During the two years that I lived in England, I was amazed at the number of times there was a new "latest" national team jersey in my favorite sports store. For a team that played barely ten games a year, there seemed to be almost as many wardrobe make-overs as there were games. It just didn't feel right. Especially for something that was becoming more of a sideshow with every successive tournament.
And when I did a bit of an on-line look-around, boy, was I amazed! If this Daily Mail report from March 2009 is to be believed, England had 45 different shirts in the 43 years since their 1966 World Cup victory. That's more than one new shirt each year, on average. Quite astounding!
If you had asked me to hazard a guess, I wouldn't have placed the aggregate number at anything above 20.
But I suppose everyone is out to maximise revenues. If the clubs can do it, why can't the national teams? And with a major international tournament on the calendar every two years for the bigger footballing nations, what better way to keep the coffers nice and full than a hyperactive merchandising department?
Today's footballer is as much of a brand as he is a sportsman. Image is everything. The link between fashion and football is now stronger than ever. And every national team wants to take advantage of that.
So as we head into this summer's international shenanigans, here's a look at each participating country's "home" jersey, ranked in ascending order of overall attractiveness.
I am as traditional as they come, and I understand that countries don't have much leeway with regard to changing their colours—France and Italy, for example, will always be blue—so in the slides ahead, you're not going to read anything like "why don't England do something other than boring old white."
Your opinions would be most welcome.
And watch out for my assessment of the away jerseys. Coming soon.