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As Ireland's 23-year association with Umbro ends, we pick our 10 favourite jerseys

The Boys in Green wore the brand for the last time yesterday ahead of the switch to New Balance.

SINCE 1994, UMBRO has been the sports brand synonymous with Ireland’s international football teams.

But that is set to change as it was recently confirmed that New Balance will provide the gear from September, and yesterday’s World Cup qualifier with Austria was the current kit’s final appearance at senior level.

Umbro’s predecessor, Adidas, took over from O’Neill’s back in the mid-1980s. They were lucky enough to manufacture several classic strips for the Boys in Green during the golden age under Jack Charlton that featured three major tournaments — Euro ’88, Italia ’90 and USA ’94.

However, there would be consecutive play-off disappointments between 1995-2000 and the FAI’s new partners would have to wait until 2002 to taste qualification success.

Those early Umbro offerings followed the trends of the ’90s, meaning jerseys were loose-fitting, experimental and often featured loud graphics. They tended to stick to tradition with green shirts for home and white for away but, in 1997, launched the infamous orange and black strip.

By the time the World Cup finals in South Korea & Japan came around, there had been a change in direction towards simpler, more classic designs and they have tended to play it pretty safe over the past 15 years.

A number of black/grey kits were produced intermittently, and — much to the annoyance of fans — Opel, Eircom and 3 have all occupied the front of replica shirts as the main sponsor.

Now, with New Balance set to make its debut for the qualifier with Georgia on 2 September, we take a look back at some of our favourites from Umbro:

1994 (home)

John Aldridge Republic of Ireland 7/9/94 John Aldridge celebrates scoring against Latvia. Source: Inpho/James Meehan

1997 (goalkeeper)

Shay Given celebrates victory over Lithuania 10/9/1997 Shay Given after a win away to Lithuania.

2002 (home)

Steve Staunton 5/6/2002 DIGITAL Steve Staunton captaining Ireland at the 2002 World Cup. Source: INPHO

2002 (away)

Puyol and Robbie Keane DIGITAL Robbie Keane and Carles Puyol during Ireland's World Cup match with Spain. Source: INPHO

2007 (away)

Soccer - UEFA European Championship 2008 Qualifying - Group D - Wales v Ireland - Millennium Stadium Andy Reid playing Wales at the Millennium Stadium. Source: EMPICS Sport

2010 (home)

Damien Duff Damien Duff facing Brazil in a friendly. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

2011 (home)

Glenn Whelan Glenn Whelan during Euro 2012. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

2011 (away)

Richard Dunne Richard Dunne before Ireland's meeting with Italy in Poland. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

 2013 (away)

Seamus Coleman Seamus Coleman in a World Cup qualifier against Austria. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

2014 (home)

Aiden McGeady celebrates scoring his second goal of the game Aiden McGeady after scoring against Georgia in Tbilisi. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

And the worst…

1997 (away)

Roy Keane Republic of Ireland soccer. 2/4/1997. Source: © Billy Stickland/INPHO

Special edition ‘I had a Macedonia’ shirt (worn by the worst performer in training)

Mark Kennedy 25/10/1997 Mark Kennedy. Source: © INPHO/Billy Stickland

Agree? Which jerseys have you got a soft spot for? Tell us in the comments section below

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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