One of the tiny baltic nations, Latvia has been in my early childhood a curious name issue. In Spanish, Latvia's name is Letonia, and "Leto" is a name that sounds fairly similar to "leche", what means "milk", so I always related Latvia's name with what can be translated to "milkland". So awkward I know. Letting go this nostalgic moments (ok, no) Latvia is one of the regions that was part of the ancient USSR, and they gained their independence in 1991, so it can be considered as a recently formed country. Historically, the land that in the present is Latvia, has been occupied by many different tribes, empires and northern-european cultures, like Germany, Sweden, Poland and Russia. Those occupations have gave Latvia a diverse demographic and cultural situation, unfortunately, this is a focus of problems with the different origins of the Latvian people and citizens.

About sport, Latvia is not an enormous footballer country, considering that Ice Hockey and Basketball are above Football in popularity. The national team, known as the Sarkanbaltsarkanie (it's absolutely impossible that I read this properly) played its first international game in 1922, when Latvia was an independent nation of the old Russian Empire (at that moment, the Soviet Russia pre-USSR). The team played under the Latvian flag until 1942, when the country was invaded and annexed to the USSR, and their players played for the USSR National team. This situation ended in 1990, when the Latvian team was reborn and was followed by the independent movements that happened in the following years. The actual team has not a great record of wins, since they are what can be considered as a "medium-under ranking team" in the UEFA rankings. Even with that, they managed to classify for the 2004 European Championship in Portugal, unfortunately, their race for the title ended early in the group stage.

My shirt comes from a german store that I've found by accident the past weekend. They had some offers and auctions opened on ebay, and I managed to get this brand new shirt for only 15€ with shipping, so it was a good bargain and a nice chance to fill a tiny but, as important as the others, hole in the world map to complete my collection. Unfortunately for me is an XL shirt, so it will remain unworn for now. I have to say I absolutely love the colour, since I find that this "wine red" colour is quite stylish and elegant, and with the white details it's a great combination for a football shirt.

Northern Ireland

One of the (unfortunately) oldest examples of nationalist problems in the "first world", Northern Ireland has been a focus of political instability for centuries, since there's people who wants to be part of Ireland (and be just one country in the island) and the rest who wants to stay as a member of the United Kingdom. At the moment, this last situation is the one that is "official" right now, but we have to keep an eye on it, considering what is happening in Scotland. Apart of its political situation, Northern Ireland is not very different of what you can find in the UK or Ireland, at least as far as I know and if I'm wrong in anything, sorry!

Sports in Northern Ireland are quite similar to other parts of Ireland or the UK, being Football and Rugby the most popular sports. One curious thing is that Northern Ireland has its own FA, while the Irish Rugby Football Union represents both Ireland and Northern Ireland at the same time, this happens too with Cricket and possibly with other sports. The Northern Ireland football team is one of the oldest in the world, if we consider it as the same team that represented the whole Ireland island from 1882 to 1920. The national team exists officially since 1954, when the FIFA decided to end the issues with both Irish federations. Maybe the most recognized player of Northern Ireland football is, without doubt, George Best, who won many individual and collective trophies in many clubs, especially at Manchester United.

The shirt I've just added to my collection is the home shirt from 2010, when they failed to get a place in that year's World Cup in South Africa. Even though it's a very simple and a bit plain design, I really like it, since green is one of my favourite colours and the badge is quite beautiful I think. It came directly from Poland, where I found it on ebay for less than 9€, so it was a great bargain considering it's almost new.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is world famous because of their oil deposits and refineries, since it is the biggest oil producer in the world (but it "only" has the second biggest reserves, being Venezuela the first one on the list), moving around about the 45% of all the money in the oil market, so they have more importance than maybe you can think if you don't put politics and economics at a similar level. Apart from that, in Arabia you can find other interesting things, like the islamic holy places of Medina and Mecca (and as far as I know, this last one really deserves to be visited, maybe someday I can watch it by myself) and the capital Riyadh (where it's being builded what is going to be the tallest tower in the world, the Kingdom Tower).

Football is the most popular sport in Saudi Arabia, and its national team is, historically, one of the strongest of the asian panorama, having won the Asian Cup in 3 times. However, the Green Falcons have not had yet a strong competitive level in the international stage, but at least they have the honour to be the only arabian asian team to achieve the second round in a World Cup. In the last years, the arabian football has been seeing some improvement, slow but constant, so maybe they can repeat or improve that past results in the future.

The shirt I have as arrived to me just this morning, and is pretty plain and generic, but I love it anyway since the material is very good, is a correct size for me and I love green and white. It is the home design from 2013, under the management of former FC Barcelona's coach Frank Rijkaard. It's a generic design from Nike, exactly the same as my Qatar shirt but with colours changed. The best thing is that is a player issue shirt, what means different material, different cut and those tiny holes in both sides of the shirt.

South Sudan

Well, first of anything I have to say that I never thought I would get a shirt from this country, the newest one in the world, so it's absolutely amazing for me what this shirt means in my collection. To make things even better, the history of how I was able to know who was the supplier, to contact him and to get the shirt is, right now, the most difficult I ever had until now. So let me start with it:

What would you do if one day you mark yourself the goal of getting a shirt from one of the most remote federations in the world? Well, in my case I started with what I thought it was the best way of meeting someone who can help me: Facebook. I checked in the Wikipedia and other pages, who are the current players of the team, to search for them in Facebook and ask them for help, while I was sending some mails to every email direction I found. One of the players reply me some time after I started my search, and I have to say that he has been the great help I needed to get this shirt. He offered me to put me in contact directly to the supplier, and helped me to fill the hole of my knowledge about this country, in a little interview that has been amazing for me. The rest is more usual, I put in contact with the supplier, he agreed to sell me a shirt, and here with the help of 2 of the biggest collectors that I know: Sascha from Germany ( and Nick from the UK ( I was able to finally getting that beauty on my own hands.

It's time for that interview I said, since I don't know absolutely anything about South Sudan, their people and their football, I asked him to help me with this, and here you have the results, I hope you like this text as much as I like it:

Ladulé Lako LoSarah

1. Let us first know a little more about yourself as a football player.

My dad was a refugee from South Sudan during the first civil war, so I was born and raised in California, USA. There I played in the top local youth program of the California Heat Soccer Club (the same club as Landon Donovan and Maurice Edu, most famously). Afterward, I played in the NCAA university league. When I finished university, a scout watched one of my games and invited me to trial in Macedonia. In Europe I signed for one season with FK Bregalnica Štip in the Macedonian Premier League. The season was not so successful for me so, at the end, I returned to the United States to play for the San Diego Flash with Warren Barton. After two good seasons with San Diego, I moved to Central FC in the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League for one season, but left halfway through as I got a great offer to play for Maziya S&RC in the Maldives during their AFC Cup 2013 campaign. We were eliminated in the group stages but I was spotted by Rayong United in the Thai 1st Division. Moving there in June 2013. After a hard relegation battle, we ended up in the 2nd Division. So in 2014, I moved to Germany with FC Inter Leipzig where I am now in the Oberliga..

2. The first time you knew that South Sudan, the newest country in the world, wanted to select you for their national team, what did you thought?

Since independence, I always knew there was a possibility of playing for South Sudan, as the SSFA organized their 1st ever National Team. They were looking for South Sudanese players who were professional abroad. They contacted me and I joined the preparation camp before the 2013 Cecafa Tournament, getting very sick while with the team in Kenya, meant I could only play one game.

3. How is the country? What do you think that South Sudan has that people worldwide doesn't know?

The country is full of potential, as determined people are trying to piece their lives back together after decades of war. The people just want peace, security and happiness after all the fighting.

4. How is football lived in South Sudan?

Football is the number 1 sport in South Sudan, loved by young and old, rich and poor, men and women. The stadium is always full for matches in Juba, people wear jerseys of all the world's famous players, and children kick football around everywhere they can. The infrastructure is still developing and even with the national team we train on a dirt pitch sometimes. It's up to the government and the SSFA to invest in the football future of the country's football by building fields and educating coaches for success in the future.

5. What can you tell us about the national team?

The national team still needs quite a bit of development. Coaching stability would be an important 1st step as we have had many different coaches since we started in 2012. The training facilities must improve and we need equipment. But despite all that, the players are highly motivated, giving everything they can for the success of the nation, there are also many talent players living outside South Sudan because of the war, so the SSFA needs to bring all those talented players into the training camps to select the best squad. If everything can be gotten together, the future is bright for the Bright Star!

6. Since the World Cup has been played those recent days, what is your opinion about the level that African football has? What are your expectations for the future about it?

Only two African nations progressed to the second round (and none beyond that), it was not the best tournament for Africa. Despite that, the level of football has improved dramatically as Ghana and Algeria showed heroic displays against the champions, Germany. Many talent young players were in the rosters of those teams, so hopefully the experience will help them in the future competitions.

7. As a professional player, do you have any preferences about clubs, players...?

Thierry Henry has been my hero and inspiration ever since I watched him when I was a kid during the 1998 World Cup. Because of that, Arsenal has been my favourite team. As for my dream, I think I'd enjoy playing for St. Pauli in Germany, the most because of their club and fan culture.

8. If there is any more thing that you want to explain, this is the place.

It was the biggest honor of my entire career to represent South Sudan. It's my hope that the SSFA will invest its money well for the development of football in the country, leading to success in the future, there must be some changes because now there are many problems as the current coach has identified in his most recent interview.

Well, here you have his words, I think no one better to speak about his country and let us know a little more about what football and Africa is, not just the things we see on the TV.

Here you have the shirt being used against Mozambique, in one of their most recent matches.


The Motherland, Mother Russia or how you want to call it, it's the biggest country in the world (geographically talking) and one of the members of the very very little club of countries in 2 different continents. Russia is mostly known by their occidental region, where you can find almost all the important cities and places, like the capital, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Volgograd, etc. Russia can be proud of their historical culture, from the first empires, across the Tsars, even to the Communist era. If you love history, you'll love Russia of course. I'm not going to talk about their actual situation, politically talking, because I'm not here for this. Russia has gave many different important persons to the world, like the first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, the great musician Tchaikovsky, the novelist Leo Tolstoy and many many other remarkable names.

In sports, Russia have a similar importance as in other activities, since you can find here many exceptional athletes like Maria Sharapova, Yelena Isinbayeva, Andrei Kirilenko and many others. In football they have some important names like those I said, like Lev Yashin (the only goalkeeper who has won a Ballon D'Or), Valeri Karpin, Andrei Arshavin and others. The National Team is historically one of the strongest in the international panorama, but this is referred to the USSR when they got players from other countries like Ukraine. The present Russian team is not as strong as it was before, but it has some good players in the team, some of them with important experience in some of the greatest clubs in the world.

The shirt I have is the away design from, possibly, their best performance since they are not the USSR. It's from the Euro 2008, when they ended in the third place after got shaked 0-3 by Spain in the semifinals. I love how Nike put the flag in the design, I think is very classy and fits pretty well with the red colour.