Some football shirts have become entrenched in fans’ memories over the years.
The jerseys worn by famous players of yesteryear often become iconic because of the teams they’re associated with.
Just think West Germany’s strip from the World Cup, or the 1970 edition of Brazil’s timeless yellow and gold.
Winning silverware in it will automatically guarantee a shirt’s place in the history books; others are remembered simply for their aesthetic qualities.
Either way, FourFourTwo have done a fine job of ranking 50 of the very best of all time.
What makes a kit great is incredibly subjective, but they’ve undoubtedly unearthed some beauties from around the world.
50. Gamba Osaka, home (1996-97)
A real collector’s item from the J-league thanks to its ‘lightning bolt’ collar and the retro Panasonic logo.
49. USA, away (1994)
The USA hosted the 1994 World Cup and had an innovative kit to match, playing on the stars and stripes of the flag.
48. Greenbank U10s (2006)
What a kit – and what a story behind it. This smooth all-black piece came about thanks to a group of u10 kids from Lincoln, who contacted Motorhead frontman Lemmy to ask if they could use the band’s logo and eventually got to meet the man himself.
47. Scotland, home (1978)
Scotland World Cup kits are, inevitably, a rare breed – but this was among the swankiest.
46. Blyth Spartans, home (1993-94)
The big bold ‘VIZ’ logo in the centre might not be to everyone’s taste but it captured the local spirit and made for a memorable twist on Blyth’s green and white stripes.
45. Milan, home (1989-90)
A prime example of a nice kit on paper, but one made all the better by those who wore it. The likes of Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten dazzled for Milan in this shirt.
44. PSG, home (1993-94)
PSG have arguably got a much smoother design now. There’s an awful lot going on here.
43. Newport County, home (2004-05)
‘What is GLC?’ we hear you ask. YouTube ‘Goldie Lookin Chain’ and thank us later. The rap group originated in Newport and went the whole hog by sponsoring their local club.
42. Barcelona, home (1982-89)
Simplicity at its finest. The famous Blaugrana stripes and no sponsorship.
41. Colorado Caribou, home (1978)
This is indeed a kit intended for football, not barn dancing. The tassles give it a unique spin, at least. Each to their own.
40. Fiorentina, home (1992-93)
FourFourTwo note that this Viola kit was initially popular but later had to be withdrawn when the pattern on the top half was compared to a swastika.
39. Madureira Sporting Club (2013)
It doesn’t just look like the wall-hanging of every hipster you went to uni with. Players from the Brazilian side actually met Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara 50 years prior to making this shirt, which played on the Cuban colours.
38. Tampico Madero (1980-82)
It might look a little strange to the untrained eye, but Tampico Madero were determined to play on the local region’s reputation for seafood with a crab in the middle of their shirt.
37. Belgium (1984)
The long sleeves undoubtedly make this masterpiece look even cooler. Unfortunately, Belgium didn’t really have the team to match and came third in their group at the 1984 European Championships.
36. Tampa Bay Rowdies (1978-81)
A Twister lolly of a shirt, this was a classic of the NASL era (a precursor to the MLS).
35. Atalanta, away (1991-93)
Sure, it looks a little like when you used to have to rewind video tapes. But it’s always a reminder of when Italian football was at its finest and its kits were equally expressive.
34. France (1982)
One of Les Bleus’ best – and that’s saying something. Just check out those glorious pinstripes.
33. CCCP (1970)
This was donned by the famous Soviet Union side which boasted the legendary Lev Yashin (though of course the stopper had his own all-black kit).
32. New York Cosmos (1979)
It was worn by some legends of the game, including Franz Beckenbauer, but it was more a fashion statement than anything else, designed by Ralph Lauren.
31. Brazil (1986)
The Selecao could have had any number of entries. Their 1986 shirt is described as the “definitive” Brazil shirt, that of Socrates and Zico.
30. Gremio, home (1989-90)
Gremio shirts haven’t changed that much down the years. Except yes, that logo is sewn on.
29. Roma, home (1981-82)
It almost doesn’t look like a football kit at all, not least thanks to Roma’s classic logo and deft striped sleeves.
28. Nigeria, home (1994)
No surprises here. Nigeria rightly have a reputation for beautiful kits and 1994 was no exception as they reached the last-16 of the World Cup.
27. Nagoya Grampus Eight, home (1994-95)
Modelled on Japanese art, Gary Lineker could be found in this patchwork design for a couple of seasons.
26. Marseille, home (1971/72)
Marseille made history by becoming the first side to include a brand logo and a sponsor, two elements which are part and parcel of your modern-day shirt. It didn’t damage its aesthetics, though.
25. Argentina, home (1986)
The Albiceleste’s 1986 effort is of course synonymous with Diego Maradona and their World Cup triumph. Likely to unleash a wave of post-traumatic stress disorder for England fans, but a delight for everyone else.
24. Corinthians, home (1982-83)
The word ‘DEMOCRACIA’ was plastered across the back to evoke the employees and players who had started a revolution of sorts by seizing control of the club.
23. Fiorentina, away (1996-97)
There’s very little of Fiorentina’s purple on their away strip from the mid-90s. Nice and subtle…except for the giant Super Mario in the middle.
22. France, away (2011-12)
Breaking away from their traditional blue home strip, France opted for a historic black and white stripe for their recent away kit in 2011/12. The Breton uniform was used by the French navy from 1858 onwards.
21. Juventus, home (1983-84)
Proof if it were ever needed that the Juventus really kit really didn’t need to be changed. The collar and v-neck are what made this Bianconeri classic so special.
20. Stockport County, home (1981/82)
A proper dark horse. Full marks to Stockport for their take on the Argentina blue and white stripes. No marks for timing, unfortunately – this kit had to be withdrawn when the Falklands War broke out.
19. Man City, away (1988-90)
More like a butcher’s apron than a football kit. Divisive though it was, Man City’s classic away stripes are still popular with retro shirt enthusiasts.
18. Wales, away (1980-83)
Enough to make you wish you were Welsh (if you aren’t already, that is). Ian Rush had the benefit of wearing this bold but classy effort from the early 1980s.
17. Verdy Kawasaki, home (1993-94)
Whatever you think of this… effort… it’s worth remembering Verdy were the most successful side in Japan while wearing it.
16. Colombia, away (1990)
Italia ’90 was one of the great World Cups, not least because it boasted so many cult figures like Rene Higuita and Carlos Valderrama. Colombia also had a fantastically flamboyant kit to match.
15. Atalanta, away (1990-91)
Quite obviously a rip-off of West Germany’s 1990 kit, Atalanta hoped this replica would inspire them to similar success.
14. Club America, home (1994-96)
Based on Colombia’s ‘birdman’ super-fan, the centrally-placed logo and top-half feathers have created a pure one-off.
13. Sampdoria, home (1991/92)
What’s not to love about this title-winning kit? The efforts of Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini up front mean it won’t be forgotten either.
12. Tottenham, home (1985-87)
Clive Allen and Ossie Ardiles were just a couple of the Tottenham legends who were adorned with one of the great Holsten kits, a Lilywhite that looked best under the lights at White Hart Lane.
11. Mexico, home (1998)
Presumably, the idea was to dazzle opponents into submission with the image of Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. Quality.
10. Ascoli, home (1981-82)
Ascoli played it safe but with brilliant results. Wonder who the Italians got their inspiration from…
9. Bastia, home (1978-79)
Bastia have forever been a symbol of the Corsican independence movement and went all out with the island’s flag slap bang in the middle of their 1978/79 shirt.
8. Napoli, home (1990-91)
Another shirt that’s special just because it was worn by Maradona, but it’s hard to admire it on its own merits regardless.
7. Saint-Etienne, home (1980-81)
A typical example of a kit that would look downright bizarre now. And yet in the 1980s, it was almost unbearably cool.
6. France, home (1984)
Them again. It was synonymous with Michel Platini, which at that time was still a good thing.
5. England, third (1990)
Think of England shirts at their very best and you’re bound to land on a vintage Umbro of the 1990s. Quite literally a diamond of a kit. Now only seen at Glastonbury.
4. Lazio, home (1982-83)
There was always going to be a Lazio number in here. They’ve opted for an early 1980s ‘wavey’ look.
3. Holland, home (1976)
Two words: Johan Cruyff.
2. Boca Juniors, home (1981)
Boca Juniors have had countless kits worthy of a place in the top tier. This one perfectly captures the club’s blue and gold heritage.
1. Denmark, home (1986)
We’re going to reserve judgement here. It’s a game of opinions after all. Denmark’s defining moment came a few years later, when they won the European Championships in 1992, but before that, they were dazzling the continent in a different way.
They just don’t make them like this anymore.
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