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NIGER

Home 1980

Matchworn/Matchprepared (player & game unknown)

Manufacturer: Kopa

Source: Collector

 

THE TEAM

[niʒɛʁ] – just to get the pronunciation out of the way – is a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger river. As a landlocked country with 80% of its area inside the Sahara Desert, economic prospects are rather bleak, which also reflects in Niger’s last rank in the 2018 Human Development Index.

Despite their economic shortcomings, the Nigerien national football team has managed to reach a respectable 106th place in the FIFA World ranking above such nations as Thailand, Latvia and New Zealand! In 2012 and 2013 the team even managed to qualify for the Africa Cup, where they did not manage to win any of their games and consequently did not progress to the knock-out stages.


THE SHIRT

Jerseys designed before the 1990s generally don't really stand out due to their spectacular design, but often only due to their rarity.

This is probably more true of this Niger jersey from 1980 than any other jersey in my collection. Although the emerald green and bright orange reflect the national colors of Niger very well, there are no spectacular patterns or even depictions of animals to be found on this old piece of cotton.

Instead, the jersey from French manufacturer Kopa impresses with its classic simplicity and the hand-stitched crest of the African country's association, on which the Dama Gazelle – the team's heraldic animal – is emblazoned, evoking memories of simpler times in football.

Getting an old jersey from such a distant and small footballing nation certainly doesn't happen every day! Due to its age and the resulting lack of pictures of the Nigerien national team from this period, it is extremely difficult to obtain precise information about the jersey. I was able to find a picture of the team in this shirt from 1980 and was able to obtain some sparse information from people involved in Nigerian football.

 

Interestingly,  the jersey does not have a shirt number on the back and shows clear signs of game wear despite its otherwise pristine condition. I have been told that it was quite common for jerseys not to have shirt numbers for every match at this time, which was apparently also the case here.

This extremely rare piece is now the oldest jersey in my collection.


Niger's national team in 1980.

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