Adidas served up a slice of football shirt perfection for Fulham’s first season in the Premier League, which also brought the first use of a brand new badge for the Cottagers.
The steady progression of Fulham Football Club under the ownership of Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed had seen the SW6 club achieve 3 promotions in 5 years to climb to the English game’s top tier for the first time since 1968.
With Fulham now dining at the top table of English football for the start of the 2001-02 season, the club were able to attract an internationally recognised, heavyweight sponsorship deal with Pizza Hut, replacing Demon Internet across the Whites’ shirts.
Adidas stayed-on as kit suppliers and delivered a kit that honoured the traditions of one of London’s oldest clubs, whilst ushering in a new era and new badge for the Craven Cottage club.
The Cottagers unveiled a modern, simplified monogram crest in club colours of black, white and red for their first Premier League adventure and Adidas combined all of the key elements expected into a design which although a little baggy for today’s tighter-fitting tastes, still looks fresh nearly 18 years on.
The tooth-pick chewing cool of French coach Jean Tigana had led a young team including Louis Saha and Sean Davis (the only man to play for Fulham in all four divisions of English league football) to promotion on the back of a 101 point campaign.
Tigana spent big in the summer months as Fulham brought in players including Juventus ‘keeper Edwin van Der Sar, Steed Malbranque and record-signing Steve Marlet to strengthen the squad.
Coupled with the experience of John Collins, Andy Melville and Barry Hayles, the new line-up held their own in the Premier League and finished a creditable 13th, even managing to qualify for Europe via the Intertoto Cup.
The 2002-03 campaign saw the club leave Craven Cottage to begin a ground-sharing spell with Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
Fulham then acrimoniously split with Jean Tigana, replacing him with former defender Chris Coleman before ultimately finishing the season 14th to further establish themselves as a Premier League club.
Those popular shirts remained the same aside from the substitution of sponsors Pizza Hut for Betfair in what was to be Adidas’ final year before passing on the baton to Puma.
In our humble opinion, everybody looks better in Adidas, and for the perfect combination of colour scheme, placement of sponsor, and the topping of a brand new club badge, these Fulham shirts rank as one of our favourite examples of early 2000’s Sartorial Soccer elegance.