Few ‘regular’ strips have had their only outing at a World Cup finals and certainly not many as aesthetically pleasing as this one.
Italy’s second international of 1998, a friendly against Paraguay, saw them wearing a new Nike kit – the last to be produced by the Italian manufacturer and the last not to feature a maker’s logo. Gone were the gold accents of the Euro 96 strip while the presence of white was dialled down to discreet trim. The only other real flourish was the addition of very fine pinstripes.
At the World Cup, Italy were grouped with Austria, Cameroon and Chile – their first match was against the South American side, who wore blue change socks with their regular red shirts and blue shorts while Italy premiered the white version of their home shirt, the home shorts added for an all-white look.
A 2-2 draw was followed by wins over Cameroon (where they wore an Everton-like blue shirts, white shorts and white socks) and Austria (in the default first kit) to ensure they topped the group.
In both the last-16 win over Norway and the quarter-final penalty-shootout loss to hosts France, Italy were in all-blue with their opponents in all-white. For the remainder of their games in 1998, they appeared in blue-white-blue, meaning the ‘proper’ change kit of white-blue-white was never seen.