- Updated from the 25th-anniversary version in 2017
Today, June 10, marks the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the 1992 European Championship.
While my first footballing memories are linked to Italia 90, beyond Ireland’s games I wasn’t too aware of what what was happening at the time. As such, Euro 92 was the first tournament I properly experienced.
It was the first major finals to feature names on shirts and frontal numbers, but in other ways it now seems very anachronistic, making it worthy of our attention.
Having only eight teams taking part seems incredibly quaint, considering there are now 24 in the continental competition. On the kit front, superfluous sleeve patches had yet to muscle their way in, while special inscriptions to mark the event made their first appearance but were only utilised by a few countries. Only two – England and Scotland – had their crests on their shorts.
Perhaps most surprisingly, of 15 games played, only three saw a side use its second kit. Shorts clashes were tolerated and, barring one exception, dark-v-dark wasn’t deemed a clash.
Group 1 saw hosts Sweden joined by eventual winners Denmark, France and England. Both Sweden and France had adidas kits – they made the strips for four of the eight sides and were pushing a new aggressive branding.
Well, we say ‘new’ but this look was familiar to English fans, as Liverpool had had it since the start of the previous season.
Liverpool didn’t have to deal with fitting a name on the back and Sweden opted for a yellow outline.
Sweden’s numbers were similar to those used by the likes of Milan at the time.
France were wearing a look which hadn’t been seen before, with the thick three stripes coming over both shoulders. This meant, rather unusually, two red stripes with one white in the middle, rather than three white stripes with blue and red in between. While their numerals looked like those used by Germany and the CIS, the recognisable keyline shadow style, they were shaped slightly differently.
As they would do in winning the World Cup on home soil in 1998, France had indvidual match details on the crest.
On the away shirt, not seen at the Euros but worn in a warm-up friendly against Switzerland, the names were in red.
France also played the Netherlands in a friendly on June 5, five days before the tournament started – something unthinkable nowadays.
Richard Møller Nielsen’s side were a late addition to the competition, invited instead of Yugoslavia due to the Balkans War.
They would go on to win it, and would end up being the only side to wear a change kit twice.
The kit was classic early 90s fare, with very long shorts, and plenty of design elements – a few years back, Hummel launched a tribute kit and felt that they had to calm it down somewhat.
One quirk of the Danish kit was that they started off with shorts numbers matching the distinctive Hummel style on their backs (left) but by the time of the final they had adidas-style digits, also seen on the away shorts.
As well as the penalty shootout semi-final win over the Netherlands, the Danes also changed against France.
Presumably the sock clash played a big issue, though France in blue-white-white and Denmark in all-red would have been a more sensible solution.
Oddly, England wore the same kit as they had had at World Cup 90, apart from the addition of the shirt numbers, the ‘Euro 92 Sweden’ inscription below the crest and the Umbro wordmark now being in caps.
It seems likely that this kit’s record of being worn at two major finals won’t be equalled in the foreseeable future.
The Dutch were unbeaten as they topped Group 2.
Their main change was to add the colours of the Dutch flag to the collar, while the Lotto logo was repeated throughout in a darker shade of orange.
The world champions came close to repeating the West Germany feat of 1972/74 and holding global and continental titles at the same time, only to fall to Denmark in the final.
The big problem for adidas was trying to improve upon perfection.
Mercifully, they didn’t go overboard with the Germany kit, nodding to the previous ribbon but confining the coloured bars to the sleeves – the same design would be used by Arsenal – while the neck featured subtle DFB (German FA) logos.
Andy Roxburgh’s men were also in Umbro, but again it was a kit which wasn’t new. This had been launched in the spring of 1991, when Umbro’s big motif was esoteric geometric shapes.
The collar insert was very obtrusive and, while red socks look well on Scotland, confining the colour to the tops of the socks made them look like a borrowed pair. Another curiosity was the fact that they had two different shorts styles. Seemingly a matter of preference, some players were in shorter shorts that lacked the design on the left leg.
As with England, Scotland had a different number font on their shorts to their shirts. Incidentally, their squad numbering was determined by how many caps each player had, so the number 5 was worn by centre-forward Ally McCoist.
But for a 90th-minute Thomas Häßler free kick, the CIS would have begun with a win over Germany. Instead, they bowed out with just two points, drawing with the Netherlands and then losing 3-0 to Scotland.
Having qualified as the USSR, the break-up of the union meant that, for the finals, they were known as the Commonwealth of Independent States and so it wasn’t worth anybody’s time to create a crest. Beginning with the 1994 World Cup qualifiers, each nation would compete under their own steam.
The CIS had the same style as France – the home shorts and socks were exactly the same – with the away kit worn against the Netherlands. Names were rendered in black to deal with the adidas stripes while the second strip had an odd mismatching of number colours.
As mentioned above, Denmark were only there as they had finished second to Yugoslavia in the qualifying.
In their final game as a unified entity, a friendly against the Netherlands in March of 1992, Yugoslavia had worn the same kit as they had had at Italia 90. For Euro 92, adidas were set to give them a new kit, but oddly, rather than anything from the adidas Equipment line, it was to be the same design as Arsenal’s 1990-92 strip.
As you can see in this Bourne Sports the neck is shown as blue, but each of other countries’ kits has an error too – Germany and Sweden crests wrongly placed, trim on France neck and USSR crest on CIS – so it’s safe to class them all as prototypes.
When Yugoslavia – effectively Serbia & Montenegro, following the break-up of the federal state – returned to the international fold in 1994, they still had this Arsenalesque kit, albeit with a new crest, keeping it until 1996 – surely the trefoil’s last appearance on a ‘proper’ strip.
Therefore, it’s our best guess that they would have looked something like this: