shirt numbers


Germany 1996
Willem II 2002
Real Madrid 2003
AC Milan 2004
Chelsea 2004
Roda JC 2004
FC Utrecht 2004
Ajax 2004
Cameroon 2004
Italy 2004
Sporting 2004
Bayern München 2005
Schalke 04
Real Madrid 2005
FC Twente 2005
NAC/Vitesse 2005
Italy 2006
Netherlands 2006
Sevilla 2006

During the European Championship 2004 Italy played with a blue shirt with golden numbers and names — the ambition was clear, but the team dramatically failed. Regarding the numbers, not only the color, but also the design was remarkable. A seriffed typeface was used; to be more precise it was a Baskerville look-alike.
John Baskerville was a printer who lived in England from 1706 till 1775. The typefaces he cut were among the best in his time and that's why contemporary type designers still make new fonts based on Baskerville's printings. There are many digital fonts named after Baskerville, but none of them contains the specific numbers used by the Italian football team. It probably is a custom made design.
Although some figures —specially 2 and 5— are a bit lanky, I like the design. But there's one question that's keeping me busy: when you take a historic typeface as a starting point, why do you choose an English model for the Italian team? Italy has brought forth famous printers, punchcutters and calligraphers, like Aldus Manutius (1449-1515), Francesco Griffo (1450-1518), Ludovico degli Arrighi (1480-1527) and Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813). So, when the Italian team needs a new shirt, I would advice them to take a good look at Bembo, Canscelleresca Bastarda and Bodoni as sources of inspiration for the numbers.

PS. Looking at some old pictures, I suddenly recognized the number 4 on one of the Italian shirts from 2004. It is from the typeface Cochin. I took a type specimen and it appeared that this typeface matches the numbers of Italy. In 2006 they were changed for Puma Pace, unfortunately.


Figures from Berthold Baskerville, a supposed source for the design of the Italian shirt numbers.


Figures from Cochin.