- Thanks, as always to Riccardo Giannini for his help
In the summer of 1998, Milan returned to adidas after a five-year stint wearing Lotto kit.
While their previous spell with the German firm had seen them wear some classic kits, they were unusual in that they lacked the usual distinguishing marks we’d associate with output from Herzogenrauch – namely, three stripes.
The new set were certainly of a more conventional style and the third shirt left no doubts as to its provenance.
While there had been a couple of black change kits in the 1940s, it was only in 1996 that Lotto instigated what has since become a very strong tradition – albeit one that was interrupted for a few years due to superstition.
There were black third strips available in Lotto’s final two years and adidas continued that nascent lineage with a pleasing effort of their own. In an early example of a team changing despite there being no clash, the kit was worn away to Lazio in the Coppa Italia, but it looked like it might be destined to be a one-off, until the very end of the campaign.
Milan looked to be experiencing a dip from the highs of their late 1980s/early 1990s dominance – they didn’t even qualify for Europe in 1997-98 or 1998-99 – but new coach Alberto Zaccheroni had inspired a revival.
They stayed near the top of the table for much of the season and didn’t lose after the 1-0 defeat away to Roma at the end of February. Five straight wins had them within sight of leaders Lazio going into the penultimate game and, with Milan beating Empoli while Lazio drew with Fiorentina, it left the Rossoneri a point ahead at the top. Victory away to Perugia on the last day would see the return of the Scudetto.
Perugia wore mainly red shirts but with one white sleeve, meaning that the white change kit was ruled out and so the black was called upon. A goal from Argentinian winger Andrés Guglielminpietro – who made life easier for the kit-man by going by the name ‘Guly’ – put the visitors ahead and the lead was doubled through German striker Oliver Bierhoff. Though Hidetoshi Nakata pulled a goal back for the home side with a penalty late on, Milan held out for the win and the title.