Iconic soccer kits pop out in the annals of the game. Whether it be for flashy patterns, elite players that wore them, or historic moments, seeing a certain jersey can spark memories of the past in soccer fans. This applies to both national teams and club teams, too. People pay homage to national teams and individual clubs by wearing these kits in all sorts of public situations. It can be an easy way to see a fellow fan.
By iconic soccer kits, this does not mean standardized patterns. Liverpool will always wear red, Real Madrid is the team in white and Chelsea’s kit is always blue. Iconic kits refer to specific editions of shirts teams wear that stand out. Oftentimes, they are extensions of the team’s iconic colors with a twist or defining feature.
Here are some kits that stand out among the rest in the famed history of football jerseys. As this is a polarizing topic, these are in no particular order.
The most iconic soccer kits of all time
The famed orange kit of the Netherlands is a staple of international soccer. So many world-class players have worn the orange shirt to great success. Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Arjen Robben, and Virgil van Dijk all wore orange many times.
However, the strip in 1998 stands out as the best orange Dutch kit of all time. Chevrons drive down the shirt to give the orange accents throughout. It helps that the Netherlands has a great badge with a lion that stands out in black on this shirt too. Also, it helps that van Basten and Gullit wore this kit when scoring the only two goals of the Euro 1988 Final to win the Netherlands its first major trophy.
United States (1994)
The USMNT and USWNT have failed to develop a reliable shirt that they can wear. The red and white hoops provided some character. That was not as much as the coming out party for American soccer at the 1994 World Cup. Hosting the event for the first time, the men’s national team wore a stunning blue shirt with white stars on the kit.
With the blue almost looking like denim, the shirt stood out during the World Cup. A star-spangled shirt fit the national anthem of the United States. It remains arguably the best kit in American soccer history.
Arsenal (1991 to 1993)
You know soccer kits are iconic when they have a nickname. That applies to the ‘bruised banana’ that Arsenal wore during the Premier League’s formative years. A yellow shirt with black triangles throughout launched a popular trend that applies to many of the game’s modern shirts.
Arsenal has worn shirts that pay homage to this famous kit. However, the one from the early 1990s has a special place in history.
Manchester United (1991/92)
Keeping the same theme as Arsenal, Manchester United went against its traditional red shirt. An eye-popping blue is perhaps United’s best away kit of all time. Even though red is Manchester United’s color, fans always want to get their hands on this strip that players like Ryan Giggs wore as youngsters.
United brought this design back for its 20th anniversary in the 2021/22 campaign. While it was not an exact reuse of the design, Manchester United once again showed class on the pitch with blue.
West Germany (1988 to 1990)
This kit started a trend for Die Mannschaft. The cross-chest sash of black, red, and yellow, the colors of the German flag, looked phenomenal on an otherwise white shirt. Adidas even laid out the stripes in a way that is symbolic of Germany’s timeline. Therefore, the kit tells a story. Two years later, West Germany won the World Cup in Italy before reunification not long after.
The kit itself is phenomenal, but the legacy it holds in German soccer is even more important.
It would be a mistake not to include one of the best kits of all time because of its longevity. When one thinks of Brazil’s kit, one thinks of the yellow kit with blue shorts. The tried and true pattern has lifted five World Cups, so there is no reason to change it. In the 1970 success, Pele won his third World Cup, and he remains the only player to have that many wins.
The yellow shirt and blue shorts that year had a green collar to boot, and Pele getting carried around at the Estadio Azteca captured some of the best moments in the history of soccer.
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