Despite being a part of the England shirt as long as many of our staff and readers have been able to kick a football, the time of the Double Diamond of Umbro has come to an official end.
Whilst we’ve been seeing the familiar swoosh on placards behind Roy Hodgson and the team at pressers and on the training jackets of the staff at St. George’s Park, it’s hard to believe that England are now officially a Nike team.
Having made it’s Wembley swan-song against Brazil in what has been one of the more exhilarating England victories in recent memory, Umbro’s final England kit ended it’s service with both a bang and a whimper as the Three Lions smashed San Marino 8-0 and scraped a 1-1 draw with Montenegro.
To mark Umbro’s contribution to English football, and look forward to what Nike will bring to the table, we’re looking back at some of the great kits that have come out of Cheadle over the last 50 years.
Responsible for one of the most iconic kits in English football, Umbro were suppliers to Charlton, Ball, Hurst & Co. when they lifted the Jules Rimet trophy on home soil in the red number on the left.
Canny manager Sir Alf Ramsey (whom Umbro name their signature Ramsey jackets after) commissioned the kit you see on the left for the Mexico World Cup in 1970. Made of Aertex, the breathable material was designed to help England cope with the Latino heat.
From 1974 to 1984, Admiral took over kit supplier duties from Umbro, producing some memorable kits of their own, adding their logo to the design and implementing secondary colours, like red and navy blue to the traditional white Shirt.
However, when Umbro brought out these kits for the late 80’s, they clearly had simplicity in mind. Implementing some of Admiral’s red and blue colours into the collar and cuffs, Umbro otherwise kept the body white, with subtle watermarked graphics to help throw off counterfeiters.
This trio of kits were designed for use at the 1990 World Cup and 1992 Euro’s (the same kit for two major international tournaments – well I never!).
Featuring the same collar, cuffs and print but in England’s white, red and blue, there’s something pretty special about seeing three kits based on the same template, knowing that it would never happen in today’s market.
A pair of ‘Marmite’ kits for a divisive time in English football; after the Three Lions put in a poor showing in Euro ’92 the senior team then failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup wearing these kits.
Football’s coming home, and all that. The 1996 European Championships were hosted by England, who managed to claw their way out of their mid-90’s funk to get all the way to the semi-finals.
The tournament’s Umbro shirts were defined by the simple white and tonal blue home shirt, and the ‘indigo blue’ (which we all knew was gGrey) away strip. Can’t blame them for trying something different, eh?
The late 1990’s and dawn of the 2000’s saw some decidedly contrasting kit design from the team at Umbro.
For the 1998 World Cup in France, Umbro ‘did an Admiral’, bringing in patched of bold red and navy blue across the kit, with oversized team crest, collar and cuffs.
Whilst the Euro 2000 kit was far more understated, with a cool, athletic look that only incorporated white and navy.
Hailed by a classic by many, the 2001 home shirt was worn during the 2002 World Cup and was the first time both the player’s name and number were featured on the back of the shirt.
Both shirts took inspiration from the cross of St. George, with the Home shirt’s vertical stripe and away shirt’s patriotic cuffs featuring the red-against-white motif.
That theme continued on the kits the Three Lions took to Portugal for Euro 2004. The bold stripe across the shoulders set the home kit apart from any that had gone before, and was even reversible to reveal a white and navy blue design.
Meanwhile, the away shirt was infused with silver, creating a shirt that boasted advanced anti-microbial and sweat-wicking technologies.
Adopting a far more stylised approach for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, England’s home shirt featured hints of red and navy blue across the cuffs, with a tiny fold-up collar that revealed a St. George’s cross.
The away shirt was far simpler – featuring the sort of pinched hemming and smart use of fabrics that would become Umbro’s trademark in later years, the red away shirt’s sparing use of gold was a definite winner.
Failing to qualify for the 2008 European Championships, Steve McClaren’s reign has somewhat tainted these shirts, which used Umbro’s ‘Trinity’ fabric.
For the 2010 World Cup kits, Umbro stunned the kit world with two brilliantly basic football shirts for England.
After the bad taste in England fans collective mouths following McClaren, the purity of kits and the appointment of Fabio Capello helped bring a sense of optimism to jaded supporters.
Meant to exemplify a new dawn for English football (yes, another one), Umbro enlisted the help of artist Peter Saville to create the ‘Fabric of England’. This pattern of multi-coloured St. George’s crosses can be found across the shoulders of the kit.
And that brings us to today. The two kits worn by England at the 2012 European Championships and during 2014 World Cup qualifying so far, we think Umbro have definitely ended on a high.
The home shirt, inspired by the colours of the St. George’s Cross, is the first to be solely hewn in only white and red, whilst the away is the same blue as the caps England internationals receive when making an appearance for their country.
Which was your favourite Umbro England Shirt? What will Nike’s maiden Three Lions kit look like?
Let us know in the comments!