Ukraine gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. However it wasn’t until 1992 that the Zbirna played its first ever game against Hungary in Uzhorod on April 29th. Here the National Team debuted their first ever home strip – an Umbro template ( featuring some red) leading many to dub it as the Romania kit. Derby County had the exact same jersey for their away colours that season.
The Anthem / Training tracksuit (Back Row / second from left) featured a jacket that many believe was provided by Inter Milan (due to lack of FFU funds) which had a makeshift FFU badge stitched on top. This badge used Russian text and also featured some spelling mistakes.
Ukraine wore their first ever home kit a total of ELEVEN times, both home and away before they had a short stint in another Umbro strip – featuring sky blue and burgundy. Whilst this is evidently an away edition; the kit was actually given its first run out in a home victory against Belarus in 1994.
Upon further research, it seems that the 1994 away kit was used in at least one more additional match to the game v Belarus.
The above b&w image from Bulgaria v Ukraine in 1994 seems to confirm that Ukraine played in this kit again.
As Ukraine embarked on its first ever Qualifying campaign. The Road to EURO 1996 began with a couple of new strips. The home shirt saw the debut of the all yellow variant – no more red.
On early renditions of the home kit – the Russian language circular FFU badge was used – most notably v Lithuania in September 1994
Ukraine’s away kit during 1994-1995 featured a white collar and also displayed the Russian spelt FFU badge during a few outings – before returning to the regular Trzyuball Crest. This kit was used in a considerable number of home games too.
After Ukraine failed to qualify for EURO 1996, the year of the tournament featured a number of friendly games before qualification turned to the 1998 World Cup.
Ukraine played the majority of their games during this calendar year in this unique stripe combination offering from Umbro. A new badge for the FFU was also introduced and used on the shirts. Despite this being used for almost all the games in 1996, as the primary colour is blue, this kit is classified as the away variant.
The 1996 home strip, some believe was never used bar a squad photo session (as seen below).
However photographic evidence can be found, that backs the claim that it was used at least once during an official friendly away to Moldova. All images are in black and white. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.
The Moldovan FA (in a FB post from 2019) confirmed with colour photographic evidence that the UMBRO 96 Home strip did make an appearance in official use
As stability began to grow in the country’s football scene, the FFU improved in its marketing. A standardised Ukraine badge was introduced in 1997 along with a new kit supplier. The more prestigious Puma were called upon to provide the strips for the next five years. It began with two new offerings which saw out the remainder of WC 1998 qualifying and any subsequent friendlies.
The home kit included a hexagonal pattern which featured prominently on the sleeves, with a more subtle overlay on the body.
The away kit was identical to the home kit but with the colours reversed. Note that the material made the kits look slightly metallic in some lighting.
The Qualifying campaign for EURO 2000, saw Ukraine grouped up with World Cup winners France and their arch rivals – Russia. It was in their 1998/99 home kit that the side battled to two 0-0 draws against the World Champions and defeated Russia at home and drew away. This kit was also used for one game in 2000.
Whilst the home variation of the 98/99 kit was used as the primary strip for EURO 2020 qualifying, Ukraine did play in the predominantly blue inverted version in a couple of away games in 1999.
With the turn of the century, came another change in uniform. Puma remained as the supplier, but opted for a more sporty, up to date (for the times) modern design. White was reintroduced for the accents, whilst a Ukrainian flag was included on the sleeves.
The away strip was identical to the home, bar the inversion of colours. Used predominantly in 2001, the side on a number of occasions, used yellow shorts instead of the standard all blue – which replicated the Ukrainian flag.
As Ukraine failed to make another major tournament (missing out on 2002 World Cup), it was time for the FFU to look for another technical sponsor. They found that in Italian brand – LOTTO.
Their first rendition was very much a basic template, once again incorporating the non standard white trim on collars and cuffs – whilst also utilising a dark navy instead of the traditional lighter blues that Ukraine had used in the past. This particular version of the kit was short lived, with Ukraine playing just four games in it.
2003 saw Lotto make some minor tweaks to their 2002 offering. On this occasion, they reinstated RED into the Ukraine strip for the first time since 1994. Albeit, via the application of the brand’s own logo – which featured a red background. The dark navy accents remained.
The 2003/04 away kit followed a similar template to the home, ditching the navy for a Royal blue body with yellow strips down the sleeves.
Whilst both the above kits were still in circulation, Ukraine had a couple of run outs in a ‘second home’ kit. The majority yellow with two circular blue rings were used rather randomly during two friendlies at the start of 2004. Ironically both matches were away from home. Following these two games, The Zbirna played a game in their original home/away variants before WC 2006 Qualifying began.
2004 and 2005 saw Ukraine’s ‘Golden Generation’ finally deliver the country its first ever major tournament qualification! The Yellow and Blues topped a group with Euro 2004 semi finalists Turkey and Euro 2004 victors Greece as they became the first European side to reach Germany in 2006.
They played out the entire qualification period in another collared edition from Lotto. The home kit was yellow with blue sleeves and that iconic Lotto logo. This kit was used until almost the end of 2005. However, it made it a solitary comeback in 2006 during a friendly versus Azerbaijan (for reasons unknown).
This rather basic but classic offering was once again replicated for the away strip but with the colours reversed.
With Ukraine having qualified for the first major tournament in their history – they built up to tournament with a number of warm up games. During these friendlies, they wore this pyjama-esque home kit, featuring very minimal blue bar some stitching which ran down the sides of the jersey. This kit was never worn in a competitive game.
As World Cup 2006 came around, so did a new Ukraine – Lotto collaboration. Some may say this is one of, if not THE most iconic Ukraine kit in its history as The Zbirna made the Quarter Finals in their debut international competition.
The Lotto spiky template was used for a number of other countries and clubs at the time, most notably Serbia and Montenegro who were also at the tournament.
Regardless, this is undoubtably the best kit template that Ukraine had from its partnership with LOTTO. It was both more visually appealing and professional looking compared to some previous entries.
Ukraine wore their home strip throughout the World Cup campaign. It was only in 2007, that the side wore the away strip for the first time. Whilst the standard approach was to have the kit entirely blue (shirt and shorts) there were a number of occasions where the team combined the away jersey with the home bottoms.
As Ukraine failed to make EURO 2008, the first half of the year involved playing a number of friendlies. During this period they remained with the same kits used during the qualifying campaign bar one particular game. A 1-1 draw away to Cyprus saw Ukraine wear a one off home variation before returning to using the home and away kits used from 2006 for the remaining friendlies.
Qualifying for the 2010 World Cup began in earnest at the end of 2008. Lotto would collaborate with Ukraine for one final time. It is likely that having known the contract was up, minimal effort was made for the final few times Ukraine ran out with Lotto as their kit supplier.
The Home kit once again saw a curve incorporated into the accent design, this time less prominent and being combined with a twist on the spikes from 2006.
Although Ukraine never actually used them in official games, the following away kits were released and can still be purchased on online auction sites. These being the away version of the 2006 friendly kit and the away variation of the late 2008 home strip.
2009 saw the arrival of Adidas as Ukraine aimed to push towards a place at the 2010 World Cup. The debut edition of kits from Adidas were very much generic team wear templates but provided a pleasant change from the somewhat dated Lotto brand.
The home featured predominantly yellow, leaning towards a more golden hue compared to the bolder yellows of years gone by.
Similarly, the away kit was the same as the home, with the colours reversed. Ukraine kept it professional with this one, preferring not to mix and match with the shorts.
Having failed to qualify for yet another tournament, 2010 saw Ukraine given another teamwear template for their kits from Adidas. Not making major tournaments, seriously impacts the effort and time spent from designers in providing unique designs. This was combined with the fact that with Ukraine hosting the upcoming EUROs in 2012, they would also be playing friendlies for the next two years – and as such even more reason to not give effort to the cause…
The 2010-11 home was mainly yellow with some thin and subtle blue accents along with the traditional three stripes down the sleeves. This wire look gives slight comparisons to that of the 2006 friendly kit.
The away kit was just another inversion – a blue version of the home kit.
With EURO 2012 on the horizon, Adidas finally decided to invest some time into the design team for the kit that Ukraine would wear at the tournament they would be co-hosting. They sure did pull it out of the bag!
A large majority of fans view the 2012 Ukraine kits as their Magnus Opus. Everything seemed to work well together. From the inclusion of a turquoise/ sky blue into the kit’s accents to the subtle imprint of a Tryzub and some traditional Ukrainian patterns on the midriff. Even the name and number printing (used for all Adidas clients) complimented the look of the strip. This had been properly thought out and looked great on the pitch to match!
This kit kept Ukraine in good stead until 2014. Despite the fact that they ended up crashing out in the group stages at EURO 2012 and the the bitter disappointment at failing to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil at the hands of France.
The Away kit was equally as stunning – inverting the home colours but offering a less garish alternative to the bright yellow. Both strips were made widely available in adidas stores and sports shops across Ukraine and worldwide – many being inclined to buy due to the appeal of the design and the fact it was so easily able to find and purchase.
As Ukraine squeezed every last drop out of their EURO 2012 hosting kits, a new edition arrived in 2014 to see them through the Road to EURO 2016. It was a return to another rather basic teamwear offering from Adidas. The Ukraine badge was inverted as the collar returned and pinstripes were added to give Ukraine an if not slightly underwhelming but smart look. This strip saw Ukraine qualify for EURO 2016 beating Slovenia in a play off (the first time Ukraine had successfully got through via these means)
The away kit was identical to the home bar the colours were reversed. The badge was returned to its original state.
Having qualified for EURO 2016, you would have expected Adidas to put some thought into the strips that Ukraine would wear in France in front of a global audience. Unfortunately they didn’t and provided what many see as one of the worst, if not the worst, home and away combination in Ukraine’s history. The fact that their contract looked to be up with the FFU also likely played a role in yet another lazy teamwear offering.
Memes dubbed them as the ‘Market / Laundry bag’ kits, due to the subtle tartan like print on the body. The print being more reminiscent of the material that made the large zip up bags, people used to transfer clothing or other goods when travelling or down the market.
In retrospect, the design was ingenious as it perfectly reflected the performances of the side on the pitch – very poor!
Ukraine crashed out of the tournament at the group stages taking zero points and scoring zero goals.
Ukraine wore their away kit more fleetingly in 2016, as Adidas’ contract wound down. It was worn in a few friendlies and during the early stages of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
A first rebrand in 20 years arrived at the start of 2017.
Ukraine and the FFU were given a new badge and logo. The full Tryzub was now used and the ‘Pineapple’ was no more. The name ‘Ukraine’ was also used in English on its own, for the very first time.
Along with the new badge and branding – which focused heavily on an infusion between the Ukrainian Trident and Ukrainian embroidery – Ukraine got themselves a new kit supplier – Joma.
The Spanish sports brand provided a semi bespoke kit edition for its debut offering. They included the new branding to make it unique to Ukraine with a luminous yellow base colour.
The Away version was the blue alternative. However the number and name printing was gold.
Following another disappointing qualifying campaign, Ukraine set their sights on a new international competition – The UEFA Nations League.
Joma’s next offering was a lot more polished and looked to be far more complete in its design than their first renditions. The home kit had its luminosity reduced in favour of a more golden yellow, whilst the blue was also made darker. The embroidery remained on the sides, whilst they opted for a subtle embroidered imprint on the midriff.
This kit saw Ukraine top their Nations League Group in 2018 before going an entire calendar year unbeaten in 2019 as The Zbirna qualified for EURO 2020 by topping that group too!
Ukraine only wore their blue variation once in total, in a 3-0 away victory to Lithuania in September 2019.
Albeit, the U-20 side wore it on a number of occasions at the U20 World Cup in Poland, lifting the trophy having worn the kit in their World Cup Final 3-1 win over South Korea.
2019 also saw Ukraine use an official ‘THIRD’ kit for the first time in its history. The white and gold version of the 2018/19 Joma strip was used in one game only – a friendly against Nigeria in Dnipro.
With the EURO 2020 tournament postponed to 2021 – the expected kit for the campaign was anticipated to have been released in spring of 2020. However, due to the COVID pandemic it was not.
Instead Joma released a new home and away strip in time for the 2020 UEFA Nations League campaign in which Ukraine would debut in League A. The kit received a whole host of negative feedback – the majority of which noting the rather simplistic & lazy training gear template with some sublimated traditional Ukrainian patterns on the midriff. The home is predominantly yellow with blue accents.
The Away is very much the same as the Home but reversed; with the darker blue featuring most prominently with some yellow accents. This too includes the sublimated pattern across the middle of the jersey.
These particular strips will not go down as the most iconic in terms of their design – however they may be remembered more favourably should the performances in them be noteworthy.
WHAT KITS AWAIT UKRAINE NEXT?
With the 2020 kits lacking imagination in their creativity and uniqueness, it is anticipated that Joma or another brand will release more memorable editions ahead of EURO 2020 / 21 – with the UAF being clear in their press release that the latest kit will be worn in the Nations League and not including any reference to next year’s tournament.