Twice as Nice – Argentina, 1998
At the 2022 World Cup, Argentina are currently the only country to have worn their primary shirts in three different combinations – the traditional black shorts/white socks, black shorts and socks and white shorts and socks. Back in 1998, there was no lighter shorts option, while their sock situation resulted in an unusual mashup.
France 98 was a new departure in terms of change strip for Argentina – generally, royal blue had been favoured but this time they opted for navy. Essentially, the shorts of the second kit were the same as those worn with their striped shirts but in navy instead of black.
The home socks were black too and it was only recently – while leafing through John Devlin’s marvellous True Colours: International Football Kits – that we noticed that they were what was used in the only two outings for the change shirts, in the group stage against Croatia and the last-16 tie against England (who wore all-white).
The fact that navy socks weren’t to hand led to a penny dropping – presumably the default away socks were white, to allow for usage with the home kit? Sure enough, research showed that white socks, trimmed with navy and sky blue, had been used in some of the pre-World Cup friendlies (including one against Brazil, also in white socks) but not in the tournament itself.
One final oddity is the fact that, in both of the game where the navy kit was worn, Argentina goalkeeper Carlos Roa played in a mainly black version of the ‘Save’ template. While it was tastefully trimmed with sky blue and white hoops – on which the crest sat – it was a bit too close to the navy for comfort.
However, it was deemed the best option as the alternative was a bluey-purple shirt (seemingly, there was also a white goalkeeper shirt with sky blue hoops – lovely but completely lacking functionality).
The 2-1 quarter-final defeat to the Netherlands was Argentina’s last senior international of 1998 and, by the time they next took to the field in early 1999, they were clad in Rebook, whose kits are worthy of an article of their own.