Colours of Calcio: Livorno

Derived from the city’s coat of arms, the distinctive deep amaranth hue of the Livorno shirt has been a near-constant since the club’s formation in 1915. Perhaps more so than any other club, the colour of the shirt is sacrosanct; representing not only the city and the team but also gesturing toward the traditionally left-leaning politics of the fan base. The club has been remarkably consistent in deploying its colour palette, with the sparing use of green, white, black and gold as secondary colours over the years. 

One man who has done more than most to preserve the history of the famous amaranth jersey is third-generation Livorno fan Miki Garzelli. Over the past 15 years, he has painstakingly accumulated an extraordinary collection of over 350 Livorno shirts and associated memorabilia, lovingly curated on his Collezione Cuore Amamranto website. His collection of matchworn shirts from the mid-90s onwards is the stuff of schoolboy dreams, featuring the shirts of iconic players such as Igor Protti, Cristiano Lucarelli, Alessandro Diamanti, Max Allegri and the late Piermario Morosini. 

With Miki’s help, we’ve taken a tour of his collection… 

The Collector’s Choice 

1983-84 Away – Local Manufacturer 

This shirt and its counterpart home jersey (more on that later…) are amongst the rarest and most sought after in the club’s history. This unbranded shirt, produced by a local sportswear manufacturer, was regarded at the time as a ground-breaking design. The main sponsor, Lodge and the parent brand Spica, were an automotive manufacturer based in the city, specialising in fuel injection pumps and spark plugs. 

The waves surrounding the sponsor’s logo – a nod to the city’s maritime traditions – bear just a passing resemblance to Lazio’s famous Bandiera design. In addition to being a design classic in its own right, this pinstripe shirt was used when the club went an entire season unbeaten, romping Serie C2 to seal their return to the third tier.  

1987-88 Home – Local Manufacturer 

In August 1987, Maradona’s all-conquering Napoli came to town in the Coppa Italia. The visitors had just concluded the previous season by winning the league and cup double. However, not to be outdone, Livorno’s shirt displayed their own coccardo, the military-style roundel awarded for their triumph in the Coppa Italia contested by clubs in Serie C. 

Pride of place in Miki’s collection is this matchworn example from that very game. The design is unorthodox in several respects; not only combining vertical and horizontal pinstripes but also continuing those pinstripes up onto the collar and down onto the shorts. Livorno achieved Serie C survival on the final day of that season, courtesy of a goal from a young Igor Protti. 

1989-90 Home – Parentini 

The 1987 Coppa Italia Serie C victory was a bright spot in an otherwise dark decade for the club. In 1988 they endured bankruptcy, reforming as Pro Livorno. The reformed club lost their most promising young players, including 21-year-old Livorno-native Max Allegri, who departed for bitter rivals, Pisa. That exodus of talent contributed to their on-pitch relegation to Serie C2 level at the end of the 1988-89 season. 

The following season saw the prodigal son Allegri return to the club helping them to stabilise in the fourth tier, after having struggled to make an impact in Pisa. The shirt was produced by Parentini, a Tuscan cycling apparel firm, and the design was a simple as things get. The silky material and broad sublimated stripes are mildly reminiscent of a 1980s school football team. The badge adopted by Pro was avant-garde, eschewing any historical or civic reference points in favour of an abstract squiggle. 

2005-06 Home – Asics 

In 2005, Igor Protti called time on a remarkable career which was book-ended by spells in the Livorno shirt. After leaving Livorno the first time he ascended the footballing ladder, making his Serie A debut (with Bari) aged 27, becoming an unlikely Capocanoniere the following season. He then returned to Livorno aged 32 to spear-head their rise from Serie C1 to Serie A. 

Surpassing all expectations, Protti played on for another six years, scoring 108 goals to propel Livorno through the leagues. The Protti Per Sempre (“Forever”) shirt, complete with opulent gold lettering, was produced in 2005 to commemorate Livorno’s retirement of the number 10 shirt in his honour. However, at Protti’s request, the number was brought back into circulation in 2007 to “allow others to dream of wearing it”. 

2006-07 Home – Legea 

After a decade-long association with Asics, Livorno moved over to Italian manufacturer Legea for the 2006/07 season. The new partnership got off to a barnstorming start with a striking design featuring the turreted fortress, taken from the city’s coat of arms. The design was also replicated on the inverted white/amaranth away shirt. The particular shirt in Miki’s collection is the matchworn shirt of cult hero Cristiano Lucarelli, who famously turned down several big-money offers to stay with his beloved Livorno. 

A sixth-place finish the previous season meant that Livorno were also fighting on the European front in the 2006/07UEFA Cup. They met Glasgow Rangers, Auxerre and Partizan Belgrade before succumbing to Espanyol in the last-32. Miki’s collection also includes the version of the shirt used in Europe, which dropped the fortress design in order to comply with UEFA rules. 

The Curiosity 

2006-07 European Shirt – Legea 

In anticipation of their maiden UEFA Cup campaign, Livorno produced a striking amaranth and gold halved design. In reality, the shirt never saw action in Europe with the club favouring their normal home and away variants. However, having produced it, the club were almost obliged to use it in a competitive match and did so in the Coppa Italia clash with Arezzo. This is the shirt of former Brescia twin, Antonio Filippini. 

The Holy Grail 

And finally, we know that a collector’s work is never done, so what is the holy grail missing from Miki’s collection? 

The famous 1983/84 home shirt – the amaranth version of the white one in my collection – is the most difficult jersey to get”. The player issue 90th anniversary shirt from 2004/05, featuring the green and white hoops of forerunner club SS Pro Livorno, is another that continues to fire his passion. “The player’s shirt was supposed to be identical to the fan version, but after complaints from the players Asics made a bespoke player version made from a different material”. 

For now, Miki has to satisfy himself with reproductions and replicas of these rare shirts but, naturally, the search goes on…

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, why not check out the sister article looking at Palermo’s greatest shirts?

My gratitude to Miki Garzelli for permission to use images from his collection. Do take a look at his remarkable collection, which is fully photographed and catalogued on his website.

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