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The Evolution of Football Kits

England through the years

Why do England wear  white home football shirts? It’s not because white is the predominant colour on the national flag. It’s because they followed the example of the English rugby team, who wore white in the nation’s first-ever international sporting contest against Scotland in 1871. White was chosen as it was the colour of the kit used by the Rugby School. When the football team faced Scotland a year later, they opted to wear white too.

The blue shorts draw from the colours of The FA’s logo, which also inspired England’s “Three Lions” nickname. Those lions originated on the Royal Arms of England, which date back to the 12th century. 

This year’s England away kit is a red shirt with white shorts – the same colours are worn when England won the World Cup on home soil in 1966. Will there be a repeat in Russia this summer? Find out at Coral the latest from the World Cup 2018 when it comes to odds.

England world cup 2018 goal

Football kit technology

Goal-line technology and Video Assistant Referees are two examples of how football is adapting to the modern age. But kits have also come a long way over the years.

Most modern kits keep players cool and dry by drawing moisture away and letting air in.  Moisture-wicking fabrics prevent sweat from soaking through shirts to prevent them from becoming heavy and clingy. Some kits also use materials such as elastane for a better fit.

Italy’s innovative home shirt for the 2014 World Cup featured a special tape that micro-massaged player’s muscles as they wore it. The intention was to speed up recovery from physical exertion and many brands now use similar technology.

Even socks are relatively high-tech now. They tend to have moisture-wicking fabrics as well as anti-odour finishes. Anti-microbial properties prevent athlete’s foot, while anti-friction pads increase comfort, stability and keep them secure in the boot. 

pirlo italy world cup 2014

Football kit fashion

Football kits are seen all around the world, which means style is arguably just as important as function.

An exhibition in London last year called The Art of the Football Shirt showcased some of the most popular and distinctive kits. It also highlighted how kits have evolved over time.

Kits nowadays are much better fitting than the baggier looks of years gone by. They tend to have a sleek design too, a far cry from the loud kits of the ‘90s. 

As well as identifying the players on a pitch, a kit is also a visual symbol of a team and what they represent.

England recently launched the new home and away kit for this summer’s World Cup. After 2016’s all-white number, this year’s home strip sees a return to the traditional white shirt with blue shorts.

It features all the latest developments in kit technology, combined with design flourishes unique to England. There’s a St. George’s Cross on the collar and a star above the badge to represent the 1966 World Cup win. The away kit also has a tonal graphic in the shape of the St. George’s Cross on the torso.

See the England kit in action and discover what the England squad are up to in the World Cup 2018 with our latest articles here.

Football kits and performance

New developments enhance kit comfort and help players to focus on their performance. But there could also be a slight edge to be gained by wearing the right colour.

Dutch researchers found that wearing white offers the best visibility while playing on a green pitch. This allows players to see their teammates better than if they were wearing another colour.

Sports psychologists at the University of Munster found that those wearing red can score over 10% more than those wearing another colour. It may not be a coincidence that Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool are historically English football’s three most successful clubs.

Following another study, a researcher at Durham University also suggested that wearing red can make individuals feel more confident.

Manchester united juan mata goal

Football kit nostalgia

Football kits’ enduring popularity means there is plenty of nostalgia for the shirts of years gone by.

Nostalgia also influences current trends. Adidas have drawn inspiration from iconic kits of years gone by for many of this year’s designs. Germany, Spain, Belgium and Colombia are amongst the teams that will wear updated versions of classic kits in Russia.

Certain kits bring back memories of better times for fans of many teams. They can even make fans instantly recall specific events.

Do you remember the kit Gazza was wearing when he did ‘The Dentist Chair’ goal celebration? Read more on the evolution of goal celebrations for a trip down memory lane.

A famous example is Manchester United’s grey kit from 1995-96. United found themselves 3-0 down in the first-half against Southampton while wearing grey. At the interval, Sir Alex Ferguson demanded his players change into a blue and white strip, as the grey kit was making it hard for them to see each other. United didn’t turn the result around, but they never wore the grey strip again.

Nostalgia colours the way we remember football history too. We’ve seen Brazil play sensational football and win five World Cups in their yellow and green shirts. They’re synonymous with those colours now. But they actually wore white shirts with blue collars up until the 1950s.

After their 2-1 World Cup final loss to Uruguay on home soil in 1950, a competition was launched to design a new kit with the colours of the Brazilian flag. It was won by an 18-year-old newspaper illustrator and Brazil wore their yellow shirt for the first time in 1954. They won their first World Cup four years later.

Take our football kit quiz

1.What brand designed the shirts Argentina wore on their way to winning the 1982 World Cup?                                                              A)Adidas  B) Umbro  C) Le Coq Sportif   

2.At what tournament did Germany wear this snazzy number?

A)World Cup 1990  B) Euro 1992  C) World Cup 1994

germany world cup 1990

3.Admiral was the first brand to have their logo displayed on an England shirt. When did it appear for the first time?                         

A)1974  B) 1977  C) 1980

4.Spain’s new home strip is inspired by which previous kit?

A)World Cup 1990  B) World Cup 1994  C) World Cup 1998

5.France had to borrow emergency kit from a local club in 1978 when they had a colour clash with Hungary. What colours did they end up wearing? 

A)Red and black  B) Yellow and blue  C) Green and white

Answers

  1. C) Le Coq Sportif
  2. A) World Cup 1990
  3. A) 1974
  4. B) World Cup 1994
  5. C) Green and white
Check out your answers here