Greatest Chelsea kits: the Blues’ best-ever shirts

Continuing our series where we rank football shirts, here are the greatest Chelsea kits that have ever graced the pitch at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have used numerous kit makers through the years. After starting with in-house production, Umbro took on shirt design duties throughout the 1970s. Following this, a five-year stint with Le Coq Sportif turned Chelsea back to making their own jerseys.

But that only happened during the 1986/87 campaign, after which Umbro forged a long-term partnership with the London side. The two British institutions worked together until 2006 when Adidas took over.

Chelsea’s first-ever Champions League trophy came whilst wearing the three stripes, who stayed at Stamford Bridge until 2017. Nike have since made the Blues’ various matchday gear.

Given Umbro’s decades-long alliance with Chelsea, you will be unsurprised to see them feature heavily in our greatest kits list. However, we do not start with them.

#5: 2012/13 home

Instead, Adidas’ 2012/13 home effort comes fifth in our greatest Chelsea kits ranking. Coming off a Champions League-winning 2011/12 campaign, Adidas decided to bring out the gold for the following season.

As a result, this home strip featured the German giant’s trademark stripes in a tasteful gold across the shoulders and down the shorts. Additionally, the traditional “Samsung” sponsor, Chelsea badge, and Adidas logo came in the same colour.

Meanwhile, a timeless round-neck collar really gave this shirt an all-around classy feel.

Sporting this fantastic jersey, the Blues enjoyed success on the continent once more. Chelsea won their first-ever Europa League in 2013, beating Benfica 2-1.

A glorious kit for an unforgettable period in the club’s history.

#4: 1996 – 98 away

Next up on our greatest Chelsea kits countdown is a superlative effort from the pre-Abramovich days. Like many strips in the 90s, Umbro opted for a bold design – but, somehow, the bright yellow and blue kit worked.

Two-tone yellow stripes make up the base of the shirt. As these progress up the torso, the lighter yellow stripes fade into blue. The central part of the chest is also in two shades of blue, which continues up onto the collar. Finally, thick stripes of the same colour travel down the sleeves of the jersey.

As you can see, there is a lot going on – although it makes for a spectacular look. Umbro made a brilliant decision in centrally aligning Chelsea’s badge, their logo, and the “Coors” sponsor, too.

Interestingly enough, Chelsea reprised this kit for the 1997/98 season. This time, “AutoGlass” replaced “Coors” as the shirt sponsor.

Gianfranco Zola helped elevate this kit to heroic levels during a successful 1997 FA Cup run. If it’s good enough for one of Chelsea’s all-time greats, it’s certainly good enough to make our top five.

#3: 2005/06 home

Fresh off a dominant 2004/05 season, Umbro produced one of the greatest Chelsea kits ever to celebrate the club’s centenary.

With “The Special One” at the helm, the Blues claimed back-to-back Premier League titles. And, thanks to this sublime shirt, they did it in some style.

Umbro delicately touched gold elements across the jersey, with dustings of the precious shade on the shoulders and shorts. This stood out beautifully on the traditional, royal-blue base, although not in a tacky sense.

Then, the British brand surrounded the club’s badge with flecks of gold, including writing that commemorated 100 years of Chelsea FC. When you factor in the reigning Premier League champ sleeve badges, you have a definite all-timer of a kit.

Umbro really signed off perfectly with this home number. Sadly, though, it was their last with the Blues before they switched to Adidas.

#2: 2003/04 away (2004/05 third)

Our second-greatest Chelsea shirt of all time is another one of Umbro’s awesome kits. One of the London side’s most sought-after alternate strips takes the runner-up spot.

This particular effort was initially the away kit for the 2003/04 season. It then became the third shirt for Jose Mourinho’s first season, 2004/05. The Portuguese manager molded Chelsea into one of the best-ever Premier League sides – all while wearing an absolute peach of a shirt.

A solid white base is always a crisp start to any top-notch kit design. Umbro paired this with two dark, vertical stripes down the centre of the top. Chelsea’s sponsor, “Fly Emirates” divides the navy and black stripes – adding a cool fade design element to the kit.

Further blue and black sections appear on the collar and sleeve cuffs, too.

Also, a popular part of the jersey is the use of the London side’s classic CFC badge. It is not housed within a circular shield, though, just sat freely across the heart. Overall, Umbro created a spellbinding kit for Frank Lampard and co. to wear on away days.

#1: 1995 – 97 home

There are so many kits to choose from for top spot, but the Chelsea home shirt from the mid-90s is our pick for their greatest.

Ruud Gullit guided Chelsea to an FA Cup whilst wearing this legendary shirt. In 1997, the Blues defeated Middlesbrough 2-0 at Wembley to seal their second-ever FA Cup.

Thanks to this, the jersey already has an arguably iconic place in Chelsea folklore. However, the quality of the design merits its place in our top spot.

A very faint stripe pattern provides depth to an otherwise plain blue shirt background. Umbro then added a stylish button-up collar to the jersey, which had gold trim on the edges.

This matched the British brand’s logo, as well as the edge of the shield that housed the Chelsea badge. The London side’s shirt sponsor, Coors, makes a welcome appearance in the shirt’s centre, too. Somehow, it just really adds to the retro aura that now surrounds this wonderful shirt.

Roberto di Matteo’s thumping goal just moments into the 1997 Final cemented this kit’s legacy. Therefore, this stunning Umbro number is our greatest Chelsea shirt of all time.

Featured image credit: Getty