By Sean Carroll
As well as being the best football league in Asia, the J.League has also carved out a strong reputation on account of the fashionable shirts worn by its players.
Some colourful, daring and, on occasion, outrageous designs have been sported by clubs over the years, and several Australians have had the pleasure of donning some of these fancy threads. Who do you think wore their colours best?
1) Lucas Neill - Omiya Ardija
Neill enjoyed a stellar career playing for the likes of Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United in the English Premier League and Turkish giant Galatasaray.
In 2013 he signed a short-term contract with J1 side Omiya Ardija, one of several clubs in the J.League whose first colour is orange.
Neill undoubtedly suited the bold and bright shade of Omiya’s home jersey that year, and its snug fit coupled with the former Australia captain’s impressive physique also ensured he was an even more intimidating opponent for J.League forwards!
2) Mark Milligan - JEF United Ichihara Chiba
JEF United are another J.League club that enjoy kitting themselves out in bright and beautiful threads, and over the years their yellow uniforms have contributed some absolute classics to the J.League oeuvre.
Mark Milligan was fortunate to wear a few of them in his time at Fukuda Denshi Arena between 2010 and 2012, often giving pitch-side fans a close-up view as he wound up one of his trademark long throws.
This particular exhibit ticks so many boxes, with the sleeve detail instantly marking it out as a JEF shirt and the green and red action flashes across the front adding just enough of a flourish to grab your attention.
3) Mitchell Duke - Shimizu S-Pulse
Another grandee of the J.League uniform world, Shimizu S-Pulse have a history of producing eye-catching and unique designs.
The Shizuoka side are never afraid to shake things up a little in the shirt department, and the same is true for Mitchell Duke’s approach to the game once he crosses the white line - which made them a perfect fit between 2015 and 2018.
2017 was an especially vintage year, and Duke and his teammates were able to strut their stuff in style thanks to the team’s edgy home (orange and yellow) and away (white and grey) stylings.
4) Milos Degenek - Yokohama F.Marinos
Yokohama F.Marinos are proud of their tricolore image, and regularly hit it out of the park with their contemporary offerings in blue, white, and red.
Socceroos centre-back Milos Degenek certainly won’t have had any complaints with the jerseys he was handed while at the club in 2017 and 2018, with this camouflage number surely a firm favourite.
Voguish without straying too far from Marinos’ traditional image, the subtle red trim on the collar and sleeves adds the perfect finishing touch to an incredibly sleek shirt.
5) Graham Arnold - Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Not many teams have the courage to go for shirts, shorts, and socks all in the same colour, but when they do the results can be exquisite.
Just take this beauty from Sanfrecce Hiroshima, for instance, wonderfully modelled by their former No.9 and current Socceroos manager Graham Arnold.
The gingham detail on the shirt would have been enough to set this classic apart on its own, but Sanfrecce decided to turn things up to 11 with an elegant double-trimmed collar as well - and just look at the speckled drawstring for the shorts, too! Positively regal.
[Photos: © J.LEAGUE - All Rights Reserved]