The 10 best England football shirts of all time (1966-2023)
Three Lions on a shirt. It’s a sight (and a song) we’ve become all too familiar with.
The famous crest has featured on a wide range of ludicrously good and treacherously bad England kits over the years.
Despite the simplicity of our national colourway, brands such as Admiral, Umbro and Nike have never been afraid to mix things up a bit - bravely experimenting with tones of navy, light blue and even yellow.
Sometimes things have worked, sometimes they’ve been a little disastrous. Either way, these shirts can instantly trigger memories of glorious goals, heart-breaking shootouts and dodgy refereeing decisions.
From Bobby Moore grasping the Jules Rimet to David Beckham’s Greek-destroying free kick, we can all tie a particular shirt to a particular moment.
But which of these iconic England shirts is the best of all time? We're sauntering down memory lane and ranking the greatest designs ever made.
Let's bring the top 10 home for you...
The greatest England shirts ever made
10. 2022-23 (Away)
For us, Nike have had a mostly 'miss' sort of relationship with the national team. There have been a few clean examples over recent years, but nothing too exciting.
However, the 2022 away shirt enters our countdown because it's one of the best we've seen from them. It's a retro reboot with tasty ingredients from both Euro '96 and Italia '90.
This simple navy trimmings and solid red design has a floppy collar which finishes it off beautifully, and the Three Lions burst out of the chest as a result.
It's crunch time in the searing heat this winter, but let's hope this is a shirt we'll come to remember with fond memories...
Memorable moment: A pulsating 3-3 draw with Germany at Wembley in the Nations League. But, there's a World Cup to come...
9. 1995-96 (Home)
This beauty didn’t just serve as our home shirt for Euro ‘96, but it also came at the height of Umbro’s “experimental” phase.
Hell, you just need to look at our goalkeeper kits during this period to see how over-the-top things were getting, and here they decided to replace our classic shade of red with… turquoise.
A bold move which undoubtedly raised a few eyebrows (Twitter would have been in meltdown), this actually helped to freshen things up a bit and ultimately, it came to symbolise an iconic footballing summer.
The new collar was absolutely fantastic, while switching to a text-based Umbro logo and central crest were two inspired choices.
This must surely be amongst the baggiest football shirts ever made, and Steve McManaman would regularly look like he was parachuting his way down the wing whenever England went on the attack.
It’s famous because of all the memories, but iconic because it’s also very easy on the eye, especially when compared to the controversial “indigo blue” effort which served as our away strip.
Memorable Moment: Paul Gascoigne flicking the ball over a bemused Colin Hendry at Euro ‘96, before smashing it home and bringing out the “dentist’s chair”.
8. 2001-03 (Home)
This shirt has always been amongst our favourite England designs, and nobody could ever make us think otherwise.
After completely omitting any hint of red from the previous home shirt, Umbro seemed desperate to make amends by using it more prominently than ever before.
Leaning heavily on the St George's Cross, the resulting red stripe was as striking as it was stunning, looking particularly good when worn with the fantastic white change shorts.
For us, this shirt always emitted a particularly strong sense of patriotism, probably because it was the first time the national flag had played such an important role in the design. "Come on England!", and all that.
Anything more than this would have been way too far, and what was classy would suddenly become unbelievably tacky.
If brands are going to use our flag, it needs to be implemented subtly and creatively, and here Umbro really went to the limit of what’s acceptable (doing the same in 2006).
Memorable Moment: Beckham. Greece. You know the drill. Alternatively, you could have the 5-1 drubbing of the Germans in Munich.
7. 1997-99 (Home)
Umbro once again served up something different for the ‘98 World Cup, this time bringing red back and showing it off in distinctive panels under the sleeves.
This use of red and (very, very dark) navy is mirrored beautifully on that chunky collar, which matched up perfectly with the central crest and again signified Umbro’s desire to break the mould.
It’s bold, baggy, beautiful and inescapably '90s, with the kind of fantastically brash design choices which were so typical of this period.
Despite yet another dose of penalty shootout heartache, there’s no doubt this is a World Cup classic, and it’s certainly deserving of its place amongst the pantheon of retro England shirts.
Memorable Moment: Michael Owen slaloming his way through the Argentina defence and slamming one into the top corner. We wore white shorts that day, instead of the usual navy.
6. 2009-10 (Home)
What actually makes an England shirt “good”? There’s obviously no definitive answer to that question, but you just can’t go wrong with going back to basics.
A white colourway, the Three Lions and a dash of red are really all we need, and that’s exactly what the 2009-10 home shirt delivered.
There are no bells here. No whistles. Umbro produced something so plain, so beautifully simple, that it stood out amongst a crowd of increasingly convoluted designs.
This outfit was “Tailored by Umbro”, meaning the cut and quality of the fabric was like nothing we’d ever seen before, while the design itself served as a love-letter to the '60s and early '70s.
Unfortunately, it was the shirt’s plainness (rather than its beauty) which was replicated on the pitch at the 2010 World Cup. In fact, the less said about that miserable tournament, the better.
Memorable Moment: Steven Gerrard igniting our World Cup hopes against USA, only for a disastrous Rob Green mistake to promptly snuff them out again.
5. 1990-92 (Home)
Staring at this, we can almost hear the opening notes of Nessun Dorma.
Rather fittingly, England travelled to one of the greatest ever World Cup tournaments in one of their greatest ever shirts.
In fact, that’s not true at all, because all three of their designs for Italia '90 were absolutely gorgeous, and not even a flood of Gazza’s tears could ever change that fact.
The subtle diamond zig-zag pattern was a stroke of genius, sitting quietly behind the Three Lions crest and a lovely pair of Umbro-styled cuffs.
A one-button collar finishes everything off beautifully, signalling an abrupt end to the crewnecks of the late '80s and introducing us to a much baggier style.
The shirt was worn alongside what must be the shortest pair of navy shorts ever seen on a football pitch, which also included just the smallest dash of red. With brown for Lineker's.
Memorable Moment: We could talk about Gascoigne’s tears, but let’s go for something a little happier - David Platt’s stunning last-minute volley against Belgium. Wonderful stuff.
4. 1966-74 (Away)
Before you spit out your brew and start sending us angry Twitter messages, we understand that many people would have this as their number one.
This is, without question, the most iconic England shirt ever made, but its legendary status comes more from the stories behind it, rather than a particularly inventive design.
Having said that, this shirt’s classic simplicity has always been very easy on the eye, providing the kind of clean and simple design which many England fans still crave today.
It consists of just four key elements: a plain red colourway, crewneck collar, Three Lions crest and long sleeves. It doesn’t get any more straight-forward, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
In fact, it continues to have an enormous impact on England kits even to this day, just as it has done for the last 50+ years.
This shirt is so iconic, so memorable, that it's single-handedly made sure England are just as comfortable in red as they are in white. Unquestionably the most influential England shirt of all-time.
Memorable Moment: “They think it’s all over…”
3. 1986 (Home)
In every sense of the word, this shirt is “cool”. Ahead of the 1986 World Cup, Umbro were keen to prepare England for the intense heat of the Mexican sun, so introduced subtle changes to the usual strip worn between 1984-87 (pictured).
Unfortunately, things didn’t really work out in that tournament, but that doesn’t stop it from being an absolute belter.
The fantastic collar remained very much the same, but the main differences here are found in the use of shadow stripes and the omission of sleeve cuffs.
Umbro basically did everything within their power to make the shirt as light and breezy as possible, but the real achievement here is the fact they managed to do so whilst also improving the way it looks.
England may have fallen well short that summer, but at least Gary Lineker seemed to benefit from Umbro’s efforts - clinching the Golden Boot and sealing a move to Barcelona. Though, we guess the shirt can’t take all the credit…
Memorable Moment: Diego Maradona unapologetically turning England’s World Cup quarter-final into a game of volleyball.
2. 1990-92 (Third)
For many England fans, it just doesn’t get better than this.
Despite only ever being worn once competitively (not even at Italia '90) and departing from the traditional national colours, this sensational third strip has become the quintessential retro England shirt.
Aside from being shown off in New Order’s “World in Motion” video, the popularity of this shirt arguably stems from its sense of fun and character.
It’s certainly different to what we’d typically expected from an England kit, but it actually came amidst a string of pale blue third kits which all failed to appear at a major tournament.
What sets this one apart, however, is the dazzling diamond graphic, the beautiful cuffs and collar, and the fact it came at a time when English fans were falling back in love with the national team.
30+ years later, and this is a shirt for the beer gardens, the festivals and simply watching us lose on the telly.
But it’s more than just a cult classic, this is a beautiful work-of-art which encapsulates the joy, insanity and style of English football in the '90s. It’s a nostalgic masterpiece.
Memorable Moment: Um, it was only ever worn in a Euro '92 qualifier against Turkey. So that, or 'World In Motion', we guess.
1. 1980-83 (Home & Away)
Sweet Caroline! This. Is. It. The best England shirts of all-time. And yes - we're not afraid to say that we’ve cheated a little.
Both the home and away kits from this period are so strong, so damn good to look at, that it was only fair for each of them to claim the number one spot.
This was Admiral’s parting gift to England (and the wider football shirt world), as they succumbed to major money problems and brought new meaning to the phrase “saving the best 'til last”.
It’s the striking chest panels which bring both shirts to life, with the contrast to the white of the home shirt proving particularly effective.
The away shirt acted as the perfect mirror image, flipping the colours on their head and completing an absolutely outstanding collection of kits.
The retro design of the cuffs and collar have aged incredibly well over the years, and it’s true that these shirts have become much more popular over time.
They may not have seen much in the way of football success, but there’s no doubt in our mind that, in terms of sheer style, England kits really don’t get any better.
Memorable Moment: We wore the home shirt in a victory over Spain at the 1980 Euros, but we still crashed out at the group stage in disappointing fashion.
Right, so that’s it. For us, those are the best England kits made so far, but don’t be afraid to drop a comment if we’ve missed off your favourite!