France’s victory on home soil in Euro 84 meant that the shirts used would attain a popularity approaching immortality – all the more so when the design was resurrected to provide the basis for the 1998 World Cup-winning strip.
It meant that the kits following those would have a high bar to try to match, but adidas and France made a good effort with those used at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, a style unseen on anybody else’s kits.
France’s first game after the tournament was a friendly defeat to Switzerland in August of 1986, with the white change strip worn against the all-red of the hosts. However, the next game after that was the first qualifier for Euro 88, away to Iceland on September 10, and a new white shirt was on show.
Similar to that worn by the country’s U21 side – they used blue collars – it was a standard adidas template of the time with a ‘shard’ over each shoulder and the tricolore adidas striping incorporated. The shorts were those from the proper change strip, albeit with the older adidas numbering on the leg, while the socks were plainer than the ones used in Mexico, white with three blue stripes.
According to the comprehensive history of French kits, Un maillot, une légende, by Matthieu Delahais and Bruno Colombari, the reason for the usage of what proved to be a one-off was the fact that the new shirts had not yet been produced in long sleeves. Iceland’s kit at the time was another popular adidas design, featuring alternating diagonal pinstripes in red and white.
Unfortunately for France, a 0-0 draw set the tone for a disappointing campaign – four of their eight games were drawn and the only win was at home to Iceland. The home and away shirts would ultimately be worn in long-sleeved format – oddly, on the blue version, the white cuff disappeared, with the red one moving up to meet the stripes.