Rayo Vallecano have long been blessed with a wonderful set of shirts and Umbro’s 2021-22 vintage is the perfect recipient of our 100th Kit of the Week title.
To celebrate Los Franjirrojos’ (The Red Sashes) promotion back to La Liga through last season’s play-offs, Umbro riffed on the club’s characteristic colours and the meaning of their name, to produce one of our favourite designs of the season.
The club from the Madrid barrio of Vallecas are known for their distinctive shirts, as well as the left-wing ideology and identity of their supporters and exist as an alternative to city giants, Real and Atlético.
The name, Rayo translates as “lightning bolt” in English and on Wednesday night, they finally brought an end to the storm surrounding Ronald Koeman’s tempestuous tenure as Barcelona coach with a memorable 1-0 win inspired by Colombian marksman, Radamel Falcao.
So far, Rayo have confounded pundits expectations, sitting 5th in the table and four places above the beleaguered Barça, with 35 year-old Falcao enjoying a new lease of life in the number 3 shirt his late father wore during his own playing career.
Los Vallecanos originally played in a Real Madrid style plain white kit until financial problems and a short-term working partnership with Atlético Madrid rescued the club back in 1949.
Atléti persuaded Rayo that they really needed to do something about that kit of theirs and thus a red sash was added to mimic the look of Argentina’s River Plate.
This season’s shirt sees that familiar sash transformed into a jagged lighting bolt, striking down from the left hand shoulder and the theme continues across to the away and third shirts.
The arrival of the man they call El Tigre on a free transfer this summer, has provided Rayo with a fresh Latino dynamic as Madrid’s communities of South American ex-pats including an estimated 60,000 Colombians, swooped to secure his shirt.
Such is the demand for this kit that according to BBC Sport, Rayo Vallecano have already sold out of this season’s replica shirts.
Umbro’s design may be a little too derivative of the Rayo name and gimmicky for some, but we love a football shirt that can twist a club’s culture and traditions in tasteful new directions whilst still providing an authentic link to the past.
This is an instant classic.