We round off* with the final two groups (man, it’s a shame USA ’94 was only a twenty-four team tournament – imagine how many more great kits we’d have had if there had been thirty-two? Well, eight more, presumably, but still). Unsurprisingly, those groups are the groups called Groups E and F.
From a distance, the Umbro-designed home kit looks very like the one the same company made for Bolivia. But there’s a bit more detail to it closer in (while not being as utterly batshit mental as their peerless 1998 shirt
). As for the away kit, let’s just say it’s best for everyone concerned that it’s hard to find a picture where it’s not obscured by another player in some way. It’s ghastly, and not in that good, “bad 90s kit” kind of way. It’s just bad
Republic of Ireland
Neither of Ireland’s kits were based on templates, despite being made by Adidas. The home was fairly classy – and actually looks somewhat like an Umbro shirt – but was only worn for the first game, that
1-0 over Italy. For the rest of the tournament they wore an away kit that, as a result, has become hugely iconic. It’s a pretty great design even without that, though, taking the “three stripes” idea in an unusual direction.
Hugely classy kits from Diadora, who even went so far as to keep their name and logo off the shirts. The shade of blue is perfect, the Italian flag detail on the collar and cuffs not overdone, and even the shadow badge pattern doesn’t look too bad. This is far more a World Cup-winning kit than the one they would actually next win it in
Norway’s two kits are based on Adidas templates worn by other teams – but unusually, both shirts also feature the classic three stripes down the arms, where all the other shirts using the same templates don’t. As a result, the home shirt – while a lovely colour combination – is unnecessarily busy. The away, though, is arguably the best iteration of the “diamond” type.
I’m not always keen on Dutch kits that include the flag colours along with the orange and white – they can often get a bit clashy. This one just about works, however – and once again, the distinctly ’90s style “let’s put the badge on there in a repeating pattern” is good, too. Lotto also manage to pull off the difficult away combo of white shirts and orange shorts, making for a decent pair of kits in all.
Although the Saudis had a green home kit, they stuck to the white away for all four matches of their landmark campaign – although it rotated between green and white shorts as necessary. It’s a smart enough kit, although I still haven’t been able to figure out the name of the manufacturer (presumably a local company?) from any photos I’ve seen.
Unlike with Italy, Diadora were happy to put their name on the Belgian shirts. And why wouldn’t you? They’re pretty great – the away is a bit straightforward, but the home looks terrific. A great shade of red, and the black and yellow are sensibly kept to a minimum, balanced by white stripes down the arms. As on the Italian kit, I really like the italic-style numbers, too.
The hardest team to find decent pictures of, which is probably for the best, all things considered. Both the shirt pattern and the massive badge have the effect of melting horribly down the front of the shirts, and they’re unrecognisable as being from the same company who had also produced classy and smart Swiss and Dutch kits.
Click here to go back to part two.
* We say “round off”, but in a couple of weeks’ time I might yet do a fourth post looking at assorted goalkeeper kits. In the meantime, Branch of Science is taking a week’s break. See you on the 16th!