Creative Soccer Culture

The 15 Best Prematch Shirts That Should’ve Been Kits

We all know that pre match shirts are a place where designers can really let loose, tapping into their creative sides to produce some stand out designs. And sometimes those designs actually end up being better than what teams get for their on-pitch outfits. Here, we pick out the 15 best pre match shirts that really should have been kits.

Warm up shirts, pre-match jerseys, call them what you will, but over the last few years there’s been a marked shift in terms of how they’re perceived, marketed and worn, with the freedom of the arena opening the doors to some radical designs that’ve often trumped a team’s actual kits. This was particularly evident in the newly released and highly anticipated Jamaica set from adidas, which got us thinking of other prematch shirts that could – and perhaps should – be kits.

The increased appetite for jersey culture, spurred on by the fashion industry taking a marked interest, has led to ever more expressive designs that push the boundaries of what a football shirt can be, and yet the pre match shirt still leads the way in terms of what’s possible. What follows are 15 of the best prematch shirts to have dropped over the last few years, so good, in fact, that they really should have been kits themselves.

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Jamaica 2023

Starting with the shirt that got us thinking about this topic in the first place, the Jamaica 2023 pre match shirt from adidas lined up alongside the new home and away shirts, all designed in conjunction with British fashion label, Wales Bonner. While the home shirt carries a nice retro feel that we’re sure will be a grower, the away didn’t quite capture the imagination in the same way. The pre match though? So good…

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Club América 2022

Imagine this on pitch. Absolutely wild, and hands down better than the current home shirt, leaning heavily on the aztec influence of the region. Possibly too bold for some people's tastes, but if you could get away with it anywhere it would be south of the border, down Mexico way...

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Club América 2021

And that last shirt wasn't even the first that should've been a Club América shirt – the Liga MX side getting spoiled by Nike over the years. This beauty dropped back in 2021, and it sees a floral graphic running across the whole jersey. One step away from being just a full-blown Hawaiian shirt in football form, the design is unlike anything else in the game.

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Ajax x Daily Paper 22/23

The problem with the Ajax x Daily Paper pre match shirt is where would it fit in to the Dutch side’s wardrobe? The Amsterdam-based fashion label collaborated with Ajax on their third shirt, and that’s a great design, worthy of its position on pitch. But this pre match shirt? Absolutely deserves to be a kit in its own right.

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Germany 2022

Germany were blessed with two of the strongest kits in the entire 2022 World Cup, and arguably their best since the 90s. The only shame was that their performances couldn’t quite live up to the brilliance of their shirts. And as if that weren't enough, as well as the home and away shirts they also got an outstanding pre match shirt. The real crime? It was barely worn, featuring mainly on the keepers. Absolutely should’ve held it back as the nation’s next away shirt in our opinion. Mexico is another that falls in exactly the same category as this.

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Portugal 2022

Another from the 2022 World Cup, the Portugal pre match shirt really would’ve been pushing the boundaries of what an on-pitch jersey could be, but if you're gonna go, may as well go all in. A host of geometric shapes jostling for position in a mixture of the nation's traditional colours, with some extras tossed in for good measure. Shouldn't work, but it just does.

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Barcelona 22/23

Barcelona have had plenty of decent prematch shirts over the years, and this one is right up there as one of the best. It skewed the club's traditional blaugrana colours in a bold mix up, and we definitely think it's better than some of the Catalan clubs recent kits. We're looking at you season 21/22.

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Venezia 22/23

Absolutely ruling the style game over the last two seasons, Venezia and Kappa have so much goodness going on that it has spilled out on to their pre match shirt this season. No need to replace any of their existing kits, but could easily have taken place as either a fourth kit or an away look for next season.

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England 2018

Ah, the one that every England fan remembers – the quintessential "should’ve-been-the-home-shirt" design. All agree that this 100 percent should’ve been the Three Lions’ home shirt for the 2018 World Cup, carrying an homage-filled design that harked back to the iconic early 80s Admiral-produced design on to the pitches of Russia. But alas, it wasn’t to be. Shame.

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Roma 20/21

The Nike AS Roma 2020-2021 pre-match jersey introduced a bold design that carried on the 1980s-influenced 'lollipop' look of the Roma 2020/21 home shirt, although skewing it into all new extreme realms through a repeating cuboid graphic. Would've made a great away shirt.

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PSG 19/20

Leaders in the football x fashion space, this pre match shirt really balanced a lifestyle look with jersey culture. Taking the classic tricolore of red and blue on a white base, the design was elegant, utilising horizontal pinstripes to create a visage of the famous hectre stripe. Proper chic.

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Lionesses 2022

To be fair, the Lionesses' kits for Euro 2022 were pretty tight anyway, but this pre match shirt stood out even in their company. Bold and powerful, it would've been a sight to behold had they worn these in a match.

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Italy 2023

Adidas kicked off a new partnership with Italy at the start of 2023, and they did so with beautiful marble effect home and away shirts. But they were arguably eclipsed by the pre match shirt, which takes the tricolore of the national flag and once again translates it with a marble effect. Would’ve been a perfect away shirt, possibly not in place of the current option, but certainly at some point. Too good to be just pre match.

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Galatasaray 22/23

Taking the club’s classic colours in a fresh direction, the Galatasaray pre match shirt features a diagonal pattern at the front which resembles lion claw marks, appropriately befitting the Istanbul team's nickname of The Lions or "Aslanlar". Just something very different for the Turkish side, and we're all for that, especially on a home shirt. 

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Liverpool 22/23

The Liverpool 22/23 home shirt was a little underwhelming, matched perhaps only by the team's performances this season. It features a subtle pattern made up of the acronym for You'll Never Walk Alone (YNWA) on the cuffs, but it's this graphic that dominates the pre match shirt, forming a chain-like pattern on the maroon base. Possibly too much of a departure from the club’s usual red, but a slight tweak and this would’ve been a very brave home shirt.

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Daniel Jones

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