In March 2009, there was a lot of hoopla about the launch of the innovative new England home jersey from Umbro. Four Four Two Magazine had the exclusive. And millions of soccer fans around the world, mostly England supporters, were clamoring to see what the new kit would look like.
Sadly for England, the home kit was far superior to what the England national team conjured up on the pitches in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup. It was one of those cases where the beauty of the shirt didn’t match the dour performances on the pitch. To no fault of Umbro, it was a complete mismatch.
Less than 18 months later, Umbro and England have unveiled a new home football kit which will be adorned by England this Friday when they play Bulgaria in a Euro 2012 qualifying group match.
To me, it’s far too early for England to unveil a brand new kit but if the club teams can do it, I suppose the national teams can do it too although it’s not as if England even got to wear the 2009/2010 home kit that much after all.
The new England shirt from Umbro isn’t a significant departure from the World Cup top. It still features the classy features such as the regal crest, the beautifully sewn star above it, and the gorgeous white fabric that’s so pure that it makes you feel cathartic.
To be completely honest, the first time I saw the new design of the England shirt, I hated it. But the more I look at it, the better it appears. And the sentiment of the shirt is admirable. As you can see on the back and shoulder of the jersey, there’s a pattern of four different colored crosses: red, blue, green and – all three colors mixed together – equaling purple. The purple is meant to reflect how England is now a very culturally diverse nation.
When I looked closer at the design, the small colored crosses look like specks. But examining it even more closely, the specks of color made me think that if the Pet Shop Boys, Frankie Goes To Hollywood or New Order ever designed an England home shirt, it would look like this. Upon further investigation, I wasn’t surprised to find out that iconic designer Peter Saville was the man responsible for the new England shirt creation. Saville is perhaps best known for designing album covers for New Order, Joy Division, Duran Duran, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD) and many others.
I’m in two minds about this new England shirt. One, I love it and think it’s a work of art. But two, it’s too pretty to be a football shirt. It doesn’t conjure up what England needs to be on the pitch. They need to be more aggressive, to get back to basics, to play with grit. But the new England jersey is too pretty for that. It needs to be in an art gallery or worn on a catwalk, not covered in grass stains and blotches of mud or pulled by opponents who try to be cheeky and grab the shirt behind a referee’s back.
Maybe it’ll grow on me after I see England wear it on Friday against Bulgaria. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a creative masterpiece in terms of football shirts. But is it the right shirt for England? No pressure Fabio Capello’s men, but you’ll need to prove you’re worthy of pulling on the shirt of England. Even more so than usual.
Here are more images of England’s new home jersey including close-ups of the new fabric design, as well as a video interview with Saville who shares his insights regarding the England jersey and why it was an important canvas to work on:
To discover more regarding England’s new home jersey and their blue shorts (to replace their white ones they wore in the 2010 World Cup), head on over to Umbro’s website.