England away shirt by Umbro
It's fair to say that the launch of the new England away kit was well hyped. As the minds at Umbro schemed the best way to promote the first non-red away shirt for the national team in 15 years, they added a few big names to help them out.
The first person to be seen in public with the kit was boxer David Haye as he took centre stage in his world heavyweight title fight and, despite the fact that rioting Londoners delayed its expected debut against the Netherlands, Bulgaria proved to be the testing ground.
For many, Haye's dismal performance had already come to embody the shirt. Where was the red of passion? The white hot fire that burns inside every Englishman? Why had it been replaced by the blue of depression, a darker, macabre colour that could not even claim to portray calm and peace?
From the 140 shirts England's players have ever worn, 87 have been white, 41 have been red and now 11 have been blue, with the exception of the solitary yellow one back in summer of 1973 and one grey horror which shall never be repeated from Euro '96.
But, once the reservations over the colour are put to one side, there is an excellent shirt to be found. Crafted from an innovative polyster/cotton moisture management fabric, it is extremely comfortable and soft to the touch, while a new 360º pivot armhole offers total movement without any restrictions, so the players are free to jabber and point to their hearts' content.
The addition of a collar is a nice touch and adds some class to a shirt that is as comfortable to wear off the pitch as on it. Ultimately, what we find at the end is a really good effort to enhance England's image to the next stage.
Experiments with colour have seldom gone well for the Three Lions, but if the next England captain is lifting the Euro 2012 trophy wearing a blue shirt, instead of a white one, few fans will care.
The smart new England kit is available to buy now at www.Umbro.com