The Complete Guide to Spotting Fake Football Shirts

The Complete Guide to Spotting Fake Football Shirts


The Complete Guide to Spotting Fake Football Shirts


The Complete Guide to Spotting Fake Football Shirts


As the popularity of classic football shirts from past seasons has surged, so has the prevalence of counterfeits on platforms like eBay, Etsy, and Depop. Even some independent websites sell fakes instead of authentic items, making it crucial to know how to identify genuine retro football shirts.

How to Spot Real vs. Fake Football Shirts

Modern Football Shirts (2000s Onwards)

  1. Check the Wash Label:
    • Locate the wash label inside the shirt.
    • Find the unique product code (if available).
    • Google the code to verify it matches the shirt.

Vintage Football Shirts (1970s-1990s)

  • These shirts often lack product codes, requiring a more detailed inspection.

Key Authentication Tips

  1. Inspect Inside Labels:

    • Genuine shirts usually have wash labels inside.
    • Note exceptions like player issue shirts and some vintage shirts.
    • Look for signs of removed labels if they are missing.
  2. Check for Pen Marks:

    • Pen marks on wash labels often indicate fakes.
  3. Look for Product Codes:

    • Introduced in the early 2000s by some manufacturers.
    • Typically found under the wash label. For Nike, the code is usually the middle of three numbers or the bottom of two.

Special Considerations

  • Different Codes for Different Types:
    • Player issue, long sleeve, and children’s shirts have different codes.
  • No Search Results:
    • Rare shirts may not appear in a Google search.
    • Double-check the number entered.

Authenticating Vintage Shirts

  • Collar Labels:

    • Compare with trusted sources for accuracy.
  • Brand Logo and Club Badge:

    • Ensure correct size, location, and quality.
  • Sponsor Details:

    • Check colour, texture, and feel.
  • Stitching Quality:

    • Poor stitching often indicates a fake.
  • Price:

    • Be wary of prices that seem too good to be true.


  • Original/Authentic Shirts:

    • Genuine, licensed shirts from official manufacturers.
  • Modern Remakes/Reproductions:

    • Not genuine; modern recreations of classic shirts.
  • Fakes:

    • Counterfeit items with poor quality and cheaper materials.
  • Replica Shirts:

    • Official fan versions sold by clubs, often confused with fakes.
  • Player Issue and Match Issue Shirts:

    • Higher-spec shirts used by players, often not available to the public.

Value of Authentic Shirts

  • Rarity:

    • Original shirts are no longer manufactured, making them rare and valuable.
  • Quality:

    • Genuine shirts are more durable and collectible.
  • Investment:

    • Authentic shirts can appreciate in value over time, especially those from memorable seasons.

Understanding these tips can help you confidently identify and purchase genuine retro football shirts, avoiding the pitfalls of counterfeit items. 

For collectors it makes sense to buy the real thing, but also the value of original football shirts from past seasons will also go up as these shirts are no longer manufactured, especially shirts from memorable seasons.

Check Out our Mystery Football Shirt box options below. 


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By David Nobes