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Serie A in the 90s was the height of cool… Football Italia, James Richardson browsing through La Gazzetta dello Sport in the piazza, Paul Gascoigne, Roberto Baggio and Alessandro Del Piero’s all-conquering Juventus.
There was a lot to love about Italian football’s golden era, but perhaps its most captivating quality was the wonderful array of kits on display in Serie A across the decade. The vibrant colours of Parma, Palermo and Roma somehow added to the sense of glamour associated with calcio, at a time when the Premier League felt light-years behind football on the peninsula.
There were so many great Italian strips throughout the 90s, but here are five all-time classics that remain iconic to this day…
1. Sampdoria – 1990/91
Sampdoria have been lucky enough to play in one of the world’s great kits throughout their history – so iconic is their blue shirt with a black, white and red horizontal strip, it has remained remarkably consistent throughout the years.
So why is their 1990/91 edition the one that’s lodged in the memory of Serie A fans? That may have more to do with it being the year Sampdoria won the Scudetto than anything else. I Blucerchiati lifted the league trophy for the only time in their history thanks to a combined 31 goals from legendary strike-duo Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini.
That title was the centre-piece of an incredible few years for the Genoese side, who had previously won the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1990, before going on to reach the European Cup final in 1991/92 and win the Coppa Italia two years later. Alas, that era was as good as it got for Sampdoria – they haven’t won another trophy since and have even suffered relegated to Serie B on two occasions.
2. Fiorentina – 1998/99
From a kit that’s synonymous with success to one that’s essentially a reminder of what could have been. Despite leading Serie A for much of the 1998/99 season, Fiorentina ended up finishing third behind Milan and Lazio.
It’s not all about winning though. In the same way Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United side are held in such high esteem despite ultimately falling short, this La Viola team will be remembered for some of the stars who graced the Stadio Artemio Franchi that year.
Francesco Toldo, Rui Costa, Edmundo and, of course, 21-goal striker Gabriel Batistuta – this was an unforgettable team playing in an incredibly stylish violet strip.
3. Parma – 1998/99
Fiorentina weren’t the only side to wear one of the great Serie A kits in 1998/99. Parma’s eye-catching blue and yellow hoops were fitting colours for a team that burned so brightly throughout the 90s.
Their line-up towards the end of the decade contained a staggering array of talent, as the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram, Juan Sebastián Verón and Hernán Crespo lit up Italy and Europe.
I Gialloblu weren’t ever able to win the Serie A title, but they secured a UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia double that year. They did it in style too, both in terms of their footballing prowess and the shirts that they wore.
4. Napoli – 1990/91
The golden era of Diego Maradona was coming to a close by the 1990/91 season, but Napoli were still leading the way in the kit stakes. The ‘Mars’ sponsored shirts of that season may not quite match up to the timeless ‘Buitoni’ strips of the late 80s, but this is still a kit that conjures up memories of when El Pibe de Oro was strutting his stuff in Naples.
Things were never quite as good again at the Stadio San Paolo and that year’s Supercoppa Italiana trophy was the last honour the club won for 21 years. But after a baron spell that saw the Neapolitans fall as low as Serie C the good times are back in one of Italy’s most evocative cities – they’ve finished inside Serie A’s top six for the last decade and lifted the Coppa Italia in 2012 and 2014.
5. Roma – 1991/92
Much like Sampdoria, Roma’s kit is so unique that it looks fantastic year in, year out. It’s hard to go wrong with that imperial purple and golden yellow combination, but 1991/92 was the year that the club got their shirt absolutely spot on.
The retro Adidas logo in the corner is reminiscent of some great 80s shirts – from Hellas Verona’s title win in 1984/85 to AC Milan’s 1988/89 strip – and the ‘Barilla’ sponsor is in a font that’s suitably of its time. Ultimately it’s a simple design and timeless as a result.
Roma have released some wonderful kits in recent years, but they’ll have a hard time topping their 1991/92 vintage.