Journal

Admiral And The England National Team

Surprisingly for some, the start of the journey between Admiral Sportswear and the England National team goes back as far as 1966, a pivotal moment in English football history.  

 

Admiral Goalkeeper Shirt worn by Gordon Banks the 1966 World Cup hero

 

1966

Let us transport you back to 1966. During this era, Admiral were situated in Leicester, crafting a revolutionary lightweight interlock football jersey. This innovative 'World Cup' shirt boasted built-in elastication at the neck and cuffs, giving complete freedom of movement while also helping to retain its shape.

Living in close proximity to Admiral's headquarters was Gordon Banks, the esteemed goalkeeper for both Leicester City and England. Banks frequently visited the factory based in Wigston and, impressed by the quality, opted to sport the unbranded kit for Leicester throughout the 1965-66 season. His admiration for the design prompted him to request a similar shirt in yellow for England's triumphant World Cup campaign that summer.


Kevin Keegan of England wearing Admiral

 

1974-1980

Until 1974, England's kits adhered to a monochromatic palette, typically featuring block white, red, or occasionally blue colorways. However, Admiral revolutionised this tradition by introducing a new kit design that incorporated iconic coloured taping down the sleeves. The white home shirt boasted blue and red accents along the arms, while the striking red design featured blue and white accent colours, both proudly displaying the traditional Admiral logo on the chest.

Like most shirts of this time the kit was crafted from cotton or aertex. However, the addition of coloured stripes stitched into the fabric and adorned with matching cotton collar and cuff meant the production demanded a high level of craftsmanship.

This innovative kit quickly gained popularity among young England fans, as Admiral provided them with the opportunity to emulate their heroes on the field. This era marked the first time an England kit was available as a replica in sports shops. Coupled with the rise of poster boy Kevin Keegan, who clinched back-to-back Ballon d'Or awards in 1978 and 1979, this kit became an instant hit among the first generation of kit-wearing enthusiasts.

While this design was worn during the qualification matches for Euro 1980, Admiral and England had something special planned for the tournament itself.

England Line-up 1982 World Cup

 

1980-83 

Following the enthusiastic reception of the initial Admiral England kits, the design team felt even more compelled to integrate the colour into the Euro 1980 kit.

What they produced was considered groundbreaking in the football shirt world. The incorporation of a large red and blue yoke within the main body of an England shirt was unprecedented. While England had previously donned home (white) and away (red) block-coloured kits, often shared with many other teams worldwide, this new England kit contained unique colours, instantly identifiable as representative of the nation. While Three Lions fans embraced the change immediately, traditionalists required some time to adjust.

Although the kit made its tournament debut at Euro 1980, its most iconic moments occurred during the World Cup two years later in Spain. This tournament marked the first occasion where manufacturers' logos were permitted on shirts in a major international event, thus showcasing the Admiral logo on the grandest stage of all.

 

Trevor Francis Scores for England at the World Cup 1982 Wearing an Admiral Kit

 

The construction of this England shirt was different from its predecessors, as it was crafted from polyester. This polyester composition enabled Admiral to sublimate the coloured design directly within the fabric, utilising the material's colour fastness to ensure long-lasting vibrancy. Combined with its exceptional moisture-wicking capabilities and durability, these shirts maintain their vibrant appearance even today. Further to this polyester version, due to the record-breaking temperatures in Spain during the tournament, a lightweight Aertex fabric version was also developed to help players cope with the intense heat at the World Cup.

The silhouette of this pioneering design remains as relevant today as it did back in 1982. In fact, Admiral has recently revived this design with Japanese side Jubilo Iwata, proving its enduring appeal as a fan favourite.

 

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