Creative Soccer Culture

The 10 Most Iconic England Kits Of All Time

With the squad for the 2022 World Cup now revealed and with only 10 days to go until the tournament kicks off, we take a look back at the most iconic England shirts of all time. Which one will you be wearing come Monday 21 November?

To create an England shirt you obviously need certain elements: Three Lions and a combination of white, red and blue. Beyond that it’s pretty much fair game. But to make an England shirt truly iconic you need to add in a few more things. Firstly, it has to be a decent design that’s unmistakably English – seems simple enough, but amazing how many times it doesn’t happen, the nation’s identity falling by the wayside at times. Secondly, it has to have been involved in some memorable moments that as a result lend to the aura of the shirt, giving it more gravitas. 

From Moore to Lineker, Gascoigne to Beckham, Shearer to Kane, what we have here is what we think are the 10 most iconic England shirts of all time – shirts that, when you look at them, instantly conjure a memory, be it of a player, a moment of magic – or madness – or even just a tournament run itself, like Italia '90. Speaking of which... 

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10. 1990-92 Third

An argument could technically be made that this shirt shouldn't appear on this list, given that it was never worn at Italia '90, and actually only featured in one match, a year later against Turkey. But it’s now the embodiment of 90s design for a nation, a cult favourite brought to prominence through New Order's 'World in Motion', so we've snuck it in at 10. Had to.

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9. 2020-21 Home

Picked ahead of the away shirt due to the fact that, despite it probably being a better design in all honesty, the away shirt didn't feature in England's Euro 2020 campaign (we know what you're thinking: "but you included the Italia '90 third shirt". Yes, but that is in a different league to the 2020 away shirt, let's be honest), the 2020 home shirt features a look that throws back to the 1986 home shirt, albeit with centralised branding and crest. And it gets its place for being the visual representation of one of the most exciting campaigns for England in recent memory. So close and yet so far.

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8. 2002-04 Away

A moment of redemption for David Beckham four years on from his red card in France as he drove the ball home from the spot to give England a 1-0 victory over Argentina. That alone would be enough for this shirt, but it also helps that it's probably one of the best red away shirts since 1966, with subtle collar and cuff details showing off the St. George's flag. Has to be long sleeve though, as per Mr Beckham.

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7. 1997-99 Home

The 1998 World Cup in France was another rollercoaster ride for England fans, taking in the introduction of a young Michael Owen on the international scene as he slalomed through the Argentinian defence before sumptuously slamming the ball home, that coming before Beckham's moment of madness contributed to the end of the run. With its subtle pinstriping, oversized single-button collar and navy and red trim down the sides, along with centralised crest and numbering, this was a bold, baggy and beautiful England shirt.

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6. 1980-84 Home

So good it got to go twice, from 80-82 and again from 82-84, the quintessential Admiral England shirt has become something of a cult classic. Sure, it never got a glory moment, in use while England went through a transitional period in the early 80s, but that hasn't stopped it from gaining mass approval, with the design being homaged with Nike's 2018 prematch shirt – one many fans wanted to see as the actual game day design.

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5. 1996-98 Home

A first tournament on home soil since England lifted the trophy 30 years prior in 1966, football felt like it was coming home. Three Lions on the shirt, the anthem blaring out, and Shearer, Sheringham, Gascoigne and the rest carrying the hopes of a nation. Sure it didn't have the fairy tale ending, but it will always be remembered when you look at this shirt, with its vibrant new shade of electric blue on that collar, the text-based Umbro branding and central crest. It all served as the kicking off point for a new direction of shirt design for Umbro. Baggy has rarely been so beautiful.

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4. 2001-03 Home

Some truly memorable moments in this shirt... Germany 1-5 England, Beckham's last minute freekick against Greece... and it was a decent design as well. It saw a prominent return for red after Umbro completely omitted the colour from the preceding home shirt. If it had a horizontal red stripe across the chest to make the St. George's cross, reckon this one would be pretty much perfect.

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3. 1995-96 Away

England's first and only grey shirt, this one instantly brings Euro '96 to mind. Forever linked to the heartbreak of the semi-final defeat to zi Germans, but that's part and parcel of supporting England.

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2. 1990-92 Home

The England home shirt that all others aspire to be... It had everything: great design that epitomises the era, perfect balance of the nation's primary colours (red for the numbers on the reverse was a touch of genius akin to Gazza himself) and a host of iconic moments in what was one of our most memorable World Cup runs. Often recreated, but never bettered, if you have an original of this, never let it go.

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1. 1965-74 Away

The shirt in which we lifted the World Cup – could it be anything other? Plain and simple, but unmistakably England.

Honourable mentions for 1997-99 away, 2003-05 home, 2005-07 home and 2020-21 away.

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Daniel Jones

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