Although many major sports leagues have resumed play over the past month (or are in the process of doing so, like the NBA), the coronavirus pandemic has still thrown a spanner into the works of many major competitions. The Tokyo Olympics and Euro 2020 have both been postponed a year, and many fans who had looked forward to a summer filled with sports will feel like something’s missing... or at the very least, different.
Apparently FIFA feels the same way, as the governing board has been virtually celebrating past editions of the World Cup on its social media channels. Most recently, FIFA looked back at the 1990 World Cup in Italy on the tournament’s 30th anniversary, and asked fans to vote for their favorite jersey on Instagram. Upon closer look, it became clear that the 1990 World Cup was the beginning of a golden age of football jerseys, and featured some of the best national team kits to date.
So, in response to FIFA’s own poll, we’ve decided to pick out the 10 best jerseys worn in Italy nearly exactly 30 years ago — because, well, what else are we going to do with Euro 2020 postponed until next year?
The best jerseys worn at the 1990 FIFA World Cup
10.Republic of Ireland (home)
The Republic of Ireland appeared in its first World Cup wearing its signature green home kit and made it all the way to the quarter-finals of the tournament. While the team actually wore the white jersey (which was just an inverse version of the green kit) more often, it’s the Irish green that opens our top 10 ranking of the best kits at Italia 1990.
9. West. Germany (away)
West Germany is the only team to feature twice on this list (more on that later). The eventual world champions wore jerseys that will go down as two of the best Germany (West or East) has ever worn at a FIFA World Cup. Add to that the fact that this was the last time Germany played an international competition as a divided nation, and the jerseys become much more important historically.
8. England (home)
The beauty of England’s home jersey from Italia ’90 stands in stark contrast to the nation’s on-pitch performances. Not because they weren’t beautiful, but because the penalty shootout loss in the semi-finals and Paul Gascoigne's tears became one of the defining images of that tournament and symbolic of England’s subsequent inability to go all the way in a major tournament. The jersey itself, though, is about as classic as an England jersey can be — white and deep navy blue with a ’90s-style jacquard pattern on the shirt and a smart collar.
7. Italy (home)
Collars on a football jersey. You either love them or you hate them. Luckily for the host nation, we’re big fans of both collars and Italy’s classic, no-frills, blue and white kit. Unfortunately for Italy, their hopes of winning a World Cup on home soil were dashed when they lost to Argentina on penalties in the semi-final. This kit lives on as one of the best of the tournament.
6. Uruguay (home)
PUMA outfitted Uruguay with one of its cleanest jerseys to date. The white collar and cuffs paired perfectly with the sky blue top, which also featured subtle horizontal stripes. This kit is the definition of “less is more.” Sadly for them, Uruguay wasn’t able to make it much further than the group stages, getting knocked out by Italy in the Round of 16.
5. Brazil (home)
Another classic kit, Brazil’s yellow and green rounds out our top five thanks to the vintage collar and (hugely) oversized crest. The green cuff on the sleeves adds another stylish element. It’s a real shame Brazil only made it to the Round of 16, though understandable that they lost to eventual finalists Argentina.
4. Colombia (home)
We’re not sure what’s more iconic, Colombia’s 1990 home jersey or Carlos Valderrama’s incredible locks. Because this is a ranking of football jerseys, we’ll have to settle with featuring the South American nation’s iconic yellow, red, and blue jersey, which has made a return in recent years thanks to adidas and fashion-first football fans.
3. Argentina (away)
Argentina is better known for its sky blue and white striped home jersey, but it’s the deep blue away kit that has us at fever pitch. Argentina famously made it all the way to the final despite the legendary Diego Maradona being far from his best due to several injuries sustained early on in the tournament. Ultimately, West Germany triumphed and Argentina will be remembered more for their glorious away jersey than their performances on the pitch in 1990.
2. Yugoslavia (away)
Yugoslavia made waves on the pitch by eliminating Spain in the second round. but it was the nation’s wavy away jersey that caught our eye. The white kit features red and blue detailing that are peak vintage sports casual. If you can find one of these online, don’t hesitate and scoop yourself a kit everyone will be jealous of.
1. West Germany (home)
The winners of the tournament also had the best jersey of the tournament. Featuring a geometric graphic across the chest in the colors of the German flag, this jersey has reached cult status and has been re-released by adidas in various forms — most notably during the 2018 World Cup in greyscale (though Germans will want to forget the national team’s performances then). Definitely a looker and worthy of World Champions status.