Ranking the best and worst Euro 2024 away kits: Tintin, interlocking triangles and a Chelsea training kit


We cast our eye over the home kits for this summer’s European Championship and discovered they are not especially inspiring. But the good news is that the away kits, where manufacturers and designers tend to go a bit more ‘out there’ and thus create some more diverting designs, are much more interesting.

Some are great. Some are awful. Some are boring. Some are weird. Some are confusing. Some are fabulously glamorous. Some we don’t know what to make of.

So read on and judge for yourselves…

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It would seem churlish to review this Ukraine kit given the circumstances: it’s the same shirt they have been wearing since 2021 because their relationship with manufacturer Joma has frayed and is coming to an acrimonious end next month. Joma, a Spanish company but with strong Ukrainian links, caused some outrage last year when they signed a deal to supply kits to Zenit St Petersburg, which understandably didn’t go down well given they had promised to stop working with Russian clubs after the start of the war in 2022. They’ll be switching to Adidas after the tournament, following some schmoozing by the Ukrainian FA president Andriy Shevchenko.

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Nike

If you’re wondering where you have seen the pattern on the body of this Netherlands shirt before, I can tell you: it’s on the seats of a rural bus service, one that only runs three times a day and takes pensioners into town for the market. It’s just bad and almost worse is the explanation from Nike, which claims the design is ”inspired by the Dutch art movement De Stijl”. To which the counter-argument is: it might be inspired by it, but it bloody well doesn’t look like it. Seriously: Google De Stijl, compare it to this shirt and then give Nike a clip around the ear.

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Nike

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Puma

Quite dull, this. There’s nothing really wrong with going for a basic, plain design, but if you go with white as the main colour, then really you need something more bold as a trim so that it pops nicely. White with a sort of lightish blue doesn’t really do the job and ends up looking like a budget Marseille kit. It’s especially weird because the shade of blue on the Czech flag is much darker and bolder — why not just use that?

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The home shirt was rubbish, but at least it had some bold colours to make it stand out a bit. This is rubbish but also boring, giving the distinct impression that whoever at Nike was given the job of designing Slovakia’s gear left it until the last minute and said “that’ll do” at least once. A shame and once again proof that it’s not always a good thing for a smaller nation to get a major manufacturer to do their kits.

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Do kit designers think black jerseys are intimidating? It’s the only real explanation for their apparent fascination with producing kits like this. It’s a reverse of the home shirt, but with all the good parts lost in the dark: the panels down the middle and on the sleeves are so shiny that they look like cheap leather and you can’t see the patterns on the main body because they’re only a tiny bit lighter than the rest of the shirt. It’s a mess and it’s very silly.

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It’s a similar vibe for Italy, who have the same design for their away shirt as for the home, which I liked without really being able to explain why, but the away is somehow much worse. Maybe it’s the fact it looks like a Slovakia shirt. Maybe it’s the extra fussing in the shape of a slightly different collar. Maybe it’s the fact that having the red, white and green as the three Adidas stripes on the sleeve really works on a blue shirt but isn’t an option on a white. You can see what they’re trying to do with the green on one side and the red on the other, but it just ends up looking quite odd.

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Hmmm. The England home shirt is tremendous, a perfect lesson in how to do clean and simple in a really effective way. It looks like an England kit, it strikes the right balance between traditional and modern, and it just looks cool. This looks like a warm-up shirt and the pattern on the panels that run from armpit to hip resemble the branding for a regional leisure centre. The gold Nike logo and three lions look good and pop quite well from the deep blue background, but overall it’s a bit of a dud.

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Albania FA

Not really sure I can explain the logic behind this, but this Albania away shirt looks like a home shirt. Don’t you think? Like, the sort of home kit that a League One club might wear. Port Vale, basically. Is that a criticism? It feels like one, but it’s not necessarily meant that way. In terms of the actual design, it’s OK, but it does fall into that trap of a white shirt with a slightly darker background design, which looks fine close up but from a distance just makes the kit look a bit grubby.

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Albania FA

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Joma

Perfectly fine, not especially good, not especially bad. It looks very much like a Belgium kit from the days when they were bad, before the Hazard/De Bruyne/Lukaku generation came through and they became too good to be taken seriously wearing Joma. The red, yellow and blue work well together in pretty much any combination… but now I’ve run out of things to say about it.

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Joma

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Puma

The Swiss home shirt, with a truly odd band of darker colour around the lower back and buttocks area, is just weird, and while this is essentially the same setup, the light blue/white combo does at least make it look slightly less like the wearer has a nappy on. It’s actually pretty nice other than that strange panel, with the strong blue offsetting the white nicely and the swirly background pattern providing a decent little detail. Fine on its own, positively delightful in comparison to the home kit.

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Puma

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Adidas

Doesn’t this just look like a Chelsea training shirt from about 2006? You can just picture Franco Di Santo wearing it in a pre-season friendly against DC United at a stadium very obviously not built for football. It’s… different, I guess. Is it bad different or good different? Hard to say, but you don’t often see light purple and a gentle… turquoise (?)… on a football shirt, so you have to give them some points for originality, on the colours at least.

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Adidas

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Much like the home shirt, this is a pretty lazy template offer from Adidas, but it actually works much better in white than red, simply because the trim colours stand out so much more. The green is deep enough to really pop from the glistening white of the main body and the red stripes on the sleeve are the same. So absolutely no points for imagination/effort, but some points for the colours getting the best from an otherwise quite boring bit of business.

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Well that is undeniably a football shirt. Absolutely a football shirt. No doubt about it. Can’t argue with the fact that this is a football shirt. There genuinely isn’t anything else at all you can say about a red shirt with red shorts and red socks with a red trim and a red collar. Red red red red red red red. Really they should have just gone all out and made the national crest and the Nike symbol red, too. Red!

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Nike

This is also very red, but for some (not entirely unwelcome) reason, Nike has gone very sparkly and fabulous. Look at it! It basically has sequins. Maybe they’re going for a multi-purpose approach: the shirt that you can wear to a football match in the afternoon, but still works when you go to ABBA Voyage in the evening. I’m all for this sort of thing, we could do with a bit of extra camp in our football kits: who will be the kit manufacturer brave enough to put a feather boa on their shirt?

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Nike

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Nike

This article is supposed to offer firm opinions about the designs on football shirts because that is an important thing that someone should be doing with their life. But here… I don’t know. I genuinely have no idea whether this is good or bad. Is it an excessively busy mess, resembling an art student’s first attempt at screen printing? Or is it a delightful way to offer something a little bit different, beautifully using the right combination of colours to produce a shirt that is simultaneously eye-catching and subtle? I don’t know. Genuinely no idea.

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Nike

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I would have loved to have been in the pitch meeting when the Adidas designers suggested this one to the Mannschaft’s decision-makers: very much one to file under ”Sure, you can show them that one but they will never go for it”. But go for it they have and it’s good that they have. A bright pink shirt that fades into purple most definitely should not work, but it absolutely does and it’s quite difficult to explain why. But we’re giving Adidas plenty of points here for boldness, if nothing else.

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Puma

This looks like someone has challenged a modern kit maker to reproduce, with modern techniques and materials, a 1960s shirt. You can just imagine some lanky Austrian striding around the pitch in this, playing against Franz Beckenbauer or Bobby Charlton, wearing shorts that barely concealed their buttocks and violently kicking an opponent in the shins. Which is not a bad thing, especially when you incorporate the little dashes of colour — a colour that, officially, is called ‘electric peppermint’ — sprinkled around the torso. It’s really, really excellent.

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Puma

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Slovenia FA

Hey, call me crazy, but I like these Slovenia shirts. What does the strip of small diamond shapes that stretch from the navel to just below the chest mean? No idea! Does that matter? Not at all! If the home shirt looks like a jersey a team of YouTubers would have made, this is more what the staff at an outdoor activity centre would wear for a five-a-side tournament. Possibly against the YouTubers. Against the odds, these are actually good.

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Slovenia FA

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Serbia FA

Here’s a perfect lesson in how ostensibly very minor details can make a shirt. This looks like a perfectly straightforward, nothing to really rave about but also quite nice jersey. Good bold colour on the collar, otherwise fairly uncomplicated. BUT THEN, you throw in that truly excellent detail on the sleeve trim, red and blue interlocking triangles, and we’re in business. A 6/10 raised to at least an 8/10. Sometimes people overcomplicate kit design, which isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it’s good to remember that simple with just a touch of something extra is more often than not the way to go.

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Serbia FA

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Do you think kit designers sometimes forget that, for the most part and with brief sojourns to the desert aside, that major football tournaments are played in the summer? So why not reflect that with a summery vibe with your shirts? That’s what this Spain away kit is: it’s a light white wine, it’s a picnic in the park, it’s a light and floaty dress to wear on a carefree afternoon in the sun. If this shirt was a band, it would be the Beach Boys. I’m more cheerful just looking at it.

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Typically, kit manufacturers tend to play it safe with their home shirts and get a bit more outre with the aways, but here Nike have flipped things, controversially fiddling with Croatia’s classic red and white checkerboard for the home, but for the change strip going with a rather more conservative blue effort, with slanted squares. And it works rather nicely, with the thin strips of red here and there setting the blue/dark blue off beautifully.

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The old joke, such as it was, went that there were no famous Belgians other than Tintin and Hercule Poirot — two fictional characters. Modelling a football shirt after Agatha Christie’s effete, moustachioed detective was going to be a challenge, so instead they have chosen Herge’s adventurer as the inspiration for their away shirt. It’s just a shame that Kevin De Bruyne has grown his hair, so doesn’t quite look like the boy himself anymore, but you can’t have everything. If you didn’t know what the inspiration was, then you might think it was a tribute to a Uruguay kit from the 1930s, but that doesn’t make it any less attractive. A maverick idea, but a tip of the hat to Adidas for trying it, never mind pulling it off.

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Yes, yes, yes. The nice thing here is that Hummel has clearly thought about the home and away shirts for Denmark as a piece: so they’re both similar, with the red and white colours for the main body and trim reversed, but there are enough differences to make it clear that some consideration has gone into it. The differences — a collar on the away shirt and a different cuff detail — are small but effective. Delightful.

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People will write poetry about this shirt. It’s only because of my deep respect for you, the reader, that I haven’t subjected you to a few stanzas of my own here. Nike reports that this design is a nod to French fashion houses, as well as French shirts of the 1980s and 2000s, but who really cares about that when you can just look at this, a thing of beauty? It genuinely might be perfect. Tres tres tres tres tres bon, deep and profound congratulations to all involved.

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(Top photos: Getty Images; design: Eamonn Dalton) 



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