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Bob Dooley

England Football Online
Contact Us Page Last Updated 25 June 2019


England's Uniforms



Goalkeeper Kits

First Choice Uniforms


England Goalkeeper Uniforms 1954 to 2018
The Umbro Years (part one)
1954-1961 Yellow
The Bukta Years
The Umbro Years (part two)
The Admiral Era
The Modern Umbro Era
The Nike Years


Prior to World War I, goalkeepers mostly wore the same colours as their team mates, and they were distinguished by donning a cap.  England's goalkeepers, however, chose to wear a different coloured jersey as early as 1891, and perhaps, even earlier. It is difficult to tell what colour was chosen, but the light appearance in the monochrome photographs suggests that it was grey, or maybe, yellow. We can probably surmise that goalkeepers were asked to bring their own club jerseys to wear in the internationals. Unlike the outfield players, the goalkeepers' jerseys were not emblazoned with the Three Lions emblem.

In the early years of the twentieth century, the jerseys were noticeably darker, and they could have been red, blue, green or grey. We simply cannot tell from photographs. In 1921, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) decreed that international goalkeepers would wear yellow, but on one notable occasion, in Sweden, in 1923, possibly becasue Sweden were wearing yellow, England's custodian took to the field in a hooped shirt, as seen here. We can only speculate on what the colours were, but we imagine that it was supplied locally, not the last time that an England goalkeeper would find himself wearing the colours of another team (Ray Clemence wore an adidas Romanian top in 1980 and Peter Shilton, incredibly, wore a Scotland top with the Scottish FA emblem at Hampden in 1989!).

After the Second World War, England's goalkeepers were finally issued with yellow roll-neck jerseys, complete with Three Lions emblem, for each match. Then, in 1954, when England finally discarded the dress shirts that they had been wearing since 1880, so too did the goalkeepers acquire a more modern look. Their jerseys had a crew neck, as opposed to the v-necks worn by the outfield players. We do not know yet if these jerseys were supplied separately to the outfield shirts, so we cannot ascertain who made them.

From 1966 onwards, however, we know that Umbro were supplying England goalkeepers' jerseys, as well as the outfield kits. As the sixties gave way to the seventies, Umbro began supplying aertex shirts to England for games in warmer climes and the goalkeepers were not excluded. Umbro also added their distinctive diamond logo onto Gordon Banks' jersey in 1971, over three years before the whole team began wearing Admiral logos.

Umbro introduced numbers to the reverse of the goalkeepers' shirts for every match from the beginning of the 1969-70 season. Previously, England's 'keepers had only worn digits when squad numbers were required, in the four World Cup tournaments from 1954 onwards, plus the European Championship finals of 1968, and on selected other occasions.

Up to this point, England's 'keepers had worn yellow as first-choice and blue as an alternative. On two occasions in 1970, Banks found himself wearing red shirts. One is believed to be England's away shirt, when both the yellow and blue tops clashed with Colombia's yellow and blue shirt, and the other, inexplicably occurred when Banks wore the yellow Aertex shirt against the yellow-shirted Romanians in the opening half of England's first defence of the World Cup. For the second half, he appeared in a red short-sleeved shirt.

Green shirts were briefly introduced (or re-introduced) to the England goalkeeper's locker in 1973, when the outfield players wore yellow Aertex shirts for a European tour. This was also the year when Peter Shilton became the first England goalkeeper to wear tracksuit trousers for an international. The occasion was the Scottish FA's Centenary match on a rock-hard Hampden Park pitch in February, so, perhaps, understandable. He repeated this on two other occasions. Ray Clemence and David Seaman have both felt compelled to follow suit on occasion, though these were probably due to a rock-hard pitch, rather than the cold.

1974 saw Admiral secure the first official contract to supply England exclusively with their kit. This included the first ever complete 'keeper's outfit, where black shorts and socks were supplied with the yellow shirt. The change blue shirt, however, had to make do with the same black shorts and socks, or, alternatively, revert back to the old days when the 'keepers' lower garments matched the outfield players'.

When Umbro returned, in 1984, to take on the role, once more, of England's kit supplier, they saw the goalkeeper's uniform as a chance to experiment a little with the traditional colours, allied, presumably, to an expert marketing onslaught. A grey shirt appeared on the South American tour that year, and this was followed up, two years later, by an all-grey kit, guaranteed not to clash with any other nation's outfield kit, so the yellow equivalent (now only second choice) became redundant.

This was followed by an era when football kit designs got more and more bizarre, especially the goalkeepers'. In 1988, England switched to green shirts with different shades of green forming stripes. A blue equivalent was used throughout the following year. There was a brief respite when a more sober yellow shirt appeared in 1990, not unlike the 1974 Admiral offering, with black shorts and socks, but the early nineties saw a staggering array of 'paint explosions' across the England goalkeeper's shirt, culminating in the predominantly red change kit used in 1996. This was included in Dave Moor's, 'The Worst Football Kits Of All Time' (The History Press, 2011) and described thus: "It had everything - random blocks of clashing colours, 'GLAND' written vertically up the front ('ENG' being uncomfortably tucked away where only Mrs. Seaman might find it) and part of the England crest disappearing into the armpit." Click here to see it (if you dare!).

Although the garish designs were reined in, in the years that followed, Umbro managed to launch a staggering 14 designs in the decade of the nineties, seemingly not restricted to the 'one per year' approach of the outfield kit. Indeed, in 1997, they managed to introduce three new goalkeeping kits, two of which were blue! There were some 'interesting' new colours, as well, such as orange, olive green and teal, but yellow, blue and black (separately) managed to re-establish themselves in the new millennium.

Ever more competition rules have meant that kit men have had to be on their guard, such as when David James had to change into a black training shirt, because the predominantly red sleeves of the first-choice shirt clashed with the red-and-white chequered sleeves of Croatia in the Euro 2004 tournament. Goalkeepers' kits cannot clash anymore with their opposite number in tournaments, due to the propensity for 'keepers to venture into the other team's penalty area when chasing a result in the closing stages of a game.

More variations of colours have been introduced more recently, such as aubergine, racing green, Bermuda green and spearmint green, hyper verde(!) and bold berry, but these have been interspersed with more traditional colours. In 2013, to mark the FA's 150th anniversary, an all-gold kit was introduced.

2014 saw a new trend, when England's goalkeepers began wearing the short-sleeved versions of the shirts, with a long-sleeved base layer top of the same colour underneath.

England continue to catch us out with new designs (currently three a year) and it is fascinating to see how the designers can make them look different to previous efforts, but we continue to document them as they appear, whilst filling in the gaps from the earlier years as new evidence surfaces. Please get in touch if there is anything that you can add to this story (Contact Us).