20. New Zealand away (2010)
Egg-chasing is an appalling spectacle (who wants to see twist-faced, cauliflower-eared, testes-tweaking lummoxes lying in big piles?) but the sole exception are the resplendent, Haka-yelling All Blacks. So the All Whites can be forgiven for travelling to South Africa with a backup kit that was basically a tribute to their more competent sporting brethren. Surely they should have put Richie McCaw on and pumped it up to the big man, too?
19. Uruguay (1930)
The hosts were shock winners of the inaugural World Cup: clad in eye-catching baby blue, the surprisingly mean men of La Celeste muscled their way to the title.
18. Club Atletico Kimberley, France (1978)
After France and Hungary bowled up for their fixture with white kits, Les Blues ended up popping on the green-striped shirts of local lower-tier outfit Club Atletico Kimberley, who kindly passed on their tops to Platini & Co. It’s the only time a club strip has been used at a World Cup.
17. Argentina (1978)
Any Argentina kit could make the cut, in fairness, but the cup-winning ’78 class looked the best, possibly because it was winter in Buenos Aires and beyond. The long sleeves just served to make the home side’s almost-entirely-mulleted XI look incredible.
16. Colombia (2014)
Oof – absolute eye candy. The diagonal stripes were stunning, and there are some cracking flourishes, including a subtly pictured Sombrero Vueltiao (popular Colombian hat) inside the blue panel and an Andean condor on the back. Best modelled by volley maestro James Rodriguez.
15. Croatia (1998)
An opinion divider, for sure: some would vote this on to the ‘worst’ list – but the box-fresh new Eastern European nation certainly made a statement at their first World Cup, with a chessboard-like recreation of their national flag. Modelled perfectly by Davor Suker and Slaven Bilic as they marauded all the way to the semis.
14. Portugal (1966)
The reddest top ever created, we reckon – especially with the eyesight-bending big green numbers on the back. Eusebio looked absolutely magnificent.
13. Brazil (1986)
All Brazil shirts rule – but this pleasantly-collared effort, worn by Socrates, Zico, Josimar, Falcao and company – rules the hardest.
12. Denmark (1986)
Many of the Viking hordes that would pillage their way to the Euro ’92 title were here, and the Danes have never been profiled better. Designed by Aarhus-based sportswear giant Hummel, its mix of chevrons and pinstripes suited Michael Laudrup, Jan Molby and Jesper Olsen to a tee.
11. Scotland (1978)
The much-fancied Scots had a shocker at ’78, but Archie Gemmill’s chip of the Dutch keeper remains one of the tournament’s most memorable goals, and the shirt that adorned him was a delight. Even the interlinking Umbro logos along the sleeve worked.
10. France (1982)
Michel Platini may now sadly be part of the puffed-up FIFA profiterole brigade, but back in 1982 he was a sight to behold – a swaggering Gallic midfield cockerel (can cockerels swagger? We’re saying yes). And a swaggering cockerel also adorned the greatest-ever Bleus top: pinstriped, an Azure shade as deep as the Mediterranean, and a rampant rooster with ‘FFF’ stamped underneath. Clucking marvellous.
9. USA away (1994)
An opinion-divider: some might say that the USA over-egged the pudding by producing a jersey emblazoned with massive stars and faux denim – it might as well have guns, beefburgers and ‘MURICA, F*CK YEAH!’ slapped on the front – but we’re going to choose to admire their gusto. Best worn by 9ft strawberry blond killing machine Alexi Lalas.
8. Mexico (1978)
Mexico’s tricolour-inspired effort for the jolly to Argentina couldn’t have been sexier. It was made by Levi’s – a very rare jaunt into sportswear for the jean-makers – and was supremely modelled by Leonardo Cuellar, the massive-haired and bearded midfield general who looked like he’d just come from doing a bong backstage with The Grateful Dead.
7. Zaire (1974)
Zaire didn’t have a great campaign in ’74 – they got humped 9-0 by Yugoslavia, and are best remembered for Joseph Mwepu Ilunga’s demented run out from the wall during a Brazil free-kick – but they did at least turn out pretty slick, thanks to a vibrant garment with a strapping wildcat depicted on the front. RAA!
6. Belgium (1982)
The Red Devils have had some knockout tops over the years, including a few numbers that were half-shirt, half-playing card, but their Espana ’82 effort – in which the shirt stripes psychedelically weave into the shorts – takes the prize.
5. Holland (1974)
Johan Cruyff was impossibly cool in 1974 – he permanently looked like he was disembarking a speedboat on the French Riviera, ciggie on the go, having just fathered all five members of The Strokes. He was also the best player at World Cup ’74 by a country mile, and modelled the best kit – but gave it a hipster twist by tearing off one of the Adidas stripes, because he was sponsored by rival firm Puma, somehow making it even better. The finest Oranje shirt ever.
4. England third kit (1990)
Umbro’s design department went wild for overlaid diamond patterns in the late ’80s – they must have got a new stencil in – and the results were often revolting. But this one somehow came up as a classic: worn with supreme pop star insouciance by New Order frontman Barney Sumner in the World In Motion video, one look brings back the agony and ecstasy of England’s dramatic Italia ’90.
3. Soviet Union (1966)
’66 wasn’t just ‘all that’ because of big Geoff Hurst and those lads on the pitch – it also boasted a superb Soviet Union side, who were a bit unlucky to lose to Germany in a semi-final at Goodison Park. The CCCP did have the best tops, though: brutalist Commie letters emblazoned on a blood-red top.
2. West Germany (1990)
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The Mercedes Benz. Stark Bauhaus architecture. That Kraftwerk song about Robots. Wind of Change. All worthy contenders for Germany’s greatest ever cultural contribution. But let’s face it, none of them are as good as this football shirt, which is the most Adidas thing ever, and was worn by Teuton titans like Voller, Klinsmann and Matthaus on their way to glory in Italy.
1. Peru (1978)
The masterpiece that always sits proudly atop every best kit poll, and probably always will. It is effortlessly magnificent: a crisp, brilliant white, with understated Adi badge and sleeve stripes – but a massively overstated badge and a bold sash that would have done the Reverend Ian Paisley proud. Revolutionary and intimidating, no wonder the designers of Los Inca’s current kit have stuck with a winning formula.