European Championship Classics – Ireland, 1988

Just as we did two years ago with the World Cup kit-tracker, we will be charting the kits worn in each game at Euro 2020.

And, just as we built up to the World Cup with full retrospective trackers for two previous editions – 1970 and 1990 – we shall do the same for the upcoming competition. In addition, each Monday will feature a kit from a finals that we are not tracking, like the World Cup Classics series did.

So we begin with the strip worn by the Republic of Ireland at Euro 88, the first time the country had reached a major finals. This was the country’s first properly new kit since the one adidas had given them at the beginning of their partnership in 1986, but that previous strip hadn’t been untouched.

Initially, it had the classic crest, before 1987 saw the addition of the new (but actually not new) orange roundel and the last game of that year, a friendly against Israel, saw orange trim added to the neck and cuffs. Previously, O’Neills had used a shade of yellowy-gold but this was the first time that the ‘third’ colour of the Irish flag – representing unionism – had appeared on the kit.

Republic-of-Ireland-1989-adidas-homeThe new 1988 offering retained the growing orange presence, though with a wrapover neck, now joined with a collar, while two white panels adorned each sleeve, the top one made of mesh.

The shorts and socks remained unchanged from before (they would also continue to be used when the next new kit launched in 1990). The new kit’s first game was in the first game of 1988, the home friendly against Romania.

However, by the time of the European Championship in June, there had been a small change to the kit. As well as the shorts numbers – the first time they had appeared on an Ireland strip – the socks were plain, devoid of both the adidas trefoil and the three stripes.

On his blog Pyro on The Pitch, Joey Smith makes the point that other adidas teams had three-striped socks with no logo, so presumably Uefa didn’t allow the latter, for whatever reason, and Ireland were seemingly only made aware of this too late.

Goalkeeper Packie Bonner was in yellow – the 1986 geometric design, but with the pattern less visible than most other versions – with his shorts having green stripes and his socks the same as his team-mates. His shorts number matched the style on the back of the shirts whereas the outfielders had a blocky style.

Republic-of-Ireland-1988-adidas-away-Northern-Ireland-01Ireland famously beat England 1-0 in Stuttgart in their opener and then played brilliantly against the USSR before conceding a second-half equaliser. Qualification for the semi-finals was still in their hands as they faced the Netherlands in their final game but a controversial late winner from Wim Kieft sent them out.

Nevertheless, a foundation had been laid and the team would go on to reach the 1990 World Cup finals after an impressive qualifying campaign.

The normal adidas socks returned to the home kit, though the away game against Northern Ireland necessitated the first use of the new change strip and the green-topped white socks were presumably what would have been used if Ireland had had to change at Euro 88.

4 comments on “European Championship Classics – Ireland, 1988

  1. Kevin

    Interesting, I always thought Bonner’s shirt was plain yellow, never realised that it had the pattern in the fabric


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