Admiral has been known as a classic soccer brand for over 100 years, but it is innovation and growth that have caused others to take notice in recent years.

The brand has become a major player in the North American market in a relatively short period of time thanks to the expertise and leadership of Admiral Sports co-owners Dale Self and Paul Hamburger.

Self comes from Southern roots, being a South Carolina native who played collegiate soccer at Erskine and who eventually as a p r o f e s sional in the UK. The duo own the Admiral brand in 51 countries across the Americas and the Caribbean, licensing Admiral to trading companies in the U.S. and Canada.

Admiral was started a century ago in England by Christopher Cook and Harold Hurst, partners in a hosiery manufacturing company. Initially the company produced underwear and uniforms for the British Royal Navy.

England's World Cup championship in 1966 offered an opportunity to expand to sportswear and in due time some of the top professional clubs, including Leeds United, Manchester United, Tottenham, and West Ham were wearing Admiral.

In 1974, following signing a five-year deal with the English FA, Admiral began producing the first commercially available England shirt. It was the first time the Admiral logo appeared on a soccer jersey along with England's Three Lions badge.

In the U.S. most of the original NASL wore Admiral, including the New York Cosmos, Seattle Sounders and Tampa Bay Rowdies. Legends of the game such as Pele, George Best, Bobby Moore, and Franz Beekenbauer all wore Admiral.

In 2014 over 60 clubs across the North American Soccer League (NASL), United Soccer Leagues (USL PRO), Premier Development League (PDL), National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), Women's Professional Soccer League (WPSL), and Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) were wearing the Admiral brand. Admiral has been particularly influential in the NPSL, supplying more teams than the league's actual sponsor.

Three of the four semi-finalists in the 2014 PDL postseason were wearing Admiral including the eventual champions, the Michigan Bucks. Admiral also supplied the 20 1 3 PDL Champion Austin Aztex, which have since taken the brand to USL PRO along with OKC Energy, Tulsa Roughnecks and Rochester Rhinos.

Admiral's reputation as a "Brand of Champions" first started thanks to their relationships with both the 2012 NASL Champion Tampa Bay Rowdies.

The brand has been the choice of further NASL sides, including Minnesota United and the Ottawa Fury.

Unlike most companies that manufacture soccer team sportswear, Admiral Sports made the decision to sell directly to teams and clubs. This direct approach has resulted in a host of grassroots partnerships, and has provided for teams and clubs to benefit from special discounts and fundraising opportunities. And this means dealing directly with the owners, who are available and accountable.

Kevin Keegan, Wearing Admiral"The decision to go direct was born out of necessity as traditional soccer sellers were so entwined with Adidas and Nike that there simply wasn't any room for anyone else in their minds," said Self.

"So we essentially began to build the brand ourselves directly with the end user in mind. While born out of necessity, it was the right decision."

Their factory-direct model provides opportunities for consumers that no other brand offers.

Admiral takes pride in its ability to share a truly custom kit with its partner clubs. Teams no longer have to choose from a standard kit, one that may be difficult to replace, may be discontinued, or may look simply ordinary.

This unique model also offers teams and organizations an online store, eliminating the hassle of kit distribution and still giving parents and players a better deal than other major brands. The online store is simple and easy to use, while Admiral's intuitive kit builder ensures that clubs get the kit design they actually want.

The online stores also allow the clubs to make money from the purchases, giving them additional resources to invest in coaching, training, and facilities.

This is something that players will directly benefit from as profits go back into the club, not to the kit supplier.

There is no question that Admiral's strategy is working. The company is becoming known for their growth and innovation, something you can see in every aspect of the organization. It all starts at the production level in the brand's dedicated facility.

The factory, which Admiral directly owns and operates, has grown from 30,000 to over 130,000 square feet. A staff of 30 just three years ago has become 200 employees, including 150 machinists.

Through the process of investments in infrastructure, Admiral has become an innovator in the field of sublimation.

Admiral has gone from a mere three industrial sublimation printers to a world-class collection of 19.

The growth Admiral is expecting among amateur and professional clubs is truly impressive. Admiral is now one of the largest suppliers in the North American soccer market, supplying kits to youth soccer associations and clubs across the country.

Many large youth programs, like New York West Youth Soccer, Alliance SC, Nashua World Cup Soccer, and Clarence Soccer Club have already chosen Admiral to be their "brand of champions."

Adding to this enormous growth are entire leagues making the switch to the iconic brand, including the Texas Premier Soccer League (TPSL) and the American Soccer League (ASL).

This brings about a simple question from Self:

"If you were offered a custom uniform delivered directly to your player at a lower cost without having to order anything yourself as well as receiving money back on every product ordered, wouldn't you make the move to Admiral?"