Scotland continued consistently to punch above their weight, with Jock Stein taking over from Ally MacLeod after the humiliation of Argentina 1978 as manager. Stein, the finest Scottish manager of his generation, suffered a heart attack in the crucial World Cup qualifier against Wales and died shortly afterwards. The team qualified for the World Cup Finals in 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1998 as well as reaching the final stages of the European Championship in 1992 and 1996, where they were eliminated by the Auld Enemy.
Thereafter the national side went into relative decline.
1981 v Israel
25/2/81 Tel Aviv
In 1980 Umbro updated their design by altering the collar and adding the SFA crest to the shorts. The "home" kit was sometimes worn with white stockings to avoid colour clashes. The new change kit in bright red and navy was a major departure from tradition. A second innovation was the addition of player's surnames on the back of their shirts for the first time.
1982 World Cup Finals
1982 v Switzerland
1983 v Canada
The new designs introduced in time for the 1982 World Cup Finals, held in Spain, was a basic Umbro template of the period with a fine contrasting seam between collar and sleeve. The red and navy change kit also received a face lift and now included fashionable fine pin-stripes on the shirt.
The words "FIFA World Cup - Spain 1982" were embroidered below the badge for the World Cup finals and players wore short sleeved shirts. The red change kit was not used in Spain.
1986 World Cup Finals
1986 World Cup Finals Change
The new "home" kit is forever associated with a dramatic World Cup qualifier in Wales when Scotland narrowly clinched a play-off place against Australia with a disputed penalty nine minutes from the end. The stress proved too much for Scotland's manager, Jock Stein, who suffered a heart attack and died shortly afterwards.
As well as a bizarre horizontal band across the shorts, a small "SFA" logo was sewn onto the right sleeve of each shirt. A brand new change kit in yellow and navy mirrored the design of the "home" kit.
Alex Ferguson managed the team during a disappointing 1986 World Cup finals campaign, when they were eliminated in the first round with only a single point. The kits for the tournament were made in aertex and lacked the textured bands on the regular shirts: the yellow and navy change kit was not used.
1989 v Cyprus
1990 World Cup Finals
1990 WCF Change
Scotland's new navy kit was launched at Wembley on 21 May 1988 against England and was clearly intended to appeal to the market for leisure wear, with a number of novel features. These included a redesigned crest, a neat button-down collar with a tartan inner plaquet, a new SFA logo sewn into the right hand sleeve and a fine pinstripe. The shorts incorporated a finely striped inset and two-tone stripes. To partner this outfit, Umbro designed a radical new change kit with yellow and navy hoops, worn for the first time in Cyprus in a European Championship qualifier with white socks.
Scotland qualified for their fifth consecutive World Cup finals and kicked off Italia '90 wearing their change kit against Costa Rica. After an embarrassing 0-1 defeat, manager Andy Roxburgh appeared to criticize the decision to change and for their last two group games, Scotland wore their normal navy shirts against Sweden (a 2-1 win) and Brazil (a narrow 0-1 defeat that ended their campaign). The Italia '90 kits added squad numbers to the shorts and had the usual commemorative embroidery below the badge on the shirts.
Umbro's 1991 design revived the old fashioned style of stockings albeit with an abstract motif that was repeated on the shorts and right sleeve. The shorts were longer and, like the shirts, of a loose fit while a complex shadow pattern was woven into both. When compared with the revolutionary new change kit, the home outfit looked positively conservative. Introduced when Scotland played a European qualifier in San Marino on 1 May 1995, the white shirt featured a dramatic red and purple flash and was paired with purple or white shorts.
Squad numbers were worn on the front of the shirts in Euro '92 in Sweden, the first time that Scotland had appeared in the final stages of this tournament.
The SFA decided to follow the example of their counterparts in England and stagger the introduction of new kits, which had previously been retained for three years. In 1993 an outrageous design in salmon pink and purple was introduced and appeared when Scotland played Italy in Rome on 13 October. A 1-3 defeat in this match meant that for the first time in 20 years, Scotland would not appear in the World Cup finals.
Euro '96 Change
For years Scotland's supporters had followed their team around the world wearing a motley collection of tartan clothing, earning the name "The Tartan Army." In 1994 the SFA commissioned a tartan of their own, which Umbro used to create the most audacious design ever worn by a national side. The shorts and body were in tartan while the sleeves, shoulders and stockings were navy and the whole ensemble was trimmed in purple and yellow. From a distance the kit appeared to be entirely dark blue and it was only when viewed at close range that the observer could appreciate the wealth of detailing.
The salmon and purple change kit was retained for 1994-95 and was replaced by yet another novel design in 1995. Basically white, the new strip featured the main colours of the SFA tartan, purple, dark green and navy as extravagant flashes.
Scotland proudly wore their tartan kit in the Euro '96 competition in England where the Auld Enemy won 2-0 to effectively end their tournament. The change kit was not needed.
Following Euro '96, Umbro returned to a traditional look for their next offering, albeit with very modern flashes and piping. The collar included some fine detailing, including a tiny St Andrews' flag on the fly and a red lion rampant on the button. "SFA" appeared discretely on the front of the shirt while Umbro's logo type dominated above the national crest. Scotland wore this outfit in the extraordinary match in Estonia when they kicked off unopposed, the Estonian team having failed to turn up due to a dispute.
The new change kit once again introduced a novel colour scheme (Scotland have no established alternative set of colours) in deep gold and navy with red trim. The shirts featured a pattern woven in light yellow made up of the national crest.
1998 World Cup Finals
1998 WCF Change
Once Scotland qualified for the France '98 World Cup Finals, Umbro introduced a new "home" kit. The additional trimmings to shirt and shorts were dispensed with while the SFA tartan re-appeared, this time discretely placed at the collar and cuffs. The gold change kit was retained and used once (with the "home" stockings) for the game with Norway.
Squad numbers were worn on the front of players' shirts in the qualifying games for the European Championships that began in 1999 and another salmon pink change kit was introduced, this time teamed with navy and trimmed in white, and in a rather more muted shade than the 1993-95 version. This set was the last to be designed by Umbro for the SFA.
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