1 – Blue gray stripes for the beginnings
It is one of the first shirts of the Blues and at the beginning of XXe century, we do not do too much in lace: “When you look at the photos, you can see that the blue-gray stripes of the swimsuits differ from one outfit to another: some line up on the buttonhole line while other stripes frame it! “, tells Matthieu Delahais, who co-wrote with Bruno Colombari the book A jersey, a legend. Everything about the history of the French football team jersey since 1904 (1). The shorts are white and the socks are black.
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At the time, only the jersey was provided by the CFI, the French Interfederal Committee. With red collar and cuffs but without emblem, it will be worn 24 times between 1909 and 1914. It was not until 1921 to see the rooster systematically settle down (with rare exceptions).
“It was on August 31, 1920, during the semi-final of the Olympic Games between France and Czechoslovakia (French defeat 1-4) that the rooster was worn for the first time on the selection jersey. And not in 1909 as many sources claim ”, corrects Matthieu Delahais.
2 – 1960: the arrival of the armband
“An essential detail appears on this jersey worn from 1951 to 1962: the cartridge! “, says Matthieu Delahais. As early as 1952, it was added under the rooster with the wording of the match. “This is an important step because we can now date the shirts and link them to a meeting”, continues this computer scientist passionate about football, who began to collect information for his book in 2006. At the same time, the FFF suggested that the captain wear an armband to distinguish himself.
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This model was worn during the first Euro, which took place in France in 1960: only four teams then played the final phase, and the matches were played at the Parc des Princes (Paris) and at the Stade Vélodrome (Marseille). The home team must change jersey color if necessary. That of the Blues is therefore available in red: it will be worn five times during these years, against 66 for the blue jersey.
But the red color is a problem: “The TV starts to broadcast matches in black and white, and when the reds play against the blues, you can’t see anything. This will lead the teams to adopt contrasting colors, and the arrival of the white jersey in the 1960s. ”
3 – 1972: here are the tapes!
1972: first Adidas jersey, famous for its three stripes. Rather five in reality, because two white bands frame the blue, white and red. Originality? The three bands are not located on the sleeves, but at the side seam, from the hip to the armpits.
The author observes with amusement that the outfit is mismatched: if the top is stamped Adidas, the white shorts, it still bears the logo of the previous equipment supplier, Le Coq sportif – which would later become a subsidiary of its German competitor Adidas . “However, the equipment manufacturers were not allowed to put their logo on the jerseys, but the three stripes are present and the rooster too”, adds the author of A jersey, a legend. The collaboration with Adidas will last a little more than thirty-eight years, until the end of 2010, the beginning of the Nike era.
This jersey will only be worn once: “It has happened ten times in the history of the France team”, specifies Matthieu Delahais. But it will bring good luck to Jean-Michel Larqué, who will score his first goal in the selection during this match on September 2, 1972 against Greece, in Athens.
4 – Green: change of clothes
On June 10, 1978, the French team prepare to face Hungary in the World Cup in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Following last minute changes in the color of the shirts, the two teams are both dressed in white! The Blues, who do not have their spare jerseys, must fall back on the jerseys of a local club, Kimberley FC: a model with vertical green and white stripes. To top it off, the numbers on the jerseys did not match the numbers on the shorts! Because of this micmac, the game will start an hour late.
“This episode of the green jersey is well known, tells Matthieu Delahais. What is much less is that the same problem had already happened nine years earlier, again against Hungary, and that France had then worn the jersey… of Olympique Lyonnais! ” This precedent occurred on February 12, 1969 during a friendly match. Needless to say, this striped green jersey has only been worn once. And that it did not bring bad luck to the France team, which will win the score by 3-1 and will make this match without a stake in history.
5 – Iconic – The emblem of the first titles
1984: the new Euro jersey caused a sensation with the famous red band, on which the logo of the equipment manufacturer and the FFF cartridge under the rooster were placed. “It is the jersey of the first titles, Euro 1984 and the 1998 World Cup, the mythical jersey of French football”, summarizes Matthieu Delahais.
We do not change a winning model, the red band will therefore become the lucky charm of the Blues! This model is always associated with white shorts with a blue border and red socks. It will contribute to a perfect year 1984, during which the French team will win its twelve matches, including eight with this jersey, four (out of five) being played during the Euro which takes place in France.
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This jersey will be worn 14 times between April 1984 and February 1986 and it will then be necessary to wait twelve years before reviewing the red band. “It will be reused successfully in 2000, then with less success in 2004, 2008 and 2010”, nuances the author. This jersey is also legendary because it is also the one on which the first star of the Blues appeared, in September 1998.
6 – Marin, not to everyone’s taste
In 2011, the stripes are back but horizontally, for the away jersey of the Blues. The Nike equipment manufacturer unveils a striped sweater from which red is absent – “More a garment than a swimsuit”, emphasizes Matthieu Delahais – and which was worn only three times between March and September. Nike called on Karl Lagerfeld for its communication campaign and the famous fashion designer Alou Diarra, the captain of the Blues, in black and white.
Varied in popularity, this very original jersey quickly ceased to represent the French team, but it will remain unforgettable for Yann M’Vila, who scored his only goal in the national team that year. In West France, Laurent Blanc, the coach, will confide that “The striped sweater was a bit special but the women had adored it”.
The striped pattern is reused much more discreetly in 2014 and 2020. “And in 2020, the famous red band which made the legend of Adidas is re-exploited … by Nike”, specifies the author. Phew, it is very present on the jersey of Euro 2020 which began on June 11!