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Reviews Index
> England Home Shirt 09/10 (Umbro)
> Everton Home Shirt 09/10 (Le Coq Sportif) Visual Review
> Brazil Away Shirt 10/11 (Nike)
> Adidas AdiPower Predator (Blue/Electricity)
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Adidas AdiPower Predator (Blue/Electricity)
25.08.11

Adidas' latest incarnation of the legendary Predator.

I, like every football obsessed kid in the nineties, always dreamed of wearing Adidas Predators. When I pictured myself kitted out in the blue of Everton lifting the FA Cup, or in the white of England scoring the decisive goal in a World Cup Final, I was wearing Adidas Predators. They were the dream.

With the dawn of the Premier League era came Adidas’ revolutionary boot, for the first time, here was a football boot that was more than a running shoe with studs, something that did more than stop you from slipping over. Here was a boot that, like the glitz and glamour of the Premier League, like the technology of Sky’s razzle dazzle television coverage, like the arrival of exciting foreign talents on our shores, actually enhanced the football itself.

An early, classic incarnation: the Predator Touch.

And because of that, Adidas always have something to live up to when they refresh their iconic line of boots. The Adidas Predators, even so many years later and despite fierce competition from many other boot manufacturers, remains the most iconic football boot you can buy. So when SoccerPro.com offered me the chance to review the Adidas AdiPower Predators, what was I going to say?!

Right off the bat though, there were little departures from the Predator I knew and loved. They changed the naming convention, the main colourway wasn’t the traditional black, red and white. It mimicked the somewhat pretentious AdiZero and Nike’s Superfly line of boots in boasting of its lightness. And, most worryingly, it continued Adidas’ recent departure from that most iconic Predator feature of all – the big flappy tongue.

And it’s true. The AdiPower Predator is not the Predator as we’ve known it all these years, and there’s certainly some disappointment because of this.

I’ve always loved Adidas’ big floppy tongues, adorning their World Cups, their Copa Mundials, and of course, the original predators, they were almost comically large, but like a big spoiler on a sports car, they added something. And in addition to that pizzazz, there was always the feeling that it just made things a little bit neater, a little bit cleaner.

Adidas' classic World Cup boot.

And on the Predators, they evolved. They streamlined a little, and they sprouted a little elastic loop. Now there was science in it too – they allowed you to tuck away those pesky laces, and gave you a larger, cleaner area with which to strike the ball. For people like me, who are finicky and compulsively neat to an extreme, they were a revelation to almost match the Predator element itself.

The AdiPower though, like the “X” before it, has shed its tongue. It’s also seen the drastic reduction in size of the aforementioned predator elements. This, of course, has evolved over many years. Long gone are the days of the original predator, where big, meaty vamps of rubber adorned both inside and outside of the boot.

The Predator element on the AdiPower, small but well-formed.

Recent iterations have seen cutbacks, the rubber streamlined and hemmed back to the inside of the boot. With the AdiPower, it’s retreated further still, climbing up the foot away from the toes to a relatively small patch near the instep of the foot. The terrain of the rubber is as mystifying and intriguing as ever of course, but you can’t help feel that you’re getting less Predator for your money, on first impression at least.

But other first impressions are good. Let’s be honest, much of the appeal in football boots these days, as with any apparel, is how good they look. And the AdiPowers look great. For me, they strike a good balance in between the trend towards the garish evident in the range of super-lightweight boots on offer from both Adidas and Nike while remaining eye catching and stylish.

The electric shades of blue and yellow complement each other well, with the black heel and laces taking the edge of and preventing them from becoming too overbearingly bright. In terms of the design beneath the colours, they’re relatively restrained: three stripes on the inside, three steps on the outside, a black heel component and a little texture added in the stitching of the leather – they have a classic look which is brought into the modern world by the unconventional blue/electricity colourway.

The AdiPowers make a vivid first impression.

Much as they’re good to look at though, it means nothing if they’re not good to play in. I was fortunate enough to be able to give these guys their debut on a near-brand new artificial pitch at Wakefield Park in Wellington, and I could not have wished for a better surface to try them out.

From the very moment I laced them up and strode onto the pitch, the thing that struck me most of all was the sheer lightness of the boot. I’ve never gone for the AdiZero or Superfly boots, never really thought that the loss of a few grams in weight was a worthy sacrifice for wearing what seem to be essentially coloured cling film wrapped around your feet (Adidas, Nike – I’m willing to be proven wrong if you want to send me a pair…).

The impressive thing with the AdiPower predators is that they’ve somehow managed to create an extremely light boot which still features a classic leather upper. And boy do you notice the difference on the pitch. I felt as if I was barely wearing boots at all, and on the artificial surface which usually feels a little heavier than playing on a good grass pitch, that was a great realisation.

The firm ground blades provide excellent traction...

The boots were incredibly comfortable too. I’d been a little concerned breaking in a pair of boots in a competitive (and crucial) match, but from the start Adidas’ sprint frame sole seemed to wrap around my foot and gave great comfort and support. First impressions then, were very positive. But I was still worried about the lack of that flappy tongue.

...and the PowerSpine gives great support.

For the past few seasons I’ve been wearing my Adidas Predator PowerSwerve boots, and to see laces flapping free on the AdiZero’s was a concern – I felt that the contact with the ball would almost necessarily be less clean without the tongue. The laces are aligned towards the putside of the boot of course, and the laces are very thin, but it was still a worry. Right up until I unleashed my first proper shot.

Looking back throughout the match, the main thing that strikes me about these boots was the crisp, clean contact that I felt with the ball. For the life of me I don’t know how, and probably the pitch deserves some of the credit after the swamps I’ve played on of late, but the AdiPower was a treat to play in. Every time I touched the ball, I felt in complete control, and judging the weight of passes was instinctive – they felt great.

Despite the lack of tongue, contact with the ball is crisp and clean.

Importantly too, they held up well throughout the match. Some tough tackles went in, they took some hits, I covered a lot of ground and I got stuck in, and they felt solid throughout. Inspecting them before and after the game too, the boots look and feel like they’re built properly, and with real quality. I’ve worn my old PowerSwerves for three seasons now, and they’re finally giving in – so expectations are high for Adidas to repeat the trick.

And they look good. The stitching is clean and consistent, the join of the upper to the completely separate one-piece plastic sprint-frame sole is neat and tight, and the rubber predator element slots into the leather upper perfectly. The leather itself looks and feels – and, for now at least, smells great. The insole of the boot is soft and welcoming too, and all in all, the quality of the boot is reassuring.

The quality of the materials is impressive.

It should be though, because the major drawback with this boot, and indeed, with all boots these days, is the price. To buy these in New Zealand where I live you would have to lay out NZ$320, and while SoccerPro.com currently list them at a more reasonable US$180 (roughly NZ$220), that’s still a hell of a lot of money for any pair of football boots.

It niggles too, when boot manufacturers consistently charge more money for seemingly less boot. Don’t get me wrong, I love these boots and this is a very positive review overall, but Adidas are selling these with the promise that they’re the lightest Predators ever. They’re also the most expensive Predators ever, and so in a very real sense you’re paying more for less, which can be frustrating.

That said, these boots do feel like they’re a real quality piece of kit. As I’ve mentioned, they seem to be built to last from quality materials, and they feel amazing to play in, offering excellent contact and touch with the ball in a truly amazingly light package. I guess you get what you pay for, but I can honestly say that if I wasn’t fortunate enough to receive these boots to review, I would not be able to afford them and you worry that Adidas are pricing the regular footballers out of their best boots.

The Predator label weighs heavily on the price tag.

Overall though, that’s a minor complaint for me, because the Adidas AdiPower Predators are a great pair of football boots, even if I do have to offer two conclusions here.

Firstly, if you’re buying these boots as a Predator lover, a child of the nineties who is a traditionalist and loves the features that Adidas’ predators have consistently offered… these may not be what you’re expecting. They are a different breed of Predator, where the focus has shifted slightly from the ultimate in control and power.

The AdiPower Predator: a new breed, but as good as ever.

Secondly though, and most importantly, I rate these as great boots. While Adidas’ focus has shifted from the power and control of previous Predators’ in favour of the general trend towards lighter, faster and more flexible boots, they have not really made any sacrifices. To my mind, they’ve taken the Predator formula and added new elements to it. This is the first step in the evolution of the Predators we’ve known and loved for many years.

They Think It’s All Over… would like to thank Matt and everyone at the wonderful SoccerPro.com for giving me the opportunity to give this review, please consider them (and their great prices) for any of your footballing needs. If you want to get your hands on a pair of Adidas AdiPower Predators (Blue/Electricity), click here.

Brazil Away Shirt 10/11 (Nike)
20.06.10

Brazil's away shirt for the 2010 World Cup. Click image to view full size.

When Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet trophy aloft in 1966, he delighted a nation. England were World Champions on home soil, football had truly come home. But he also ensured that the simple red Umbro shirt that he and his teammates wore during the famous victory over Germany, that kit that saw Geoff Hurst score his unique hat-trick, would go down in history as perhaps the most legendary away shirt in football history.

World Cups make moments like these. But that red England top is not the only semi-legendary World Cup winning away shirt. The 1958 World Cup Final between Sweden and Brazil is one of the most legendary of all time: Brazil’s first ever World Cup win, the highest scoring Final ever and the match that saw Pele become the youngest ever Final goal scorer (with the delightful chip and volley) and World Cup Winner.

And yet the Brazilians were not wearing their customary yellow in this match, the sunshine colour that has come to be synonymous the world over with Brazil’s samba style of play. Because Sweden obviously also play in yellow and were drawn as the home team for the match, Brazil were forced to play the match in an alternate strip – although they had travelled to the game without one.

The debut of the now traditional blue Brazil away strip.

As such, they were forced to buy a set of blue shirts locally, to which they attached the Brazil emblems that they had cut from their yellow jerseys – not, it has to be said, the ideal preparation for a World Cup Final! However, the outcome of the game meant that the blue away shirt was adopted permanently by Brazil and has been fondly remembered by the country ever since, even if it has been outshone by its yellow brother in the history books.

Whether or not Brazil have another tournament to remember in South Africa and whether or not they create another legendary World Cup moment wearing their blue shirts, Nike have stuck with the tradition established in 1958 and provided Brazil with a classic blue away shirt (and, for the real fan, a full range of Brazil World Cup Apparel) – and I have to say, they’ve done so in style.

As with any shirt that has the weight of history behind it, the design of this shirt must have posed a conundrum to Nike’s designers: how to remain faithful to the plain blue with yellow trim of previous designs while also freshening it up a little, giving fans something a little new and exciting to wear, and to differentiate it from its forbears. Their conclusion: spots.

Surprisingly, it works. They were sensible enough to go with subtle spots, and even though the rows are narrower around the chest than on the lower stomach region – which threatens to make the fabric appear stretched and thus infer a beer-belly on the unwary wearer – thus reducing the overall consistency of the shirt and threatening to make it a bit too nineties-jazzy, they’ve pulled it off.

TTIAO... makes this strip look goood.

It makes an otherwise very plain shirt, with just a yellow collar and a single, slim yellow stripe down the sleeves, stand out a bit. The expanse of gorgeous royal blue would seem altogether too much like an Italian jersey (thankfully without Puma’s preposterous detailing) without them, and the slightly eccentric, outgoing spots really actually do convey a sense of the extravagance we associate with Brazilian football.

The little touches on the shirt are well done too. The collar is almost a simple round neck, but just has a little straighter section in front so it isn’t too tight-necked, while the stripe along the sleeves features reversed blue spots and the left one is finished with five subtle stars, representing of course, Brazil’s five World Cup victories.

Left: the back of the collar/neck. Right: the sleeve stripe. Click image to view full size.

The only small qualm I would suggest when it comes to the styling is the decision to embroider the Nike swoosh and the five stars arced over the badge in white. I would have thought yellow would be more in-keeping with the overall design, but I suppose their decision was justified by the yellow spots which background them creating a possible clash and the white cross on the badge working to tie the colour in.

It’s not all about style for Nike these days though – they have become the first football kit manufacturer to jump aboard the environmental bandwagon with this shirt a part of their whole range of 2010 international kits that are manufactured from recycled plastic. This helps to save both the raw materials and the energy consumption involved in kit manufacture; it’s not very exciting, but Nike reckon it’s a big deal:

To make the 2010 national team kits, Nike’s fabric suppliers sourced discarded plastic bottles from Japanese and Taiwanese landfill sites and then melted them down to produce new yarn that was ultimately converted to fabric for the jerseys. This process saves raw materials and reduces energy consumption by up to 30 percent compared to manufacturing virgin polyester. By using recycled polyester for its new range of national jerseys, Nike prevented nearly 13 million plastic bottles, totalling nearly 254,000 kg of polyester waste, from going into landfill sites. This amount would be enough to cover more than 29 football pitches. If the recycled bottles used to make the jerseys were laid end-to-end they would cover more than 3,000 kilometres, which is more than the entire coastline of South Africa. – Nike Press Release.

Of course, the idea of rattling round in a shirt made from old coke bottles isn’t a thrilling one, but I am happy to report that the cut-price and environmentally friendly raw materials don’t seem to have affected the quality of the end product at all. In fact, the shirt feels not only incredibly light but also lovely and soft, with a sort of weave texture that sits really nicely against the skin.

I suspect this texture also plays a part in the ‘dri-fit’ technology that Nike assures us the shirt is imbued with, which is supposed to draw sweat away from the skin to keep players dry and comfortable, something my test runs so far haven’t been intense enough to verify (being an Englishman, even touching the shirt feels treacherous during World Cup time!).

The underarm panels are of a very loose mesh design too which lends the shirt great ventilation and overall it really feels like a quality piece of kit. The stitching is tidy and tough, the fabric feels extremely durable and the “Brasil” and Nike swoosh emblems are embroidered rather than stuck on which is always a welcome touch, although Nike have also insisted on some excess details on the bottom of the shirt – an authentication panel and the words “dri-fit” which always seems an unnecessary flourish to me.

Left: the mesh under the arms. Right: the embroidered crest. Click image to view full size.

Nike haven’t made such a fuss about their tailored fit as Umbro tend to of late, but the shirt fits nicely and is extremely comfortable. As mentioned earlier, the collar is neither too loose nor too tight and my medium fits well, it’s not baggy at all so there is no excess material flapping about but neither is it a muscle top like some of Adidas’ current range of World Cup Jerseys. The sleeves too strike a happy medium, not too long but not restrictively short either.

Finally, the sleeve stripe is some sort of some sort of rubbery make up, which is incredibly flexible and doesn’t affect the way the shirt sits at all. I’ve found that sleeves with stripes that are embroidered onto the sleeve – such as all Adidas kits – can suffer in terms of comfort, with the sleeve splitting almost into panels that don’t sit smoothly on the shoulder. Call me finicky if you please, but this shirt is more comfortable for this decision.

In short then, this is a shirt that if I were a Brazil fan I would be proud to wear. The design mixes classic with contemporary in an elegant way and is extremely comfortable and, just as importantly for the players on the pitch, it comes with all the bells and whistles of modern shirt design. There’s no way that Brazil could pull a Manchester United and blame the kit for any defeats they suffer in South Africa (though they won’t need to, with everyone so keen to blame the World Cup Ball).

Robinho models the Brazil 10/11 away kit.

Whether this shirt will go down in history alongside its ancestor as one of the all time classic away strips, I can’t say. Ultimately, it won’t matter what colour shirt the Brazilians are wearing, it comes down to how well they play on the day, but for the legions of Brazilian fans all over the world, this new version of the iconic blue Brazil shirt provides a great alternative to those whose complexions don’t suit the traditional sunshine yellow.

And if the Brazilians do seal a sixth World Cup win in Jo’Burg wearing this shirt, well… it will look almost as good in the history books as Bobby Moore’s red one. For this patriotic reviewer, the Three Lions are the ultimate seal of quality, but as far as rival shirts go, you can’t look far past this Brazilian effort.

My sincerest thanks to the great team at SoccerPro.com for providing the review copy of this jersey.

Everton Home Shirt 09/10 (Le Coq Sportif) Visual Review
05.06.09

Everton and Le Coq Sportif together again, is it a good omen for Everton?

Everton and Le Coq Sportif together again, is it a good omen for Everton?

The developing trend that has seen football shirt manufacturers producing more retro-style shirts has continued with the release of Everton’s home kit for the ‘09/’10 Premier League season. Their partnership with Umbro has ended and so they have returned to Le Coq Sportif, a brand that has fond memories for most Evertonians as it was they who supplied out kits during the club’s 8-‘s golden era.

Andy Gray (left) models the classic 'Hafnia' kit (right) that has inspired Everton's new shirt.

Andy Gray (left) models the classic 'Hafnia' kit (right) that has inspired Everton's new shirt.

Indeed, it is 25 years since Le Coq Sportif supplied us with the shirt that we wore while winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup, and that anniversary has spawned the retro design for next season’s shirt, which can be seen in many ways as paying homage to that famous design and the success that we enjoyed that season.

Upon witnessing the picture that leaked a few days ago though, I will confess I was very concerned that in attempting to modernise the classic design, they had butchered it. The iconic white ‘V’ that descends from the neck had been elongated to an extreme and it dominates the shirt rather too much for my liking.

Louis and Leon model baggy shirts, and it's not a good look.

Louis and Leon model baggy shirts, and it's not a good look.

Even worse though, was the presence of a peculiar horizontal seam that reaches out from the base of the ‘V’ and makes the shirt look rather more like a summer dress that an item of apparel that is designed to fit a footballer and allow them maximum flexibility and comfort during a game.

Perhaps, I thought, Le Coq Sportif is hoping to cater for the more traditional football fan who they see as having rather more to fit into a shirt and thus have tailored in some support for the ‘manboobs’ that a diet of football, pies and lager can leave many fans with.

In actuality though, the shirt is not as bad as it first appeared. Indeed, you have to question the directive of whoever organised the photo-shoot, because the shirts donned by Louis Saha and Leon Osman are far too baggy and make the shirt look plain awful.

Baines and Jagielka have shirts that fit, and look great.

Baines and Jagielka have shirts that fit, and look great.

However, when you see Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka sporting shirts that actually fit, you can see that actually, the shirt is quite nice. It is important to remember that, as a homage to the ’85 shirt, the tailoring is also a throwback and it needs to be a slim fit, figure hugging, as the shirts (and, more famously, the shorts) were back in those days.

I would still argue that the white ‘V’ is a little too large for my liking and the necessity of the horizontal seam is lost on me, but looking at the kit as a whole (especially with the change blue shorts) I have to say that I like it. The subtle stripes that are worked into the lower section of the shirt are an especially nice touch and I think that as long as the shirt is fitted properly, this will be a shirt that will look good on our players, and will certainly be a distinctive design in a time when football shirts are becoming less and less distinctive.

Whether the cut of the shirt is really suited to the supporter’s best interest though, is another question entirely. As I mentioned earlier, most fans physique isn’t that of a professional athlete and so wearing a slim-fit shirt may not be as flattering on them as it is on Baines. However, in recent years the fashion of wearing replica shirts as leisure wear (especially abroad) has received some vocal critics, notably Danny Baker, so perhaps this is not altogether a bad thing.

Overall then, I have to say that my initial disgust at the Le Coq Sportif design has been entirely dispelled. While certain design features could, in my opinion, have been better; I really love the subtle stripes as well as the return to a round neck collar. And after many seasons with Umbro as our kit manufacturer, it is nice not to see a kit that has all sorts of flashy bits of trim and strange patterns worked into the fabric.

Inside the collar of the new shirt is a tribute to Everton's greatest ever team.

Inside the collar of the new shirt is a tribute to Everton's greatest ever team...

I think that actually, as long as the kit is worn well, this could prove to be a really popular shirt. It will certainly be distinctive amongst the plethora of entirely familiar Premier League shirt designs and I think that can only be a good thing. And to be honest, it’s great to see the Le Coq Sportif logo back on the shirt, it brings the sweet smell of success to my nostrils.

Indeed, in many ways the shirt could be seen as a reflection of the current state of Everton’s team. Initially many might scoff at comparisons between it and its more illustrious predecessor, but I really think that the likes of Arteta, Jagielka and Cahill have the ability to lead this team into the territory that at present is the realm only of that great ‘85 team containing the likes of Reid, Ratcliffe and Gray.

...but can the current Everton line up emulate their success in the tribute shirts?

...but can the current Everton line up emulate their success in the tribute shirts?

And let’s face it, if this is the shirt that we are wearing when we finally bring some silverware back to Goodison Park after fourteen long years of hurt, it will go down as an absolute classic, no matter what people think of it now.

England Home Shirt 09/10 (Umbro)
22.04.09

The shirt that England will wear in South Africa, can it bring us glory?

The shirt that England will wear in South Africa, can it bring us glory?

As an England fan, it must be said that we rarely have much to shout about with regard to how our team performs on the pitch, though fingers crosses, as usual, that could be about to change. However, despite out frequent disappointments on the field of play, when one travels the world, the site of the Three Lions sitting proudly beneath a pasty, sun cream covered nose is a familiar one.

Yes, we English are a proud and patriotic bunch. Our football team doesn’t give us much to shout about, but shout about them we still do, with greater aplomb than most other nations in world football. And so the release of a new England shirt, especially the home one, is often eagerly anticipated. Yes we’ll probably buy it whatever it looks like, but we always hope it’s going to be classy.

When England’s players unzipped their ‘Anthem Jackets’ ahead of the recent friendly match with Slovakia then, a large portion of our nation held its breath, and then had it taken away again when they saw the 2009 Umbro England Home Jersey. Or at least I did.

A man can dream can't he? A man can dream...

A man can dream can't he? A man can dream...

Umbro have been making England’s soccer uniforms seemingly forever now, and with this design they have gone right back to their roots. Recent England shirts still maintained some remnants of the excessive trimming and piping and all the razzmatazz that 90’s shirt design sort of exploded with, but this latest edition, that will see us through the next world cup, is very plain.

It is a return to simpler times, when the football shirt was just a shirt that footballers wore while playing. It has the England badge on its chest and a subtle white star and that is about it. And that is all it really needs isn’t it? My first thought, upon seeing it, was ‘nineteen sixty-six’. Of course the red shirt from that year is the famous one in all the photos but the white one is fairly iconic too.

<img class="size-full wp-image-1106" title="Sixty-Six" src="https://theythinkitsallover.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/66-shirts.jpg&quot; alt="Those ’66 Shirts.” width=”426″ height=”323″ />

Those '66 Shirts.

And I think that really, that is what Umbro were going for. I do not need to remind any English fans of the disaster that was our failing to qualify for Euro 2008, because the peculiarity of seeing a major tournament that doesn’t feature England was an entirely new experience for me, as I was only 5 when we missed out 0n USA ’94.

And really, when we failed to qualify for Euro 2008, the nation as a whole took a step back and gathered their thoughts. We realised that we have a lot of work to do, that we are not one of the best teams in the world by right and that if we are not careful, we would continue to struggle on the world stage.

And we started afresh. In came Fabio Capello as a breath of fresh air, bringing with him a clean slate, fresh ideas and no prejudices regarding team and squad selection. And the beginning of his reign has been incredibly refreshing, with England starting to look like a team again, to rediscover the pride of pulling on an England shirt and the prestige of our great past.

So Umbro’s decision to return to a simpler shirt, reminiscent of our past is a fitting one. In its simple design, it too is a clean slate. It matches the way Capello wants England to play, simple football, back to basics. Good, honest and effective. And that sums up this shirt design.

In addition to being an appropriate reflection of English football’s current ‘fresh start’ ethos, it is also nice to see an England soccer jersey that is almost entirely white. In recent years they’ve featured blue shorts and red all over the place, but when you look at the St.George cross, it’s mostly white, and the red is provided for when the squad numbers are printed upon it.

Simple but effective; a shirt and a badge.

Simple but effective; a shirt and a badge.

So in all, I have to say I am really impressed with the design of the latest England shirt. Yes, it’s very plain and some people may feel it is pretty much just a white polo shirt, but I feel that it is a refreshing change. The emphasis should be on the football itself, and so the main thing is that this shirt should allow our players to perform to their best.

And this aspect is something that Umbro have taken note of, and have taken the decision to tailor shirts to the exact fit of each member of the England squad. Of course, us loyal fans will not receive the same privilege, but I must admit, having tried it out for myself, I find the new shirt to be incredibly comfortable to wear, both as a sports shirt and as an item of leisure wear.

The fabric that it is made of is of a very high standard, and feels great. Most shirts these days are 100% polyester, but this one has 20% cotton in it, and while that doesn’t sound like much, it makes a difference. The outside of the shirt has a very cotton feel to it while the lining is light polyester, and so it has the comfortable feel of a proper cotton shirt but with the lightness of polyester.

And despite its cotton content, it is still a very breathable piece of kit, and won’t clam you up when you’re out on the pitch. It has vented sections under the arms which are really breathable as well as subtle vents in the lower back to allow heat to escape from these areas, and this helps, along with the fabric, to prevent the shirt from clinging at all.

A close up of the breathable fabric of the under-arm panel.

A close up of the breathable fabric of the under-arm panel.

It is the little touches though, as much as anything, that really impresses me about the shirt. It features a traditional collar, but it is not too large or stiff as to restrict movement in the slightest. It has a single button at the neck which is covered, and the button itself features the dates “2009-2010” and an identical spare is provided.

The star, that represents our solitary World Cup win is present, but in white, embroidered above the badge, which is a classy touch. Some have questioned the need for including the star because we have just the one, but in my opinion, we should be proud to have won one, and use it to spur us on towards adding a second. A really impressive touch is that the badge has been raised (allegedly at Capello’s request) so as to avoid chafing the nipples of the wearer; which sounds pedantic, but experienced players will appreciate it very much indeed.

The new badge design (with ribbon) and subtle white star.

The new badge design (with ribbon) and subtle white star.

The quality of the product is also impressive. The stitching is strong and secure and despite receiving a fair roughing up when I played in the shirt (I think my opponent genuinely did want the shirt off my back), it stood up well, didn’t ever feel like ripping and isn’t stretched, returning to its tailored fit. Thankfully, Umbro has resisted the temptation to adorn it with the usual bits of rubber or shiny holograms to ‘authenticate’ it as official merchandise too, because they were always a pain that clung a little when moving in the shirt.

In fact, the only downside I can find with the shirt is a slight one. When it is worn by our players in matches it is embroidered with a ribbon underneath the badge to commemorate the opposition (i.e. “vs. Slovakia”), a touch that cannot obviously be applied to the replicas, which may disappoint some fans who like to wear the ‘exact’ shirt that their heroes do.

At the end of the day though, I think that this is a wonderful football shirt. For the players and fans alike to wear on the pitch it is comfortable, breathable and flexible, while the design is classy and efficient. For England’s many fans on their tours around the world, it can also be a really elegant piece of patriotism, because it is essentially a polo shirt too.

The collar segment, proudly tailored in England.

The collar segment, proudly tailored in England.

Indeed, I think that Umbro have excelled themselves in the design of this shirt, and would hope that when it comes to the time to release the next away shirt they follow suit with that design. Having been fortunate enough to wear this shirt already, I would highly recommend any other England fans to go out and buy one. There’s nothing like showing support for your country, and in this shirt you can do it with comfort and style.

Ultimately, it will be a pleasure to see England’s players performing in these jerseys. I can only hope that the elegance, style and effectiveness that is so abundant in the England shirt will be reflected in the football that the Three Lions play. And I hope with all my heart that this shirt can go down in history, alongside its forty-three year old brother, as one that saw England lift the World Cup.

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