The Kits of Italia 90 - Group A
Join me on a trip down memory lane as we go through the glorious kits of Italia 90.
The most beautiful football kits the World Cup has ever seen
Ahhhh Italia 90.
The memories of Nessun Dorma, Gazza crying, Toto Schillaci exploding on the world scene (before quickly petering out), the Republic of Ireland’s first World Cup and more. Often considered the most iconic and memorable World Cup, Italia 90 was the first of its type to truly capture the imagination of not only football fans, but of all who tuned in.
What better way to remember it then, than to take a look at how each country performed and the beautiful (or less so) kits that they wore along the way. We will sort each article by their initial group, taking both shirts from each before a final summary of my personal favourite from each group.
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Starting with the worst performer of the group, we have the United States.
A country still not totally gripped by “soccer” just yet (although this would begin to change in just 4 years time), their games at the tournament were not one to remember. In their first game they lost rather painfully 5-1 to a solid Czechoslovakia, managing to get a red card in the process, and the second wasn’t much friendlier either, losing 1-0 to host nation Italy. Their final game was slightly more inspiring, just a 2-1 loss to Austria.
Whilst their tournament wasn’t one of success, luckily for them the kits are something to enjoy.
Let’s start with their home kit, a simple but tasty piece by Adidas.
With a flat white as the primary colour, and a royal blue as the secondary, it’s a shirt only missing the red to complete the Red, White and Blue trifecta. One downside is how the badge isn’t in line with the Adidas logo, leaving it look a little bit misplaced. The blue running down the shoulder is a good look though, and one Adidas should consider returning to.
The real star (no pun intended) of the US’ campaign was their away shirt.
A much more inspiring and enduring piece, the royal blue primary colour is a better and more memorable primary colour. Despite looking like a simple contrast to the home shirt, the subtle differences are welcome.
The Adidas logo looks slicker near the neckline, and that white stitch across from collar to the run down from the shoulders helps keep it look tidy and in the right place. The USMNT badge also looks superior than on the home shirt, placed directly in the centre of the chest, helping the shirt have a symmetrical vibe.
Austria found themselves in a place no-one wants to be in when they arrived in Italy for the tournament. They would be playing the hosts in the opening game, traditionally a game the hosts always win.
Almost as if it was foreshadowing the whole tournament, the game was close, but Italy ended up winning 1-0 with a late goal from the soon to be household name of Toto Schillaci.
6 days later they again had a moment of bad luck, losing 1-0 to Czechoslovakia thanks to a penalty, essentially removing any chance of qualification that was left. Despite this, they played for their pride against the US, and managed a 2-1 win, the only highlight of their tournament.
Well, maybe not the only highlight. They had two more, in the shape of their kits.
Both the home and away kits are stunning, and its a real shame we didn’t get to see them more as the World Cup progressed.
Where to start?
First we have their badge, a beautiful combination of the Austrian coat of arms on a backdrop of the flag, which looks stunning and really stands out against the plain white background. Of course, we have the absolutely ridiculous spiral (that is, ridiculous in a good way) which dominates the shirt with its standout and incredibly unique design. Using the same dark navy as the collar and neckline, it's an unforgettable and majestic design, and staring at it for too long leaves you feeling like you’re about to be hypnotised.
The away shirt is almost even better than the home shirt, using the colours from their flag (something which I love to see in National Team kits). Sticking to the hypnotically tantalising spiral design, this time in white, the shirt looks beautiful. I can’t add too much without simply repeating myself, but I’m sure that you understand my love for these two shirts.
Finally, we get to a team that qualified for the knockout rounds.
Placing second in the group, Czechoslovakia played well in the groups, and deserved their place in the last 16. Beating the US in their opening game 5-1, they all but secured their qualification after being the Austrians 1-0 five days later. Despite a small stumble against a strong Italy, they were through to face the new blood of Costa Rica in Bari.
Another impressive win (4-1) put them through to the quarter finals, but sadly for Czechoslovakia they had to face the giants that are Germany (at the time West Germany). The San Siro in Milan would be the final Italian stadium they’d see, as they were given a swift 1-0 loss by the eventual winners. Nonetheless, it was an impressive tournament for a side not pegged for greatness.
Their home shirt is both wonderful and lazy. The triangular pattern is cool, eye-catching and again uses the colours of the flag.
However, the fact that the National Team’s badge is simply the flag is disappointing and uncreative, as it feels cheaply placed, like a small national team shirt you’d find in a commercial football game (Makes me think of the New Zealand shirt in FIFA 13; An obscure reference, I know). Removing the flag, the shirt is great, but its slap bang in the middle and rather large, so it's a little hard to ignore.
Now, moving onto the away shirt. This shirt has both positives and negatives when compared to its home shirt counterpart.
The triangular design is only improved by this colour scheme, and the red stripes on the arms stand out more than the white ones on the home strip. However, the white part of the flag blends in more to the background, leaving it looking weirdly incomplete at first glance.
It’s still a good shirt, but definitely falls slightly short of what the home shirt achieved (but dear god, they needed a real badge).
Finally, we can begin on the elephant in the room. Italy, the hosts and one of the favourites to win the whole thing.
Their group stage was a success, winning all 3 games (1-0 vs Austria, 1-0 vs the US and 2-0 vs Czechoslovakia), even if they kept their fans slightly worried throughout all 3 games. Star of the tournament, Toto Schillaci, was just starting to warm up, and Baggio treated us to one of the best goals of all time in a World Cup for his effort against Czechoslovakia.
Then, Italy faced Uruguay, quickly dispatching them with a 2-0 victory. Following this, their 1-0 victory over the fresh pasty faces of the Irish. The stage was set for their semi final match versus a relatively lucky and weak Argentina side, but disaster would soon strike. What some in Italy have called “the greatest disaster in Italian football”. But why?
Well, to answer that we have to take a look at the bigger picture.
Italy played all of their games during the tournament, up to the semi finals, in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. However, for the semi final fixture against Argentina, the game was played in Naples.
This would prove to be a very important fact.
Naples is a large city in Southern Italy, and amongst some of the central and northern Italians it carries a bad reputation for problems, such as crime, corruption and poverty. Due to this, Naples and those from there are often considered the butt of many jokes.
So why am I talking about this divide? Because of one man. Diego Maradona.
The Argentinian Maradona carried the local SSC Napoli team to their first two scudetti, causing mass jubilation in the city and making him a godlike figure to the locals of Naples. So when the neapolitans had the choice to support the country that laughed at them, or the team that contained what many considered their god, it's easy to see why the home support for Italy at that game was low. With banners such as “'Diego in our hearts, Italy in our songs” and “Maradona, Naples loves you but Italy is our homeland”, the Italian national team felt more like an away team than the country that was hosting the World Cup. After a sluggish 0-0 game, it all fell down to a penalty shootout. Italy failed, and lost.
What happened to Maradona and Argentina in the final? We’ll find out in another article.
Despite the loss, this was still an important tournament for Italy, with emerging stars like Baggio exploding on the world stage, and others like Toto Schillaci having their flash in the pan moment (winning both the Golden Boot for most goals and Golden Ball for best player). In terms of hosting the tournament, Italy did a wonderful (although not perfect) job, and helped create the atmosphere for the most iconic World Cup of all time.
Apt considering it was their home tournament, Italy’s home shirt is one of the best they’ve ever worn.
With its beautifully strong lapis lazuli colour, and the alluring tri colour trim on the sleeves and collar, it is a classic kit. That Baggio’s goal only added to it’s allure. Thank you Diadora, you made Italy and the Italians proud, and the rest of us are lucky to see a shirt of this outstanding quality.
The away shirt is no slouch either, featuring the same lovely tri colour stripes on the collars and sleeves. The white is less inspiring, but the blue collar makes up for it, giving the shirt a classy and mature feel. A fitty counterpart to the home shirt, if slightly less mind blowing.
Overall then, there are a variety of average, good and great shirts in this group. The best overall shirt for me is the Italian home shirt, however the Austrian away shirt comes in a close second, with it’s white spiral on a red background.
Next time, we will look at Cameroon, Romania, Argentina and the Soviet Union, in Group B.
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