England Football Online
Page Last Updated 15 October 2008
 
 
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República Argentina
Asociación del Fútbol Argentino

Foundation: 21 February 1893

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England vs. Argentina

Have you ever stopped to wonder why England wore red when they won the World Cup in 1966? Just me, then. Well, it wasn't always the second choice colour, and if it hadn't been for Argentina, maybe England would have been decked out in blue on that historic day.

Let me explain. Each team's colours are steeped in history and tradition. Football seems to have more than its fair share of superstitious fans. When colours are changed and teams then do well, they invariably keep those colours. Conversely, if the change coincides with a bad run or a painful experience, the colours are quickly discarded. If England had beaten Germany in the Euro '96 semi-final, there is little doubt that we would have seen more indigo blue change uniforms in England's wardrobe in the years that followed.

England's humiliating defeat at the 1950 World Cup to the un-fancied American team was experienced in their blue change uniform. Almost a year later, England faced Argentina for the first time, as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations, at Wembley. With Argentina wearing blue and white stripes, both of England's uniforms created a colour clash, though the blue of Argentina was a very light blue, compared to the navy blue of England. Nonetheless, a new red shirt was worn by the home side, though the socks remained navy.

Victory was achieved in dramatic circumstances, with two goals in the last eleven minutes wiping out the South Americans' lead. England met Austria in a new red uniform the following year. This was the game when Nat Lofthouse became the 'Lion of Vienna'. They then twice defeated West Germany, who were World Champions at the time. Red was well and truly established as the number two colour. They even tried blue again in 1959, against Peru, because of the home team's red sash, and suffered a 4-1 thrashing. This was the death knell for the blue change uniform. Only light blues have been worn as alternative colours since. And so it was that the first meeting with Argentina triggered the change to red, in which England triumphed on that July afternoon in 1966.

England's first visit to Argentina came two years after their first Wembley meeting. They met twice, though the first fixture's status in the record books is disputed due to England fielding a reserve side and Argentina playing their first team. Unfortunately, the second fixture was abandoned after 22 minutes, because torrential rain had left the pitch waterlogged and unplayable. For both games, the English team was in white, so the colour clash of 1951 was no longer an issue, or was it because they just didn't want to pack another set of uniforms for the tour?

They did not meet again until the 1962 World Cup, when England switched to all white and Argentina wore a blue shirt for the first time against England. Argentina's colours never veer from blue, white and black, and they never change when facing a team in blue shirts.

In 1964, they met in Brazil, and England wore their red uniform. This was the first game in which England wore plain red socks, without any white on them. There were also signs that they were running out of shirts in this last game of the tour, as a couple of players appeared without their Three Lions emblems in the second half.

The infamous encounter in the 1966 World Cup quarter-final saw England back in all white again and when Argentina returned to Wembley in 1974, with their own referee to satisfy them that they would be fairly treated, both teams were in their first-choice uniforms for the first time since their 1953 meeting.

England's Colours Against Argentina 1951-1974
No. Date Shirts Shorts Socks Gk Venue Shirts Shorts Socks
263 9 May 1951         Empire Stadium, Wembley, London            
277 17 May 1953         Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, Nuñez, Buenos Aires            
360 2 June 1962         Estadio Braden Copper Co., Rancagua, Chile      
382 6 June 1964         Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho, Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil            
407 23 July 1966         Empire Stadium, Wembley, London            
482 22 May 1974         Empire Stadium, Wembley, London            

In 1977, the sides met on what would have been a useful exercise prior to the following year's World Cup in Argentina, had England qualified, but they took the positives from a 1-1 draw, remaining unbeaten throughout the tour. Argentina had now changed their socks to white, whilst England were back in red.

A 19-year-old Diego Maradona impressed at Wembley in 1980, despite England's 3-1 win against the World Champions. It now became clear that whilst England were happy to change to red in Buenos Aires, their opponents did not consider that there was any colour clash when they came to Wembley, though they did switch to black socks on this occasion. We could not have known at that stage, what an impact Maradona would have on England's fortunes and on World Cup history.

The World Cup quarter-final of 1986 could not have had a bigger build-up. Not only did the countries have a history of controversial incidents on the field, but they had also been to war, over the Falkland Islands, since their previous meeting. Even something as trivial as what colours were to be worn on the big day had to be negotiated with extreme caution. The result was a unique combination.

It appears that both sides made a compromise, similar to the outfits worn at the 1962 World Cup. Argentina changed to blue shirts, for the first time against England since 1962, but only their shirts, whilst England ended up with a combination they had not worn before in their history. They kept their white shirts, but for some strange reason, also wore the light blue shorts and socks from their third-choice all-blue uniform, which had not seen the light of day before. The events of this match, for the reasons outlined at the top of the page, would ensure that this combination would never be worn again.

Five years passed before Argentina appeared at Wembley again, this time in white sleeves, and with  England, once again, switching to red, but 1998 brought another epic confrontation in the World Cup. This was the first time that Argentina wore a complete change uniform against England, a rather smart all blue kit, and England's all white completed the ideal contrast, as Michael Owen scored his brilliant individual goal, David Beckham got his marching orders and it all ended in tears for England in yet another penalty shootout.

Two years later, back at Wembley, in their first meeting during the season, Kevin Keegan was keen to see England in red to rekindle the passions of the past. This was the first of four internationals, the last four to be played at the old stadium, in which England wore red each time. Argentina, meanwhile, wore light-blue sleeves for the first time.

The colours were the same in their 2002 World Cup clash in Japan, the only difference being that David Seaman was in all black. Then, in 2005, they met in Genève, where England wore their first-choice uniform for the first time in 25 years against Argentina, and for the first time outside England since 1953. Argentina switched to their blue change uniform, but this time with white shorts. It was only the fourth time in 14 meetings (15 according to the Asociación del Fútbol Argentino), that they had changed from their traditional striped shirts, and all had been in neutral countries (Chile, Mexico, France and Switzerland).

England's Colours Against Argentina 1977-2005
No. Date Shirts Shorts Socks Gk Venue Shirts Shorts Socks
513 12 June 1977             Estadio Camilo Cichero, La Boca, Buenos Aires            
539 13 May 1980             Empire Stadium, Wembley, London            
618 22 June 1986             Estadio Azteca, Santa Úrsula, ciudad de México, Mexico      
672 25 May 1991             Empire Stadium, Wembley, London            
750 30 June 1998                 Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Étienne, France      
765 23 February 2000             Empire Stadium, Wembley, London            
792 7 June 2002             Sapporo Dōmu, Toyohira-ku, Sapporo-shi, Japan            
834 12 November 2005                 Stade de Genève, Genève, Switzerland      

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