I’ll be honest, I had to look up exactly how far Mexico went in the 1998 World Cup.
I’m sure, like many around my age, the memory which came instantly to mind on recalling their performance was the Cuauhtemiña trick, brought to a wider audience by winger Cuauhtémoc Blanco – where two defenders could be evaded by trapping the ball between his ankles and jumping through the gap.
Of course, adding to the memorability was the kit, produced by ABA Sport, which featured a version of the Aztec Calendar across the shirt. It was certainly love-or-hate, but the passage of time has definitely helped it gain a cult status.
Mexico wore their home kit in their opener, a 3-1 win over South Korea, and their exit, the 2-1 last-16 loss to Germany. Just in case the pattern didn’t give away which team was wearing the shirt, as well as the crest the Mexicans had their flag on the right shoulder and the country name just above the number.
The swirling shorts stripes were quite nice, but the flag and ‘Mexico’ added to the busy-ness. We generally like horizontal stripes on socks but the mass of white lines at the bottom seemed out of place.
The away strip followed the same style, though with red as the secondary colour and green almost absent from the shirt. The only time it was worn in its intended format – with green shorts – was by goalkeeper Jorge Campos in the South Korea game, though.
Despite red shirts v green shirts being allowed in that match, Mexico changed against Belgium and the Netherlands. There was a sock-clash to sort against Belgium, but green-white-white would have sufficed. Against the Dutch, both sides were in white shorts (that happened as well when the Netherlands played South Korea, who wore blue-white-blue).
Making something of a mockery of the fact that Mexico wore white in their latter two group games was that fact that Campos wore the home shirt. While he was provided with two bespoke kits, blue and yellow, the netminder – who had provided a sensory overload at USA 94 and sometimes moonlit as a striker – opted to pair the shorts from those outfits with the green top – yellow against Belgium and blue against Holland – and white away socks.
Mexico came from 2-0 down to draw with the Netherlands, Luis Hernández scoring an injury-time equaliser which meant they finished level on points though they had a worse goal difference.
As a result, Germany were the second-round opponents and, with Campos unable to wear the away shirt, one of the ‘proper’ goalkeeper tops – a badge-engineered Nike offering – finally saw some action.