Ranking the 10 most iconic England kits ever
As England prepare to end 55 years of hurt at Euro 2020, we rank the most memorable strips the Three Lions have ever worn.
10. 1991-92 away
Nothing says English pride better than three massive electric-blue lions.
In the early 90s, the garish kit was king.
Unfortunately, dressing like a walking emblem failed to stir the players into life as England wore the strip in just two friendlies – a 2-2 draw with Czechoslovakia and a 1-0 defeat to Spain – before it was panned and replaced by a traditional red away kit at Euro 92.
Now, though, it can be looked back upon fondly as a symbol of a time when football shirts were fun.
9. World Cup 1998 away
Although it was upstaged by the home shirt (more on that later), England’s France 98 away kit deserves some credit.
With its two-tone stripes and matching collar and cuffs, the strip ensured the Three Lions travelled to the fashion capital of the world with two stylish outfits.
They performed well in the glossy red number, too, beating Colombia 2-0 in Lens and only losing one competitive game in its two years as the change strip.
The shirt was only let down by the inclusion of an outrageous five flags on the front.
Overkill, to say the least.
8. Euro 1980 home
The England team of the early 1980s was full of big characters and big hair, and it needed a shirt to match.
Enter this bold number that was a departure from years of conservative England home strips.
It featured thick blue and red stripes and a deep v-neck that allowed the top of Kevin Keegan’s chest hair to poke out.
The Three Lions did the shirt proud, too, beating an Argentine side that featured a 19-year-old Diego Maradona in its first outing before a creditable performance at Euro 1980.
7. Euro 2004 home
This will always be the Wayne Rooney shirt.
England’s record goalscorer emerged as an international star at Euro 2004, terrorising France in the opener and scoring four times in the group stage.
Rooney's never exactly been a fashionista, but he looked the part in this classy home strip that featured thick red stripes down the sleeves.
Those also met with smaller stripes on the front and back of the collar to form a St George’s Cross, which was a nice touch.
6. World Cup 2002 away
Creating a reversible England shirt was a curious idea.
We’re not quite sure how many people were interested in turning the national team’s away strip into a training shirt, but it’s fair to assume it wasn’t many.
Nevertheless, this kit makes the list because it evokes memories of the most redemptive England goal of all time - David Beckham’s penalty against Argentina, four years after his red card led to England’s elimination in France.
Yes, it should have been saved by Pablo Cavallero, but that didn’t matter.
The goal was a cathartic moment for Beckham and England supporters, and the way he celebrated – tugging at and kissing this very shirt – means it will live long in the memory.
5. World Cup 1998 home
From one classic moment against Argentina to another.
Michael Owen's wondergoal in the round of 16 at France 98 is arguably the greatest ever scored by an England player at a major tournament, and he looked good doing it in this glorious home kit.
With its subtle pinstriping, oversized single-button collar and navy and red trim down the sides, this was a great looking England shirt and - like the 1998 side - it really deserved a deeper run into the tournament.
Including Beckham's petulant flick at the calf of Diego Simeone, this kit was worn for two of the most memorable England moments of the past 25 years and is well worth its spot in the top five.
4. World Cup 1990 home
A kit is invariably remembered more fondly when the team wearing it performs well – that’s clear from the top four on this list.
There’s no doubt that Bobby Robson’s boys’ run to the semi-finals helped this one become one of the most nostalgic England strips ever.
The Italia 90 home kit is steeped in memories, from David Platt’s volley against Belgium to Paul Gascoigne bawling his eyes out after being suspended for a final that England wouldn’t even reach.
It’s stylish, too.
While the shirt looks rather plain from a distance, on closer inspection you see the subtle zig-zag pattern and Umbro cuffs that take it to the next level.
3. Euro 1996 home
One goal can be enough to turn a shirt from ordinary to iconic, and that certainly applies to this strip.
Again, it’s all about Gazza.
His stunning strike against Scotland at Wembley will always be the goal by which this kit is remembered. Every young England supporter wanted to mimic the flick, finish and ‘dentist’s chair’ celebration, and you simply couldn’t do so without first donning the replica shirt.
The design is simple, but that goal – and England’s entire performance at Euro 96 – make it one of the country’s most popular strips to date.
2. World Cup 1966 away
This would likely have been No. 1 had we all been alive to see it worn during England’s greatest sporting triumph.
England’s tradition of red away kits is borne entirely out of the shirt worn during the 1966 World Cup final.
Like the rapper Rakim, the strip might not be your favourite, but it has influenced everything that has come since.
It is this shirt that features in the iconic images of Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley, and that is dug out of the wardrobe en masse every time a major tournament comes around.
The only away shirt in history to be much more popular than the home version, its place high on this list was inevitable.
1. Euro 1996 away
For a kit that was worn in just one competitive fixture, this grey number is remarkably memorable.
That is in part due to its distinctive colour, which at the time was roundly criticised for being too modern.
Mainly, though, it is because of the one occasion on which it saw the pitch, when England were knocked out of the semi-finals after coming so close to bringing football home.
Nothing is more English than a heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat, and the image of Gareth Southgate wearing the grey strip, head in hands having missed the crucial spot kick against Germany, symbolised the national team for years.
It was also the last time England reached the semi-finals of an international tournament until Southgate’s redemption in Russia in 2018.
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