Great one-offs – England sky-blue third kit special

Having briefly toyed with a sky-blue change shirt at the 1970 World Cup, England reverted to red alternatives, barring three games in yellow in the middle of the decade.

However, for the 1986 World Cup, again in Mexico, sky blue was again recalled and was in fact the second-choice kit, though not worn. When another new kit was launched before Euro 88, there was again a blue option, but it didn’t see game-time either – at least not for the senior team, as we shall see.

The blue kit released ahead of the 1990 World Cup reached a wider audience as Bernard Sumner of New Order wore it for the World In Motion video and promotional shots, and it would be called into action in May 1991 for the trip to face Turkey in the 1992 European Championship qualifiers.

Perhaps the inspiration for a blue alternative came after England wore white away to Turkey’s halved shirts in the 1986 World Cup qualifiers. In the return game, England had worn a rare red and navy combination with Turkey in white.

However, both games between the countries in the Euro 88 qualifiers had seen England in white shirts against Turkey’s red (Turkey in red shorts at Wembley). Turkey would wear a similar outfit in 199, but this time England’s blue was worn.

The three England kits brought out in 1990 shared the same basic design, although each with a different fabric pattern and the blue third had the same as that used by Cameroon at Wembley in February 1991.


Dennis Wise scored the only goal on his debut – he wouldn’t score another for England and neither would the kit be worn again.

As we said above, the senior team never wore the 1988 blue shirt. However, the day before the game just mentioned, it was used by the England U21 side.

Back then, the senior and U21 qualifying campaigns were paired, with the younger sides in action the day prior to senior clashes and a 2-2 draw saw the kit donned, nearly a year after it had officially been retired.

According to Simon Shakeshaft, who knows these things, the U21s weren’t allowed to wear the newer shirt before the senior side.


When Turkey came to Wembley in October 1991, they wore a similar kit to what they had used in Izmir, but England were in their usual white again.

The England home and away kits weren’t changed for Euro 92, but the third was updated, to include three lions. It would have two outings, against Czechoslovkia in the build-up to the tournament and then again against Spain in September of that year.


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