Twenty Years of Kappa’s Kombat Kit

Let’s face it footballers are only good at football because someone pays them to practice every day.

By the same extension, they only look good in modern tight-fitting football shirts because of their “proper diets” and all that exercise they do.

AS Monaco, Kappa, Kombat
Monaco wore a special edition Kombat style kit this week

This week, Kappa celebrated the 20th anniversary of their ground-breaking super slim fit Italy shirts for Euro 2000 by releasing special edition retro-style kits for Monaco and Real Betis.

Real Betis, Kappa, Kombat
Kappa supplied Real Betis with slim-fitting shirts to mark 20 years of the Kombat fit shirt

The “Kombat” jersey with its elasticated material and fit was designed to give attacking players an advantage by making it harder for the opposition to grab hold of their shirt.

Let’s say Jaap Stam had decided to pull on Alessandro Del Piero’s shirt in the box, Kappa’s shirt would stretch over a foot out of shape to either make the infringement obvious for a referee, or let the striker slip through the defender’s fingers.

Less room for the dark arts of defending should therefore result in more goals.

See? They’re always thinking are Kappa!

Italy, Euro 2000, Kappa, Kombat
Italy’s Euro 2020 shirt by Kappa

The tactic has since been used in Rugby Union where the baggy jerseys of the past have all but disappeared.

As well as the elasticated material, the Kombat fit jersey featured a high round neck collar and sleeves that stopped just below the elbow.

Italy’s shirts saw the Kappa logo, with its male and female figures leaning against each other in union; moved to the sleeves to leave the front of the famous Azzurri shirt unsullied by sponsorship.

Italy, Kappa, Kombat, Euro 2000
Kappa’s logo was moved to the sleeves of Italy’s Euro 2000 shirt

If you look back at pictures of that Italian side who made the final of Euro 2000, you’ll see that Paolo Maldini & Co were perhaps not 100% comfortable with the super-hero style player-issue shirts we see today, and wore their shirts a little baggier than the average Premier League player of 2020.

Italy, Totti, Kappa, Euro 2000, shirt
Even Totti wore his shirt a little baggier. Credit@GettyImages

Over the past 2 decades the look has been regularly adapted and worn by the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, AS Roma and Wales; with the influence of the design on modern football kits being seen across a host of brands.

Wales, Kappa, Kombat
The Welsh version of the Kappa Kombat shirt

Moving with the times, Turin based Kappa are bringing some graphic design flair to the template with intricate geometric prints displayed across their kits for Napoli, Tunisia and A-League outfit Western United.

Tunisia, 3rd Shirt, Kappa
Tunisia’s 3rd shirt brings a modern look to Kappa’s fantastic elastic technology

Whilst that ultra-slim, second skin cut may look great on Francesco Totti; the less athletic fans of Leeds United and Aston Villa will tell you that the look is the absolute scourge of the curvier male supporter.

Tottenham Hotspur, Kappa, Shirt
Spurs are one of the Premier League clubs to have worn figure-hugging Kappa shirts

It takes either a brave or delusional alice-band wearing man to wear a Kappa Kombat shirt, and the popularity of gym memberships probably only started as an attempt by the optimists among us to fit into those super-human soccer strips.

Hate them or love them, the influence of the Kappa Kombat shirt on modern day football fashion is without question.

What memories do you have of Kappa’s fantastic elastic Kombat kits?

Italy, Kappa, Euro 2000, shirt
The ground-breaking Italy Euro 2000 shirt by Kappa

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