Matchworn Valdas Ivanauskas 26.04.95 LIT 🇱🇹 : ITA 🇮🇹 0-1
Unlike the rest of Europe, football isn’t really big in the Baltics. While the Latvians are mostly into ice hockey and basketball and the Estonians thrive in winter sports and their weird national swinging sport called “kiiking”, the Lithuanians are absolutely crazy for basketball.
Unforgotten, their performance during the 2000 Summer Olympic in Sydney, where Lithuania lost against the unbeatable Americans by just two points. In total, they won three consecutive bronze medals at the Olympics and won the EuroBasket three times.
Lithuania’s football record, however, isn’t quite as impressive: zero participations at the EURO and zero participations at a World Cup. Like their Latvian neighbors, Lithuania’s football league has sunken into corruption, completely destroying what once was a loyal fanbase. While they once climbed to a respectable 37th place at the FIFA ranking, the aftermath of the corruption scandal let them plunge down a whopping 111 ranks within nine years. During the EURO 202(1) Qualification, they even finished dead last, only earning a single point against Luxembourg.
The state of Lithuania’s league football is also rather depressing, as I was able to experience at first hand: during the “Clash of Lithuania” (I made that up…) between Žalgiris Vilnius and their rivals from Kaunas – a game that would sell out in minutes, if it were a basketball game – was only attended by a mere 200 “fans”. A beer and some fried bread (the national snack – awesome) in the national stadium even cost me more than a ticket to what I thought was a fierce derby.
You don't have to be a football jersey aficionado to see that this is a special shirt! Based on the popular template design, of which I already own jerseys from Israel and Belgium, Diadora has already created a retro shirt back in the mid-90s, which brings back memories of the jerseys of the 1930s to 1950s. The central design element is of course the lace-up collar, which to my knowledge is unique in modern football (at least for national teams). Another contribution to the retro aesthetic is the national emblem of Lithuania, which is sewn onto the jersey with a thick gold border. The shirt is also extremely heavy for a football jersey at 350g! Later versions of the design were made from a different material and have a pattern incorporated into the fabric.
Another special feature is the fact that this jersey was worn by Lithuanian footballing legend Valdas Ivanauskas, who laced up his football boots for Hamburger SV in the German Bundesliga for many years .
Apparently, the match was fierce, as you can see clear traces of blood underneath the collar and the back also has large dirt marks. Blood, sweat and (possibly also) tears, however, were ultimately of no use: Lithuania eventually lost respectably 0-1 to the almighty Italians.