White Bull Leipzig?

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Wednesday night (February 19) saw Tottenham Hotspur take on RB Leipzig in their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash in London, with a 58th-minute penalty from Timo Werner giving the visitors a 1-0 win.

The ‘RB’ in the German club’s name officially stands for RasenBallsport, but those of a cynical nature will note how the initials also correspond to the Red Bull, which holds a controlling stake with the sponsor’s area carrying the logo of the energy drink.

Domestically, Leipzig have a navy change shirt, but for European competition a black kit with red and blue flecks is used. In the club shop, it is sold with a monochrome Red Bull logo and that’s how it appeared in group games away to Benfica and Olympique Lyon.

This is also the kit that was displayed on the official Uefa documentation showing the kits for the game:

Tottenham-RB

RB-Leipzig-2019-2020-Nike-European-away-Red-Bull-baselayer-01RB-Leipzig-2019-2020-Nike-European-away-Red-Bull-white-baselayer-01

However, perhaps seeking to benefit from the extra exposure that comes with the knockout stage, it was decided to wear a version with the Red Bull logo rendered in the usual red and yellow.

All well and good, except that Werner and Lukas Klostermann were wearing the white-logoed shirts. Stranger still, Werner switched at half-time but Klosterman didn’t.

In a way, it was rather fitting that Tottenham were Leipzig’s opponents, given what happened them in the 1987 FA Cup final. As usual, The Spurs Shirt, by Simon Shakeshaft, Daren Burney and Neville Evans, is the source material for one of the most infamous kit episodes in English football.

Seeking to premiere their new kit, Spurs took delivery of six sets from Hummel – four with the logo of sponsors Holsten but two unbranded because the club’s youth team were due to play a tournament in Germany and the policy was not to advertise an alcohol company on the underage teams’ strips.

Added to the mix was Spurs secretary Peter Day receiving a phone call from the FA flagging the possibility that they might not be allowed to wear the Holsten shirts in the final, due to the large global TV audience – this was the first time that a team with an alcohol sponsor had reached the decider.

As a result, all six sets of kit were sent off to Kilburn Sports to have the cup final embroidery applied. When kitman Johnny Wallis got the kit from Day’s office, he didn’t realise that some were unsponsored and was only concerned that they all had the commemorative text, folding each one in half with the numbers facing out. So it was that five of the Spurs team walking out against Coventry City at Wembley had the Holsten logo and the rest didn’t.

One of those with a plain shirt was captain Richard Gough, with Spurs commercial manager Mike Rollo torn between wanting them to win and realising the potential disaster if the skipper was photographed lifting the cup and Holsten not benefiting.

Ultimately, Coventry won 3-2 after extra time and the fact that the mix-up had happened meant that Holsten had plenty of exposure anyway. However, there were casualties as Day left the club soon after and Wallis was put in charge of reserve and youth teams’ kit, with Roy Reyland promoted to first-team duties.

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