England Soccer World Cup Shirts Since 1990
Retro England Kits
In this article, I take a look at the England football shirts worn by the national team at each FIFA World Cup since 1990. Why 1990? Well, for two reasons. Firstly, all football shirt designs were pretty rubbish before this period. And secondly, 1990 is the first soccer World Cup that I have vivid memories of and the 1990 World Cup shirt was the first England football kit that I ever owned. A birthday present from my parents before our summer holiday and just before the 'Italia '90' World Cup got underway.
The 1990 World Cup was held in Italy in Europe. As a child of the eighties this is the first World Cup that I really remember. There was a great deal of exotic flair and excitement in this World Cup with Cameroon, in particular, and their star striker, Roger Milla, catching the world's attention with their mesmerising run to the quarter finals where they met their eventual end at the hands of England in a breathtaking encounter that ended 3-2.
The England team would go out at the next stage of the competition after an agonising penalty shoot out to the eventual champions, West Germany. It was England's best showing at a World Cup since they lifted the trophy on home soil in the summer of 1966. England failed to get to another World Cup semi-final until the 2018 World Cup in Russia where they lost to Croatia.
British sportswear manufacturer, Umbro, designed the 1990 England World Cup shirts. The home jersey was in the classic white colour with a blue tone for the away shirt.
The 1994 World Cup was held in the USA. It was a fun World Cup, won by Brazil. England however, failed to qualify so fan interest at home was slightly subdued compared to other years. Another factor was probably to do with the kickoff times of the games and the time difference. Games were often being played in the middle of the night UK time.
If England had of qualified, these are the shirts they would have worn.
The 1998 World Cup was held in France. England qualified for the tournament with a team featuring some of the most exciting young talent in a generation including Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Michael Owen. Expectations were high and it was looking like England were at the dawn of a golden generation - a phrase that would be truly worn out and worthless by the end of the next decade.
1998 was the beginning of the era of French domination of world and european football. Brazil, who had blitzed their way through the tournament, thanks in large part to the free-scoring Ronaldo , failed to turn up (figuratively speaking) for the final and suffered a lacklustre 3-0 defeat.
England got as far as the second round and suffered a bitter penalty shoot-out defeat to arch rivals, Argentina. The game was memorable for a stunning Michael Owen goal that catapulted him into global superstardom and also for a red card for David Beckham which made him public enemy #1 in England for the rest of that summer and into the start of the football season.
The shirts continued to be made by Umbro but they had now ditched the blue strip and brought back the classic red colour for the away shirt.
Japan and South Korea 2002
The 2002 World Cup was jointly hosted by Japan and South Korea, the latter being the surprise package of the tournament, reaching the semi-finals (thanks to a series of fortunate refereeing decisions) before losing to eventual finalists, Germany.
The England team went one further than in 1998 by making it as far as the quarter finals before being beaten by eventual winners, Brazil who were inspired by an incredibly attack-minded side led by Ronaldo and Ronaldinho who were playing at the peak of their careers.
The 2006 FIFA World Cup was held in Germany who were clear favourites heading into the tournament. They would only make it as far as the last four however, losing to eventual winners, Italy but winning the third placed play off match against Portugal.
For England, this was the height of the 'golden generation' of players and was the second World Cup for the Swede, Sven Goran Erikson, as Head Coach. Expectations for this side were through the roof. The team was packed full of premier league winners and players who were regularly being talked about as being amongst the best in the world: Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, David Beckham....
England would only make it as far as the quarter finals with their tournament characterised by lacklustre displays and, to the frustration of England fans everywhere, a seeming inability to play together as a team. Erikson resigned shortly after the tournament and big questions were being asked about the future of the English national team.
South Africa 2010
The 2010 World Cup was the first World Cup to be hosted on the African continent. South Africa played host to a tournament that introduced the world to the vuvuzela.
England had an absolute disaster in South Africa. A hugely talented squad which, on paper, looked to be up there with the world's best. But the players were miserable, unmotivated, lethargic and completely devoid of ideas. The coach of the team was the successful Italian, Fabio Capello, who had steered England through a perfect qualifying phase.
Given the quality in the squad, the poor quality of the performances led fans to turn on this England team and blast the players as overpaid primadonnas. This would be the last World Cup for several of the so-called 'golden generation'.
On the other hand the football shirt design for this World Cup was very good. The design was simple and stylish. No wacky patterns or gimmicks, this England shirt was just a simple elegant polo shirt in plain white. It was still made by Umbro but it would be their last.
The star team of the 2010 World Cup were Spain who were in the middle of enjoying a golden generation of their own. Spain, winners of this World Cup were already defending champions of Europe and would win the Euro's again in 2012.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup was supposed to be all about the host nation, Brazil. The five time world champions were hosting the World Cup for the first time and it looked almost certain that with home advantage they would capture an unprecedented sixth title. But things don't always go to plan,
Brazil suffered one of the heaviest defeats in World Cup history on a night that all those involved, and all those watching around the world, will never forget. Germany, eventual winners (and deservedly so) took Brazil to pieces. I mean they actually destroyed them. So much so that it was embarrassing to watch at times. The score was 7-1 and Brazil, playing in front of their own fans, were utterly humiliated.
England, led by the experienced journeyman, Roy Hodgson, took a young and largely inexperienced side to South America. They suffered a dismal showing and crashed out at the group stage. Years of under-achievement and failure had taken their toll and the team went out looking like they believed they didn't stand a chance. Fans were dejected and a period of general apathy set in.
American sportswear giant, Nike, replaced Umbro as kit manufacturer.
The 2018 World Cup was held in Russia. After years of poor performances and significant under-achievement expectations on this England side were at an all-time low. Nobody really expected them to win it or to even come close.
England went into this World Cup coached by former England player Gareth Southgate whose previous role was managing the England Under-21 side. In the run up to the 2018 World Cup Southgate had made a lot of changes to the way the team played and he selected players not just on their individual ability and their performances for their clubs. He put more emphasis on their character and their ability to form bonds with other.
This proved to be a successful method as Southgate's England played with a renewed sense of passion and desire. The players looked like they actually enjoyed playing for England for the first time in many years and played without fear and without pressure.
England sailed through to the Semi-finals of the World Cup with some brilliant performances before suffering the narrowest defeat to Croatia.
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© 2018 Matt Doran