THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Notable kits of yesteryear

japanshirt19 June ~ When Japan's new professional league started in 1993, the members wanted to create a splash with their logos and shirts, and as a consequence adopted a series of extremely bright – one might almost say garish – kit designs. The national team took a similar approach with a blue, white and red shirt made by a Japanese company, Asics, on what was an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. But four years later, as Japan won through to France 1998, the new national team shirt design seemed to reflect the development of football as a more mature presence on the country's sporting landscape.

Originally conceived by Adidas for the qualifying tournament, the previous asymmetrical approach to shirt graphics was abandoned for a classic dark blue with a far more discreet red, white and blue wave motif around each arm. By the time the World Cup finals rolled around Japan had returned to Asics, but the design worn in France was virtually identical aside from the addition of some low-key white trim. It was this shirt that became the team's calling card, as players such as Hidetoshi Nakata and Masashi Nakayama took Japanese football on to the global stage for the first time. Mike Innes

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