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Italia 90’s Iconic Kits

Anyone who’s already listened to a even smidge of the podcast so far, will know how much kits play a big part of my memories of the era. Hell, they play a big part of my life in 2015 too, especially when the summer is full of shiny new releases. But the 1990s kits were special, both in their designs and uniqueness that somehow seems them locked into that decade, and none more so than two of the kits on show at Italia 90.

Every generation has ‘their’ England kit; for the 60s it was the 66′ winning away shirt, the 80s are synonymous with the 1982 Admiral and in the 90s it’s always been about the Italia 90 home shirt. As far as retro shirts I don’t think there’s a more popular one than this Umbro effort launched for the World Cup in Italy. Whether it be in reproduced templates from Umbro or real replica’s of their time from the excellent Classic Football Shirts. Just scan a crowd scene at Wembley or in a pub during a live game and I guarantee you someone will be sporting a version of this shirt – usually with the number 19 on the back.

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Why is it so popular though? Well, firstly it’s nostalgic value is down to a glorious tournament for England and the man who donned the number so frequently worn on the back, Paul Gascoigne. As we discussed on this week’s podcast – an Italia 90 special – that World Cup was a renaissance for English football, led by the young Geordie and away from the dark days of the late eighties. Fans fell in love with football again that summer, buoyed by England team who came within a whisker of making it the World Cup Final. That shirt represents the feeling we had that summer, and a team that was full of bonified England legends like Peter Shilton, Gary Lineker and Stuart Pearce.

We as England fans like to celebrate that tournament, and feel the belonging we felt that summer. Of course it helps that the design of the shirt was also one of the very best Umbro offered during their long reign as the Three Lions kit supplier. It had the classic combination of being smart and simple, but with enough clever design touches that made it standout from the rest. The Umbro diamonds round the cuffs of the shirts were typical of that time, but made their debut on this shirt, while the smart polo collar meant it gave the shirt a smart enough reason to wear down the pub as well as the stadium – even now twenty-five years later. Like many Umbro shirts of that time, it had that shiny glow to the shirt, and the diamond pattern embossed into the fabric to really ‘bring it to life’. While the shorts had those 90s colour blocks that were repeated throughout the excellent looking training range.

In short, the kit was and still is one of the greatest England football shirts ever, and is rightly given iconic status in today’s football world….but it wasn’t alone in greatness at Italia 90.

Step forward England’s conquers that night in Turin, and both their home and away shirts of that tournament made by adidas. In a recent countdown on The Football Attic’s 50 Greatest Football Shirts Ever, Germany’s home kit first launched in 1988 and worn at the 1990 World Cup, came in top of the pile.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 11.50.24 Whether you agree or not that it’s the greatest ever (for the record, we would plump for USA’s 1994 away kit), theres no doubting it’s atheistic beauty. A simpler rounded collar than England’s street-like style, with the more subtle three adidas stripes, the ‘piece de resistance’ of this shirt was the motif across the chest depicting the German flag with an abstract 90s twist. This shirt was complemented with a memorable mint green change kit, often overlooked due to his connection to the semi-final, but equally as pleasing on the eye.

Elsewhere during that memorable summer there were standout kits for Cameroon and the giant Lion over their heart, Austria’s Puma home shirt and the Scotland yellow and navy striped number. However it’s the kits of the two teams that met in that dramatic semi-final that remain some of the most iconic football strips ever produced.

 

You can buy genuine replica’s of both these shirts at Classic Football Shirts, who we proudly have as sponsor of Alive and Kicking.

Make sure you listen to this weeks Italia 90 themed pod, as Ash Rose is joined by journalist Ben Lyttleton, Seb White of Mundial Magazine and Paddy O’Sullivan. There’s also an interview with Ireland hero, and scorer of their first ever World Cup goal Kevin Sheedy.

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United all kitted out in the 90s

It’s fair to say that Manchester United dominated most of the 90s, what with their five title wins, three FA Cups and ‘that night in Barcelona’. However, another genre of the decade they dominated was the very attire they adorned on match day throughout the 90s – their classic and somewhat infamous kits by adidas and umbro. So on the eve of United’s reunion with the German brand for the first time since the early days of the decade we celebrate, I’ve picked out some of most memorable Red Devils kits from what was a truly high (or low, depending how on you view it) point for kit design – especially at Old Trafford.

 

Adidas away kit 1991/92

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Easily my favourite of the decade – and one featured in my book, available here – this purple/blue toned adidas number was made up of load of jagged shapes that looked like the top half of a maple leaf. This unique design was repeated in some of the training range, and is rumoured addias have bought it back for United’s third kit this forthcoming campaign.

 

Umbro third kit 1992/93

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The gold and green halves paid homage to Newton Heath the club Manchester United emerged from in the early 1900s, and it was a splendid colour combination. Topped off with the laced collar that was the pinnacle of kit design at the time.

 

Umbro away kit 1992/93

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Another highlight from United’s first Premier League title win was this all-blue number, worn on their travels. The shade of blue is very 70s United, but it was combined with a scratch like doodle effect that included the Red Devils crest. Imaginative design we fail to see in kits nowadays.

Umbro away kit 1993/94

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Pre 1990s, football teams didn’t wear black kits, it just wasn’t the correct thing to do seeing as it clashed with the referees attire. However, the refs move to a fancy aqua-green shirt meant all-black strips made a real impact in the 90s – and United were the first. Topped off with a yellow trim, and Cantona ready collar this was the definitive little black number of football.

Umbro away kit 1995/96

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The reason we rarely see grey football kits these days is this effort, which was made famous by United’s capitulation at the Dell in 1996. It was the fourth defeat for the Red Devils whilst wearing this kit, so Alex Ferguson demanded they changed at half-time whilst 3-0 down to Southampton. Apparently claiming his players couldn’t pick each other out against the crowd. Shame, I quite liked the design.

Special mention must go to the goalkeepers kits too, as modelled by Peter Schmeichel in the article’s header. 90s keepers kits were the craziest by far, and big Pete had to put up with more ludrious designs than most.

Make sure you listen to our August 17 pod, where we’ll be doing a special on all the classic kits of the 1990s, and will be joined by kit expert John Devlin of True Colours.