We’re in the midst of the World Cup, shifting the world’s attention from club to international soccer (or football, if you prefer). Club soccer is king in much of the world, but nothing surpasses the importance and international cultural significance of the World Cup, of which iconic kits are paramount.
As a child, I recall the mystique surrounding some of the most notable kits that featured across international soccer. The power of the classics felt immense, and now as an adult, these unique colors and patterns that immediately send the mind to the nations they belong to are still vital to the heartbeat of the game.
So, I’ve put together a collection of some of the most iconic international soccer kits of all time, focusing not one the individual differences throughout the years but rather the traditional baseline from which all of these countries’ kits are built.
5 Most Iconic International Soccer Kits
The yellow base with blue and green accents are arguably the most iconic kit in the entire sport, let alone international soccer. And it goes so much deeper than their look.
Brazil wasn’t the birthplace of soccer, but its dazzling play, incredible wealth of talent, and history of success make it perhaps the most renowned footballing country in the world. Brazil’s kit is so iconic in large part because of the players who have worn it – Pele, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Garrincha, Socrates, and so many more have contributed to elevating their nation’s kit as one of the most iconic in all of sports.
You don’t have to be in Brazil to see someone wearing one of the country’s kits. In fact, you don’t even need to be in the Western Hemisphere. The Brazilian National Team is international, and so is its kit.
For many of the same reasons that Brazil’s kits are world renowned, so too are the kits of its bitter rival, Argentina.
The blue-and-white stripes are synonymous with the South American nation, which has produced the likes of Messi, Maradona, Mascherano, Kempes, Batistuta, and a plethora of players who have made indeliable marks on the beautiful game.
Similar to Brazil, Argentinian kits are be found far outside of the nation’s borders. In South Asia, it’s common for soccer fans to attach themselves to Brazil or Argentina, and the passion felt for these teams that represent countries on the other side of the world is palpable. It helps when you have someone like Messi, too – he tends to attract attention.
Croatia does not have the same history of success or prestige as Brazil nor Argentina. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a rich lineage in the sport – you’d be remiss to dismiss the 2018 World Cup runners up and bronze medalists at the 1998 World Cup.
But Croatia doesn’t make this list because of on-field results as much as the pure beauty of its kits. The red-and-white checkerboard pattern is extremely unique in the sport, and the design is an immediately recognizable representation of the Balkan nation. When I was a kid, a Croatian kit was one of the coolest ones you could own, and those lucky enough to possess one would often show up to practice and pick up games donning the checkboard print. And I did not grow up anywhere remotely close to Croatia, nor around any Croatians.
It’s simply one of the best-looking kits in international soccer, let alone sports as a whole. You can’t ignore Croatia when discussing the most iconic international soccer kits.
Orange never looked so good.
The Dutch and the color orange go together like the Dutch and totaalvoetbal, the special tactic the country has consistently employed which calls for every outfield player to be capable of assuming any role on the pitch in a possession-based style of play. The Dutch philosophy on the pitch has only enhanced the iconic status of their kits.
The solid orange is a telltale sign of one of the most historic footballing nations in the world, which has given the world such talents as Cruyff, Bergkamp, Gullit, van Basten, and a laundry list of more. The Netherlands has yet to claim the ultimate prize of a World Cup win, but the country has played in three World Cup finals, reached the tournament’s semifinals five times, and won the 1988 Euro. Its history and impact on the game are longstanding, and its orange kits will forever remain an iconic slice of international soccer.
The Azzurri (The Blues, in English) are known as such because of the hue of their kits, and in international soccer, the color blue is most associated with the four-time World Cup champions and two-time Euro winners.
Like the Dutch, the Italians are also well-known for their specific style of play, though unlike the Dutch, it centers around quite different principles. Known as Catenaccio, Italy has a preference for defending with many players behind the ball, remaining compact and difficult to breakdown, and controlling the game first and foremost with defense. Some have derided the tactics as boring, but you can’t knock their effectivness.
Some of the world’s best have come from Italy – Maldini, Baggio, Buffon, Del Piero, Totti, and just so many more. Fans across the world have looked up to the Italians as they’ve won the lot times over throughout the decades, and their famous blues have become one of the most iconic kits in international soccer and beyond.
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