might just be a lovely bit of noughties memorabilia.