Overview

There are some sniffy journalists from broadsheet newspapers who insist that Italia ’90 was in fact dogtod, and that we must all immediately critically reassess the tournament and agree with them. Perhaps they think we don’t know that it lacked the flair and attacking intent of other finals (it’s the lowest scoring tournament to date) and that defensive approaches and occasionally cynical thuggery were the order of the day.

But of course we do, and besides, who doesn’t marvel at the savage beauty in seeing Claudio Caniggia being kicked up in the air by a series of tackles, each containing more murderous intent than the last? It’s just that regardless of the measly 2.21 goals per game ratio, there is so much to fondly remember about Italia ’90, a tournament low on goals but high on drama…

Luciano Pavarotti’s ‘Nessun Dorma’ providing a high class soundtrack, his operatic vocals making even Steve Bull and Mick McCarthy look graceful and godlike in slow-motion montage footage. The impact of Cameroon and in particular their age defying, corner quadrant dancing forward Roger Milla. The architectural splendour of refurbished stadia, such as those in Milan (PHOTO) and Genoa (PHOTO). Paul Gascoigne’s buccaneering play and emotional outbursts. The Lego brick weirdness of ball-headed mascot Ciao (PHOTO). The bulging eyed exultation of surprise top scorer Salvatore Schillaci and the cavalier eccentricity of Rene Higuita, and the unlikely knockout stage qualification of Costa Rica, Ireland and the aforementioned ‘Indomitable Lions’ of Cameroon.

Then there was the kits, which is naturally our focus.

What were the trends?

Half of the 24 teams at the finals had polo collars on their shirts: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, England, Italy, Netherlands, Scotland, Spain, the Soviet Union and the United Arab Emirates. This was two more than had collars in Mexico ‘86.

Of the others, two sides wore wrap-over crew necks – Colombia and West Germany- and everyone else wore V necks: Argentina, Cameroon, Egypt, Ireland, Romania, South Korea, Sweden, Uruguay, USA and Yugoslavia.

Just five teams had a change kit distinct in design from the primary kit, as opposed to having the same template colour swapped, those five were: Argentina, Costa Rica, England, Scotland and West Germany. Though England’s change shirt was at first glance the same style as the home (the collar style and taping was the same), the change featured a pattern that was printed on, whereas the primary shirt had a pattern woven into the fabric.

Some teams had just one set of shorts that were used with both primary and change shirts, while others had two sets of shorts in the same colour, something you can’t imagine happening nowadays. Czechoslovakia and Sweden used the same shorts in every game, whereas the Soviet Union and Egypt had two distinct pairs of white shorts. The ‘primary’ Soviet shorts carried the same geometric pattern as the ‘home’ shirt, wearing a white set without a print with the change shirt. Similarly Egypt had two sets of white shorts, one with red trim for the primary kit, and another with green trim for use with the green change shirt. The same black socks were used in all of the Pharaohs games.

Dye-sublimation was in greater evidence in Italy. At Mexico ‘86 only four sides, Bulgaria, Denmark, Iraq and Portugal had obvious prints on their shirts, but there were twice as many teams with sublimated shirts at Italia ‘90: Austria, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, Soviet Union, Scotland (away shirt), UAE, West Germany and Yugoslavia.

Drop shadow numbers proved very popular, used by half of the teams in the tournament: the hosts Italy and also Austria, Belgium, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Romania, Soviet Union, Uruguay and West Germany. Most other teams used outlined block numbers, the exceptions being the Netherlands, Ireland (who used the tri-line adidas numbers first seen in the 70s) and USA.

Several teams had shorts numbers that were distinct from the shirt numbers: both of the Umbro teams, England (PHOTO) and Scotland, but also the Netherlands

We were a few years away from all over prints on outfield player shirts, but we were given a preview via goalkeeper kits, especially the adidas jerseys which were somewhat vivid and bold. Popular templates were the Montevideo (used by Czechoslovakia (PHOTO), Soviet Union, USA and Yugoslavia in yellow with grey squiggles, and Romania who had an orange with orange version), the Taifun (used by Romania and most famously, by West Germany’s Bodo Ilgner (PHOTO)) and a multi-coloured top described by the excellent Museum of Jerseys* as the ‘Space Invaders’ jersey (which was worn by Argentina, Colombia (PHOTO) and Egypt). A lot of colourful keeper jerseys were matched with black shorts at Italia ’90, but a noteworthy exception was the purple and yellow Puma get-up issued to Austria’s Klaus Lindenberger which had sensational striped shorts (PHOTO).

*speaking of MoJ, check out their great work cataloguing every kit worn at Italia ’90 and their punishingly comprehensive take on the evolution of adidas goalkeeper jerseys.

Some of the best kits…

West Germany‘s abstract flag pattern primary shirts from Euro ’88 were so good they were reused (PHOTO), the only changes being embroidered adidas logos rather than heat applied plastic and Italia ’90 text. They’re quite possibly the greatest shirts ever, let alone part of the the best Italia ’90 kit. Ina Franzmann’s pattern, which she believed would not be used given the post-war awkwardness surrounding the West German flag, is as fresh now and it was over 30 years ago. The design being reversed for the shirts used in Russia in 2018 (albeit in monochrome) is testament to that.

Franzmann also designed the pattern used on West Germany’s away shirts, worn just once at Italia ’90, in the semi-final against England (PHOTO). Though more readily associated with Holland’s Euro ’88 triumph, the pattern looks great in West Germany’s change colour of green. The template deserves a more exotic name that ‘Ipswich’ (PHOTO) don’t you think?

Colombia‘s shirts shared some traits with the West Germany home (PHOTO), the wrapover crew necks, the ‘batwing’ construction, but the tricolour ribbon is confined to the sleeves. Colombia switching to yellow primary shirts in 1994 makes some people believe they wore their change kit in all three group stage games in Italy, but red shirts were first choice at this juncture.

Umbro’s England primary shirts for the 1986 World Cup looked ahead of the fashion curve with their thin shadow stripes in Mexico, and the double-diamond brand pulled off the same trick four years later in 1990 (PHOTO). The sophisticated Jacquard weave stood out among a mass of shirts with guess what?  Thin shadow stripes.  The smart polo collar over a button up, split inset panel gave this shirt a structured look that made deep V neck shirts such as Cameroon’s home look shapeless in comparison.

That said, there was a fun and funky feel to the kits of Cameroon, who shared a template with Egypt. The brilliant yellow with green contrast trim change shirts, worn only once (PHOTO) and in a chastening 4-0 group stage defeat by the Soviet Union, were the best example of the design.

Yugoslavia‘s underarm lightning bolt primary shirts (PHOTO) provided an assertive look for a team representing six federal units at a tournament for the last time. The Yugoslavia that competed at France ’98 represented only Serbia and Montenegro.

Scotland‘s away kit (PHOTO) might be remembered for the shock 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in Genoa, but it’s a striking and lovely kit nonetheless.

Austria‘s two shirts featured an intriguing pattern of twisted stripes (PHOTO), and placed the Puma logo over the federation crest so the stripes in a vortex design is unbroken. This is a hugely underrated shirt design.

Among the worst…

The geometric pattern that decorated the primary shirts of Czechoslovakia (PHOTO) and the Soviet Union (PHOTO) just didn’t work somehow. Mexico might have worn this template too had they not been disqualified from international competition, ruling them out of Italia’ 90.

Great looking kit match-ups

West Germany v Colombia (PHOTO)

USA v Austria (PHOTO)

Ireland v Romania (PHOTO)

Italy v Argentina (PHOTO)

England v West Germany (PHOTO)

Notable mash ups…

Argentina were the mashiest of teams, wearing five kit variations in seven games, six if you count Diego Maradona wearing Napoli socks against Yugoslavia (PHOTO).

Cameroon’s use of the change kit green socks v Colombia with their primary shirts and socks gave that outfit a cohesive look (PHOTO) compared to their first choice yellow socked combination.

The Never Seens…

A number of kits went unused at Italia ’90. You might think that they would belong mostly be teams eliminated at the group stages, but both England and Italy played 7 games without the need to wear anything other than their primary kits. In England’s case they had two full kits unused as they took a third kit (PHOTO) with them. Spain didn’t wear an away shirt, though their change shorts and socks were matched with the home shirt against Uruguay. Brazil and USA wore elements of their change kits, but both sides’ blue shirts went unused.

What else?

The size of the number one on Higuita’s shirt was preposterous (PHOTO).

Argentina manager Carlos Bilardo ordered the removal of the side stripes on the primary kit shorts after the opening game defeat against Cameroon (BEFORE PHOTO and AFTER PHOTO).

Two of the teams from former Communist states, Czechoslovakia and Romania, went without Federation crests.  The Czechs favoured a simple flag applique, whereas the Romanian shirts had only the adidas trefoil.

USSR didn’t have the familiar CCCP chest applique in Italy, and this was the last time we’d see the Soviet Union represented in a tournament, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) played in their stead at Euro 92 before the total break-up of the 15 Union members. Similarly Czechoslovakia would no longer see tournament action, they completed 1994 World Cup qualifiers as the Representation of Czechs and Slovaks (RCS) before the football bodies of the Czech Republic and Slovakia became separate entities.

Costa Rica changed primary shirts after the group stage, replacing the white collar and sewn on rectangular Lotto patch versions (PHOTO) for self-coloured collar shirts that had Lotto logo embroidered (PHOTO). They had a shorts and sock change too, choosing navy shorts and plain white socks for the Round of 16 game with Czechoslovakia, abandoning the socks with Lotto logos used against Scotland in Genoa. Their black and white striped change shirts were a nod to the recently defunct club CS Libertad, which handily doubled up as a nod to Juventus of Turin, where Costa Rica played two games.

Colombia’s shirts were similar in style to West Germany, but with stripes restricted to just the sleeves and some trim detail on the collar and cuffs. Both team’s shirts had a ‘batwing’ construction, where just two panels were sewn together.

This was the last tournament where Brazil used a Jules Rimet Trophy graphic (PHOTO) instead of the federation logo. It was also the last time Topper made Brazil’s kits – the Seleção Brasileira wore Umbro in 1994 and have been in Nike since 1996.

Official’s were issued all-black kit (PHOTO) for the last time at a World Cup, though red shirts were used when Scotland wore their navy primary shirts.

The kit supplier breakdown was:

15 kits – adidas 2 kits – Puma 2 kits – Umbro 1 kit – Diadora (though Italy’s shirts did not feature an external maker mark) 1 kit – Topper 1 kit – Lotto 1 kit – Rapido 1 kit – Le Coq Sportif

Kit Tracker

Fixture Kits
Group B  Fr 8th Jun 1990 Argentina 0 Cameroon 1

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Argentina: Primary kit,  Grey keeper kit PHOTO 

Cameroon: Primary kit, blue/grey keeper jersey PHOTO 

Group D Sa 9th Jun 1990 United Arab Emirates 0 Colombia 2

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UAE: Primary kit, Black/green keeper jersey

Colombia: Primary kit, Grey keeper jersey

Group B Sa 9th Jun 1990 Soviet Union 0 Romania 2

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Soviet Union: Change kit

Romania: Change kit 

Group A Sa 9th Jun 1990 Italy 1 Austria 0

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Italy: Primary kit, Grey keeper jersey

Austria: Primary kit, Purple/yellow keeper jersey

Group A   Su 10th Jun 1990 USA 1 Czechoslovakia 5

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USA: Primary kit, yellow/grey keeper jersey

Czechoslovakia: Primary kit, yellow/grey keeper jersey

Group C  Su 10th Jun 1990 Brazil 2 Sweden 1

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Brazil: Primary kit, blue keeper kit (first half) green (second half)

Sweden: Change kit, green/black keeper jersey

Group D  Su 10th Jun 1990 West Germany 4 Yugoslavia 1

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West Germany: Primary kit, purple/grey keeper jersey

Yugoslavia: Primary kit, yellow/black keeper jersey

Group C  Mo 11th Jun 1990 Costa Rica 1 Scotland 0

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Costa Rica: Primary kit, blue/black keeper jersey

Scotland: Change kit, grey/yellow keeper jersey

Group F  Mo 11th Jun 1990 England 1 Ireland 1

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England: Primary kit, yellow keeper jersey

Ireland: Primary kit, yellow keeper jersey

Group E Tu 12th Jun 1990 Belgium 2 South Korea 0

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Belgium: Change kit, blue/sky blue keeper jersey

South Korea: Primary kit, green keeper kit

Group F Tu 12th Jun 1990 Netherlands 1 Egypt 1

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Netherlands: Change kit, blue/black keeper kit

Egypt: Change kit, keeper kit

Group E  We 13th Jun 1990 Uruguay 0 Spain 0

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Uruguay: Primary kit, silver keeper jersey

Spain: MASH-UP, red (p), white (c), white (c), green keeper jersey

Group B We 13th Jun 1990 Argentina 2 Soviet Union 0

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Argentina: Primary kit with alternate black shorts, purple/green keeper jersey

Soviet Union: Change kit, yellow/grey keeper jersey

Group B Th 14th Jun 1990 Cameroon 2 Romania 0

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Cameroon: Primary kit, purple/grey keeper jersey

Romania: Primary kit, orange keeper jersey

Group D Th 14th Jun 1990 Yugoslavia 1 Colombia 0

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Yugoslavia: Change kit, grey keeper kit

Colombia: Primary kit, black,/purple/green keeper kit

Group A Th 14th Jun 1990 Italy 1 USA 0

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Italy: Primary kit, Grey keeper jersey

USA: MASH-UP white (p), white (c), white (p), yellow/grey keeper jersey

Group A Fr 15th Jun 1990 Austria 0 Czechoslovakia 1

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Austria: Primary kit, purple/yellow keeper kit

Czechoslovakia: MASH-UP red(p), white (p), white (c), yellow/grey keeper jersey

Group D  Fr 15th Jun 1990 West Germany 5 United Arab Emirates 1

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West Germany: Primary kit, purple/grey keeper jersey

United Arab Emirates: Change kit, black/green keeper jersey

Group C  Sa 16th Jun 1990 Brazil 1 Costa Rica 0

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Brazil: MASH-UP yellow (p), blue (p), blue (c) blue keeper jersey

Costa Rica: Change kit, black/green keeper jersey

Group C Sa 16th Jun 1990 Sweden 1 Scotland 2

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Sweden: Primary kit,

Scotland: Primary kit, 

Group F Sa 16th Jun 1990 England 0 Netherlands 0

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England: Primary kit, yellow keeper jersey

Netherlands: Primary kit, blue/turquoise blue keeper kit

Group F  Su 17th Jun 1990 Ireland 0 Egypt 0

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Ireland: Change kit, yellow keeper jersey

Egypt: Primary kit,  black/purple/green keeper jersey

Group E Su 17th Jun 1990 South Korea 1  Spain 3

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S Korea: Change kit, green keeper kit

Spain: Primary kit, green keeper jersey

Group E Su 17th Jun 1990 Belgium 3 Uruguay 1

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Belgium: Primary kit, yellow/grey keeper jersey

Uruguay: Change kit, silver keeper jersey

Group B  Mo 18th Jun 1990 Argentina 1 Romania 1

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Argentina: MASH-UP Sky blue/white (p), white (a), white (p), purple/green keeper jersey

Romania: Primary kit, blue/sky blue keeper jersey

Group B  Mo 18th Jun 1990 Cameroon 0 Soviet Union 4

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Cameroon: Change kit, blue/grey keeper jersey

Soviet Union: Primary kit, black/grey keeper jersey

Group D Tu 19th Jun 1990 West Germany 1 Colombia 1

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West Germany: Primary kit, purple keeper jersey

Colombia: MASH-UP Red (p), blue (p), red (a), black/purple/green keeper kit

Group D Tu 19th Jun 1990 Yugoslavia 4 United Arab Emirates 1

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Yugoslavia: Primary kit, grey/black keeper jersey

United Arab Emirates: Primary kit, black/green keeper jersey

Group A  Tu 19th Jun 1990 Italy 2 Czechoslovakia 0

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Italy: Primary kit, Grey keeper jersey

Czechoslovakia: Change kit, yellow/grey keeper jersey

Group A Tu 19th Jun 1990 Austria 2 USA 1

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Austria: Change kit, purple/yellow keeper jersey

USA: Primary kit, yellow/grey keeper jersey

Group C  We 20th Jun 1990 Brazil 1 Scotland 0

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Brazil: Primary kit, green keeper jersey

Scotland: Primary kit,  grey/yellow keeper jersey

Group C We 20th Jun 1990 Sweden 1 Costa Rica 2

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Sweden: Primary kit, black/green keeper jersey

Costa Rica: Change kit, sky blue keeper jersey

Group E Th 21st Jun 1990 South Korea 0 Uruguay 1

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South Korea: Primary kit, yellow keeper kit

Uruguay: Change kit WITH ALT. PLAIN SOCKS, silver keeper jersey

Group E Th 21st Jun 1990 Belgium 1 Spain 2

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Belgium: Change kit, yellow/grey keeper jersey

Spain: Primary kit, green keeper jersey

Group F Th 21st Jun 1990 Ireland 1 Netherlands 1

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Ireland: Change kit, yellow keeper jersey

Netherlands: Primary kit, blue/sky blue keeper jersey

Group F Th 21st Jun 1990 England 1 Egypt 0

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England: Primary kit, yellow keeper jersey

Egypt: Primary kit, black/purple/green keeper jersey

Round of 16  Sa 23rd Jun 1990 Cameroon 2 Colombia 1 (AET)

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Cameroon: MASH-UP green (p), red (p), green (c), green/black keeper jersey

Colombia: MASH-UP red (c), blue (c), yellow (p), grey keeper jersey

Round of 16  Sa 23rd Jun 1990 Czechoslovakia 4 Costa Rica 1  PHOTO PHOTO PHOTO Czechoslovakia: MASH-UP white (c), white (c), blue (p), yellow/grey keeper jersey

Costa Rica: ALTERNATE primary kit, yellow/black keeper jersey

Round of 16 Su 24th Jun 1990 Brazil 0 Argentina 1

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Brazil: MASH-UP Yellow (p), blue (p), blue (c), green keeper jersey

Argentina: MASH-UP sky blue/white (p), white (c), white (p), black/purple/green keeper jersey

Round of 16 Su 24th Jun 1990 West Germany 2 Netherlands 1

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W Germany: Primary kit, purple/grey keeper jersey

Netherlands: Primary kit, blue/turquoise keeper jersey

Round of 16 Mo 25th Jun 1990 Ireland 0 Romania 0 (AET, 5-4 on pens)

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Ireland: Primary kit, grey keeper jersey

Romania: Primary kit, blue/sky blue keeper jersey

Round of 16 Mo 25th Jun 1990 Italy 2 Uruguay 0

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Italy: Primary kit, Grey keeper jersey

Uruguay: MASH-UP white (c), black (p), white (c), silver keeper jersey

Round of 16  Tu 26th Jun 1990 Spain 1 Yugoslavia 2  (AET)

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Spain: Primary kit, green keeper jersey

Yugoslavia: Change kit, yellow/grey keeper kit

Round of 16  Tu 26th Jun 1990 England 1 Belgium 0 (AET)

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England: Primary kit, yellow keeper jersey

Belgium: Primary kit, blue/sky blue keeper jersey

Quarter Final  Sa 30th Jun 1990 Yugoslavia 0 Argentina 0 (AET, 2-3 on pens)

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Yugoslavia: MASH-UP white (c)/white (c)/red (p), yellow keeper

Argentina: MASH-UP blue (c)/black (p)/white (p)*, black/purple keeper
* Maradona wears NR branded Napoli socks 

Quarter Final  Sa 30th Jun 1990 Italy 1 Ireland 0

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Italy: Primary kit, Grey keeper jersey

Ireland: Change kit, yellow keeper jersey

Quarter Final  Su 1st Jul 1990 West Germany 1 Czechoslovakia 0

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W Germany: Primary kit, purple/grey keeper jersey

Czechoslovakia: Primary kit, yellow/grey keeper jersey

Quarter Final 1 Su 1st Jul Jun 1990 England 3 Cameroon 2 (AET)

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England: Primary kit, yellow keeper jersey

Cameroon: Primary kit, green/black keeper jersey

Semi Final  Tu 3rd Jul 1990 Italy 1 Argentina 1 (AET, 3-4 on pens)

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Italy: Primary kit, Grey keeper jersey

Argentina: Primary kit, black/purple/green keeper jersey

Semi Final  We 4th Jul 1990 England 1 West Germany 1 (AET, 3-4 on pens)

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England: Primary kit, yellow keeper jersey

W Germany: Change kit, purple/grey keeper jersey

Third Place game  Sa 7th Jul 1990 Italy 2 England 1

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Italy: Primary kit, Grey keeper jersey

England: Primary kit, yellow keeper jersey

Final  Su 8th Jul 1990 West Germany 1 Argentina 0

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W Germany: Primary kit, purple/grey keeper jersey

Argentina: Change kit, black/purple/green keeper jersey