For this PJR, we’re switching things up a bit to a format that’s been in mind for a while. While each installment usually focuses (crudely) on one classic template in many different teams’ styles, this time we’re instead imagining a world where Ireland signed with Adidas in 1974 rather than 1986, and if they had qualified for that year’s World Cup and then every major tournament for the rest of the century wearing the brand withe the three stripes, before the relationship ends around the turn of the millennium.
These are the shirts, in then-Adidas style, that were worn at World Cups and European Championships by Ireland in our fantasy world:
We’ll now go through each set, comparing our choices to real life influences, and include some bonus shirts not seen in the main image.
Real Life: Ireland tour South America and wear Athleta-made shirts with central crest positioning, as seen in John Devlin’s True Colours – International Kits book.
POTP Timeline: Having qualified for their first World Cup, newly-famous Ireland sign with Adidas. The German giants give the Irish a similar v-neck to one worn in the 60s and currently used by Sweden, plus make the radical decision to centre the shamrock-shield crest:
The away is a straight reversal:
POTP Timeline: The conservative Ireland revolt at the positioning of the crest and it is moved back to where it belongs for the next tournament, the 1976 Euros in Yugoslavia, with the away following suit. A darker shade of green is also preferred:
Real Life: Having moved to O’Neills earlier in the 70s, Ireland soon begin wearing Adidas-style three stripes on their sleeves. Around 1978 an extra twist is added with the middle stripe becoming gold/yellow, or green/gold/green on white gear. Some of the shamrock was also removed from the crest.
POTP Timeline: Ireland are given the popular “World Cup Dress” template for Argentina 78 and receive an extra twist with the middle sleeve-stripe turning gold. Some of the shamrock is also removed from the crest. For the South American winter of June and July, long-sleeved jerseys are needed:
The white away shirt uses green/gold/green striping:
A black third, or possibly goalkeeper shirt, is rumoured and pictures of it later surface, but it is never worn by the senior team:
For Euro 80 qualifiers, short-sleeve versions of the World Cup shirts are produced:
POTP Timeline: It is decided to ditch the gold already and go with another basic look for Euro 80 in the form of the “Inter Cup” template, similar to West Germany’s away. The cut is hilarious small by later standards:
The away is again a straight reversal:
Real Life: In the early 80s Ireland adopt alternating white and gold pinstripes, with green and gold pinstripes over the white away jersey which will eventually feature a black O’Neills logo to help it stand out. Later, around 1990, Ireland have an unusual training shirt in a slightly deeper shade of green than normal, with gold v-neck collar, sleeve-stripes and sleeve-cuffs.
POTP Timeline: Ireland adopt a darker green than usual for their Spain 82 look, using the same template as USSR, with white pinstripes and sleeve-stripes but gold v-neck collar/sleeve-cuffs:
Unlike the home, the away kit is given alternating pinstripes, as well as a lighter shade of green and a black trefoil to help it stand out:
A new circular FAI crest is introduced in 1983, used briefly and seen again briefly in 1985.
A new circular FAI crest is introduced for Ireland’s Euro 84 campaign, which looks very modern as part of Adidas’ diagonal-alternating pinstripe template the “Chelsea”, also used by Portugal at the tournament. Along with the white wrap-around collar, a new French-style sleeve-stripe colouring system is also used to create one classy piece:
The away template is the slightly less-flashy “Aberdeen”, also used by Germany and Romania, with only white and green on show apart form the crest:
Later, in World Cup 86 qualifying, a white away version of the Chelsea appears in one match…:
…and a more basic home version without the pin-stripes:
A version of the older shield crest is reintroduced, with four shamrocks instead of three, and appearing without shield on an away shirt. Ireland make two landmark kit deals: Adidas and Opel. Branding of both will appear on all replica shirts going forward, with the latter initially in a skinny font with Opel logo above.
A version of the older shield crest is reintroduced, with four shamrocks instead of three. A mix of old and new is combined for the shirt too, as the flashy “wavy” template, also worn by Iraq, is used in only green and white:
The crest on the white and green away shirt has larger shamrocks for the crest, without shield:
Ireland sign a sponsorship deal with Opel, meaning all replica shirts and unofficial match jerseys will feature Opel branding, starting with the World Cup home and away. Initially, a skinny font with Opel logo above is used:
Another old crest from the 70s, mainly seen on programmes back then but making it into a couple of kits in 1977, is brought back with a fresh tweak in time for Ireland’s successful Euro 88 qualifying campaign, securing its place as an iconic symbol of Ireland’s dawning, football golden age. The orange on the crest is matched with orange trim on the collar and cuffs for the first time. After initially featuring both wordmark and logo, the Opel sponsors are also just a wordmark for the next two kits. Meanwhile, the Dutch wear one of the most famous shirts of all time on their way to Euro 88 glory, but it is hated by some of the main players and never seen again.
With Ruud Gullit and friends throwing a tantrum over the Netherlands’ new Adidas “Ipswich” template before Euro 88, the design is pulled and instead given to Ireland to go along with their new crest, originally seen on programmes back in the 70s. For the first time orange is seen on an Irish shirt, with the crest matched by trim on the cross-over v-neck collar:
The geometric theme of the home shirt is complement by another of Adidas’ new templates for the away, featuring shadow hexagons:
The replica versions feature Opel wordmark, sans logo:
For some irrational reason, the top Irish players hate the home shirt and it is ditched after the tournament. A new green shirt in the away template is used for World Cup 90 qualifiers:
A black training version is made too, and will be all the rage for collectors and hipsters years later:
After their bespoke 1988 shirts, which were kind of related to another Adidas design featuring bars around the sleeves and used by Egypt and Cameroon, Ireland are given another unique design for World Cup 90 with more orange collar trim and chevron shadow-pattern material.
For World Cup 90, Ireland are given the same template as UAE, meaning the first centralised crest since the 70s, but with a unique chevron shadow-pattern material:
The away shirt is the same template used by Egypt and Cameroon, but with orange collar trim:
Again the replica versions feature just the Opel wordmark:
Ireland continue wearing their World Cup 90 shirt in Euro 92 qualifying, but updating number style and crest by the end of the campaign. For the new Adidas Equipment shirts launched in 1992, the Opel logo reappears above the wordmark. When seen for the final time on an Irish shirt eight years later, the logo will be moved to the side of the wordmark.
The away shirt used at World Cup 90 is disliked by players this time and is replaced in 1991 with a design created for Cork City in the League of Ireland, produced in the Adidas licensed factory in Cork. No replicas are made available:
The home shirt remains the same for the Euro qualifiers, but the crest is updated to another new FAI design by the end of the campaign:
The away shirt also receives the new crest:
For Euro 92, the Adidas Equipment era with its new logo properly begins and Ireland wear it in same template as Germany:
For the first time, front-numbers appear on an Irish senior shirt:
The Opel logo returns on replicas, but now paced beside the wordmark (for reasons seen on the away shirt):
The away design used in qualifying is retained, as it was a Equipment style design anyway, but of course with updated brand logo too (making it the third version of this jersey):
The long bars create problems however when it comes to front-numbers, as they are forced below the crest for clarity:
On replicas of the away, the “Opel” intersects the long bars, with the logo placed beside it to account for the off-centring. This version in particular will later become a much-wanted cult-classic:
The home shirt replace is updated for World Cup 94 qualifying, with more traditional Opel sponsoring now used again:
The “Cork” away shirt is also retired after complaints from Adidas. A white version of the home shirt is issued instead…:
…complete with replica:
Adidas quickly drop the Equipment branding for 1994, giving Ireland another unique shirt for the World Cup with a wild FAI logo/trefoil shadow design in the centre of the home shirt, diagonal shadow-patterning on both home and away, and Irish flags on the sleeves of both home and away. They will be Ireland’s last Adidas-made kits for now.
Ireland are given the same template used by France and Spain for World Cup 94, with it’s three diamond-columns on the left, but with unique FAI/trefoil shadow-pattern. The result is Hawaiian shirt-esq madness, perfect for the 90s and for the sunny vibes of USA 94:
Oddly with this template, the left sleeve is a different piece of material to the rest of the front. Front-numbers were also needed again:
The sponsor is given a subtle outline to account for white-over-white section, thanks to the bombastic template:
The away shirt is the same as used by several other countries at the competition such as Sweden and Bulgaria, but with unique Irish diagonal shadow-patterning again:
Ireland sign with Umbro for Euro 96 qualifying. The crest is updated slightly, with the football within now not touching the outer-ring. In 1997, a controversial new orange away shirt is brought out.
Ireland join Spain as template-brothers once again for Euro 96, with this grandad-buttoned shirt. Unlike the Spanish effort, which was divided between red and navy after the stripes, the Irish keep most of the shirt green with some narrow shadow-stripping, Irish flag-incorporated stripes, and Irish flags on the sleeves:
The front-numbered and sponsored versions created a more complete look:
For the away, Adidas break with tradition and introduce a controversial orange shirt with black, white and green trim, in one of the popular templates of the day:
The front-numbers and sponsors are made white to match the Adidas wordmark and help them pop:
Anticipating backlash, Adidas and the FAI also prepare a white “third-shirt” in the same fashion, later seen during World Cup 98 qualification:
Umbro give Ireland some more unique shirts, with FAI shadow-designs again integral to the 96-97, 98-99 designs, and very narrow shadow-striping on the former.
Instead of another FAI motif, the Gaelic name of the country “Éire” is instead made part of the sublimated design for France 98, on top of very narrow shadow-striping. The basis for the shirt is that of the hosts’ jersery but without the main horizontal bars, creating a classic look which is somewhat of a tribute to 1980:
The front-number is positioned just high-enough to miss the “Éire”:
Fans feel hard done by, however, as the “Éire” is simply removed from replica versions to make way for the sponsor:
The away shirt is more of a true transposition of the French template, with gold returning – as part of the horizontal stripes – for the first time since the 80s:
For obvious reasons, the front-number is positioned far lower than on the home…:
…as is the sponsor:
Real Timeline/POTP Timeline convergence:
Ireland, now with Umbro, produce their final Opel sponsored shirts, which are soon updated to new sponsor Eircom. The last chapter of the Irish Adidas/Opel era closes.