Internazionale’s relationship with Nike has now stretched to 21 years and the American firm have not been afraid to rock the boat, such as the current season’s offering.
When the nerazzurri switched from Umbro in 1998, there must have been some trepidation as to what lay in store, given that this was Nike’s first big Italian contract and they had announced themselves with a splash in France (with PSG) and Germany (Borussia Dortmund) as well as messing about with Arsenal’s sleeves.
However, they played a straight bat and the results were marvellous.
Nike were enjoying a golden period of design in 1998, with Italy’s kits among a number of solid offerings at the World Cup in France, while their club stable also benefited.
Barring the black side panels which intruded ever so slightly, the home shirt was as traditional as stripes could get, with just a hint of blue trim on the shorts and socks.
The change kit remains one of our favourite Inter strips.
Umbro’s last white kit was a beauty but Nike’s first one more than matched up, with blue and black horizontal stripes housing the Pirelli logo.
If we were being really picky, we’d quibble with the Nike swoosh being yellow on the shirt and white on the shorts, but would struggle to find anything else to criticise.
In winning the 1997-98 Uefa Cup final against Lazio, Inter had worn a black and grey hooped third shirt which, realistically, didn’t actually offer much of a clash-solution but was visually attractive and it was a similar case with the 1998-99 third. Using a duller blue than on the home kit, horizonal stripes were again a feature but in a different format.
Unsurprisingly, this shirt wasn’t used much. Away to the black-and-white-striped Juventus and Udinese, Inter wore the home kit, with a black shorts- and socks-clash in Turin while the white shorts and socks were used in Udine.
If it had been up to us, we’d have used the ‘normal’ blue for the third kit, with matching shorts and socks, allowing it to be used against black and white teams and maximising interchangeability options. Nevertheless, Nike were off to a great start.