Fantasy Kit Friday – Liverpool’s ‘lost years’ with adidas, 1996-2006
- Simon Treanor – the man behind the excellent download that lets you play Championship Manager 01-02 starting in the 1989-90 season – came to us with a great idea, namely to wonder what Liverpool might have worn if they hadn’t switched to Reebok from adidas in 1996.
Liverpool FC – the adidas wilderness years
By Simon Treanor
A rite of passage for football fans is having your heart broken, and as a Liverpool fan I’ve felt that particular pain twice: in 1996 and 2012. No, I’m not talking about FA Cup finals, but about the ends of the club’s two deals with adidas: my love of adidas and LFC are so wrapped up in each other that I can’t decide what came first, but I know this – a Liverpool kit without the three stripes just feels wrong, and always will.
To try to soothe this pain, I’ve imagined what Liverpool’s kits would have looked like in the ‘wilderness years’, if the partnership had stayed strong. To keep this out of the realms of total fantasy, I set myself a few rules:
- All kits have to be based on genuine adidas designs of the era
- Kits should change at the exact same time they did in reality
- Away kit colours should match the real kits of the season
Part 1 (1996-2006)
It’s arguable that, if Liverpool hadn’t changed kit providers in 1996, then only one kit would have changed. Rules are rules, though, so we’re changing both. For the home kit I’m going for an all red version of Germany’s Euro 96 retro design.
As much as it pains me to say this, 1996 was not a golden era for adidas – the brand was caught between the brash ‘Equipment’ designs of the early 90s, and a return to the more classic designs we’re used to now, and produced some fairly unremarkable templates. Liverpool’s use of ecru this season doesn’t help either. The natural choice seems to be the stripes over-the-shoulder design worn by (among others) Romania at Euro 96.
Liverpool’s away kit changed to the more traditional yellow and red this season. For this I’ve used the stripes down the side design used by Schalke in the 1997 UEFA Cup final.
Liverpool’s adidas kits of the 90s often carried a lot of white, so it seems fitting to go with a version of France’s World Cup-winning kit.
Germany’s home kit in 1998 is underrated, partly due to the team’s poor performance, so I’m resurrecting this in Liverpool’s traditional away colors.
I always loved Bayern’s 1999-2000 kit, and Liverpool’s return to green for an away kit fits this perfectly.
adidas’s kits in 2000 suffered from overly blocky designs, but I liked France’s Euro 2000 shirt even better than the 1998 one, so we’ll copy France for a second consecutive home kit.
Back to yellow, this time a golder shade with blue – the obvious choice is to follow Sweden’s kit at Euro 2000
Liverpool’s away kit reverted to white, this time with dark blue as the secondary colour. For this, we’re basing it on Real Madrid’s kit of the season.
Adidas’s climalite design was unavoidable in 2002, and the obvious choice is Bayern’s Champions League kit from this season
Adidas didn’t offer much variation even in their away kits this season – once exception is Newcastle’s with the central band, which fits Liverpool’s black and grey.
Back to white and black for this season’s away kit. For a template I’m using Leverkusen’s home shirt of the era, with the horizontal stripe across the chest.
Adidas went back to basics in 2004, albeit with a fairly baggy design. We’ll go with a version of Real Madrid’s straightforward home kit of the era.
Back to yellow and black, we’ll base this on adidas’s most common templates of the year, as worn by Greece in 2004.
Liverpool’s last new kit of this era was a return to white-black-red as an away kit. It makes sense then to use an ironic colour scheme: an imitation of the white kits Milan wear in European finals.
Part 2, 2012 to present, to follow…
2 thoughts on “Fantasy Kit Friday – Liverpool’s ‘lost years’ with adidas, 1996-2006”
Brilliant article, and well worth the wait. As a fellow unashamed Adidas fanboy and Red, I’ve also wondered what might have been at times. Some inspired choices, some pretty forgettable shirts… a little like the actual Adidas years, then!
If Liverpool stayed with Adidas after the 1995-96 season then surely both kits would have been retained for the following season?