When telling the story of a kit, there is usually a good amount of interpretation involved. How did the club arrive at such a colour scheme and design? Where does their crest come from? Why are they sponsored by this particular organisation? These are all questions that need to be answered, and answering them takes effort. However, Sampdoria’s 2017/18 kit requires little by way of research. In many ways, the kit tells its own story, and simply by looking at it from a few different angles one can easily gleam information about the club’s past and present.
Origins of the Sampdoria Colour Scheme
The most visually striking element of the kit is the colour scheme. It’s well-known, and it’s the height of football fashion. The base colour of the shirt is a dark blue, with a thick white horizontal stripe across the midriff. Within that stripe are two more horizontal stripes – one red, one black. These colours are both style and substance – they look good, and they also hint at the club’s origins.
Sampdoria was founded in 1946 through a merger between two teams: Sampierdarenese and Andrea Doria. Bright sparks will notice that the name ‘Sampdoria’ is simply a squashing together of the two original club names. The kit is also a representation of the two teams’ coming together, with Sampierdarenese’s red and black horizontal stripes combining with Andrea Doria’s blue and white to create one of Italian football’s most distinctive looks.
Rather strangely, a crest with the Saint George’s Cross adorns the front of the shirt. It would be entirely reasonable to assume this reflects some sort of English connection; after all, English sailors are believed to have introduced the sport to Italy, and countless English stars have turned out for Samp, including Trevor Francis, Des Walker and David Platt. However, this is no more than a neat coincidence. The crest actually represents the club’s Genovese roots – for hundreds of years, Genoa’s flag has been the Saint George’s Cross. This also explains why the cross is seen in the club badge of Samp’s city rivals, Genoa Cricket and Football Club.
This isn’t Sampdoria’s official club crest, however. And, if you’re looking for it, you won’t be able to find it on the front of the shirt. Rather, it is situated high up on the left sleeve for reasons unbeknownst to this writer. The crest – much like the kit as a whole – stands out. It features the club colours, but it also features a bearded, pipe-smoking sailor, which points to the club’s location in a port city. The sailor, known as ‘Baccicia’, is no stranger to controversy – in 2009, an anti-tobacco group tried and failed to have his pipe removed. This, perhaps, is why he now resides on a sleeve, as opposed to the front of the shirt.
The wonderful colours and bizarre crest have led to the Sampdoria shirt becoming a football hipster’s favourite over the years, and the club appear well aware of their lofty status within this particular market segment. Inscribed on the inside of the collar are the words: ‘La maglia piu bella del mondo’. Translated, this reads: ‘The most beautiful jersey in the world.”
For a club that traditionally finishes somewhere around the mid-table mark in Serie A, the love and respect shown towards their kit is a source of genuine pride. When FourFourTwo published their list of this season’s best kits and ranked Sampdoria at number one, the club’s official website devoted an article to the achievement.
Young Talent is Key to Success
Samp are committed to cool, and this ethos is evident beyond their kit. They aren’t able to compete with the historical giants of the Italian game, such as Juventus, Inter, and Milan, but, over the last few years, they have built a reputation for finding and nurturing young talent.
Among the finest individuals to benefit from the club scouting system of late are dogged ball-winning midfielder Lucas Torreira, Portuguese playmaker Bruno Fernandes and solid centre-back Milan Skriniar. Torreira was signed for under €2 million but, just three years on, is worth around 20 times that amount. The latter two have already moved on, and could move again for huge fees this summer. Tottenham Hotspur are purportedly keen on Fernandes, with A Bola reporting an £87 million fee is required to secure his signature. Meanwhile, Skriniar has been linked to Manchester City.
Good Looks and Attractive Playing Style
As if the devotion to developing young talent wasn’t enough, Sampdoria’s style of football is one of the most aesthetically pleasing in Italy today. Ever since Marco Giampaolo arrived in the summer of 2016 and his charges played slick
passing football against Barcelona at the Camp Nou in a pre-season friendly that summer, they have been watched attentively by those with a proclivity for good possession and pressing games.
Giampaolo’s side line up in a 4-1-2-1-2 system, with a diamond midfield – propelled by Torreira – that is built for retaining and progressing possession through the thirds. Their emphasis is shown statistically by the fact no team in Italy’s top flight attacks through the centre more than they – 31 per cent of their attacks come through this area of the pitch. They build patiently from the back, while their defensive approach is aggressive. Utilising their front two they press high in an attempt to win the ball back close to the opposition goal, a collective action that is backed up by a remarkably high defensive line.
These tactical preferences lead to exciting football. And while they are flawed, they are on course to achieve a second consecutive top-half finish. All while being considered by many to be the most attractive team in Serie A outside of Maurizio Sarri’s continentally renowned Napoli outfit.
Sampdoria’s productive scouting system and attacking football are drawing nods of appreciation from the wider footballing community, though their work on the training ground and in the transfer market produces short-term results – the players and coaches will come and go. Their current kit isn’t so temporal in its majesty. Thanks to its colours, its style, and its respectful nods to place and history, it will never go out of fashion.
This article was written exclusively for Soccer Box by Blair Newman. Shop with us for the official Sampdoria football shirts and other Serie A team kits.