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Lookback: Nike T90 Football Shirts
21 September 2021
By Pedro Almeida

Templates can get a bit of a hard time from football shirt fans… I should know, as I’ve done my fair share of template criticism over the years. I understand that templates have been used for years and that they serve a purpose (usually due to economic reasons) but when you see different teams using the same shirts but with a swap of colours or a dreadful template being used across a multitude of teams… it can be difficult not to feel a tad annoyed. When you’re looking for your team to get something a bit more bespoke seeing a template kit can feel rather lazy.

Yet, when done right, template shirts can look fantastic. A great design while still incorporating a team’s traditions can be a winning combo and one of my favourite templates, 2004’s Total 90 shirt by Nike, did just that. The shirt was recognisable for it’s piping on the front which made it look like it was a separate, cut-out section. The Nike tick was also placed higher-up the shirt and for some teams, the left sleeve also had something resembling the tail of the Nike logo.

Here is a list of my 5 favourite shirts that used the Total 90 template in no particular order.


Whenever I see this shirt I get images of Postiga scoring a ‘Panenka’ in a penalty shootout, Rui Costa nearly ripping the net off with a thunderbolt against England and Maniche hitting the top-corner from near the corner flag in the semi-final against The Netherlands. Unfortunately… It also reminds me of a young Cristiano Ronaldo in tears after Portugal had lost the final of Euro 2004. The biggest come-down after the highest high in Portuguese football history (in my opinion).

Yet despite this shirt being forever linked to that final, it is still one of my favourite ever Portugal shirts and a great example of the beauty of Nike’s Total 90 template. What I love about this shirt are the colours. To me, this is how a Portugal shirt should look. A vibrant red is complemented beautifully by the yellow piping and the green collar. A lovely way to incorporate the colours of the Portuguese flag into the shirt. I also love how the Portuguese badge can be seen throughout the body of the shirt. This is a lovely way of making a template shirt look more bespoke.


This Valencia shirt instantly brings back memories of Pablo Aimar in his prime and I love how classy it looks with the Total 90 template. The black and orange accents look really good against the white shirt. Even the red sponsor fits in with the overall look, both in colour and in how understated it is.

One of my favourite things of the Total 90 template was the panel of the back of the shirt where the player’s name would sit. I love how on this Valencia shirt that name panel is in black while the rest of the back is in white. I love how that makes the names really stand out.


Croatia’s iconic red-and-white checkerboard pattern looks fantastic in the Total 90 template. It’s simple, classy and (it feels odd saying this) the checkerboard is the right size… not too big so you can’t appreciate it and not too small so it looks like you’re staring at one of those Magic Eye posters. The gold piping is a lovely way to break up the pattern and I love the blue numbers on the front of the player shirts. It all just ties in superbly.


All three of Inter’s kits used the Total 90 template that year, but it’s the European shirt that is the pick of the bunch for me. I almost feel like I shouldn’t like it. It’s just not what I would expect an Inter shirt to look like, yet the contrasting black and grey (or is it dark grey and blue? I never can tell) horizontal stripes not only work really with each other but also with the yellow logos, which really pop out against the darker background. The Total 90 piping on the front of the chest is often found in contrasting colours on other team’s shirts but I think keeping it dark here was the best choice so as to avoid it looking a bit too garish.

No doubt this shirt took inspiration from the 97/98 cup shirt which was worn when Inter and Ronaldo won the UEFA Cup. Perhaps, because of having another Brazilian superstar forward in Adriano, Inter decided it would be good to raid the archives. Personally, I’m glad they did. It was a joy watching Adriano smash in goals (shot power 99 of course) wearing this beauty.


SG have one of world football’s most iconic kits. So keeping designs fresh while maintaining the clubs’ traditions must be a tough job. The Total 90 template is brilliantly used here to give a contemporary look while still reminding us of the classic PSG design.

The design isn’t a million miles away from those used in the previous couple of seasons. It still uses the navy blue body that was brought back in 2001 as well as having the red stripe and white accents slightly off-centre so that it runs behind the badge (which I really like as it seems to really make the badge standout). However, the Total 90 template makes the shirt appear sleeker. The streamlined collar with a little pop of white is an improvement on the busier efforts of the previous couple of years and the white piping, iconic with the Total 90 design, really adds a nice contrast against the navy blue.