Incredibly, adidas produced nine different designs for the countries it supplied at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, so we have split the offerings into two different posts, with four here (covering seven countries) and the others to follow.
Italia 90 was the first time the Republic of Ireland reached the World Cup finals and it was a famous summer for the country – in years to come, social commentators would draw a link between Jack Charlton’s side reached the quarter-finals and a subsequent improvement in the economy. This gives some indication of how the whole thing captured the national imagination:
Ireland reached the last eight by beating Romania in a penalty shootout, with Packie Bonner’s save from Daniel Timofte allowing David O’Leary to score the winner.
Bonner was clad in an unfamiliar grey that day as his normal shirt – a plain yellow, similar to his one at Euro 88 but featuring the same fabric pattern as the outfield shirt – clashed with the Romanians. The grey differed in that there was no pattern and the three stripes only went from shoulder to cuff. The slightly mismatching socks meant that each element of the kits had three stripes in differing colours.
A nice design which was common at this World Cup saw use by five different nations, in six different colourways. The lower part of the body and sleeves featured contrasting panels, with a third colour then used for the collar and cuffs. Belgium goalkeeper Michel Preud’homme wore two versions, with unique padded shorts:
The only colour-scheme which was repeated was used by Sweden’s Thomas Ravelli and Thomas N’Kono of Cameroon, who was also seen in blue and grey. Like Preud’homme’s, Ravelli’s shirt had an extra adidas trefoil.
The remaining two examples worn in Italy (we specify ‘worn’ as there was a black and yellow Yugoslavia shirt but their goalkeeper Tomislav Ivković preferred to play in Uhlsport shirts with the adidas logo affixed) were by players who didn’t start the competition as first-choice.
While Rinat Dasayev of the USSR wore one of the styles featured in Part 6, when he was dropped, his replacement Aleksandr Uvarov opted for a black and grey edition of this design.
Nery Pumpido, a veteran of Argentina’s 1986 win, had worn a unique style in the opening loss to Cameroon and then broke his leg in their game against the Soviet Union. His purple and shirt had a crest but oddly substitute Sergio Goycochea’s didn’t.
Come the knockout stages – all the way through the final, encompassing penalty-shootout heroics against Italy in the semis – Goycochea would have a new look, not unlike a computer game (he wore the same socks as his team-mates, so the blue were used in the final against West Germany).
Also with a look sported by nobody else was the Netherlands’ Hans van Breukelen, whose shirts featured a kind of checkered look and an anachronistic large flappy collar, while the white shorts and socks set him apart from practically everyone else.
Though the clear part in the middle might point towards consideration for a sponsor’s logo if used by a club team, we have no evidence of the design being worn by anyone else.