Top fashion designer Sir Paul Smith talks exclusively to World Football's Mike Geddes about how soccer became cool, and which kits from the World Cup 2002 collection could make it on to the catwalk... Let's face it - footballers are cool.

Men like David Beckham lead the way both on and off the pitch - he was voted 'most fashionable male' by GQ magazine once.

But anyone who lived through the vast lapels and skimpy shorts of the 70s and 80s will tell you it wasn't always like this.

Fashion designer Sir Paul Smith has spent years kitting out the top names in the game, and he told me where it all started.

"I know George Best very well" he said, "and one of my first jobs as a young designer was designing George Best Kidswear in the 70s.

"He was the first real superstar footballer, and he was personally very fashionable. He had two clothes shops in Manchester which I sorted out for him.

"Fashion was always there with footballers as long ago as the early 70s, but it's only really in the last ten years that it has become really noticeable.

"For the 2002 World Cup we've made all the accessories for the England team, like the suitcases, wallets and cufflinks.

"We've been asked a lot in the past to design kits, but I've always declined, because you're restricted by so many factors, usually the sponsors".

We asked Paul to cast his expert eye over some of the kits that were on display in Japan and South Korea...

Croatia WC 2002 home shirt nike

"The Croatian kit would be quite good if you got bored and wanted to play chess... I'm not so sure about that one!" he said.

Cameroon WC 2002 Home shirt puma

"The Cameroon one is sleeveless! Is that for real? It's hideous! Really hideous... but it would look quite good if you have nice shoulders.

"I quite like the badge, but don't call us - we'll call you!

France WC 2002 home shirt adidas

"The French shirt is nice - a simple, classic blue, and I like the red and white shoulders - that's a nice idea.

Nigeria WC 2002 home shirt Nike

"Nigeria - well, the ref won't miss them on the field, because it's the most bright, lime green, almost fluorescent, with white. It wouldn't look good on a Brit with very pale skin.

England WC 2002 away shirt Umbro

"England - this is the reversible red and blue one. It's a lot heavier than the others so I hope they don't get to hot. "It's a nice shirt. Very simple red with the three lions. I think this would be my favourite.

"Until we get to this one! The Italian shirt is great! I think this one comes with a free comb and a mirror.

Italy WC 2002 home shirt kappa

"Lovely plain, simple blue, with three stars one one sleeve and the green, red and white badge of Italia on the chest.

"So, my favourites are the Italian first, then England, France third, the Cameroon one I don't think I can talk about any more, then the lime-green one from Nigeria, and then the Croatian chess-players one - good for chess, but I'm not so sure about football!".


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