Football is certainly no fashion parade. Yet, for some die hard supporters, football kits can be a real turn off. Back in the swashbuckling days where designs were as simple as the diets, footballers loved pulling on an old fashioned jersey and getting their boots muddy.
However there are some styles that come back in with the trends. Take for example Manchester United’s iconic Newton Heath kit. This was created specifically for the 1992-93 season in order to celebrate the birth of the club back in 1892. The emblematic coloured shirt of green and yellow halves was believed to be the exact colours that the first side wore some 100 years ago. In addition to this, it was a vintage year for United aside from the kit. This was largely in part down to the team winning their first league title in nearly three decades.
Another controversial kit that was blasted by supporters and the press alike was the garish Barcelona kit from a few years. Nicknamed the “Tequila Sunrise” kit it was more appropriate on a sun lounger table than adorning the back of Lionel Messi. A heady melange of orange on the top mixed with a lemon yellow at the bottom ensured a genuine dip in sales. This has been further supported by the notion that the Catalan giants are set to do away with their home kit. The original kit design has been utilised since 1900 but sources in Spain have revealed an altogether new look.
It is believed that they may look towards a new kit direction encompassing a blue shirt with red hoops. This has apparently been given the green light by club president Josep Maria Bartomeu as Barca seeks to boost their coffers. From Manchester City’s Peru team kit homage to Montpellier’s Tour de France top, here is the rundown of the best football kits of all time.
Let’s go back in time to 1988-89 when the Premier League was still but a dream as was the notion of cable television. But there was one kit that has pretty much stood the test of time for the people of North London. A classic for many is the Arsenal kit of the late 1980’s under the helm of Scot George Graham. This red shirt and white sleeved little number featured on a wide variety of football fans across the country and beyond. Its timeless elegance not to mention iconic Gunners logo made it a firm favourite. But it was left to Michael Thomas to capture the imagination of Arsenal fans in May 1989. Wearing this particular kit, Thomas burst through the middle of the Liverpool defence to seal a two nil victory and ultimately clinch the league title in the most dramatic of finales.
14 Bradford City
Back in 1994, the World Cup was making great strides across the Atlantic with the finals taking place in the USA. However, this was also the moment when lower league side Bradford City decided to unveil their brash but inspirational kit. The wonderful colour combination of burnt orange and burgundy red was a real eye opener. On the other hand, the thick stripes which was used for the design was a real solid choice. In spite of the fact that it is 20 years old, its creation could have been used for the wardrobe department for a Harry Potter film. Some of the most popular players to have worn this kit include the likes of current soccer pundit Chris Kamara.
It is to Africa we go next and the influential Lions of Cameroon. This design was created in 2013 before their dreary showing in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. This time round, they decided to incorporate the full lion into the jersey. Not only was this a smart move to scare off the opposition but it must have had an impact on the players themselves. After all, what could be better than pulling on a top with a lion’s face plastered all over it? This particular kit is arguably one of the coolest kits they have produced since the 1990 World Cup. During the tournament, Cameroon was being recognized more for Roger Milla’s shimmying goal celebrations than their football on the pitch.
Another animal related kit makes it into the list and this time it is Mexican team Pumas. Their fans admired this incredible design which was extremely cool. This was down to the integral design on the front which depicted a giant puma. Closer inspection further still shows an almost 1920’s Fritz Lang Metropolis inspired image. Throw in the fact that the shirt manufacturers are also leading sports brand Puma, it is worthy of more than just a fleeting mention.
One of the best away kits of all time has to be the Liverpool strip from 1990. In effect, it was a grey patterned jersey which enjoyed outlines of red trim on the top. It has gone down in folklore on Merseyside as The Reds dominating British football during the late 80s. At this particular time, Liverpool played host to a number of different influential players who donned the shirt. From hard man Steve McMahon to winger John Barnes, this old school kit saw Liverpool win their last league title to date.
A tremendous addition to the best kits is the uniform which was worn by the Senegalese team back in 2013. What appears on the surface to be a plain white shirt is only skin deep. Look a little bit closer and an image of a tree with extensive branches is the result. This terrific kit was worn by the African nation at the 2012 Olympics. Taking place in London, Senegal played among other nations a Great Britain side at the Theatre of Dreams at Old Trafford. The distinctive pattern which was weaved into the shirt was actually the national symbol of Senegal called the baobab tree.
According to the history books, the principal reason for the Netherlands playing in orange was down to one legend. The founding father, William of Orange-Nassau is predominately responsible for the Dutch kit. This was to see the likes of Johann Cruyff impress on the big stage with his iconic “Cruyff turn”. The Dutch team of the 1970s were deemed by many as one of the best of all time thanks to their total football and have gone down in history as the passing masters.
8 West Germany
This uber the top design was paraded at Italia 90. The Germans are not known for their sense of humour but this efficiently engineered design was an inspired choice. Featuring a black, orange and red stripe right across the chest depicting the flag, several influential players played in this jersey. From Lothar Matthäus to Jurgen Klinsmann, West Germany went on to win the tournament from the penalty spot scored by Andreas Brehme. This was to be the final hurrah before the Soviet curtain came down for the final time and Germany was reunified.
Back in 1996, the Croatia kit was considered to be one of the most sought after shirts in history. Millions were buying the shirt in droves and when football came home for Euro 96, there were plenty on the streets of England. Croatia put up an impressive showing in the tournament and only narrowly missed out on a semi-final spot. This was thanks to a narrow two goals to one defeat by the mighty footballing hand of Germany who were eventual winners. Meanwhile, it was the 1998 kit that was turning heads for all the right reasons. This was a much more refined combination which included the exclusive coat of arms design on the official Croatian flag. Some of the most iconic players to have donned this shirt featured former Arsenal and Real Madrid front man Davor Šuker.
It’s Vive La France as this Gallic number from 1984 shoots in at no.6 on the list. A simple design at the end of the day, but so understated in its delivery. Simply in a class of its own, the 1984 French football kit was as sophisticated as Thierry Henry enjoying a café au lait on the Pont Neuf. The emblem of the rooster adorned the jersey which sat proud on the chest. Furthermore, it enjoyed a red band with three smaller white stripes across. It was there for all to see as Michel Platini and Jean Tigana strutted their stuff for Les Bleues. The kit would make any Frenchman puff out their chest with pride.
5 Kaizer Chiefs
This kit was not initiated by the band of the same but the South African League’s finest the Kaizer Chiefs. Hope springs eternal quite literally thanks to this flashy and bright kit. Part image of a bright sunshine in the sky and part bee, the swirly black and yellow design ensured they stood out from the rest. Situated in the heart of Johannesburg in South Africa, they are otherwise known as Amakhosi or "chiefs" in native Zulu.
4 Crystal Palace
There have been many sash kits which have occurred down the years, none more so than the kit adopted by Crystal Palace. This took place during the 1970’s when Malcolm Allison, the manager at the time wanted to change the club's fortunes. In this way, he decided to change the kit and inject a little modern feel into the overall appearance. As a result, the sash style kit was born which was to be replicated as time went by.
Who can forget the 1966 World Cup Final? The iconic red shirts worn by the England national team is one of the most memorable kits of all time. Its hassle free red jersey with three lions on the crest was to be a fitting tribute to everything great about the British Isles. With Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles and hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst in the team, the kit was to be a symbol of England’s success. This is depicted perfectly in the everlasting image of Bobby Moore holding aloft the Jules Rimet Trophy.
2 Real Madrid
As pure as the Virgin Mary and as innocent as a fluffy lamb, the Real Madrid kit from the 1960s provides a standard in excellence. Both unspoilt as well as beautiful, it is true simplicity in its purest form. With absolutely no stripes, patterns or stripes in sight, the vintage top is emblazoned with the crest and nothing more. This was of course before the corporate sponsors muscled their way onto shirts but nevertheless, it is a genuine contender for best football kit.
Mexico City was the scene and Brazil was and still remains the ultimate football team. Better still, their silky skills and array of stars is only matched by their outfit. Deemed the king of kits by many, the Brazilian yellow shirt gave birth to talent such as Pele, Tostao, Carlos Alberto and Jairzinho. It was these players that ran rings round several of the world’s best, especially in the final. The 1970 Brazil kit is at the top of the tree for many reasons but it embodied everything right about the beautiful game when they were crowned world champions.