Grail Football Shirts: Holland 1988 Home by adidas

Posted on 10/10/22

For the first installment of our new grail football shirts series we went straight to one of the most beautiful, rare and expensive replica kits of all-time, adidas’ Holland 1988 home shirt, the kit that won the 1988 European Championship which is to this day the Netherlands’ only tournament victory.

 

Holland 1988 kit

 

The Design

Something changed in the 1980s, football shirt design wasn’t just about making sure the players could distinguish between friend and foe on the pitch, it was about getting the kits in front of fans and ultimately making a few sales. adidas did this to perfection at Euro 1988.

In 1987 a new geometric football shirt was designed by adidas and distributed initially as the new West Germany away kit (green). It was soon popular amongst the designers and the template was made available for other National teams including the Soviet Union (red) and Holland (orange). The new design saw sublimated diagonal sections, with a futuristic fading, meeting in the middle of the shirt to create what looked like a series of upwards arrows. Whatever your interpretation of this design, it resonated with the Dutch strongly and they elected to use this pattern as their home kit for Euro '88. The Soviet Union also had this design designated as a home kit but given they seemed to wear a white kit at every possible opportunity at the tournament we can decipher that it wasn’t as popular with the Soviets.

The Netherlands iteration of the design was orange using white as the secondary colour to produce the fading effect between the grey diagonal lines in the geometric pattern. A very modern use of sublimation by adidas’ design team and a pretty wild pattern for one of the big teams at a tournament.

Holland wore this kit in five games at Euro 1988 on West German soil. They managed to beat their great German rivals in this kit at the semi-final stage and lifted the trophy in Munich defeating the Soviet Union in the final. The shirt was mainly paired with white shorts until the final where we saw the orange shorts appear.

 

Holland 1988 Home kit

 

The Player - Marco van Basten

We could list half of the team at this tournament and there wouldn’t be too many out of place in a top 100 players of all time list, However, we’ve decided to pick out the player that instantly comes to mind when you see this shirt, Marco van Basten.

If you showed the Holland ‘88 home kit to a random football fan they would instantly recall the many times they’ve seen van Basten volley home the winner in the final of Euro 1988. It’s the best goal we’ve seen in a major International final and it will take a lot to beat it to be honest. However, to get the full story we need to rewind a little bit to the match against England. Holland had lost their first match against the Soviet Union in Cologne and needed a spark to ignite their tournament. It was van Basten who gave them this with a stunning hattrick against one of the favourites in England. Another goal in the Semi-Final against arch rivals West Germany pretty much sealed the golden boot for the striker and after ‘that goal’ in the final he went on to win the Ballon D’or. Not a bad year for the Milan striker!

 

The Verdict

Although the shirt was actually only worn for five games they were the five most important in Dutch football history. Sometimes it’s a positive for a shirt to be short lived, it tends to amplify the affection fans feel for a shirt, although it does help when you win a tournament in it! It’s a football shirt that is worthy of our Grail status.

 

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