I know my taste in virtually everything represents the minority view, but I absolutely loved this kit when it appeared in the 1998 World Cup. Kappa, the manufacturers, showed brilliant originality in weaving together four colours into a mad tapestry the like of which has rarely ever been seen.
Rather than go for an intricate pattern, South Africa’s white home shirt featured large stripes of yellow and black with a splash of green on the collar and sides. The colour scheme extended further onto the green and black shorts and white socks. A fabulously inventive creation, but one that admittedly will generate more negative comments than positive ones.
2. Scotland (1990, change)
In a not dissimilar way, Scotland’s change shirt for the 1990 World Cup also made virtue of yellow stripes on a white background. Even as an England fan, I loved it – so much so that my 18-year-old self went out and bought it.
There was something about the simplicity of those lemon-coloured bars evenly spaced from top to bottom, broken in sequence only by two in navy blue straddling the team badge and the Umbro logo. Throw in a navy blue button-up collar and you had a shirt that was bordering on perfection to my mind, especially when worn with the navy blue shorts and socks that went with it. It’s just a shame it was only worn the once in the 1990 tournament – a lamentable 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica.
3. Nigeria (1994, change)
Yet another white strip, but this was a complete one-off. Nigeria made their World Cup debut in 1994 and did so in eye-raising fashion by wearing a kit so distinctive as to be utterly unique.
Against Bulgaria and Greece, Nigeria had the opportunity to show off arguably their most distinctive shirt ever. It was white and decorated all over in a regular pattern of ethnic African symbols coloured black. It remains one of the finest Adidas strips ever seen in a World Cup and shows how, with a little imagination, a shirt can break all the rules and still attract worldwide admiration.
4. West Germany (1990, home)
How often have you seen a stripe wandering across a shirt of its own free will in a seemingly random direction? That’s what you got with the shirt West Germany wore in the 1990 World Cup. Upon yet another white background, the colours of the German flag – black, red and yellow – meandered their way from one arm across to the other. The shirts worn by the West German national team hadn’t featured much red and yellow prior to the 1990 World Cup, but this signalled a turning point the effect of which lasts to this very day.
The design was very nicely executed. Each of the three coloured tapes were punctuated by white diamonds in two places which, through a cynics eye, could have been seen as an accidental nod towards Umbro on this Adidas shirt. As it is, they helped to prevent the coloured bands from being too bold on the eye and, like the overall design, looked entirely appropriate and stylish to boot.
5. Denmark (1986, change)
Football shirts with a ‘half-and-half’ design have been commonplace since the origins of the game. Think of Feyenoord and Blackburn Rovers and you’ll soon get the picture. Denmark, however, are not famous for wearing such a distinctive design, but that didn’t stop them donning a fabulous first-choice shirt during the 1986 World Cup.
Hummel were the company that added a fresh twist to an old look by representing one half of the Danish away shirt as a series of red pinstripes to complement the other half in white. With Hummel’s distinctive chevrons running down both sleeves (one of which had red pinstripes, the other in white) this design looked wonderful in the glorious sun-baked hues of Mexico. Worn with red shorts against Scotland and white shorts against Spain, this was a shirt that looked good in any colour, be it two-tone red for Denmark’s home strip, claret and blue for Aston Villa or sky blue for Coventry.
What would be your favourite five World Cup shirts? Leave us a comment below, or better still, explain your choices in a guest post on The Football Attic. Drop us an email at admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com and we’ll do the rest.