A guide to help people interested in purchasing the shirts that players have worn in football games, yes the shirts off the players back!
Terms used: Match worn shirt, Players shirt, Match issued shirt, Game used jersey, Player issued shirt, Match prepared shirt, and many more.
Over the last few years the amount of player worn shirts on Ebay has gone through the roof, here are the observations of an Ebay seller of Players shirts since 1999.
Spare, Match issue, Player issue, Match prepared, Players shirt.
There is only one way to prove that a shirt has been match worn and that's if the player when walking off the pitch hands it over to you there and then in person!
The reason I say this is that players are given more than one shirt for each match, some players get 4!, some players change their shirts at half time, most don't, so there are a lot of shirts that don't even get out of the kitbag, where do these end up?
Next time you watch a major game on T.V. watch out for the players that point to the dressing room when asked to exchange shirts, some times they are saying "Already asked mate", "Giving this one to charity","I will exchange after getting changed". 9 times out of ten the shirt exchanged will be one of these spares.
Now these "other shirts" are usually given to Sponsors, Friends, Charity, Kit man exchanged ,sold off at the end of the season etc etc. Some clubs even put them in the clubs shops and sell them off either signed or unsigned, Clubs that I know have done this includes Man Utd, Blackburn, Aston Villa and Bolton. Because most of these shirts look different to the replicas, people think they must have been worn by the players and the story goes on.
As far as the actual exchanged worn shirts are concerned most players have a collection, something to show the grandchildren, others again give to freinds & family, or charity etc. Others leave them on the kit room floor because they either don't want the shirt for one of many reasons, the players don't need it as part of their collection, not a high enough profile player, smells to bad, damaged etc. These shirts are usually disposed by the kitman.
Now just think for yourself, would anyone dump a Beckham or Henry, Ronaldo or Kaka shirt on the floor? Just how many times is this player going to play against this team again and how likely is this player going to exchange with the same player? Why would he just give the shirt away, dump it on the floor, give it to a fan?
Players are not stupid, you would be amazed the amount that are addicted to Ebay and they know the price that a peace of cloth they they have worn is worth.
Now that you have read the above, just think of how many high profile players shirts you have seen on Ebay! All worn , I don't think so.
Fakes or made to order match worn.
Now it is a myth that all players shirts are different to replicas, sometimes the players will wear a replica made up from the club shop, although most shirts have some differences, for Example larger numbers, letters and arm patches made by Chris Kay ltd and not available from UK shops.
There is now a massive amount of fake shirts that has either been doctored from a replica shirt or the complete shirt has been made from scratch, almost always these are from the far east where production costs are very low indeed and makes this practise very worth while.
The fakes are so good that they can easily pass as the genuine article. You would be amazed at the amount of questions people have asked me when I have sold shirts, a lot of these questions were clearly asked by people faking shirts and wanting the fine details to fine tune their latest creations.
Now it is also a myth that the fakers can not get hold of the larger numbers, patches and letters. They either import them from Chris Kay or make them themselves.
Even dealers get fooled by fake shirts, some even import the fakes and sell them on as the genuine article.
Last few points
Why do most fakers just sell the high profile players? If they were genuine then they would have to buy the crap players as well, it's the only way kit men can get rid of the shirts that are not worth anything, you must take the crap with the cream!
Check the sellers previous sales, it's tough enough to get a genuine Beckham signature let alone a match worn shirt, so if they have had two or more then they are simply having a laugh, ripping you off or are related to David.
Also almost all kitmen wash the shirts that are exchanged, so the ones sold as unwashed should be treated as suspect, the reason for this is can you imagine a player running round in the heat for 90 minutes, wiping his nose on the arm etc, then the shirt being put in a bag, sweat, bacteria etc. these shirts would stink to high heaven and simply not hygenic.