Matchworn by Nicola Albani 28.04.2004 SNR 🇸🇲 : LIE 🇱🇮 1-0 (first and only victory)
Source: Former Liechtenstein player
April 28th, 2004 – the day San Marino’s national team lost its virginity.
It’s 10:18 pm, when Maltese referee Lawrence Sammut blew the final whistle of the friendly match between UEFA minnows San Marino and Liechtenstein. A moment that sealed a historic moment for San Marino’s national team.
Only around 700 people found their way into the Stadio Olimpico in Serravalle on this mild spring day, yet, none of them expected to witness a moment in football history.
For a match between two of the lowest ranked team in European football, the San Marino Football Federation invited quite a prominent guest of honor: then UEFA president Michel Platini, who personally greeted each of the 22 players, all wearing a white T-shirt commemorating the 50th birthday of the Union of European Football Associations – UEFA.
In a fiercely contested game, the match-winning scene already happened in the fifth minute:
After a foul near the penalty line and the subsequent indirect free kick, San Marino’s captain Andy Selva sank the ball untenably into the net.
Despite promising chances on both sides, the Sammarinese team managed to run down the clock and therefore accomplish their first ever victory. With 178 games played, as of April 2021, this win still stands as the biggest ever success in San Marino’s 31 year football history.
It’s easy to laugh at the team’s 160 losses and seven draws and the fact that the team has been on the bottom of the FIFA ranking for years. Yet, the Sammarinese players enter the pitch game in game out, proud to represent their country and remain ready to put up a fight, despite their small chances against Europe’s footballing elite. We should acknowledge and admire a team that consistently shows this level of professionalism and commitment, rather than to belittle a team that might be Europe’s worst, but that could easily outplay a dozen of national teams around the world.
This is a piece of football history! Worn by defender Nicola Albani, when he and his teammates beat Lichtenstein 1-0 during a 2004 friendly, securing San Marino’s first – and to this day only – victory, this is certainly a shirt I’m very proud to induct into my hall of shirts.
Made by arguably one of the best (but short-lived) manufacturers of all time, Italian manufacturer Virma, it features the country’s coat of arms and still pours on the charm of a 90s shirt.
It even has some small “battle scars” in the form of some dirt spots on the right sleeve (handball?).
I was lucky to acquire this shirt (and a bunch of others) from a former Liechtensteiner international who also played the match and even had a chance to score an equalizer in the second half. However, for the sake of San Marino’s football history and the uniqueness of this shirt, I am glad that he took this shirt home as a loser and, despite forever being part of “the team that lost to San Marino”, keeping it in his collection.