Ireland’s quick kit change before playing Italy at USA 94

The Republic of Ireland have competed in three World Cups, the 1990, 1994 and 2002 tournaments and there is a funny kit-quirk – they’ve never lost in green shirts and never won in white shirts.

At the 1994 competition in the USA, Ireland ended up wearing their white adidas away kit in three of their four games, but they were ready to wear it before the other one too, their opener against Italy.

Due to a mix-up, the FAI expected that they would have to change, as they had done against Italy at the 1990 World Cup, but in fact the opposite was the case. In his diary-style book released that autumn, Ireland captain Andy Townsend painted a picture of the scene immediately prior to the game:

15.45: ‘Fifteen minutes to kick-off,’ reminds the talking clock. It’s time for the final act and I remove the t-shirt I’ve worn to stretch and warm up. Boots polished, socks and shorts and shin-guards in place, I slip my jersey over my shoulders and Mick hands me the arm band. An official pops his head around the door: ‘Okay gentlemen, we’re ready.’ And with this a huge roar goes up, ‘Come onnn,’ as we circle the dressing-room, slapping each other down the shoulder, wishing each other the best and shaking hands. I make for the door at the head of the string. Jack, who hasn’t really said that much, is waiting with a final word.

‘Good luck, Andy, Good luck, son. All the best.’

‘Cheers, Jack.’

We’re ready now. I turn with a final chant, ‘Let’s go for it lads,’ and step out. A FIFA official, waiting outside in the corridor, approaches to guide us towards the tunnel, but as soon as he sees our strip, a look of horror comes over his face. ‘You can’t walk out there dressed in white [socks], green [shorts] and white [shirts] – Italy have just gone out wearing white, blue and white. You’ll have to change.’

At first I think he’s joking. ‘Can we not just change the shirts,’ I ask, ‘and wear white [socks]-green-green?’

‘No, the socks…everything must be changed.’

It would be another ten years – the 2004 game away to France – before Ireland would actually wear the combination Townsend suggested, green shirts and shorts with white socks, a green version of Chelsea.

16.00: Pandemonium in the dressing-room. After one and a half hours of twiddling our thumbs, we’ve got one and a half minutes to strip and change our kit. Charlie, our kit man, literally dives into the skip, emptying it furiously – shirts, shorts and socks flying around the room.

‘Twenty-one? Who’s twenty-one?’

‘Yeah, over here.’


‘Who’s got my shorts, anyone seen an eight?’

‘Mine’s a seven, Charlie.’

The scene of manic chaos is just too much for Jack. Turning his rage on Charlie, he completely blows a fuse: ‘What the fucking hell is going on? What are we doing in the wrong kit?’ Not that it’s poor Charlie’s fault (I fear he might suffer a heart attack) – he never gets his kit wrong.”

Ray Houghton’s early goal gave Ireland their first win in a World Cup game and, with white shirts used against Mexico, Norway and the Netherlands, this would prove to be the final outing for the short-lived shirt, as Umbro took over the Ireland contract that autumn.

They would remain until 2017, when New Balance became the new suppliers.

3 comments on “Ireland’s quick kit change before playing Italy at USA 94

  1. Andy Rockall

    Though I don’t doubt this happened, I’ve heard it before from another source, why did they bring both kits? I’ve seen the prep it takes, packing the kit into the skip, laying it out in the changing room, Why oh why was everything there at the stadium?

  2. Don

    no explanation in the article why this happened, would have thought stuff like that would be set out beforehand in a very clear fashion for everyone, very strange mixup that both teams ended up in their away kit, In Rome 1990 Ireland wore white v Italy so would have expected Italy to change or maybe a toss.

  3. denishurley Post author

    Hi Don, apologies, an earlier edit of the article had removed some details. I’m not sure who at the FAI got mixed up, it’s a good thing they brought both kits with them.


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