Football

A History Of The Ireland Jersey - How We've Looked Throughout The Football Ages

A History Of The Ireland Jersey - How We've Looked Throughout The Football Ages

With Euro 2016 upon us, retailers in Ireland are struggling to keep stocks of the latest Ireland jersey by Umbro as the demand reaches it's usual peak before a major tournament.

The 2002 World Cup may have been the first time it became really difficult to find an Ireland jersey after April, as it seemed like everybody and their dog had the green jersey with the thin white round collar (more on that later). Since then, a similar trend has continued for all of the major tournaments we have managed to reach, and it looks set to do so again.

It seems that whether the fans are travelling or merely travelling to the pub, many of them wish to do so while wearing the green of Ireland, and as memories being made in these jerseys on the pitch, the demand for them goes through the roof.

It was not until around 1953 when Ireland ditched the old school collared shirt approach and went for something a little more practical, so that is where we will begin. (All images sourced from the fantastic HistoricalKits.co.uk)

1953 - 1975: The Simple V-Neck Or Round Collar

ireland jersey history

After officially being re-named by FIFA to 'Republic of Ireland', the 50s and 60s were a frustrating time for Irish football.

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Failure to qualify for the 1966 World Cup after losing a playoff to Spain - where the FAI agreed to play the game in Paris as opposed to London as originally planned, a move that was widely criticised - on the back of a quarter-final appearance at the 1964 European Nations Cup was a particular disappointment.

Johnny Giles and later a young Liam Brady were the main positives to come out of this period, and Eamon Dunphy made his Ireland debut in that playoff against Spain... Although we've only mentioned that to cover all RTÉ pundit bases.

1976 - 1983: O'Neills Step In And Take Charge

ireland jersey history

The Ireland jersey really began to form an identity in the late '70s, as O'Neills became the official manufacturer and we saw stripes on the arms that looked very similar to what Adidas were doing, but sure O'Neills were Irish, so it was grand.

Ireland would fail to qualify for the 1978 World Cup despite beating a truly excellent France side featuring the sublime Michel Platini. Success on field may have been in short supply but in terms of the jersey collection, this was where it really started for most Ireland fans. Euro 88 kits are ten a penny, but if you can point to a wardrobe full of O'Neills' finest, you're really doing something right.

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1986 - 1993: The Adidas Glory Days

ireland jersey history

Many of the great days which Jack Charlton's side wove into glorious memories featured the stitching of Adidas. Rarely has anything captured the attention of this country like Euro '88, Italia '90 and USA '94: be it Houghton putting the ball in the English net, Paul McGrath shackling Roberto Baggio, Packie Bonner saving THAT penalty or Ronnie Whelan's strike against the USSR.

The kit itself played an important role in Ireland's victory over Italy in 1994. Ireland arrived onto the field wearing white, which proved to be the wrong kit. With minutes to go before kick-off, mass panic ensued as kit man Charlie O'Leary, the unused subs and Charlton himself desperately scrambled to get the right kit.

Steve Staunton believes this had the added benefit of taking pressure off the players ahead of the game, as Charlton became more preoccupied with avoiding a FIFA fine than worrying about the challenge of the Italians.

1994 - 2000: Umbro And The Experimental 90s

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ireland jersey history

A period of relative decline when tournaments were missed and bold geometric patterns were the order of the day. Umbro came on board and experimented quite a lot, most notably with the addition of a collar. Ireland failed to qualify for Euro '96, losing a playoff at Anfield against the Dutch, a game which proved to be Charlton's final game in charge.

Charlton was succeeded by Mick McCarthy, who guided Ireland to second in the group behind Romania. Ireland qualified for the playoffs: a sojourn that ended in failure at the hands of Belgium. It was a similar story for Euro 2000: second in the group (this time behind Yugoslavia) led to another playoff defeat, this time to Turkey.

2001 - Present: The Internet Age 

ireland jersey history

McCarthy finally qualified for a major tournament at the third attempt. Finishing second in a tough group featuring Holland and Portugal brought a playoff against Iran, against whom we were at last successful. The 2002 World Cup was blighted by Saipan in the build-up but subsequently beguiled by the dazzling performances of Robbie Keane and Damien Duff. The tournament ended in a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out defeat to Spain.

A period in the wilderness followed: McCarthy, Brian Kerr and Steve Staunton all failed to qualify Ireland for major tournaments, only for Giovanni Trapattoni to succeed at the second attempt. The first - the 2010 World Cup - was foiled by the hand of Thierry Henry, but a subsequent playoff victory against Estonia meant Ireland qualified for Euro 2012, only to lose all three group games against Croatia, Spain and Italy. Trapattoni left following failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Now, however, we have qualified for back-to-back European Championships for the first time in our history, and Ireland will wear to brand new Umbro shirts in the group stages: green against Sweden and white against both Belgium and Italy.

Get your Republic of Ireland jersey plus the widest range of FAI Training Kit and Supporters Wear, instore or online at Life Style Sports

Mikey Traynor

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