Posts Tagged ‘ Umbro ’

MatchDay Memory–Football Without Frontiers (Part 2)

Euro 2000 was one of the highlights of my soccer supporter experience, hitting heights of excitement and engagement, not matched until recently with the 2014 World Cup, while producing moments of style and quality over several weeks.



There was no place for Milosevic, Nuno Gomes or players from some of the second tier soccer nations like Turkey and Romania in the UEFA Team of the Tournament. As with most “best teams”, the balance is off, with only Figo providing any width, because Overmars or Zenden were not included.


The tournament produced some really wonderful goals, with Trezeguet’s winner in the Final, Scholl’s effort against Romania and the goals from the England/Portugal match living long in the memory.


From a fashion perspective, team kits were dominated by adidas, who made kits for half the teams.  Their templates were straight forward, focusing on rib panels that gave contrast to the kits, and very classy with simple collars. They produced one of the great French kits of all time while not making any glaring errors with the others.  Nike was slowly building their soccer portfolio and had three teams at Euro 2000.  Simple almost to a fault, they chose solid colors with either a V neck or ring collar.  Puma was around as well, producing the shirts for the Czech Republic, while Umbro furnished kits for Norway and England.

Denmark played in the tournament wearing Hummel while Italy wore strips made by Kappa.  Their shirts were notable for the tight fit and longer sleeves, very unique at the time.  Solid white or blue, Kappa logo and Italian shield. Modest but wonderful to look at. Hard to think of a better looking kit.  Of course if you looked like Cannavaro or Totti or Del Piero, the look would not be hard to pull off. Seen on the normal fan not so much. This sleeker look eventually took over soccer shirt style and replaced the baggy, wind sock versions of the 90’s.  The pendulum has swung the other way now with shirts appearing to almost be painted on (I’m looking at you Puma).


As for what the players were wearing on their feet, shoe companies, particularly Nike and adidas, continued to innovate.  Nike pushed on with their Mercurial line, which was launched in 1998 on the feet of Ronaldo.  Euro 2000 saw a very light shoe with leather funneling towards a central spot in the toe area.


Adidas developed the Predator series and released the Precision for this competition. The Sneaker Report noted:

Replaceable Traxion studs were added so players could adjust their boots to certain pitch conditions. The fold over tongue now included Velcro to ensure increased stability. The fins, which originally protruded vertically from Craig Johnston’s prototype, were now sectioned off into pinpointed groupings of thin lines. A cool design element of the three stripes thinning out towards the back of the heel was also incorporated.

predator traxion

Finally, I have often wondered if this was the greatest tournament ever.  Maybe because it was the first tournament I really watched from start to finish.  Maybe because it was that I knew so much about the players and many of them were close to my heart.  Maybe because of the stunning goals during the competition.

Miguel Delaney wrote a wonderful piece ahead of Euro 2012 making the argument that the 2000 edition had everything and might have been the greatest international tournament ever.  Laying out a premise that went just beyond the high goals per game average, he touched on the drama, the unpredictability and the tactics.

Following on about tactics, Jonathan Wilson explored the innovations of the tournament in Inverting the Pyramid.  One of these evolutions was the lone striker becoming more of the norm, with this player joined by attacking players supported by strong, hard tackling midfielders.  France moved on from the Christmas Tree of the World Cup to a defensive solid yet attacking 4-2-3-1 with Viera providing the dynamism used to get additional attackers on the field.


In the end I thoroughly enjoyed the competition.  Like my time commitment to the 2014 World Cup, due to a sabbatical from work, I was able to dedicate time to watch nearly every match, so I had a sense of overarching story lines and tactical nuances and team dynamics. Not every tournament hits the high notes but when they do, nothing is better.


Check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.

Recent Media Intake

Here’s some of the stuff I’ve been reading/listening to over the last week . . .

Eddie and Robert broke down the fallout of Shirtgate for the Manchester United Redcast, with Rio failing to wear the Kick It Out T-shirt, which left Fergie out on a limb.  Is this the beginning of the end for the defender or just a simple miscommunication?  As for the Chelsea game, they noted that once Rooney starts scoring, he usually scores in bunches and they hope that Fergie doesn’t make a mistake like the one against City last year, ie highly defensive 4-5-1.

Speaking of Manchester United, I found an excerpt from Rob Smyth on Guardian Sport.  He wrote a piece on Roy Keane for an upcoming book Life’s a Pitch: The Passions of the Press Box about Smyth compared the Manchester United midfielder to pop icons Tyler Durden and Tony Soprano, which was interesting.  Reading this piece you understand why he will never be a good manager—he simply demands a level of performance that is impossible to consistently attain.

Moving on to Arsenal, Nick Hornby was on last week’s Men in Blazers to talk about the release of the 20th anniversary of Fever Pitch, the future of fandom, comments on the season thus far and thoughts on his e-book Pray, which recounts the dramatic 2011-12 season.

As for the Premier League in general, looks like the US EPL rights are going to the Peacock.  After a relationship of over 15 years with Fox (regional channels, the creation of Fox Sports World which morphed into Fox Soccer Channel and even led to the Champions League Final being shown on FOX), and leased games to the four letter network, the biggest league in the world is being shown the money and is moving to elsewhere.  Richard Deitsch posted Friday on that NBC, in particular NBC Sports Network, looks to be in the driver’s seat, with BeIN also a possibility.  It will be interesting to see if NBC shows games a la FOX national and if they develop an online platform and/or use their vast array of channels.

Nike sold Umbro.  Yawn.  The company will not exist in 10 years. Get over it.

Finally, there was lots of buzz this week about the possibility of the US hosting the 2016 Copa America.  At first it seemed like a done deal but there has been significant back tracking and conflicting details.  Would it be a 12 or 16 team tournament?  If it is 16 teams and involves several CONCACAF teams, does not seem like a Copa America but a Copa of the Americas? I don’t mind the US hosting and being and invited participant but it does seem weird that this country would host the 100th anniversary of a South American tournament, radically changing the structure and make up of the competition.  Just sayin.  Grant Wahl offered some other considerations for

One player who probably won’t be there is Landon Donovan.  Roger Bennett sat down with US star for ESPN FC.  The long time face of MLS and the USMNT spoke about his future, including possibly not playing at the 2014 World Cup.  I appreciated his self-analysis about motivation and his desires for the future.  He has given a lot to his clubs and his country and maybe it’s time to move on.

Strip Club–Sky Box Edition

For Manchester United, white or blue was the typical away kit over the years, with a yellow based strip occasionally thrown in, but in 1993 everything changed.  The Red Devils introduced the all black away kit, which has produced a stylish edge to their collection over the last 20 years.



Building on their first league title since 1968, the Reds went on to win their first league and FA cup double, a feat that had not been done since Arsenal in 1971.  Unfortunately, involvement in the Champions League did not last long.  After drawing 3-3 with Galatasary at Old Trafford, the Reds traveled to Istanbul, where the hosts held them to a scoreless draw and gave them an away experience they would never forget.

The following season saw them come up short on three major fronts, finishing second to Blackburn in the league, losing the FA Cup to Everton 1-0, and getting knocked out of the Champions League at the Group Stage after heavy defeats away to FC Barcelona and IFK Gothenburg.

The kit itself was sweet.  In my limited experience in soccer at the time, I had not seen a black jersey, but when I saw Cantona and Co. run out in the black strip with yellow and blue highlights, I knew I wanted one.  Sadly, I have never picked one up.  I have had a couple of chances on ebay but have never pulled the trigger.



The next time the black kit appeared was the magical Treble season, although for the life of me, I can’t remember them even wearing it except for maybe the Charity Shield.

If you don’t know the story of the season, stop reading this and get researching.  That campaign had everything–narrow defeats, crushing victories, sumptuous games (especially the games against FCB in the Champions League), one of the greatest goals ever scored, and of course the most dramatic finish ever to any game, Solskjaer against Bayern Munich.

Of the black kits, this is my least favorite.  Might be the neon green trim, might be the Umbro logo being a touch too big, might be the collar.  Just something about the strip does not do it for me.



Next up is the all black kit from 2003-2005, which saw several key events in the history of the club and the Premier League—the Invincibles of Arsenal, the sale of David Beckham, the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, the sale of the club to the Glazers, and the rise of Abramovich’s Chelsea.  The 2003-04 season was the first of three in a row in which they did not win the league, finishing third behind the unbeaten Arsenal and Chelsea, but the Reds did win the FA Cup, beating Millwall 3-0, their 11th and last one to date. In the Champions League, they won their group before losing to Porto in the first knockout round, partly due to Howard’s flub in injury time, which allowed Porto to progress and win the competition, launching the phenomenon of the Special One.

The following season Jose Mourinho arrived at Chelsea and led them to their first league title in 50 years.  United finished third again despite a late surge in the winter months, but back to back defeats in April to Norwich and Everton ended their hopes.  The Red Devils reached the FA Cup Final, which Arsenal won on penalties.  A pair of 1-0 defeats to AC Milan knocked United out of the Champions League again at the first knockout hurdle.

The jersey is simple, with, as the Pride of Manchester Website notes, A ‘watermarked’ flower pattern adds a nice touch to the jersey.  The only drawback of the kit is that the collar, which has an understated white accent, is a little too wide.  I received this kit as a gift and it’s a size too big which takes away from my enjoyment of it.  If it was the correct size, I would wear it all the time.



Two years later the black kit was back, this time during a successful campaign for the Reds.  Anderson, Owen Hargreaves, Nani and Carlos Tevez arrived to strengthen the squad, which ended with a European Double.  Manchester United won their 16th league title, surging past Arsenal and holding off Chelsea at the end.  The Blues would be their opponent in the in the first all English Champions League Final.  An early CR7 goal was cancelled out by Lampard and the game remained scoreless through the second half and extra time, in which Drogba got sent off.  Looked like all was lost when Ronaldo missed his spot kick, but England’s Brave John Terry slipped on his kick and it hit the post.  Anelka, the seventh kicker for Chelsea, stepped up with a chance to extend the shoot out but Edwin van de Sar saved it, and Manchester United were European Champions for the third time.

The range of kits for this campaign is one of the best ever.  Each jersey is classy, with the black kit keeping things simple with red piping across the shoulders and a white stripe down the back.  Love this kit and need to get my hands on one.



The fall of 2009 was year one of ACR (After Cristiano Ronaldo), and it saw good fights on all fronts but only one trophy—the Carling Cup.  Wayne Rooney had a phenomenal season, scoring 34 goals but it wasn’t enough as Chelsea reclaimed the league and won the FA Cup as well.  United finished second in the league and lost early to Leeds in the FA Cup, which launched the career of Jermaine Beckford, and by career I mean decent transfer fee and disappearance from English football.  In the Champions League, Rafael’s sending off against Munich in the second leg set up a tense finish, which was decided by a fantastic effort for Arjen Robben.

The following year was jammed packed with success, drama and a large dose of reality.  Results before Christmas were mixed as the Rooney contract saga played itself out.  Eventually Wazza got onside and flourished with Chicharito, who had arrived in the off-season, and by the end of the season he had moved past Berba in the pecking order and scored an early goal against Chelsea that all but sealed the title, the 19th title that took United ahead of Liverpool.  A possible treble was on as well, but defeat in the FA Cup semis to the blue side of Manchester (thanks Michael Carrick) and a masterclass from FCB in the Champions League Final meant that the Red Devils only won a single trophy and revealed the gap between the champions of England and the champions of Europe.

The home kit was an homage to the early 1920’s, and this away kit takes it a step further with the black kit and royal blue chevron.  I hated it at first but it has grown on me.  In the first year, the sponsor was AIG, while in the second, it was Aon. The material of the kit is amazing and weighs almost nothing.  If I come across it on the web at reduced price, I might pick it up.


Special thanks to . . ., which is an amazing resource.  For Manchester United in particular, it has a digital representation of every kit from the days of Newton Heath until now. was bills an online encyclopedia of Manchester United that broke down each campaign by competition, including all player appearances and a season recap. The site helped me jog the memory for each season and set me on my way for research.  It is now only via an app. Take a look.

YouTube.  What a treat to relive amazing moments in the history of Manchester United.  Sometimes the quality isn’t awesome but it gets the job done.

Finally, for another opinion, check out Bleacher Report’s Top Ten Manchester United kits.