YEARS BEFORE IRELAND reached its Celtic Tiger pinnacle, a generation of footballers were showing us how to live excessively and accessorise in crass and mindblowing ways.
Italia ’90 sparked a lifelong love affair with football for many souls and players such as Zinedine Zidane, Michael Owen, Gabriel Batistuta and Roy Keane strengthened the bonds.
This is a tribute to a time when collars became talking points and agents put impressionable pop-stars together with naïve footballers for tabloid gold.
Here is everything the aspiring footballer needed in the decade that Ace of Base did not forget:
Curtain fringes and middle partings were so hip
Bleached hair, like Gazza in 1996, or a mullet like Chris Waddle’s was also acceptable.
Darren ‘Dazza’ Anderton and Chris Waddle of England and Spurs ‘lore. (Tony Marshall & Phil O’Brien/EMPICS Sport )
Nose strips helped you breathe easier and score more
Robbie Fowler started the trend and that’s all it turned out to be. Option B was Vicks Vapo-rub on the jersey, championed by Patrick Vieira.
Fowler: Friend of the dockers, scourge of the Toffees. (© INPHO/Allsport)
If record companies came calling, you answered
It was all kicked off by Johnny Barnes and his stunning contribution to World in Motion, England’s song for Italia ’90. Andy Cole also had a crack and Liverpool had their very own rap. That man Gazza sang about Fog on the Tyne and Ian Wright topped (or bottomed) them all:
YouTube credit: GRASHOOPER RU
The big collar was all the rage
There were plenty of differing styles but Stan Collymore and Eric Cantona, when he wasn’t getting niggled by Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock, wore them best.
(David Kendall/PA Archive and Tom Honan/INPHO)
If you were a goalkeeper, you could go wandering
Fabien Barthez loved a stroll outside his box, Peter Schmeichel scored a header against Rotor Volgograd and Paraguay’s Luis Chilavert was a free and penalty-taking legend. Nobody topped the granddaddy of them all, Rene Higuita of Colombia, though:
YouTube credit: 0yesha0
Flash suits were a deserved treat for reaching Wembley
Liverpool were the worst offenders, in 1996 before they played Manchester United, and earned the ‘Spice Boys’ nickname. Arsenal, under the French influence, were also guilty of some naff [that was a popular word back then] threads.
Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman in their Armani suits. (Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport)
Baggy jerseys made you run faster
A youthful Damien Duff in his streamline Ireland jersey, circa 1998. (© INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)
It was best if you stayed away from this guy
Roy Keane was a man obsessed with winning and he did not suffer fools gladly. He has chilled out a lot since then.
Just the yellow card here for this friendly nip at Oldham’s Neil Pointon:
YouTube credit: Zorg2006
Move fast before someone makes a move on ‘Baby’
Young footballers and female pop singers/dancers gravitated towards each other in the late 90s. Too late for the Shakespeare Sisters though.
Victoria Adams and David Beckham get engaged: I give it a year. (Photo John Giles.PA.)
Finally, get one of these ‘on the go’ phones.
Ask Arsene for a loan; he won’t mind.
Wenger in 1998: “I didn’t see it.” (Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport)