Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Top of the world: England won the Jules Rimet Trophy in their change colours of red in 1966

 Thing of the past: There will be no more Umbro kit launches for England as Nike take over kit supply from next year
Today, The Three Lions of England will walk out at the Podgorica Stadium in Umbro strip for the final time in tonight's crunch World Cup qualifier with Montenegro, ending a sixty years association with the kit manufacturer which began in 1954

It will be a sad moment for Umbro, the brand more closely associated with the immortal moments of English football than any other, as Nike prepare to take over kit supply from next month.

England will wear their new Nike strip for the first time in their friendly with the Republic of Ireland at Wembley on May 29. 

Revolutionary: Billy Wright models a v-necked England jersey in 1954
When Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet trophy (the former FIFA world cup trophy) for England in 1966, he wore a red Umbro shirt.

When Banks made that improbable save in 1970, when Gazza wept, when Butcher bled, when Southgate failed and when Beckham kicked out – it was all in Umbro attire. 
Classic kit: Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley after England's 3-0 win over Paraguay at the 1986 World Cup

The company kitted out 15 of the 16 World Cup competitors in 1966 and at their peak catered for 85 per cent of the English league, which has been consumed in the global sportswear arms race between Nike and Adidas.

Iconic image: A touching moment of mutual appreciation between Pele and Bobby Moore... and a swap of Umbro shirts
Since Nike acquired Umbro for £377m in 2008, it has been a matter of time before the famous diamond logo is replaced by the swoosh on the strips of their greatest asset, the England national team.  
That'll need washing: A blood-stained Terry Butcher after England qualified for the World Cup in 1990 by drawing against Sweden

With Nike expected to unveil the new design looking forward to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil at the end of April, tonight will be the last time England fans will watch the team in Umbro attire.

Feeling the blues: Dejection as England lose to Germany on penalties again in 1996
Not only does the change mean the thousands of England fans who have forked out upwards of £40 for their replica shirts will have to dig deep again, but it means the severing of a proud 58-year association between Umbro and the Three Lions.
Aside from a decade of Admiral kits between 1974 and 1984, England have worn Umbro since 1954.

Familiar feeling: Changes to the Umbro kit didn't mean a change in England's fortunes at the 1998 World Cup
It also means the last stitch for a company founded in the back room of a pub in Wilmslow, Cheshire by a young tailor called Harold Humphreys inspired by the White Horse Cup Final of 1923.

Shortly after the Nike buy-out, Umbro signed a fresh nine-year deal to supply the national side but a combination of the Recession, England’s abject form and the ruthless price war between retailers like Sports Direct and JJB Sports has meant the £20m-a-year tie-up just hasn’t worked.
All stripe on the night: Steven Gerrard puts England in front in their 5-1 win over Germany in Munich
And so this evening represents the end of a sartorial era for the national side and this once proud institution will now sew and stitch only for a handful of Football League clubs next season.




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