Today marks the 27th anniversary of a special footballing night, as the European qualifiers for the 1994 World Cup concluded, with numerous sub-plots afoot.
In Group 3, the Republic of Ireland – wearing their white adidas Equipment change kit for the only time – secured a 1-1 draw away to Northern Ireland to reach a second consecutive World Cup. A 1-0 win for Spain over Denmark in Seville helped Jack Charlton’s side through and it is that game which is the first one we focus on.
Spain’s win came despite the fact that goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta was sent off early in the game; into the game came Santiago Cañizares for his international debut but, oddly, wearing a different-coloured shirt to the first-choice keeper.
Odder still, each design seems to have been unique to Spain: ‘Zubi’ wore a green and black top with the large adidas Equipment stripes over the right shoulder – a popular look on outfield shirts since 1991 but rare to the point of non-existent for goalkeepers. He had also appeared in a two-tone grey version of that but, while Cañizares wore those colours, it was one with two sets of stripes over the shoulders – again, close to an outfield design and unusual on a custodian’s top.
By the time of the World Cup, Zubizarreta and Cañizares (who played the first game against South Korea due to his colleague’s suspension) were in the ubiquitous adidas Predator design and in 1996 the Spain goalkeeper shirt was a minimalist round-neck style. However, that didn’t prevent another instance of Zubizarreta wearing a different shirt to a back-up goalkeeper in the same game – again, a netminder making his international debut.
This time, the circumstances were very different. In April 1996, Spain played Norway in a friendly and wore their new navy change kit for the first time while Zubizarreta wore the green design that he would go on to use at Euro 96.
This was a time when teams were limited to naming five substitutes and, in the 53rd minute, Spain manager Javier Clemente brought on all four of his outfield replacements.
That left the uncapped José Molina as the one remaining sub. We can’t say whether the plan was for him to come on for Zubizarreta or not but, in any case, when one of the other subs, José Manuel López, picked up an injury, Molina had to be called upon.
He was number 13 and obviously that shirt was a goalkeeper’s one, but Spain had a number 18 shirt to hand – presumably a blood shirt – and some work with a black marker made it look enough like a 13.
Molina was of course wearing the black goalkeeper shorts and socks so he didn’t fully match up with the other outfielders – nine years before David James experienced something similar for Manchester City.
The game finished scoreless, but it was Molina who actually came closest to finding a winner. In a quirk of fate, his international career would also end against Norway in a Euro 2000 game where his mistake led to the Scandinavian side’s goal.