- By Les Motherby – see here for his previous Sampdoria articles on this site, here for The Football Kit Podcast, on which we are collaborating with Les, and here for Hull City Kits, another project of his
The 1990-91 Serie A campaign would prove to be the culmination of efforts by Paulo Mantovani, the owner of Sampdoria, to match the powerhouse clubs of Turin and Milan by winning a Scudetto.
It was a season with some kit-supplying significance too, heralding the arrival in Italy of Asics, the Japanese brand who one year earlier reached English shores as kit provider and shirt sponsors of Norwich City.
Sampdoria cut a deal with Asics (formerly known as Onitsuka, a brand worn by Bruce Lee and the inspiration behind the first Nike shoes) that would continue for 14 seasons, ending in 2003-2004. Prior to the 1990 deal, the Blucerchiati had been outfitted by Kappa for two years, and for eight seasons before that by EnnErre, makers of the Phonola-advertising acrylic shirts worn by Liam Brady, Trevor Francis and Graeme Souness.
Though they were yet to win a Serie A title, Samp’s trophy cabinet needed some extensive modification, much as their Stadio Luigi Ferraris home had prior to the 1990 World Cup. It now had to accommodate another Coppa Italia (1988-89), the European Cup Winners’ Cup (1989-90) and to a lesser extent, the 1990 Makita Tournament trophy.
The latter competition, held at Wembley Stadium over August 10 and 11, 1990, saw both the new Asics home and away shirts worn in the first game. Samp’s change kit of white shirts, blue shorts and white socks was worn in the first half, with semi-final opponents Real Sociedad dressed in their home kit of blue and white striped shirts, white shorts and blue socks.
The two sides changed shirts for the second half: the Basque club donned white shirts while Samp put on their blue shirts, and in these they advanced to the final on spot-kicks after a 1-1 draw. The full primary kit of blue shirts with white shorts and socks was worn against Arsenal in the final, which Sampdoria won 1-0 courtesy of a Giuseppe Dossena goal.
Asics saw no need to reinvent the wheel where the home shirt was concerned. Besides the change of supplier logo, their shirt looked much like the 1989-90 Kappa shirt, with a simple V-neckline attached to a self-coloured polo collar, and the ‘Baciccia’ sailor crest on the left sleeve. There was some change to the back of the shirt however: Kappa’s shirt had numbers with a 3D-effect drop-shadow applied, but the Asics-branded shirts had sublimated numbers printed into the shirt, using a simpler typeface with a black outline.
Real change was reserved for the away shirt, which became the first ‘maglia bianco-cerchiata’. The horizontal bands of the home shirt being replicated on away shirts with the addition of two blue bands has become the norm since 1990-91, but this look was not seen before then. The nearest thing to it was the 1969-70 away shirt, with its diagonally applied bands.
After the first half of the Real Sociedad game, the away shirt was used in the league at Fiorentina, Napoli, Cagliari, Bologna, Atalanta, Pisa and most notably against fellow title-rivals Inter at the San Siro. After withstanding an Inter onslaught, with ‘keeper Gianluca Pagliuca pulling off some outstanding saves, Dossena and Gianluca Vialli scored second half goals to clinch Sampdoria’s first, and so far only, Scudetto. All-blue was often used for away games where the home shirt didn’t clash, while blue socks were worn at home to Milan.
There would be more success for Samp in Asics, however: they won the 1991 Italian Super Cup, reached the 1991-92 European Cup final and won the 1993-94 Coppa Italia, though that would prove their last piece of major silverware to date.