Midweek Mashup – Italy, 1996
- Thanks to Riccardo Giannini for his assistance
In two of their four Euro 2020 games to date – against Switzerland and Austria – Italy have paired their famous blue shirts with navy change shorts.
It’s not a first for them to use something other than royal blue shorts as an alternative to white – leaving aside the brown shorts of the 2009 Confederations Cup, black shorts were worn in the 1966 World Cup, against the USSR and the infamous loss to North Korea (note the difference in neck depending on sleeve length – short sleeves against the USSR and long against North Korea). The mashup we’re focusing on has the ‘normal’ shade of blue shorts (inverted commas as the shade changes from kit to kit), but is quite unusual for other reasons.
The last time before this year that Italy played a game in a major tournament on English was of course Euro 96. While they wore the traditional blue-white-blue in all three of their games as they failed to emerge from their group, As part of their warm-up for the competition, Arrigo Sacchi’s team faced Stoke City – and asked that the Potters replicated the 5-3-2 formation that they expected Russia to use – and appeared in a Chelsea-like blue shirts, blue shorts and white socks.
At the beginning of 1995, the FIGC had entered into a kit deal with Nike, who replaced Diadora, though of course this was still the time when manufacturers’ logos didn’t appear on match kit. However, as this wasn’t an official international – Stoke’s secession from the United Kingdom was still pending – there was some leeway as the shorts and socks worn by the players were training sets, carrying the Nike swoosh and the logo of their sponsors, fuel company Italiana Petroli.
The shirts were also something of a curiosity. They had already been replaced by the new set launched by Nike for the European Championship but it should also be noted that, while the Nike mark wasn’t in the usual space, the American firm had managed to engage in some guerrilla marketing on the fabric pattern, which ostensibly celebrated Italy’s three world titles.
The Stoke game, a 2-0 win, was the last stand for these shirts and it wouldn’t be until 1999 that Italy would wear a proper kit-maker’s logo in a first-class game – though by then Kappa had taken over from Nike.