97. Hummel Sirius (2016-18)
It seems almost a crime to think that some football shirt templates weren't seen more often than they actually were. A case in point is this Hummel design which, in true Hummel fashion, is greater than the sum of its parts. If Hummel had the higher international profile of an Adidas or a Nike, this may have been a modern-day kit wonder. As it is, it'll have to settle for the label of 'forgotten fancy.'
Somewhat frustratingly for us dreamers, it was a shame that Denmark's switch back from Adidas to Hummel in 2016 didn't coincide with the launch of the latter's new Sirius template. Having failed to qualify for Euro 2016, Denmark would have been cheered up no end with a kit based on this design, but instead they got something more traditional. It surely would have been an ideal fit for De Rød-Hvide, but instead the honour of wearing the Hummel Sirius template went to their friends across the Baltic Sea, Lithuania.
From left: Bohemian (2016 away), Bohemian (2018 away), Lithuania (2016-18 home), Lithuania (2018 away).
The Lithuanians wore their new shirt for the first time in a World Cup 2018 qualifier against Slovenia in September 2016. Featuring much more black in the colour palette than ever before, it gave Lithuania the look of a team wearing American football-style shoulder pads for added protection. Even the sides of the shirt had black strips, providing a bold background on which to show off a run of white Hummel chevrons. It was a modern, no-nonsense design and one that looked just as good as a red away kit when worn during the 2018 Baltic Cup.
Around the same time, League of Ireland team Bohemian FC were onto their second away kit based on the same Sirius template. The first, worn in 2016, used a fetching two-tone combination of petrol and mint green, recolouring the black panels of the Lithuanian shirts. Two years later, the same design reappeared in white with black detailing which proved to be just as capable a contrast to The Bohs' red and black striped home shirts as the green version that preceded it.
The strength of this template undoubtedly lies in the counter-balancing of its boldest feature - the shoulder, arm and side panels - with its subtlest - a kaleidoscopic pattern of geometric shapes woven into the fabric. Bringing everything together perfectly is the lovely neckline rendered in a double stripe that brings back memories Le Coq Sportif's efforts in the early 1970's.
The overall look is one that may seem familiar to Aston Villa fans as their team wore something similar during the 2006-07 Premier League season, but it wasn't quite the same. It needed the extra visual trigger of those contrasting panels, and one can only assume it took Hummel ten years or so to reach that conclusion. If so, it was certainly worth the wait for this is a fine example of the sort of cohesive design that Hummel often provide to the complete delight of all their fans around the world.