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The principle - most clearly demonstrated in the shirt France took to the Croke Park field in when facing Ireland in the World Cup 2010 qualification playoff first leg - as well as purportedly providing muscular support, manifested a logic that a tight shirt with wicking properties could remove sweat and allow it to drip off the shirt or evaporate. The science suggested that the amalgamation of baselayer and outer shirt was vital in order to prevent the distinct latter from compromising this process and weighing down the player with the “wick-ed” moisture.
Fine, we believe you, so you dress footballers as cyclists. In fact, aerodynamism must have been a handy bonus - perhaps, in the second leg, Thierry Henry felt he could move all the swifter to provide his own “handy” contribution.
Facetiousness aside, a huge array of Europe’s top teams - of the adidas stable - ended up in Techfit, but it never again quite reached the peak of the France 2009 version. This was mainly because, for the French shirt, for the second time, the German manufacturer took the opportunity to modernise the 1984 all-time classic.
I regard myself as the internet authority on cover versions and my thoughts can be transposed to apply to updated iconic football shirts. Certainly the ideal that a “song should be covered in a way that makes the new version a good recording in its own right. It's pointless covering a song if you're bringing nothing new to the table” is both entirely applicable here and realised by adidas. The '98 version was a faithful reinterpretation by contemporary standards - and duly delivered the glory it was hoped it could - but in '09 the goal was modern, top down reinvention (and glory in South Africa - ha!) and this was plainly demonstrated.
Yes, the rubber “Powerweb” features were too much - too modern? - for some, yet the impeccably-angled red and white flashes neatly highlighted players’ abdominal muscles and helped (re-)usher in the super-slim-fitting kits which followed - for adidas, including adizero ranges, Nike and, notably, Puma’s current approach.
In fact, another novel process was allowing the French players to choose the type of shirt they wore - the Techfit or traditional Formotion technology-boasting version. Yes, different styles of shirt were worn on the same pitch, but it was the Techfit option that wowed. And so great is the design that adidas couldn’t face it being tossed into the dustbin of history when the FFF decamped to Nike, so they waited a couple of years and chucked something very similar onto a Chelsea Third instead - guess what: the definitive version of that release was again the Techfit variant.
This is a shirt that brings to mind the insouciance of Platini and Zidane in its retrospection, whilst at the same time, with its physique-flaunting modernism, telling opponents, basically, I’m the Juggernaut, bitch! I defy you to imagine a more stirring juxtaposition.
Written by Jay, resident blogger on DesignFootball.com.
Jay can be found on Twitter and DesignFootball.com are on Facebook and Twitter.
This shirt is part of The 50 Greatest Football Shirts Ever. The full list can be viewed here.