- England play their 1000th international tonight, taking on Montenegro, and to mark that we look back at a recent classic
The England kit launched in March 2009 signalled a change in football kit design philosophy.
Throughout the 2000s, shirts had become more busy in a subtle fashion – whereas in the 1990s designs became brash and loud, the following decade saw the addition of more panels, stitching, tags and trim.
Umbro sought to reverse that with this strip, which ushered in the ‘Tailored by Umbro’ era and the shirt was voted the second-best of all-time in the Football Attic’s 2015 poll – the only post-90s entry in the top eight.
As classicists, we love the minimalist nature of the shirt, but the kit itself lost a couple of marks for having white shorts as the first choice.
It was the first time since the 1970 World Cup that this was the case, with England’s first-ever international, against Scotland in 1872, the only other instance of blue shorts not being the primary option.
However, Umbro did produce change shorts and socks. The latter, red at the top with white at the bottom, were never worn and, given Liverpool’s troubles this year, may not have been considered suitable. They were similar, but different, to the socks used with the change kit released in 2010.
The navy alternative shorts were used, so this shirt did appear as part of a more traditional-looking England kit, albeit only the once.
The game was away to Ukraine in October 2009, with the hosts in all-yellow and Uefa presumably keen to provide extra differentiation. Come Euro 2012, Ukraine would wear all-blue when they met England.
In 2009, Ukraine won the qualifier 1-0 in Dnipropretrovsk, but it didn’t stop England qualifying as group winners.
Blue shorts returned when Umbro released their second-last England home kit in September 2010, but white shorts have been favoured on two of the four Nike home strips to date.