World Football: Top 50 Iconic Uniforms in Soccer
Over the years football shirts have developed from, well, real button-up shirts into the advanced material t-shirts that we have today.
Now often covered with sponsors or fancy patterns, it's strange to think that once upon a time, teams could happily get away with their football shirt being a normal t-shirt with the club's badge stitched on.
The development of football kits however has left us with at least one nugget of joy. That is the fact that we have been able to see some real jewels in the mass of kits over the last 100 or so years.
Some stand out above the rest as the most iconic kits of all time, and these are those very kits.
50. Match Officials Black Kit
David Cannon/Getty Images
Perhaps a bit of an unexpected one to start off with, but much like many American football officials wear the famous black and white striped tops, football officials are commonly seen in the ever famous plain black uniform.
In modern day football, refs have different colour tops based on which colours the teams are wearing and what the pitch visibility is like, but there can be no denying, it is the black uniform that is the most famous on the officials.
Say what you will about some referees of the past, the uniform is largely iconic and unique, and can be seen modelled here by one of the finest referees ever to grace the game: Pierluigi Collina.
49. Spain 2010
It's very recent, which in part contributes to it being lower on this list, but around the nation of Spain, this is rapidly becoming an iconic kit.
From the country's most successful era in their history, the simple red kit with small flairs of yellow and blue sums up much of Spanish football from their past.
It's just lucky they won the World Cup while wearing a nice enough strip as opposed to something utterly horrendous becoming iconic in its place.
48. Porto 2004
Another kit from after the turn of the century, Porto fans will never forget this kit. Sure it's not one of the most simple designs, and yes, it has a dirty great sponsor in the middle that looks more like Domino's pizza, but the season the club wore the kit was what made it iconic.
In 2004, when Porto beat all odds to secure the Champions League title under the leadership of none other than Jose Mourinho, the team were wearing this strip.
As usual it incorporates the team's usual blue and white striped patterns, but it's the little bit extra that, love it or hate it, makes the kit memorable.
47. Club Atletico River Plate 1986
Many European fans will struggle to pick out iconic South American club kits unless they're close followers of the leagues, due to a lack of coverage of the teams from South America.
Perhaps, however, one of the most famous clubs coming from South America was River Plate. Most football fans in the world could tell you the club's colours, and this strip certainly doesn't disappoint, summing up much of what the club is in true South American fashion.
In fact, this kit from 1986 came when the club won the Copa Libertadores, Intercontinental Cup and the Primera Division, completing the treble.
46. Romania 1994
Romania were once a strong enough side to get into the World Cup on a regular basis believe it or not. In fact, in 1994 they were one of the dark horses to win the tournament according to many fans and experts.
With the nation having suffered a bit of a footballing drought recently, the kit from the 1994 World Cup has become even more iconic to the nation.
In a squad that contained the likes of Dan Petrescu, Gheorghe Popescu and the great Gheorghe Hagi, Romania went on to reach the quarterfinals of the competition, only losing to Sweden on penalties.
45. Leeds United 2001
The kit from the club's famous run to the Champions League semifinals in 2001, Leeds suffered much misfortune after that season and have only just earned themselves a way back towards the Premier League.
Due to the team's sudden drop from the Premier League, this is the kit that they are arguably remembered most for by top flight teams.
In fact, this is probably also the kit that they are remembered most for by their challengers in Europe that season as well. Although the club side of Don Revie was far more successful, it could safely be argued that this kit is still more iconic.
44. South Africa 1998
Back when footballing expectations of South Africa were slightly higher than they had been leading into last year's World Cup, the nation donned this famous striped kit more reminiscent of a rugby top than a football one.
Worn by players such as Mark Fish, Quinton Fortune and Lucas Radebe, the famous yellow and black interlinking stripes has become perhaps quite iconic for not only South Africa itself, but in a small way the whole world when remembering the World Cup.
Despite the team just missing out on qualification from the group stages, the kit lives on, and it no doubt will do for some time yet.
43. Heart of Midlothian 1958
The modern Scottish Premier League is purely dominated by Rangers and Celtic and their old firm derby, but there was a time when other teams would be in the competition, too.
Under the management of Tommy Walker the club, more commonly known as Hearts, enjoyed relative success throughout the late 1950's.
In 1958 the club won the SPL with a record goals haul that still stands to this very day. Despite starting to decline slightly during the 1960's, the 1958 era and kit will forever resonate with Hearts fans and has become quite iconic in Scottish football.
42. USA 1994
The host nation of the 1994 World Cup, USA also made sure that they had one of the most memorable kits from the tournament.
With a design that would look more at home on a set of pyjama's, the Americans took to the field in pride with players such as Alexi Lalas and Cobi Jones wearing the now famous jersey.
There were many great kits from the 1994 World Cup, some more iconic than others as will be seen later, but this American jersey is possibly the most memorable based on its unique design.
41. Uruguay 1930
Hosts, and eventual winners, of the first FIFA World Cup, Uruguay have written their name in international football history for this very reason.
The kit from 1930 is one of the few remaining icons from that World Cup along with the photo of Jules Rimet himself presenting the old Jules Rimet trophy to Dr. Raul Jude from the Uruguayan FA.
It may not necessarily be one of the best looking kits, and in fact in this case it looks more like old man pyjamas, but it still has a place in history and for that reason it's another hugely iconic kit.
40. Dukla Prague 1960's (Away)
Dukla Prague may not be one of the best known Eastern European teams but in the 1960's they certainly were one of the best teams.
Their kit was also one of the most recognisable throughout Europe as they sported a yellow and maroon combination, with the home version of the kit being the same colours but the opposite way around.
Thanks to the club's success in the 1960's they were even eventually remembered in song, despite what you might think of the music. Although they aren't one of the best known clubs, their kit certainly is one of the most iconic.
39. Zaire 1974
The kit alone may not be remembered too much without the story that goes with it. But the story turns this kit into a truly iconic piece of work.
As the first black African team to play at a World Cup, Zaire were largely humiliated during their opening games and after receiving threats from back home, the players fears heading into a match against Brazil were understandable.
While 3-0 down, when Brazil had a free kick just outside Zaire's penalty area, Ilunga Mwepu ran forward and kicked the free kick away before it had even been taken in a vain attempt to save the nation from more embarrassment, and the moment has gone down in history since.
38. Bolton Wanderers 1923
Worn during the famous White Horse Final of 1923, Bolton Wanderers became the champions of the FA Cup in a year that the final was lucky not to be postponed.
With so many spectators making their way into the stadium, the pitch began to overflow with people, and it wasn't until a few mounted policemen, including a now iconic white horse, helped clear the pitch in time for play.
Bolton went on to dominate West Ham and win the game 2-0 in one of their best looking and simple kits in generations.
37. Nottingham Forest 1979
Worn during their famous European Cup winning era, making them one of the most successful teams of the 1970's.
When Brian Clough took over the club, he was coming from a well known ill-fated stint at Leeds United leaving many fans doubtful that he would be able to do much with Nottingham Forest despite his success at Derby.
Clough soon changed their minds though and managed to lead Nottingham Forest to multiple trophies including two European Cup titles. This now famous kit was worn during the most iconic moment in the club's history.
36. Italy 1990
Worn by players like Roberto Baggio and Franco Baresi, this Italy kit is arguably one of the finest the nation has had. In fact it was also modelled by two Premier League managers during the 1990 World Cup as well in Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Mancini.
The shirt is a very simple design and that's one of the things that made it so recognisable during the tournament.
Italy wore this kit during their home World Cup tournament in 1990, which despite their failure to win, was quite possibly one of the best tournaments the world had seen in a long time, and the kit was pretty good too.
35. Napoli 1989
This now infamous Napoli kit was worn during Diego Maradona's time at the club, during which they went through one of their most successful spells in their history.
Napoli won the UEFA Cup, the Serie A twice, Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana during Maradona's time with them and they have failed to reach the same heights since.
The kit is remembered almost solely for Maradona, who was having the best years of his career during his time at Napoli, and if any kit could sum up the man's club career, this is it.
34. Manchester United 1995 (Away)
Manchester United's so famous "invisible kit", the jersey was eventually trashed by Sir Alex Ferguson who blamed a number of bad results on the shirt.
Surprisingly enough though, the team's fortunes did turn around as soon as they stopped using the kit. Perhaps it was just a change in mentality, or maybe it truly was the kit that made players seem "invisible" on the field.
Either way, the kit has gained notoriety since then and is quite possibly United's best known away kit in the club's history.
33. Boca Juniors 1978
The very successful Argentinian team, Boca Juniors have largely always stuck to the same design and the same colours.
This kit was in fact worn during one of the club's Copa Libertadores winning campaigns in 1978 and is well remembered for being one of the simplest kits the club has ever had.
The club won their second consecutive Copa Libertadores wearing this kit and really made a name for themselves in South American football. This kit also went on to set the tone for many other Boca Juniors kits in the future.
32. Santos 1960's
Most famously donned by the great Pele, Santos saw themselves have one of their most successful decades of all time during the 1960's.
Under the guidance of Pele the club won the Copa Libertadores twice, the Intercontinental Cup twice and many other trophies from in and around Brazil.
The kit has since been synonymous with the success of Santos FC and for that very reason, it has become an iconic piece of the club's history.
31. Colombia 1994
Worn by players such as Carlos Valderrama and Faustino Asprilla, this kit was another one of the most recognisable at the 1994 World Cup.
Colombia were, like Romania, dark horses to win the competition although they had to deal with the loss of their goalkeeper Rene Higuita who couldn't go to the competition due to complications in his personal life.
Despite an overall disappointing competition in the end, Colombia were one of the most recognisable and enjoyable teams for all football fans during the tournament.
30. Cameroon 1990
Worn by the famous Cameroon team that won over fans at the 1990 World Cup much in the way that Ghana did last year.
The nation reached the quarterfinals and had to play England so they could reach their goal of becoming the first African Nation to get to the World Cup semifinals.
Despite taking the lead against England, Cameroon were eventually knocked out, conceding some controversial penalties along the way. Cameroon's tournament featured the famous Roger Milla corner flag dance as well, and it won't be forgotten by the country easily.
29. Arsenal 2005
A fitting farewell tribute to Highbury, Arsenal donned this famous kit just after their much talked about "invincibles" season.
The kit is iconic not only because of its different colour in comparison to most Arsenal kits, but also because of its simplicity.
With big modern sponsors and fancy new kit technology, most modern shirts annoyingly enough don't work. This Arsenal kit proved that despite the big sponsors and new technology, teams can still look classy and play well.
28. Manchester United 1999
Worn during their famous Champions League winning season when they overcame a 1-0 deficit to Bayern Munich in the final, there are not many Manchester United kits much more iconic than this.
The club have had some great players go through their squad over the past few decades, but this kit arguably saw the best of them.
Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke formed a magnificent strike partnership, with Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer both at the club as well. Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Paul Scholes all lined up in midfield while Peter Schmeichel was in goal. A very strong squad with a now iconic kit.
27. Germany 1990
Germany's kits at the 1990 World Cup were arguably both as iconic as each other, with the green away kit also being seen a good few times throughout the tournament, although ultimately it is this striped kit that is completely unique.
The design, or anything similar, had not been seen before and so when the Germans revealed the kit their squad would be playing in, it was a truly memorable experience.
West Germany went on to win the 1990 World Cup, just before the country's reunification, as they knocked out the Netherlands, England and Argentina amongst others to claim the crown.
26. AC Milan 1960's
Regardless of opinion of AC Milan as a team in modern football, this kit that the club used during the 1960's was very special.
During the 1960's the club won the European Cup twice, the Serie A twice and the Coppa Italia once, amongst other awards.
The shirt's design was actually quite similar to a few other Italian teams at the time as well, which will be seen soon. Either way, this kit is arguably the most famous in AC Milan's history thanks to its basic yet impressive appearance.
25. Blackpool 1953
Another iconic FA Cup final, another iconic kit. This one was worn by none other than Sir Stanley Matthews during the "Stanley Matthews Final".
The flying winger was so good during the game that he had the entire final named after him. Blackpool went on to win the final 4-3 against a very talented Bolton Wanderers side that contained the likes of Nat Lofthouse and Bobby Langton.
The kit is quite simply the most iconic in Blackpool's history, not to mention being very well respected in the entire of English football history.
24. Juventus 1952
That AC Milan kit from two slides ago? This could very realistically be the kit that it had been modelled on. As much as the club may not like to admit it the striking similarities are there for all to see, provided the white stripes are changed to red.
Although Juventus did not have quite as much success in Europe while they were wearing this kit, the club did win the Serie A title above all of their close Italian rivals.
Since then most Juventus kits seem to have been based on this one, with its timeless appearance acting as a very good basis for any new jersey.
23. Peru 1978
Peru's journey at the 1978 World Cup was not only remembered for their surprise progression into the second round but also for their unique kit design.
Very few, if any, other nations have ever used a simple diagonal stripe on their shirt and the white and red of Peru makes it really stand out, making sure it became one of the iconic kits of the tournament.
The national team went on to finish top of their Round One group above Netherlands, Scotland and Iran in an impressive showing, before being knocked out in the second round.
22. Croatia 1998
Memorable for a number of reasons but the main being that this was the kit that Croatia wore when they finished third in the 1998 World Cup in France.
The nation had never been in a World Cup as an independent country previously, making the feat all the more impressive.
Croatia have always had unique jerseys as well, with no other nations using the chequered pattern, but with the chequered pattern itself also in a flag like pattern, there was nothing quite like this iconic shirt at the time.
21. Brazil 1994
Some people will argue that this is the most iconic Brazilian kit of all time, but other will say otherwise, for reasons which will be seen later.
Either way this jersey is still one of the most beautiful and best known tops of the 1990's, worn by greats such as Dunga, Ronaldo, Cafu, Romario and Rivaldo as Brazil captured their fourth World Cup title.
The kit showed a unique pattern in its echoing of the yellow badge, but without ever overdoing it. The shirt became the kit of the tournament at USA 1994 and all for good reason.
20. Tottenham Hotspur 1961
Worn during the most successful Tottenham Hotspur season in the club's history this shirt has iconic status not only around White Hart Lane, but also around the rest of the UK, if not Europe and the world.
Spurs became the first English club to win the double, which had previously been called impossible, while wearing this kit. They also won the Premier League by a points haul which by today's "three points for a win" guidelines would have been one of the biggest league wins of all time.
Led by the famous Danny Blanchflower and Bill Nicholson, this Spurs kit has become one of the most iconic jerseys the Premier League has had the privilege of seeing.
19. Fiorentina 1998
Worn by the famous Gabriel Batistuta during some of Fiorentina's most successful years on the pitch, and while they never won the Serie A title in the kit, the club did truly make purple a colour that's OK for men to wear once again.
The great Argentinian Gabriel Batistuta spent most of his career at Fiorentina and certainly had his best years at the club.
The kit itself may not look like much but Batistuta and his team single handedly changed man's perception of not only wearing purple, but also making it look good.
18. Barcelona 1970's
Arguably the current time has been Barcelona's most successful era in their history, but in terms of iconic kits, the 1970's win out.
Donned by Johann Cruyff and his team, the colours remain the same as they always have been but with a far more simple pattern than usual.
Just five stripes of blue and dark red made Barcelona one of the most recognisable teams around Europe throughout the '70s, and while they are still recognisable enough, it could well be because all future Barcelona kits would most likely have used this beauty as a model.
17. Newcastle 1993
Newcastle have had some great kits in their time, and while they may not have been most successful whilst wearing this kit, they arguably looked the best.
One of the very few shirts of the modern era that the sponsor actually works on, this Newcastle kit seemed to take a step forwards by taking a look backwards.
With retro looking kits becoming more fashionable in modern football, it seems that Newcastle were almost two decades ahead of the game with this little number that could just have easily been worn by Jackie Milburn as it was Les Ferdinand.
16. USSR 1960's (Goalkeeper)
In modern football you hear so much talk about attackers who strike fear in the hearts of goalkeepers with their finishing ability, but if ever the roles were reversed, this was it.
The all-black kit worn famously by Lev Yashin, quite possibly the finest keeper of all time, made him look terrifying to attackers who knew about his magnificent ability.
Everytime it is asked who the best goalkeeper ever was, people will at least mention Lev Yashin, and any time pictures are seen of the great Russian goalkeeper, this is the exact shirt that he was wearing.
15. Hungary 1954
Now known as the "Mighty Magyars", Hungary once had a football team that could comfortably take on the very best in the world.
In fact, having beaten an "unbeatable" England side in 1953, then again in 1954, the nation went into the World Cup that year ranked number one in the World and heavy favourites to take home the crown.
In a miraculous upset in the final, West Germany managed to overcome the Mighty Magyars, but Ferenc Puskas' team has still gone down in the memory of every football fan worldwide.
14. Inter Milan 1965
Another one of the Italian kits of similar colours although Inter were arguably the most successful in this kit than AC Milan and Juventus had been in theirs.
During the 1965 season Inter Milan won the Serie A, the European Cup and the Intercontinental Cup in what was one of the most respectable treble's of the 20th century.
Possibly the best known of their 1965 squad, Luis Suarez had been one of the first recipients of the Ballon d'Or five years earlier in 1960, and proved a key player in the team's 1965 success.
13. France 1998
Each time the shirt is seen a number of names will spring to anyone's mind. Possibly the best known of these would be Zinedine Zidane who led France to their first, and at the moment only, World Cup victory ever.
The ribs pattern on the shirt was completely unique and with the French colours covering the shirt during the nation's most successful era in their history, it became a kit that would immediately scare the team's opponents.
While it's still another kit from the modern era, the 1998 France jersey is one of the most memorable of all time from past World Cups.
12. England 1990
So often England flatter themselves going into major tournaments and then hugely disappoint in comparison to the inflated expectations of the nation's public.
In 1990 however thing were different. The expectations of the country going into the tournament were quite low, with the team being labelled as "donkeys" amongst other names ahead of the World Cup.
Sir Bobby Robson however hadn't read the same script that the rest of the nation had, and he led his team to the World Cup semifinals only to suffer a heart breaking penalty shoot out defeat to West Germany. Some inspired performances from Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker amongst others made the World Cup and the kit one of the most iconic to English fans in the nation's entire history.
11. Argentina 1986
This home kit, and the away kit, are largely equally recognisable by all of today's football fans thanks to one man. 1986 was possibly the only World Cup that one player single-handedly led his team to the title, and that man could only have been Diego Maradona.
Probably most remembered during the 1986 World Cup for scoring the "Hand of God" goal and the "Goal of the Century" in the same game, Diego Maradona made this jersey known worldwide.
The design itself looked like it could have been Argentina's kit for years and years previously with a timeless design that is now 100 percent synonymous with Diego Maradona.
10. Wolverhampton Wanderers 1954
Led by captain fantastic Billy Wright, Wolverhampton Wanderers were actually a far bigger contender in the Premier League during the 1950's.
The club won the First Division (now the Premier League) in 1954, 1958 and 1959, making them one of the most successful English clubs of the 1950's.
The kit that was worn is iconic, not only because of it's wearing by one of England's most underrated players (Billy Wright), but also because of it's bold orange design which set it apart from the rest of England, as well as Europe, during the club's most successful era.
9. Celtic 1967
Worn during their only European Cup win in 1967, Celtic have always been recognisable around the world as one of the very few teams with green and white hoops.
As one of the UK's most successful ever club sides, Celtic have always had a place in British footballing history and their most renowned kit? Quite possibly this European Cup winning jersey.
The squad would go on to be known as the Lisbon Lions thanks to their bravery and fierce style of play on the pitch, it would also leave them remembered as one of the favourite European Champions of all time.
8. New York Cosmos 1977
Despite not having played since 1984, the New York Cosmos remain the most successful North American team of all time.
The club have revived operations now and are looking to enter the MLS as an expansion franchise once again which has bought much attention back to the once great team.
The Cosmos dominated American football during the NASL era with players such as Pele, Carlos Alberto, Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia and Johan Neeskens, making them one of the all-time great clubs the world has seen, despite their short time in the game.
7. Liverpool 1984
The season that was arguably best known for Bruce Grobelaar's "Spaghetti Legs" in the European Cup final penalty shootout, Liverpool had a very successful season in 1984.
The club won the English League, the League Cup and the European Cup in a remarkable treble. Pulling on the now famous shirt were the likes of Mark Lawrenson, Ronnie Whelan, Alan Hansen, Ian Rush and Graeme Souness.
In fact, this famous shirt was also donned by the club's current manager and assistant manager in Kenny Dalglish and Sammy Lee as well. Worn during one of the club's most successful era's, this strip has become iconic up on Merseyside, as well as around Europe.
6. Ajax 1995
Back when the Champions League format of the European Cup had just started, Ajax were still able to compete at the very highest level of European football. While they're still a very talented team, fans of the club will always remember one of their most successful teams ever in 1995.
The kit has since become iconic due to its unique nature. While many other teams may have striped jerseys, Ajax is the only prominent team to use just one thick stripe down the middle and the design has been and will be remembered for generations.
This shirt was pulled on by Frank Rijkaard, Frank De Boer, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Ronald De Boaer, Jari Litmanen and Marc Overmars, with none other than Edwin Van Der Sar in goal.
5. England 1966 (Away)
England's only World Cup win and it is clear why this shirt has become one of the most iconic the world has seen. Half the reason may well be the amount that the English seem to have to go back to the "glory days", but also because of the fashion in which the cup was won.
Rated as one of the best World Cup finals of all time, England did battle with rivals West Germany to win the biggest prize in football in the stadium dubbed "the home of football" Wembley.
Sir Geoff Hurst is still the only player to have scored a hat trick in a World Cup final and while the stories may have put too much pressure on the shoulder's of future generations of English players, the World Cup 1966 was truly a magical time for English football.
4. Holland 1974
Quite possibly one of the only kits in history that sums up an entire style of football as opposed to just a team, the Dutch side of 1974 has gone down in history as one of the finest sides to fail winning the World Cup.
Worn by Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens amongst others, the Netherlands were one of the favourites for the World Cup title, implementing their "total football" theory of playing.
West Germany once again overcame all odds in the final to win their second World Cup trophy, but the Dutch side have not been forgotten easily.
3. Italy 1970
Italian football has seen some great shirts in it's time, but this one appears to be the best of them all. Worn in the World Cup that is considered to have been the best edition of the tournament yet, Italy went on confidently to the final wearing this simple yet elegant jersey.
With the great Dino Zoff guarding their goal, the Italians set about a beautiful attacking style of play which was only bettered by the Brazilians.
The shirt is stunningly understated as just a plain blue t-shirt with the Italian logo on, but combined with the style the Italians showed during the World Cup, it proves to be everything a football shirt should need to be.
2. Real Madrid 1950's
No other team dominated Europe like Real Madrid did in the 1950's, striking fear into all opponents they met.
With players such as Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas in their side, Madrid went on to win the European Cup five times in a row between 1956 and 1960. The club then went on to win the tournament again in 1966, making them the most successful club in the history of the tournament.
In terms of the standard of play, this Real Madrid side of the 1950's and 1960's is largely considered the best club side the World has seen. It is for that very reason that the kit is so iconic.
1. Brazil 1970
Remember two slides ago when it was said that the Italians had a beautiful style of play during the 1970 World Cup? And that it was only bettered by one side?
Well, it was in 1970 that Brazil lit up the World and proved exactly how much of a force they were in World Football as they were the only team to outplay the magnificent Italians.
With a squad littered with talent, such as Pele, Carlos Alberto, Jairzinho, Tostao and Rivelino, Brazil were one of the finest attacking sides the World has ever seen. In fact many people still rate that squad as the best team that has ever played at any level, and the brilliance of the jersey that year sums up just what a dominant force Brazil really were.