With Mark Hughes in charge, Wales once again came agonisingly close to qualifying for a major tournament, this time Euro 2004 in Portugal, only to fall short in a two-legged play-off against Russia. After a brave 0-0 draw in Moscow (a result that was allowed to stand even though a Russian player failed a drug test), the Russians won the return in Cardiff 1-0. Hughes resigned after a disappointing 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign and was replaced by John Toshack.
From 2000 Wales played at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff but with attendances of 14,500 - 29,000 in a stadium built to hold 72,500, the atmosphere was poor and led to calls to resume playing fixtures in Wrexham, Swansea and Cardiff City's new stadium.
The FAW signed a contract with another Italian manufacturer, Kappa, at the beginning of 2000 but had to wait until the autumn to take delivery of the new Kombat 2000 kits because Kappa wanted to launch these at Euro 2000 in Italy. As a result a stop-gap all-red strip was provided and worn in friendly matches with Brazil and Portugal. No replicas of this kit were made.
The new Kombat 2000 "home" kit made its first appearance in Minsk on 2 September in a World Cup qualifying match with Belarus, a game that the Welsh won against expectations, 2-1. The kit reintroduced the white shorts worn until 1966 and was devoid of any surplus trim. The figure-hugging top was designed to show-off the physiques of modern footballers and deter shirt-pulling. Fashionable reverse seams were picked out in red on the change kit, which was a simple reversal of the home version.
For their game with Armenia, match details were embroidered in gold below the crest to mark Wales' 500th international match. The yellow and blue third kit was used just once, a home friendly with the Czech Republic on 27 March 2002, to the bemusement of supporters.
After two seasons, the Welsh kits were updated to the imaginatively named Kombat 2002 range. All red returned to favour with the addition of white side panels to the shirts and shorts, with reversed seams picked out in white. The away kit was an exact mirror image in white and red but was not used. Sensibly, Kappa produced replica versions in much larger sizes than those supplied to players to cater for supporters whose physiques were less svelte than those of professional footballers.
When Wales played Croatia on 24 August a neat new kit in pale yellow was used (both Wales' home and away shirts would have clashed with Croatia's checkerboard tops): it did not appear again. A new third kit (from the Kombat 2003 range) was introduced in 2003 in a rich shade of blue with reversed seams picked out in yellow. However, Wales were able to wear their red home kit in all their Euro 2004 qualifying games so, like it's white counterpart, this attractive kit stayed in the kit hamper.
The latest Kappa designs were, inevitably, the Kappa 2004 range. To the eye, there was little if any difference to previous incarnations, the principle difference being the addition of ventilated panels under the arms. Otherwise the kits were absolutely without frills and stripped of all trim.
The death of the much respected John Charles in 2004 inspired the FAW to commission a special kit in his honour to replace the blue third strip. Launched in August 2005, the new kit was black as a mark of respect and featured white (the colours of Charles' former clubs, Swansea, Leeds and Hereford), arranged as stripes (to recall his career at Juventus) with the red of his beloved Wales. The kit made only two appearances, at Swansea's Liberty Stadium (Swansea was Charles' home town) against Slovenia and in Poland for a World Cup qualifier in September 2005.
26 May 2007 v New Zealand
To celebrate 130 years of the FAW, Kappa produced a recreation of the kit that Wales wore in the 1958 FIFA World Cup finals, including the yellow and green change kit of the period. The kit is shown with the squad numbers in their normal position but against Northern Ireland on 6 February 2007, these were worn in the centre of the shirt.
In May 2007 Wales once again confounded their fans by turning out in a white kit with one red and one green sleeve, the colours reversed on the shorts. There was no justification for this outfit: New Zealand played normally in white and had to change into their alternative blue shirts to accommodate the FAW.
The attractive retro kit was retired after a single season and replaced by a new range: the home kit marked a return to all-red, this time trimmed in white. The yellow away kit was based on the same design and both sets featured a dragon motif as a watermark. Match details were now added to the shirts, embroidered below the crest and written in Welsh.
Designer: Champion Sportswear
JJB Sportswear's Champion Sportswear brand, whose products had been a staple of hip-hop and urban culture since the 1990s, were brought in as kit partners in 2008. Their home and away kits stayed with tradition, the red set featuring just a touch of green at the collar. Match details, in Welsh, were embroidered below the crest. The yellow and green change kit was listed officially as Wales third kit.
A new white kit was launched in 2009 in time for the Spring round of internationals, which featured rather more adventurous red trim and green piping which extended round the back of the shirt and shorts.
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