World Cup Classics – Italy, 1938

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Italy went into the 1938 World Cup in France as the holders, and would go on to become the first country to retain the title.

Having beaten Norway after extra time in their first-round game (the competition was straight knockout), they advanced to meet the hosts in the quarter-finals at Stade Olympique de Colombes in Paris.

Obviously, due to both countries having blue as a first-choice colour, a draw had to take place to see who would change, with Italy drawing the short straw.

Conventional wisdom has it that Benito Mussolini ordered that an all-black kit be worn, for the first and only time. While it’s not hard to imagine the influence of il duce in the switch away from white second shirts, black had been used against the French in 1935 and also in Italy’s successful 1936 Olympic campaign in Berlin.


The black would prove to be a lucky charm, with Italy winning 3-1 before beating Brazil in the semi-final and then Hungary in the decider.

The late 30s were of course also notable for the outbreak of the second World War and, unsurprisingly, the black shirts fell out of fashion after the fall of fascism, with white restored as the back-up option.

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