From Nigeria’s sell-out effort with Nike to the phenomenally well-named bruised banana regalia of Arsenal of old, football shirts are more than just a jersey, they’re a statement. Many of the greatest moments in football history have been defined as much by what the players are wearing as by the goals they scored. After all, a volley into the top corner just doesn’t look the same in dull shade of blue or plain white. Give us tie-dye, geometric shapes and splashes of colour that can be seen from the nosebleeds. So, whether you’re a fan looking to represent or a collector hunting down your next grail shirt, these are the coolest football shirts of all time.
Nigeria (Home Kit) 2018
Nigeria has good form when it comes to kits. The 1994 attempt with its African print is a collectors’ item and their 2020 offering is more than solid. None however compare to their 2018 kit, which sold out almost instantly with enough back orders to keep Nike going for another few years. The green and black chevrons have made the home version a grail shirt among collectors and an iconic football print for everyone else.
Mexico (Home Kit) 1998
Forget monochrome kits with a touch of patriotic colour here and there; for their 1998 World Cup effort, Mexico went all out with this phenomenal Aztec-inspired green number. The face rendered in shades of green and complimented with red and white to finish the colours of the flag paints an intimidating picture. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see it past the first round of knockouts; apparently it wasn’t intimidating enough to put off the Germans.
Club América (Home Kit) 1994
Gustavo Llanos is an inspiration to anyone that wants to ditch everything and dress as a bird at football matches. While he’s very firmly a Colombia fan, that didn’t stop the 1994 Club América shirt riffing on those same Rio carnival vibes. With 2D wings draped across the shoulders and an eye-catching primary colourway, it’s about as loud as a stadium full of screaming South Americans.
Verdy Kawasaki (Home Kit) 1993
Honestly, it’s a coin toss whether we prefer the home or away kit in this set, with both using the same sunburst design just this side of psychedelia. But with away leaning more towards white, we’ve opted for the emerald green of the home version of Japanese team Verdy Kawasaki’s 1993 kit. Sure, they’re Tokyo Verdy nowadays, but the green’s still very much part of their kit, and this psychedelic offering is up there with the greats.
Arsenal (Away Kit) 1991
The JVC yellow on Arsenal’s away kit is every bit as iconic as their home red, usually with big blocks of yellow and navy blue. For 1991 though they took a different approach – one that Nigeria would be proud of – with zig-zagging lines breaking up the bright dandelion colour, leading to its ‘bruised banana’ nickname. It’s so iconic that makers Adidas revived it for the 2019/2020 season, if a little more subtle.
Fiorentina (Home Kit) 1998
Purple isn’t everyone’s colour but the most beautiful city in Italy seems to make it work – particularly with that Nintendo logo front and centre. It’s a glorious, royal colour complete with the city emblem on the shoulders. Sure, it’s slightly less sought after than the grail-level shirt with Super Mario on the front, but just like the holy grail of legend, there’s a good chance it doesn’t exist. This 1998 version does.
Tottenham Hotspur (Away Kit) 1994
Holsten Pils may be the degenerate beer of nightmares, but it makes for a seriously cool kit. It’s a looker but, for most Hotspurs fans, also has a special place in club history as the shirt worn by Jürgen Klinsmann when he scored his first goal for the team, after which the serial diver celebrated by, well, diving. It’s an iconic football moment and an iconic football shirt… if you can pull off purple.
Netherlands (Home Kit) 1988
Despite only being worn for a grand total of five games, the Netherlands 1988 kit is still regarded as one of the best of all time. It’s not hard to see why. It wasn’t the only shirt that year to use the geometric pattern, but the combination of orange, white and black turned what had previously been a usually one-note kit into an instant winner. It also helps that the same could be said of the Dutch that year.