England football team 09/11 jersey

Amid the enthusiastic drone of the vuvuzelas, the 19th FIFA World Cup began in South Africa yesterday. Of the 32 participating nations, overall the playing kits are as smart and appealing as I can remember.

England make their debut today and it’s their jersey that takes the spoils — an understated, clean and classy contradiction to the vibrancy and colour of the rainbow nation.

Harking back to pre-war, pre-branded era shirts, perennial kit makers Umbro went back to basics by taking inspiration from Saville Row to produce a more tailored garment. Even the geometric type looks like another English classic: Gill Sans. And whether you happen to be David Beckham, or a World champion gurner, the shirt looks great regardless — objective achieved for a mass-market product.

The red away jersey, unveiled by British band Kasabian earlier this year, is constructed in a similar vein, though it’s more a reference to England’s sole World Cup triumph in 1966.