We never saw 2 of the best shirts at Euro 2020

Euro 2020 has already delivered in so many ways.

We’ve already seen plenty of goals, own goals and upsets that will live long in the memory. Of course, some great football shirts have been there every step of the way, and I’ve particularly enjoyed tracing the rise of Puma and their controversial away shirts.

As we look ahead to the quarter finals though, we have to say goodbye to 2 of the better shirts we were itching to see this summer. For the purposes of this piece, I’m assuming a potential third addition to the ‘missing shirts’ list will be seen for the first time as England travel to Rome to play Ukraine. As the designated away team, England and Nike will likely want to give the blue away shirt its first runout of the tournament, although the yellow of Ukraine home wouldn’t necessarily be a clash.

Regardless, what we do know is that both Sweden and Scotland’s away shirts departed without seeing the light of the Euro 2020 day, and I want to take a brief moment to lament what could have been.

With a number of wonderful shirts already missing out by virtue of being worn by team’s who didn’t qualify, we were already robbed some potentially glorious kit matchups, but both Sweden and Scotland teased us before under-delivering.

We’ll start with Sweden. Their pinstriped away shirt was a popular success, with a number of neutrals hailing it as one of the their favourite designs heading into the Euros. The neutrals were spot-on; the lovely navy and yellow combo is a good example of why were are seeing something of a trend around pinstriped shirts this year. 

Sweden are always good value for shirts, and I don’t think this shirt came close to a lot of what we saw from the Umbro days, but regardless this would have been a welcome addition to proceedings.

For Scotland, we missed out on one of the best shared designs adidas employed last year. The wonderful light blue affair shared a look with the Ajax away shirt of 2020/21, which flew off the shelves at the time of its release. Although more subtle in nature, the colourway felt fresh and a nice change of pace from the Scotland home shirt was wasn’t nearly as exciting.

Neither of these shirts did enough to challenge the top tier of Euro 2020 shirts in my eyes, but they certainly would’ve brought up the average so to speak. For owners of the shirt, it’s an unfortunate reminder that some shirts simply don’t appear despite their equal billing in the months leading up to competition.

Tough break for the three stripes

For adidas, the absence of Sweden and Scotland’s away shirts represents yet another blow in a tournament which hasn’t been too kind to them. Going into Euro 2020, adidas were working with 8 teams (just behind Nike, who had 9 teams), but at the quarter-final stage there are only 2 nations left sponsored by adidas. Making matters worse for the brand is the fact that the two teams, Belgium and Spain, are on the same side of the draw, meaning there is the possibility of no adidas sponsored team in the final, as was the case in the Euro 2016 final where both Portugal and France wore Nike shirts.

It could be worse though. For rivals Nike, only England are left to fly the brand’s flag. Still, adidas have been outshined in the brand department by the likes of Puma who, despite courting controversy with a set of unconventional away shirts, have dominated conversation and been tied to a number of key moments including the opening game, Patrik Schick’s wondergoal and the upset wins of both the Czech Republic and Switzerland.

Could Sweden or Scotland have worn their away shirt at Euro 2020?

If we look back over Sweden and Scotland’s games, were there actually any realistic opportunities for either side to wear their away shirt? Was it luck of the draw for home and away sides which prevented either from donning their change strips?

Facing Spain, Slovenia and Poland in the group stages, Sweden were able to wear their home shirt with nothing close to a colour clash. Having said that, their Navy away shirt would also not have clashed with any of their opponents shirts, as the Spain home shirt (red), Slovakia away shirt (white) and Poland away shirt (red) were all distinct from the colour of Sweden’s away. Ukraine, who also wear yellow as a home shirt colour, were the designated away team for the Round of 16 tie, so whilst Sweden could have ‘forced’ them to play in yellow whilst they played in navy, it would have been an unorthodox move.

Across all major tournaments, Euro 2020 already ranks as the second highest for most matches at a major tournament where neither team is wearing a home shirt. This relatively niche statistic (the kind which I admit I can’t get enough of) was only topped at the 2018 World Cup, showing that there is a growing trend where, amongst other things, traditions are largely sacrificed for commercial reasons.

Scotland used their navy blue home shirt for all three group games, 2 of which were played at the national stadium Hampden Park. Technically the Scots were only the designated home team for one of their 3 games, the opener against Czech Republic, but though England and Croatia wore their home shirt the Scotland away was unfortunately too similar to be realistically worn.

In hindsight, they could have forced the Czech Republic to wear their red home in the first game in order to wear the home, so this is perhaps an example that not every team/brand thinks solely commercially when it comes to which kits are worn.

The stories of many Euro 2020 shirts are still being written, and the list of designs we’ll remember in even just 5 years time will likely be quite small. Spare a thought for the shirts that never got a chance at all. 

Phil Delves

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