I spent most of my life supporting Manchester United who wore plain red. In 2017, I started following Sporting CP but before then, I got into stripes via Espanyol.
There’s just something really cool about striped football kits. They stand out and cover multiple colour options. The main secondary colour is white but some of the teams in this list so things differently. I know the title says “best” but in all honesty, these are just my favourites. Everyone has their own opinion so best lists are always debatable. Whatever. Make your own list.
1. Sheffield Wednesday (1997-1999)
Fun fact: Sheffield Wednesday started out with blue-and-white horizontal stripes in the 1870s and early 1880s, before trying half-and-half and settling on vertical stripes (besides a return to horizontal in 1945-1946 – controversial!)
My favourite version was their home kit, worn from 1997-1999. It sported the ever-classic Sanderson sponsor logo (also sported by a striped kitted team – Southampton – in the 90s). And Chris Bart-Williams looked awesome in Sheffield Wednesday’s colours – even if he wasn’t there between 1997-1999.
2. AC Milan (1990-2000)
Black-and-red stripes? I’m all for it. I even have a 2009-10 home shirt with Beckham 32 on the back. But the 90s is where I’m looking for their best kits. Every single one in that decade. They went through a couple of sponsors, and even though the thickness of the stripes only changed slightly, the kits just looked superb.
Milan went through 3 sponsors, varying stripe thickness, and varying levels of success. The club won a ton of Scudettos and reached the European Cup/Champions League final four times between 1990-1995, winning two. But after that, no more and Juventus replaced them as the best team in Italy and Europe although they won Serie A in 98/99.
3. Newcastle (1995-1997)
Formerly the best squad to never win the Premier League before Liverpool took that accolade last season. Coincidentally, they threw away a seemingly insurmountable lead at Christmas too. But in terms of the best kit, Newcastle still reigns supreme. It had a grandad collar – almost unheard of in the 90s – and the stripes were crossed on the edges.
It was a superb kit and deserved a league title but it wasn’t meant to be. On the plus side, the kit was part of the greatest Premier League match of all-time in 1996. Collymore closing IIIIIIN!
4. Sporting CP (1997-2000)
As I said above, I started supporting Sporting in 2017. Before then, I knew them as Sporting Lisbon (which isn’t their name and you should never say that to a Sporting fan as they’ll get angry), and the club Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo used to play for. Now they’re my new favourite team and it’s weird to support a club that wears green-and-white hoops and it not be Celtic (although everyone asks if I do when I wear my custom-made Sporting scarf).
I chose the home shirts from 1997-2000 because they were glory days. The likes of Peter Schmeichel, Simão, Pedro Barbosa, Mustapha Hadji, Marco Aurelio, and Beto. And those Telecel/PT logos. Perfection.
5. Inter Milan (1983-1999)
The second Milan club in this list, Inter was blessed with some incredible striped kits in the 80s and 90s. The sponsors’ logos really tried the shirts together with Misura, FitGar, Fiorucci, and finally Pirelli. There’s something about a minimal logo with thick lettering.
And Ronaldo – one of my favourite strikers – wore an Inter shirt for two of the years covered. Here are some of Ronaldo’s awesome goals and skills with an obligatory techno soundtrack.
6. Real Betis (1997)
This choice is a little leftfield but there’s a reason. Real Betis caught headlines for smashing the world transfer record when they bought Denilson for £21.5m. It was a Kappa shirt and as 90s as you could expect – oversized, big collar, and the Kappa logo down the sleeves.
The club didn’t achieve the success they’d hoped for after signing the Brazilian but managed to win the 2005 Copa Del Rey. Denilson stayed that long, leaving the same year without realising the potential of his transfer fee.
7. Queen’s Park (1997-)
Yes, you read that correctly. Queen’s Park. The amateur Scottish club that plays its home game at Hampden Park. There are plenty of quirks with Queen’s Park:
- It’s currently the only fully amateur club in the Scottish Professional Football League
- It’s the oldest association football club in Scotland and is the oldest outside England and Wales.
- Queen’s Park is the only Scottish football club to have played in the FA Cup Final – in 1884 and 1885.
- The club has won the Scottish Cup the most times of any club not called Rangers or Celtic but they last won it in 1893.
They started out in navy blue but went with black and white hoops with one deviation in 2016-2018, when they reverted back to navy blue to coincide with their 150-year anniversary. But black and white hoops sounds pretty mundane beside the zebra look. Why have I picked this striped kit? Two words: Irn-Bru. The famous Scottish soft drink has been Queen’s Park’s sponsors since 1997 and that’s worthy of a place in my list, to be honest.
8. Barcelona (1993-1995)
Another Kappa-emblazoned striped kit. This was the kit that broke Manchester United fans’ hearts in the Champions League. At Camp Nou, Barça thrashed United 4-0 with two goals from Hristo Stoichkov. Interestingly in that group, United faced two players who they’d later feature in their Treble winning squad (Blomqvist from IFK Gotenburg and Jordi Cruijff from Barcelona).
But back to Barça. The club has experimented with stripes and half-and-half shirts in more modern times but their early 90s offerings were the best Kappa-manufactured shirts of their time.
9. Manchester United (1994-1996)
Manchester United have had a few striped kits in their time – the most recent in 2011/12 as their away kit. But between 1994-1996, they had a blue-and-white striped kit to rival that of Sheffield Wednesday.
This choice is probably more biased than anything else.
10. Arsenal (1995-1996)
Arsenal knew how to make an away shirt. This isn’t strictly striped in the way the others were but what the hell, it’s awesome. This was the last season Arsenal wore a blue away strip until 2002-03, when yellow replaced it.
It’s the clean lines and the geometry of it all. Everything just… works? It was difficult to like Arsenal away shirts as a kid as I was Man United through and through. But in older age, I can appreciate the nostalgic designs of a former rival.