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Nigeria 2020 kit - why it's better than the 2018 design

Nike and Nigeria have done it again. This is the football shirt everyone’s been talking about.

nigeria 2020 home kit

The 2018 Nigeria kit was special. Really special. 

This was a shirt that sent shockwaves throughout the industry, making even the most casual football fan sit up, take notice and presumably reach for their bank card. 

In fact, the home kit allegedly sold out within just a matter of minutes (so you had to open your wallet pretty damn quick), and it soon became clear that Nike’s “Naija” design would have a significant, ground-shifting impact on the future of football shirts. 

Fast forward two years, however, and the unthinkable has happened. Nike and Nigeria are back with their new 2020 kits, and, against all odds, against all logical reason, they’ve somehow managed to come up with something even better. 

This is Nigeria 2.0. Another colourful, artistic masterpiece that completely outdoes its predecessor. Here’s why:


Representing Nigerian Culture

The Class of 2020. Image from Nike.

Nigeria are no strangers to beautiful, exuberant football shirts. Go back to the 1990s, and the designs from both Nike and adidas would regularly tap into aspects of Nigerian culture and history, coming during a time where most of the world was falling in love with African football for the very first time. Thank you, Roger Milla. 

The talents of Nwankwo Kanu, Jay-Jay Okocha and many others ensured these designs took on a truly iconic status; brimming with originality, character and, above all, the kind of fun which matched their style out on the pitch. Nike’s newest designs, however, have taken things to a whole new level, and football in West Africa has quite frankly never looked so good.

2018 - For Naija

After years of fairly standard, almost mundane home shirts, Nigeria’s 2018 kit signalled the return of those stunning retro aesthetics; inspired heavily by the majestic shirt worn against England in a 1994 friendly, along with subtle nods back to the infamous design worn later at the ‘94 World Cup. You might remember the Super Eagles doing quite well during that hot American summer. 

The main inspiration, however, came from the youthful exuberance of Naija culture, resulting in one of the freshest, most energetic football shirts ever made. 

Stretching out across the sleeves and torso, the eagle wing-inspired graphic served as the perfect representation of this intoxicating attitude, offering the kind of bold style which had been missing from national shirts for so long. It’s magnificent, jaw-dropping and just straight-up fun, but the 2020 kit has done it even better.

2020 - Honouring Tradition

The new shirt has all the excitement and energy of its predecessor, but this time it also manages to pay homage to Nigerian heritage and history. Amongst all the dazzling colours and patterns, the 2020 kit serves up a much more traditional aesthetic, incorporating subtle nods back to nobility and family, while the Naija culture is represented on the inside of the neck. 

Nike haven’t just served up yet another beautiful football shirt, though. They’ve actually managed to create something which feels more representative of Nigeria as a whole, drawing inspiration from the traditional agbada robe, but then combining this with the kind of eye-catching elements and youthful spirit which made its predecessor so popular.


Living up to our Expectations

The 2018 Nigeria kit seriously raised the bar. Image from Nike.

The 2018 Shirt Shocked Us...

Crammed into a packed London launch event, those in attendance could scarcely believe what they were witnessing. The 2018 “For Naija” collection was unlike anything we’d seen before, with that stunning pattern found not just on the gorgeous home shirt, but also hats, tracksuits and all kinds of other gear.

Packed with colour and character, this collection came during a period when international shirts were a little... boring. Generic templates had reigned supreme just two years earlier at Euro 2016, and the excitement behind the Nigeria kit was built upon one idea: football shirts were good again. 

By the end of the event, the freshly-unveiled England kit had largely been forgotten. Nigeria had completely stolen the headlines, with the sheer unexpectedness of this release dove-tailing with Nike’s excellent marketing to create the kind of worldwide hype we very rarely see.

The full 2018 Naija collection. Image from Nike.

...But the 2020 Shirt Didn't Need To

That is, until the 2020 follow-up was unleashed. While the 2018 design snatched headlines and adoration for its shock value, the new home shirt had the unenviable task of following a true masterpiece. The world was waiting. 

When hype and expectation are at such high levels, it’s almost impossible to deliver something which lives up to the excitement. Somehow, though, Nike have sent the football shirt community (and the internet) into meltdown once again, coming up with something which has exceeded all of our wildest expectations.

This is the Godfather Part II. Something which lets us appreciate the beauty of the original, but builds upon its success to ultimately become something even better. We were all waiting for something special, but the fact so many of us have been left so dumbstruck really is testimony to the incredible job Nike have done. And they didn’t even need Robert De Niro.


Easier on the Eye

For most of us, this is all we really care about. The 2020 Nigeria kit just looks... better. 

And I honestly don’t say that lightly. The 2018 shirt was, and still is, a masterpiece of football shirt design, which makes Nike’s raising-of-the-bar even more startling. I know plenty won’t agree, but the bottom line is: the new shirt is easier on the eye in almost every aspect. 

Colours

I’m gonna be honest here, I’ve absolutely no idea which shade of green best represents Nigeria. By checking out some of their older shirts just below, you’ll see a colour palette as varied as Okocha’s box of tricks. And he had a lot of those. 

examples of nigeria kits from the 90s and 00s
Nigeria have had some fantastic shirts. Images from Classic Football Shirts.

In opting for a striking, almost aggressive light shade of green, the 2018 design mirrored the shirts of 1994 and 2002. In contrast, the new 2020 shirt goes much darker, and is closely aligned to the colourways of 1992 and 1996. 

It may be because it’s closer to the colours of the national flag, but this darker palette (mixed with lighter shades) just seems right. While the 2018 shirt dazzled us with its youthful, electric greens, the colours of the new design simply feel more authentic and traditional, matching up beautifully with the rustic agbada robe theme they’ve gone for.

Pattern

close up of the 2020 nigeria home kit pattern
Proof that central logos really can work. Image from Nike.

Just like in 2018, Nigeria are turning heads and capturing our imaginations. This time, however, they’ve done it without a pattern which seems like it’s trying too hard to catch our attention - which is strange, since I’d argue that this new graphic is even bolder than its predecessor

The 2020 kit features a hand-drawn pattern across the sleeves and sides, contrasting vividly to the sharper, cleaner aesthetic of the previous design. It’s unlike anything else you’ll see on a football shirt this year, again signifying just how far Nike have come since that template-infested summer of 2016.

Design

Centralising the national crest, Swoosh and shirt number is an inspired choice. Not only does this leave that gorgeous hand-drawn pattern completely free of obstruction, but it also reinforces the strong retro feel of the overall design. 

DISCLAIMER: If Nike had gone for their famous Futura logo, like with so many of their awesome 2019/20 third kits, I may well have keeled over. 

The design of the collar also feels a little stronger, although it’s not as good as the new away shirt (more on that shortly). The black trim brings a sense of smartness and polish, finishing off a shirt which isn’t designed to blow us away with its outrageousness, but rather display those unique elements in a more accessible design. 


It’s Matched By A Worthy Away Kit

photoshoot for the 2020 nigeria home and away kits
The dark grey away kit isn’t too shabby at all. Image from Nike.

The home kit was so popular in 2018, that many people forget the away strip even existed. But it did, and it offered almost none of the exuberant excellence of the home design, with Nike keen to create the “perfect yin/yang of kits”. Unfortunately, the end result was pretty dull. 

This time, things are a little different. While it’s once again the home shirt snatching the headlines, it’s also complemented by a stunning away strip worthy of joining it. It’s more subdued, for sure. But the eye is immediately drawn to the gorgeous detailing in the collar and cuffs, which closely resembles the eagle-wing pattern of 2018. A Nigeria shirt-lite, if you will. 

What’s more, Nike are promising a full collection, so time will tell whether they’re able to replicate the brilliance of their “For Naija” bucket hats. Judging by both these shirts, any hat fanatics (they’re a thing, right?) should be very excited indeed. 


It Could Change Shirts Forever

images of the 2020 nike kits for nigeria, korea and usa
A world free of templates… Image from Nike.

The shockwaves of the 2018 Nigeria kit were felt far and wide. It’s no coincidence that just a few months after its release, people had once again fallen in love with football shirts as we all went a little nuts during the World Cup. However, it would be remiss to put this all down to Nigeria, since several other sides (most notably Japan) released their own stunning shirts around this time. 

Either way, the following years have seen brands become a little more experimental, and this can be largely attributed to the success of the Nigeria kit. Premier League giants, international sides and even a handful of non-league clubs have been much more creative in the past two years, although perhaps not to the extent many of us would have hoped.

The 2020 Nigeria kit could change things even more. In fact, we can almost guarantee it. After releasing it alongside impressive new kits for South Korea and the USA, Nike have shaken the foundations of the industry by claiming they’re “ditching the templates”. Huge news. 

Exactly what this means will become clearer later in the year, but for now Nike are promising 65 chassis options, with “varying necklines, sleeves, cuffs, badge placement, etc”. Every team’s look will be its own, news which has understandably made Liverpool and other Nike-branded clubs very excited indeed.  

I can’t see other brands taking this lying down either, and will soon feel compelled to follow suit... or do something better. Basically, the future of football shirts has never looked brighter, and the new Nigeria kit has played a major role in ushering in this new era. For me, this release could prove to be a real watershed moment.

Where Can You Buy the 2020 Nigeria Kit?

Now, this is the killer. I’ve spent all this time telling you why the new Nigeria kit is so damn good, and yet Nike are still to confirm an official release date. 

Last time, they unveiled the 2018 kit a few months before making it commercially available, and I’d expect them to follow a similar tactic this time. Besides, this gives us plenty of time to save up some pennies and, perhaps more importantly, get involved with all the hype.  

For now, though, all I can suggest is that you follow FOOTY.COM on social media or keep your eyes on this blog, and we’ll give you updates as soon as we have any. Even better, we’ll also help you find the best price once it’s been released, meaning you can beat the rush and bag a great deal at the same time.

The fact there’s no World Cup means it might not sell quite as quickly as it did in 2018, but there’s no question that the new kit will absolutely fly off the shelves. You need to make sure you’re ready when it does.

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