England 3rd Kit, Euro 1996

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The kit that made a man out of me at the age of 12. A troubled England squad embarked on a four-week campaign in which the country shared some of the highest of highs and lowest of lows you can experience in The Beautiful Game. I’ll always remember the initial response to the kit itself, “Indigo Blue?!! Looks grey to me, they’ll never wear it – another cash grab…” and true: they only wore it three times.

However, that grey kit was the armour in which eleven warriors equipped themselves to go into battle with an old foe on that hot summer evening. The promise of glory and reverence awaiting the victor. Reflecting the daring fashion statements made by the rock stars, Spice Girls and top boys of the mid-nineties, this grey kit represents to me the lessons one can only learn when faced with the glorious razor’s edge of victory vs failure. Go in swinging, leave it all on the pitch and if you lose no regrets. Just make sure people forever talk about what you were wearing that day and how ace you looked.

Sartorial elegance, who needs it? We had Paul Gascoigne and don’t you forget it.

Neil ‘Carty’ Cartwright, Wolves and England fan

Italy, Euro 2012

Pirlo

This tournament was always going to be nervy. The 2010 World Cup had not been kind to us. As defending World Cup Champions, Italy succumbed to the Champions’ curse and were knocked out in abysmal style without winning a single group game. 

Euro 2012 was a tournament to be excited for as Italy had had a great run in qualifying and the period of rebuilding was widely accepted to have been positive. This kit and this player in particular guided Italy to an unexpected final, only to be pipped to Player of The Tournament by the excellent Andres Iniesta.

The picture of Pirlo before he scores a Panenka penalty against England is one that will always stay with me. Unfortunately, it all ended in tears as we were beaten 4-0 against Spain in the final.

Italy & Gianfranco Zola, Euro 1996

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This kit was a memorable kit, but not a memorable tournament. It was the last kit to have the old style badge, the one Italy were wearing for the iconic 1994 World Cup final with Roberto Baggio missing the key penalty.

This tournament never really got going for Italy and Zola missing an early penalty will be an image that stays with me. This shirt (and badge) was associated with bad times but that still makes it feel important to this day.

Nick Murphy, Arsenal and Italy fan

West Germany, Euro 1988

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Not content with winning every international trophy going, the Germans have also had to own the best kit. Has there been a better football shirt in the history of the game? 

For their home European Championships in 1988, Adidas chairman, Horst Dassler, wanted the colours of the national flag to take centre stage on a German kit for the first time. Placing the black, red and yellow in an asymmetrical geometric ribbon across the breast and underneath a minimal white collar, Ina Franzmann’s design was an instant classic. 

Two years later, the West Germans wore this shirt when lifting the 1990 World Cup, before it became the first kit the German team would wear as a newly reunified nation. It’s influence can be seen in numerous German shirt designs since. Stylistically, culturally, historically – however you look at this kit, it stands at the top of the pile.

Dutch Masters…

That Germany shirt was also the one worn against the Dutch in the Euro 1988 semi-final.

In any iteration, the orange Holland home shirt is also one of the most recognisable kits in world football. For good reason. The design has hardly deviated from a plain orange shirt throughout the history of the Oranje, the Holland shirt for Euro ‘88 is the only exception, and this kit, breaking from tradition with its gaudy geometric pattern, was widely unloved upon its release (some players saw a resemblance to fish scales).

However, some kits are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them. In this case, arguably due to those timeless images of Van Basten’s impossible volley in the final…

– Angus Guy, Coventry City and England fan

The Netherlands, Euro 1988

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The Holland kit in Euro 1988 is my all-time favourite kit in the competition.

This was the first major tournament I can properly remember as a 9-year-old boy at a time when I was becoming obsessed with the sport.

England were abysmal, finishing bottom of their group with 0 points but in their group were Holland with a team that included Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Ronald Koeman and Frank Rijkaard. They played some amazing football and I ended up supporting them after England were eliminated and fell in love with Dutch football as a result. 

They won that tournament in style thanks to one of the most iconic goals ever seen in a final, an amazing volley by Marco van Basten when they beat the Soviet Union 2-0 to take the trophy home. Surprisingly, this is the only time the country has won a major tournament.

The kit itself just stood out for me and perfectly complemented the sexy football they played. Its design meant it looked like the sort of thing you could imagine seeing on a catwalk and also wearing at a rave!

The bright orange was the icing on the cake and made it stand out, making it one of the greatest kits of all time.

– Tom Buxton, Aston Villa and England fan

The Netherlands rarely produce a bad football shirt, and their Euro ’88 offering might just be the best of the lot. Worn by the likes of Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten as the Oranje lifted that year’s Henri Delaunay trophy, the tiger-stripe chevrons and geometric lion have long since etched themselves into footballing folklore and originals regularly fetch a fortune on vintage marketplaces. But the design wasn’t always thought of so highly. Ronald Koeman mischievously stated that the Tango-hued jersey was only worth wiping one’s backside with, referencing what he had apparently done with the shirt of West Germany’s Olaf Thon after the Dutch had beaten their hated rivals in the tempestuous ’88 semi-final.

Michael Butterworth, Arsenal and England fan

Croatia, Euro 1996

The collapse of the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia in the early ’90s led to the formation of a whole host of new national teams, and so it was that Euro ’96 witnessed the tournament debut of Croatia and their striking red-and-white chequered offering. Bold and eye-catching, the simple yet effective design evoked the pattern on Croatia’s national crest, and has remained a mainstay of the national team’s jerseys ever since. And of course, being worn by the likes of Davor Suker, Alen Boksic and Zvonimir Boban that summer in England didn’t hurt either. 

Michael Butterworth, Arsenal and England fan

Portugal 2nd kit, Euro 2012

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An aesthetic statement, this away strip showed a national side could still do something signature with their shirt without compromising the heritage and gravity of the national team. 

The cross, taken from the Order of Christ (which was led by Henry the Navigator) emblem that appears on the national flag, was an instant classic. Taking the white background as a creative challenge rather than the creative sponge of so many away kits, Nike also proudly told the world these strips where the most environmental considerate they had ever made.

Predictably forged around superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal had a decent run, beating the Netherlands and Denmark in their group, then the Czech Republic before falling out to Iberian rivals on penalties in the semi-final. However, arguably the experience from Poland and Ukraine served them well as they lifted the trophy four years later.

Sandy M, Coventry City and England fan

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