Carlos Navarro ‘Mono’ Montoya is a well known figure in the world of South American football. A goalkeeper who’s strongest association is undoubtedly with Boca Juniors, a side whom he spent a trophy laden 8 years with from 1988 to 1996. He is also, like all South American goalkeepers, a bit mad. His nickname ‘Mono’ translates to monkey, bestowed both for his agility and quickness between the posts but also for the fact that he looked like a monkey. 

It would be in his last season at the club, at the peak of his powers having the previous year won player of the year in Argentina, that he would present to the world what was to become one of the most enduring and iconic pieces of shirt design in South American football history.

For the 1995/96 season El Mono would take the field in a top that was reportedly designed by Montoya himself, albeit with the help of designers at Olan, the clubs manufacturer. The shirt’s main feature was a giant caricature of a big rig truck with Mono himself, looking manic, at the wheel.



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The insane design, combined with Montoya’s unique personality, made the shirt an instant hit. So much so that an impressionable 22 year old in Brazil would later famously take inspiration from the design. But more on that later. 

While the design was purported to have come solely from the mind of Mono the truth may well be a little less clear cut. Our story takes an unexpected twist, from sweltering nights at La Bombonera to the banks of the river Rhine, and Fortuna Düsseldorf, 11,000 kilometres away. 

Five years prior to Mono taking the field for the first time in his now famous design, Fortuna were preparing for their second season back in the first division. The 1990/91 Bundesliga season would be notable for several reasons, it would be the last season that the league was exclusive to teams from the former West Germany as well as marking the first time that FC Kaiserslautern lifted the Bundelsiga trophy. More relevant to our story however it would also be the first time that teams were allowed to have different manufacturers for their outfield and goalkeeper kits. So while Düsseldorf’s outfielders would once again take the field in Puma the goalkeeper shirt of Jörg Schmadtke would be manufactured by Uhlsport, and it seemed, they were out to make a splash.

Schmadtke took the field in a rather unique design. A cartoon truck complete with spewing exhaust pipes would make up the base of the design with garish patterns completing the outfit. Perhaps Mono Montoya’s design was not quite as outlandishly original as it had seemed. 

Now, no one is claiming that Montoya himself had ripped off the design. Indeed the enduring feature of his design was that it featured a cartoon of Montoya himself driving the truck. However, as Montoya had always stated he was assisted by designers at Olan, it would seem entirely more plausible that these kit designers had some prior knowledge of the design worn by Schmadtke.



Now back to that impressionable 22 year old Brazilian keeper, he was none other than Rogerio Ceni, a man whose fame would surpass even that of Montoya’s in South America as he went on to play over 1,000 games for São Paulo as well as, remarkably for a goalkeeper, scoring over 100 goals. 

He would pick up and carry on Montoya’s legacy with three more truly wild designs. All the while stating that they were in homage to El Mono.

His first effort, dating from some time in the late 90’s and definitely the most direct nod to Montoya would feature Ceni behind the wheel of a monster truck, albeit with a slightly less manic expression.



His next venture would raise the stakes a little with a design that featured Ceni piloting a plane that was dropping footballs on São Paulo’s Pacaembu stadium. Quite possibly the pick of the bunch.



His final nod to the design came some years later during the 2003 season. This time round it would feature Ceni leaning out of the drivers window of a speeding locomotive while flashing the peace sign. It’s fair to say he had succeeded in carrying on the spirit of El Mono.



So there you have it, the tale of the truck driving keeper. In today’s world of bland templates and safe bets it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see another nod to the design again. But hey, there’s always hope.


Words by Andy Gallagher


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