#ShirtStories: Colo-Colo

17/04/17

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After showing off some signature kits from across Europe, the latest of our #ShirtStories sees us up sticks to the footballing hotbed of Chile – where a tale of tragedy and triumph awaits…

Click here to find the 2017 Colo-Colo home shirt on Kitbag.com or read on for the full story.

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History of the design

“When Colo-Colo wins, the bread is crispier and the tea is sweeter”.

…so translates a motto of Club Social y Deportivo Colo-Colo, the latest addition to Kitbag’s club catalogue. Based in Macul, Santiago, Colo-Colo have worn white and black for over 90 years, a period in which they have never endured relegation. Their classic colours were inspired by founder David Arellano and crafted by fellow player Juan Quiñones, with white intended to symbolise purity and its complementary black included to signify seriousness.

Colo-Colo itself emerged in the mid-1920s from the shell of a side in disarray, making it one of football’s earliest (and eventually most successful) breakaway clubs. A Santiago native, Arrellano had been a football enthusiast from an early age, signing up with the city’s existing Magallanes club and making his senior debut at a tender 17. A talented goalscorer, Arrellano soon caught the eye of the Chilean national team and made his international bow against Argentina in October 1924. On the club front however, all was not well and disputes between some of the younger players and the Magallanes hierarchy prompted Arellano and a host of teammates to leave and set up a side of their own; forming the club we know as Colo-Colo.

After the creation of the Chilean Primera División, Colo-Colo came a whisker from winning its inaugural title, pipped to the honour by Magallanes in a poetic, head-to-head finale. However, while Magallanes would claim an opening hat-trick of Chilean championships, Colo-Colo soon put a halt to their domestic dominance, claiming the first of a record-setting 31 Primera División titles and kick-starting a legacy that saw them evolve into the nation’s most successful club. As Magallenes faded, Colo-Colo delighted their growing ‘Colo-Colino’ fanbase with silverware on silverware, including the coveted Copa Chile on eleven occasions (a benchmark boosted most recently by a 4-0 triumph over Everton). As their decorated tale unfolded, Colo-Colo’s white and black palette would be paraded at their various homes of Estadio El Llano, Campos de Sports de Ñuñoa, Estadio Nacional and Estadio Monumental; the latter being their current base, a caverous, 47,000-seat venue that opened its gates for the first time in 1989. However, it was a catastrophic event in the club’s formative years that would cost Colo-Colo its founder- and ultimately impact the team’s playing jerseys forever.

Classic moments and key players

Across the years, many of Chile’s most talented footballers have pulled on a Colo-Colo shirt, including a prolific forward who first made his mark in England. Having emigrated as a child, George Robledo became the first foreign player to finish a season as the First Division’s top goalscorer, netting 33 times in Newcastle United’s 1951-52 campaign before his eventual return to his homeland. Robledo had won two consecutive FA Cups with the Toon before switching to Colo-Colo, where he would claim both a Copa Chile winners’ medal and two Primera División championships. Interestingly, a John Lennon sketch of Robledo’s winner in the 1952 FA Cup Final against Arsenal would later adorn the cover of the former Beatle’s ‘Walls and Bridges’ solo album; a clear indication of Robledo’s sizable cultural influence.

1962 meanwhile was a seismic year for Chilean sport, as the nation welcomed the FIFA World Cup tournament. With the eyes of the world on firmly them, the hosts would duly deliver; beating Switzerland, Italy, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia to secure a third-placed finish. Among the stars of their campaign, Colo-Colo goalkeeper Misael Escuti (approaching the end of a remarkable 18-year stint) would govern the Chilean defence, while the club’s midfielder Jorge Toro scored the decisive second in the infamous ‘Battle of Santiago’ with the Italians.

In another note of significance, Colo-Colo goalscorer Carlos Caszély would be issued a straight red card in Chile’s 1974 World Cup opener with West Germany; becoming the first man in history to suffer this indignation. Nonetheless, despite the blot on his record, five-time Chilean champion Caszély would become synonymous with his goals for Colo-Colo, becoming the side’s all-time leading marksman by the time of his retirement. Remarkably, this was not the end of the story, with Caszély still turning out for a Colo-Colo veterans’ XI in his sixties.

The club’s most celebrated moment of all however would arrive in 1991, as Colo-Colo captured the prestigious and elusive Copa Liberatadores for the first and only time. From Luis Pérez Muñoz to Leonel Herrera Silva, countless players became Colo-Colo heroes during that famous run, while the milestone campaign was made even more memorable by the antics of Ron, an over-enthusiastic police dog. Intervening in the semi-final scuffle with multi-time champions and favourites Boca Juniors, Ron would take a bite out Boca goalkeeper Navarro Montoya, securing his place in Colo-Colo folklore. Then, in the two-legged final, Muñoz and Silva each scored crucial efforts to see off Paraguay’s Olimpia. History had been made.

Providing five players to Chile’s 1998 World Cup squad (including midfielder Jose Luis Sierra, whose successful free-kick against Cameroon secured Chile’s path to the knockout rounds), Chilean success on the global stage would start to subside on return from the tournament in France. Nevertheless, back in the homeland, Colo-Colo would be continuing their march towards a fiftieth major senior trophy, a figure they could finally achieve this current season. Of their recent playing success stories, youth team product Matías Fernández would become the South American Footballer of the Year in 2006, with his form at Colo-Colo securing move to La Liga with Villarreal. Enjoying a spell in Portugal’s Primera Division with Sporting Lisbon, Fernández would later switch to Serie A’s Fiorentina and is currently on loan at AC Milan. Lucas Barrios meanwhile would make over 100 appearances for Jürgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund, winning back-to-back Bundesligas in the wake of his two Colo-Colo campaigns.

Recently losing accomplished forward Humberto Suazo to retirement, Colo-Colo’s parade of present stars includes captain Esteban Paredes; the only man finish as the Primera División’s top goalscorer in five different seasons. A 2009 recruit, Paredes represented Chile at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups while under the auspices of Colo-Colo and has rebounded from off-field issues to contribute some of his finest football at the twilight of his career. Another veteran, albeit at the opposite end of the field, Paraguayan goalkeeper Justo Villar has been a staple of the South American international scene since 1999, while midfielder Mark Gonzalez made 25 appearances during his spell at Liverpool; scoring the winner on his debut against Maccabi Haifa, after coming on for Steven Gerrard. Gonzalez’s teammate Jaime Vlades is another with European club pedigree, having featured in Serie A for a formidable 14 seasons. No Chilean player in history, not even the great Ivan Zamarano, has competed in Italy for longer, with Vlades’s signing by Colo-Colo ending a spell that stretched back as far as 1998. Elsewhere, Gonzalo Fierro is rapidly approaching his 400th game at the club, having returned from Flamengo in 2012. Pedro Morales meanwhile signed up in January, after starring Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps. Partnering clubmate Octavio Rivero, Morales had been named MLS Newcomer of the Year for his maiden campaign at BC Place.

Crest and other elements

Drawing comparison with the badge of Ajax (read their own #ShirtStories feature here), Colo-Colo’s crest illustrates the legend that inspired the club’s name. Translating as ‘mountain cat’, Colocolo was a Mapuche Indian tribal chief, involved in the lengthy Arauco War between his native people and Chile’s colonial Spaniards. Among his most endearing attributes, Colocolo is revered for a refusal to surrender and his resilience serves as motivation to his namesake football club, who have honoured him with a statue at Estadio Monumental. The likeness used for the crest is featured further in a pattern on the stadium’s seats.

Aside from the chieftain’s skin tone and hair, the colours included in the Colo-Colo crest reflect those used for the Chilean flag, with its blue representative of the sky and Pacific Ocean alike, its white a nod to the snow-blanketed Andes that run through the country’s eastern side and its red symbolic of the blood lost to achieve independent status. Red is employed elsewhere in a bar that runs through the centre of the collar, as well as for inner neck taping that replicates the club’s name. Scanning back around the crest, the single, central star that rises highest can be seen to signify not the star of the Chilean flag, but the landmark Copa Libertadores victory (something that appeared on past Colo-Colo jerseys in traditional trophy form). The stars below the badge meanwhile are representative of the club’s hatful of Primera Division championships; each of them accounting for ten titles.

Finally, and most poignantly of all, the bar which sits above the crest and below the highest star represents a black armband, in honour of David Arrellano. Having founded the Colo-Colo club in 1925, Arrellano died tragically in Spain only two years later, having been struck by an opposing player in an exhibition match with Valladolid. Colo-Colo had become the first Chilean team to play in Europe and their friendly against Valladolid in May of 1927 was part of a mammoth 42-game world tour that spanned January through July. This symbol of mourning was previously found on Colo-Colo’s left sleeve, but would relocate to its present position in the mid-1970s. A truly moving inclusion, this small but integral feature keeps Arrellano’s game-changing contribution to Chilean football at the forefront of Colo-Colo’s success.

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Manufacturer and sponsorship

For the ongoing campaign, Colo-Colo have paired up with manufacturer Under Armour, with the popular American brand’s portfolio encompassing English trio Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton and Aston Villa, as well as previous Kitbag.com feature club AZ Alkmaar. Colo-Colo originally had forged a partnership with adidas, a union that spanned across much of the 1980s and took in the landmark Copa Libertadores run. In 1996 though, Nike would take the baton, furthering their expansion into the football kit market. Since the turn of the century, Puma, Reebok and Umbro have each tried their hand at producing Colo-Colo kits, before Under Armour took over the role in 2014, initiating the current five-year deal. With the authentic Under Armour name at the sleeve and a circular jock tag above the jersey’s hem, Colo-Colo now benefit from the same UA branding endorsed by superstar athletes Andy Murray, Michael Phelps, Jordan Spieth and Anthony Joshua, to name but a few.

Focusing on sponsorship, DIRECTV is only the fourth shirt sponsor in Colo-Colo history, following the lengthy terms of airline Lan Chile, car manufacturer Lada and domestic beer Cristal. A media presence in Chilean homes since 1994, DIRECTV is a US-founded satellite TV broadcaster that carries some of the key European leagues, as well as a variety of premium entertainment programming. As part of their deal with Colo-Colo, which runs from January 2015 to December 2017, DIRECTV customers can enjoy discounted entry to select Colo-Colo fixtures. In addition to the customary chest sponsorship, DIRECTV’s logo is replicated on the back in slightly smaller form, taking up the space more often used for player printing. As a consequence, the names of the Colo-Colo squad are currently carried below their number.

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Across the season

Much like Mexico’s Liga MX, the Chilean Primera División is contested in a dual ‘Torneo Apertura’ and ‘Torneo Clausura’ format, a structure it adopted for the first time in 1997. For more on how this league arrangement works, see our Liga MX blog here. In this season’s Apertura, Colo-Colo would finish up in fifth place, winning six and drawing five of their 15 fixtures. During this time, the aforementioned Esteban Paredes would fire his way to double figures, with notable goals including an equaliser in the opener with Unión Española and a hat-trick that helped Colo-Colo salvage a 3-3 draw with San Luis (having trailed 3-0 at the break). For a number of the initial Apertura fixtures, Colo-Colo would wear their previous home kit, which had added yellow accents to the famous white and black. The addition had received a negative response in some quarters, but would prove only a temporary hindrance, as the club would switch to the current, traditionally-rooted edition in November 2016; debuting their new home strip in a 3-0 league win over Cobresal at Estadio Monumental and exhibiting it again in a Copa Chile semi-final clash with Universidad Católica at the end of the month. Returning for a 4-2 home win over Everton in December, the shirt would also feature in the emphatic Copa Chile Final triumph over the same opponents (highlights available here).

Looking at the Clausura section, Colo-Colo raced to the top of the table with a hot start in February, taking their signature white and black jerseys on the road for the 3-0 victory over seven-time Chilean champions Unión Española, before returning home in the colours to beat four-time kingpins Audax Italiano 4-0 and one-time winners O’ Higgins 2-1. The shirts would return to Colo-Colo’s kitbags for the March visit to Santiago Wanderers where once again they would bring good fortune; goals in either half from Andres Vilches and Ivan Morales securing the points and helping the team to a fifth win in six. Today, with championship rivals Deportes Iquique flying the flag in the Copa Libertadores, hopes are high among the Colo-Colino that the club can claim yet another Primera Division trophy. While talk of Chinese investment has taken some attention off the pitch, prospects on it remain in good health, with Pablo Guede’s team unbeaten at home for all of 2017′s Clausura. With big matches in Macul awaiting, we wait to see if this Colo-Colo home shirt turns into title-winning vintage.

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Technical breakdown

With its single button placket and hybrid v-neck collar ensuring a smart, crisp finish, the current Colo-Colo home shirt maintains a model jersey template, completing a smooth, polished and ultimately uncluttered look, ready-primed for the stands and the streets. A winning addition to any enthusiast’s collection, this superlative slice of club culture from below the equator uses advanced Moisture Transport System to deal with sweat effectively, reaping the rewards of Under Armour’s HeatGear technology and and providing the kind of welcome breathability that helps make a difference in that soaring, South American heat. Promoted as a performance product, the edition available at Kitbag.com carries a close, non-squeeze fit, with breathable poly fabrication, lightweight stretch construction, rolled forward shoulder and side seams and front yoke detail among the host of features promised. AC

Official highlights

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