Tuesday 21 August 2012

Ed Carter's Top 5... World Cup Shirts

The kits keep on coming as today we welcome Ed Carter's choice of his favourite five World Cup shirts...

1. West Germany (1970, home)

(West) Germany have a virtually unblemished record of brilliant, tasteful football kits. Even when they went completely insane (1990 and 1994) they did so with such panache and style that it was brilliant and the world and Jeff Banks rejoiced. However, for me it's always the plainer the better and the 1970 West German kit is perhaps the most beautiful ever seen in the World Cup finals. Two-tone with simple collar and cuff trim and a brilliant black German eagle badge in a thick black circle. Dutch people would go to their child's wedding wearing this kit.

2. Peru (1982, home)

No top five World Cup kits would be complete without a Peru entry. This is because sashes are the best and Peru therefore has the best international football kit. My favourite of the four Peruvian World Cup efforts is their most recent one. It dispenses with the flappy collar and has a v-neck instead. New York dockers everywhere rejoiced. Finally they could support Peru whilst on shift. Also, for anyone who reckons a good kit can make your team play better: 1982 represents Peru's most disappointing World Cup finals performance to date.

3. Portugal (1966, home)

I'm a terrible old purist when it comes to football kit design. The simpler and plainer the better. The 1966 and 1970 World Cups were the golden age for this sort of thing: earlier than that and everyone was still wearing home-knits and boots that would get you bullied by Billy Dane; after it and it was all corporate branding and lousy "design" bits. The Portuguese kit is one of my favourite ones of the bunch. I particularly like it for the deepness of the red and the green trim on the shirt's contrast with the white shorts. Portugal memorably made it all the way to the semi-final wearing this outfit, giving important evidence for anyone who reckons a good kit can make your team play better (it can't).

4. France (1986, away)

Another from the Adidas '86 stockpile of brilliant things. I love this one for the uniquely patriotic take on the Adidas corporate stripes - one in red and two in blue, c'est magnifique - but especially for the trim. The audacious brilliance of the thing. Who the hell ever thought this up? The thicker horizontal stripe in red is delicious enough, but to follow it up with three more thin ones in blue? It's a very special moment in the history of kit design. The only way you could improve it? An oversized yellow cockerel emblem. But wait, there's one right there!

5. Soviet Union (1986, away)

I am a complete sucker for international football kits with stuff written on them. I'm too young to remember a world before shirt sponsorship, television and Alan Hansen ruined football forever, so the international football shirt's lack of verbal signifiers seems daring in the extreme. However, just as a club team pitching up without a shirt sponsor on their jersey remains a rare treat, so does an international team showing up with monikers emblazoned on their chest. Algeria's 1982 effort is a particular favourite, written in Arabic script for extra bonus points. Brazil have a splendid tradition of writing BRASIL on the front of their goalkeeper's jerseys - presumably so that the team can remember at a glance which way they are attacking. But let's face it, the great masters of this are the old CCCP. Just typing those letters give me a giddy thrill. It was a simpler time, the cold war. Ah, the nostalgia.

The 1986 variant is my favourite one. Adidas' kit templates for the Mexico 86 tournament were a design classic worthy of any museum and this is one of my favourite of the bunch. And only in Gorbachev's Soviet Union would the national team wear such an extravagantly decorated kit, with a shiny shadow pattern woven into the otherwise clean and plain white kit. It's an outfit that says, "we admit we killed the Tsar but we're not giving up our nukes just yet".

Our thanks to Ed for his superb selections. If you want to follow Ed on Twitter, check out @Dotmund or visit his blogsite here


  1. Peru kits really are so classy. Have you seen the new one released for the new qualifying campaign? As classy as ever.

  2. The new one is very nice, Al, it has to be said.

    Ed - thanks for bringing to my attention the red stripe on the France away shirt. Never noticed it before...

  3. In Spain, where I live, when you leave a place, even a small one, there's a road sign giving its name, with a red diagonal stripe through it to indicate you're leaving. The background is white and I always think "Peru".

  4. Ah yes, I saw those when I visited a few years back! I know exactly what you mean! :)

  5. I love west Germany, I once bought one and that is my favorite football shirts.