England’s greatest World Cup kits, featuring retro 1990, 1982 and other classic shirts

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England normally look good at World Cups, don’t they?

Now we know who will be playing for the Three Lions in Russia, talkSPORT.com asked three kit aficionados what their favourite designs from previous tournaments are.

Have a read what John Devlin, George Bartlett and Simon Shakeshaft say, then feel free to let us know what yours are.

We start with John Devlin @TrueColoursKits on Twitter, who is the author and illustrator of International Football Kits: The Illustrated Guide.

1. MEXICO 1970 (AWAY)

“It was sky blue and the first time England had worn that colour. The top used Aertex fabric (a lightweight fabric with minute holes for added ventilation) to cope with the Mexico heat. It was the first deliberate attempt to move away from red because they were worried about the effect it would have on players, and in terms of innovation it was fantastic. They wore it against Czechoslovakia, though it caused problems for black and white TV because the colour didn’t really work. Something World Cups are notorious for is making sure there was a light and dark strip so you could tell who was playing who.”

2. MEXICO 1986 (HOME)

“Made by Umbro, which was a variant of their standard home shirts at the time, it is used fabric technology to lead the design, which is quite interesting. It had a very pale shadow striped design rather than the shadow pinstripe of the normal shirt and the cuffs were removed, too. To the untrained eye it would be the same kit, but actually it was tailored just right for the temperatures. I think in that World Cup England wore it in every game; the only time they wore any other combination was against Argentina in the quarter-final where they wore pale blue shorts. I think it’s a good example of what the kits had to do in order to serve a purpose.

3. ITALY 1990 (HOME)

“The Gazza-inspired team at Italia ’90 is what helped make this shirt iconic and it was a great example of Umbro taking tradition – plain white shirt, navy shorts – and bringing it up to date with this complicated jacquard pattern, Umbro diamond trim on the sleeve and just a really solid looking kit, which I think they wore in every game. Everyone talks about ’66 but for me this kind of kit – 1990 – is really English and I’m saying that as a Scotland fan, so you know it’s honest!”

4. GERMANY 2006 (AWAY)

“Umbro again. It came at a time when they, I wouldn’t say lost their way, but were filling their shirts with lots of bells and whistles, yet somehow it really worked on this kit. There was the asymmetrical St George’s cross on the right hand shoulder, little gold embellishments under the sleeves and the high placed Umbro logo on the chest. I love the fact it accommodated the shirt number on the front. There were all those elements, but again, it stuck to tradition.”

5. SOUTH AFRICA 2010 (HOME)

“It was the one that re-wrote the kit rulebook in terms of going back to basics and really looking at what a football shirt could do. Instead of going down an increasingly modern route, it was actually stripped right back and even got criticised with some calling it ‘just a polo shirt’. But actually, to have the courage to remove all the trimmings a kit could have, it was ground-breaking. It’s one of my favourite ever kits. It was the first time since 1970 that we’d seen England select an all-white kit. I was lucky enough to meet one of the designers, who said it was inspired by Bobby Moore leading the team in Mexico, dressed in all-white and how heroic they looked. The 2010 one was just so different to anything else at the time because everything else was going down a prescribed path.”

All illustrations courtesy of John Devlin

Next, we spoke to George Bartlett, @Greatest_Kits on Instagram, a retailer in original retro kits who can usually be found with his vast collection in London’s Brick Lane on most weekends.

1. SPAIN ’82 (HOME)

“The admiral shirt that was used has the red and blue panel at the top. This would probably be my number one because it’s so different and was the last one Admiral made for England.”

2. FRANCE ’98 (HOME)

“That would be in there because it’s the first one I watched and it’s a popular one with the badge and Umbro down the middle. After 2002 I think they’ve gone hill a bit and they look the same and I think a lot of the 90s shirt were so different.”

3. ITALY ’90 (HOME)

“It’s famous for Gazza crying, but is just a great shirt with a really cool design. The Umbro design on the bottom of the sleeve is really nice as is the button on the collar.”

4. 1992 (THIRD SHIRT)*

“We didn’t use it at the World Cup, but I wanted to throw this one in there. It’s really rare and I think we only wore it twice (against Spain and Czechoslovakia), but the Lions over the shoulder are really great.”

*It’s not a World Cup shirt, but George really likes it so we let him cheat

5. ENGLAND 1966 (AWAY)

“It’s a classic for what it represents. It’s the most famous red one and has a nice, big England crest on it.”

Last, but not least talkSPORT.com spoke to Simon Shakeshaft, @ShakeyMatchWorn on Twitter. If you need to know a fact about a kit, not matter how small, then get in touch with him. Simon is the curator of the Neville Evans National Football Shirt Collection

1. ENGLAND 1966 (AWAY)

“They were at home and had to wear their away strip against their rivals. It is so iconic; the plain red, long sleeve shirt in bright sunshine and all the stories that go with it. Match worn shirt go for small fortunes at auctions when they become available, but some of the orginal shirts from this game, such as Bobby Charlton’s have disappeared. He swapped his with Uwe Seeler, who later told him he didn’t keep any of his football memorabilia and thrown it out. Bobby still had Seeler’s and asked if he wanted it back. His reply was: ‘No, you keep it.'”

2. SPAIN 1982 (HOME)

“England home. It’s about memories. It’s interesting because Admiral came along and put red and blue on it instead of keeping it plain white. They changed the game in 1974 and then in 1980 this was brought out and was first worn by Kevin Keegan and co as they beat Maradona’s Argentina 3-1. The 1982 World Cup was a great tournament for me and this kit stands out – a bit like the Northern Ireland away one when they beat Spain. Despite wearing it against Argentina first (on 13 May 1980), they wore it against Wales in a 4-1 loss a few days later at the Racecourse and in commentary, Brian Moore said: ‘England tonight unveiling their new strip, but quite why the colours are in the Union Jack are remains a mystery.’ It just stands out and the best home shirt in my opinion.”

3. ITALY 1990 (HOME)

“The tournament details are embroidered into the crest, which followed on from the practice at the 1986 edition. It read: ‘FIFA WORLD CUP ITALY ‘90’ and it’s these sort of things collectors love – a high number like Steve Bull’s and suddenly you realise it’s the embroidery that puts the value up and a lot of the time it’s this that sees them go for more money – worn, tournament versions. This kit is loved by guys in their 30s and they love it because England got to the semi-finals. The tournament was quite poor, but you don’t remember that because the whole thing evokes so many memories. There’s the Gazza effect, Lineker scoring again, the games against Cameroon and Belgium. As soon as you look at the kit, you’ll think ‘Italia ’90.’ A special mention should go to one that wasn’t worn; the blue third shirt.”

4. MEXICO 1986 (HOME)

“This is a really interesting shirt. For the heat in Mexico, England had a perforated lightweight material with holes in it and the shirts had no cuffs on them. Umbro took the Aertex fabric and turned it into their own material, changing it in order to market it themselves. It’s the first recognised sports performance fabric – an evolution of the Aertex shirts Umbro produced in previous editions.”

5. SPAIN 1982 (AWAY)

“It was the dawn of a new era and for obvious reasons (he’s Welsh) I liked an England shirt in red. I was 17 and remember it vividly – England’s opening game against France and Bryan Robson scoring early in that shirt. They didn’t have an Admiral logo because they thought they weren’t allowed. It was worn twice in this tournament.”

talkSPORT is your home of the 2018 World Cup. Tune in all throughout the summer to hear live commentary of every game, and visit talkSPORT.com for expert views and analysis of the big games and key moments from Russia.





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