Netherlands ’88 voted the best ever international football shirt

They won the Euros wearing it, now they've won something even bigger - the Paddy Power World Cup of Football Shirts.

15 Jun 1988: Gary Stevens of England goes past Ruud Gullit of Holland during the European Championship Group 2 match at the Rheinstadion in Dusseldorf, West Germany. Holland won the match 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport


After Netherlands won the 1988 European Championship, Johnny Rep wrote a poem in which he asserted that the country’s “tiger-striped” shirt was “only worth wiping your bum with.”

Rep was referencing the fact that Ronald Koeman had apparently done exactly that with the West Germany shirt given to him by his vanquished opponent in the final, Olaf Thon, but his assertion also reflects the fact that most people at the time thought the Oranje’s kit was pretty vile.

How times change. The shirt is now considered a masterpiece of design, fetching an absolute fortune in whichever vintage marketplace it goes on sale. An opinion that was backed up by voters in Paddy Power’s World Cup of Football Shirts, a competition we ran via Twitter poll where Netherlands ’88 emerged as a runaway winner.

Here’s how the groups originally lined up, with the winner of each going through to a four-shirt final.

Some stiff competition there for the Dutch, we’re sure you’ll agree.

In Group A, Ireland pipped England for the coveted first spot in the final.

In Group B there was, of course, little doubt about the winner.

Group C saw a surprise winner – if you ask me, which you didn’t – with Cameroon’s sleeveless crime against football coming out on top. Somehow. You’d have to think that maybe the other contenders cannibalised each other’s votes, allowing the Indomitable Lions to pounce.

On to the group of death and, oh boy, was this a close one.

All of which means we had a final comprised of the below three beauties, plus the aforementioned sleeveless monstrosity, which PP News finds it hard to believe even made it past the qualifiers, never mind all the way to the final.

Anyway, it’s all irrelevant as, in all honesty, the final wasn’t even close.

So there you have it. The ugly duckling of 1988 becomes a glorious swan.

What do you think?