Irish football history has some truly epic tales of triumph, resilience and a real David versus Goliath spirit.
Throughout the years of ups and downs, of which there were plenty, the Umbro brand has stood side-by-side with the team.
It’s synonymous with some famous Irish football days in history.
In this blog post, we travel back in time to the heyday of Irish football, experiencing the momentous occasions and indelible triumphs of the Republic of Ireland team while donning the fabled Umbro uniforms.
Join us as we explore the fascinating history of Irish football and learn about the incredible relationship between Umbro and the Republic of Ireland squad, from thrilling games to qualification victories.
Irish Football History: Umbro’s Partnership with the Republic of Ireland
Umbro and Irish football go back a long way.
The partnership spans decades in fact and includes some of the most famous and infamous days in Irish football history.
As a previous official kit supplier, Umbro has been crucial in providing the Republic of Ireland squad with recognisable and fashionable outfits that inspire a sense of patriotism.
Since Umbro has come to represent the team's identity and success, their partnership goes beyond just sponsorship.
The Republic of Ireland’s relationship with Umbro dates back to the 1960s and at that stage they had played only 20 competitive games in their history.
They failed to qualify for the 1962 World Cup, and lost to Spain in the 1966 World Cup Play Off to Spain – winning 1-0 in Dublin before a 4-1 defeat in Seville, before losing in a neutral venue 1-0 in the third match.
The infamous Eamonn Dunphy made his debut in that game!
A gap then ensued before the relationship sparkled again, this time running from 1994 to 2017 and 2020-2022.
Keep reading to recall some of the famous nights enjoyed with the Irish jersey and the great players who wore it.
Irish Football History: Memorable Matches and Milestones
Oh there was so many and we’re only going to scratch the surface with our most memorable matches in Irish football history.
Umbro has been honoured to have been side-by-side through some titanic battles.
We’ll cover the games in more detail in another blog, but for now, here are our favourites.
Enjoy this trip down memory lane.
Republic of Ireland 1-0 Netherlands
September 1, 2001
Potentially one of the most famous games in Irish football history we believe.
Competing in UEFA Group 2 for the 2002 FIFA World Cup were the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland. For both teams, winning the game was crucial to their chances of qualifying for the coveted competition.
Jason McAteer’s famous goal in the 68th minute was the only goal of the game and sent the stadium into raptures.
Goakeeper Shay Given performed heroics in denying Dutch dangerman Patrick Kluivert that day, while Steven Staunton and Gary Breen were rocks in defence.
The win was crucial in booking the Republic of Ireland’s ticket on the plane to South Korea and Japan.
Germany 1-1 Republic of Ireland
June 5, 2002
Kashima Stadium, Japan
A late, late equaliser by the legendary Robbie Keane sent the Irish fans in party mode as they recorded a famous draw against one of world football’s heavyweights.
Drawn in Group alongside Germany, Cameroon and Saudi Arabia, recording a point against the Germans was significant in Ireland qualifying for the knockout stages.
Miroslav Klose put Germany ahead in the 19th minute but they got nowhere near the dominance that was expected after that.
Shay Given pulled off an exception save to deny Michael Ballack a goal and Ireland pushed hard for an equaliser before Keane latched onto a long ball and fired home past Oliver Kahn.
He followed it up with his famous celebration and helped secure a third place finish in the group.
France 2-1 Republic of Ireland
June 26. 2016
Stade de Lyon, France
French superstar Antoine Griezman shattered Irish hearts and their European Championship dream in this memorable last 16 clash.
Against all the odds, Ireland took the lead against tournament favourites and hosts, France but two fortunate goals by the aforementioned Griezman sent Ireland crashing out.
The Boys in Green could not have got off to a better start when Robbie Brady scored after only 2 minutes from the penalty spot – the quickest of the tournament.
But the talented French side, boasting superstars like Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Patrice Evra, scored in the 58th and 61st minute to go ahead.
Daryl Murphy, Shane Long and Shane Duffy all had chances, before the latter was given his marching orders.
It proved a mountain too steep for the plucky Irish and Martin O’Neill’s men.
Republic of Ireland 0-0 England
June 7, 2015
It was the first meeting between England and Ireland since the infamous clash in 1995 that was marred by crowd trouble and eventually abandoned.
So all eyes were on this friendly, seen as a way of promoting the new-found friendly relations between the two countries.
What unfolded was a bit of a stalemate but an exciting one, extending England’s winless run against Ireland to six games.
Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick had early chances for the Republic of Ireland, while Adam Lallana and Wayne Rooney had half chances for the visitors.
There was little to shout about in the stands in terms of football, but the game certainly symbolised a pivotal point in the relations between the neighbouring countries.
Irish Football History – Iconic Players
Some of the world’s more recognisable footballers have donned the Irish jersey with the Umbro brand.
They’ve scored or been involved in the most memorable moments in Irish football history and here are some of our favourites.
Keane is the all-time leading scorer for the national team with 68 goals in 146 appearances for the Republic of Ireland.
In a number of competitions, such as the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2012, he played inspirational roles for his country.
The former Spurs and Liverpool striker became a true football hero in Ireland thanks to his prodigious scoring prowess and leadership abilities.
The former Manchester United legend was one of the best midfielders in world football.
Aggressive, hard-working and possessed real quality, Keane was a titanic leader for club and country.
Admired worldwide, not just in his country.
A cultural hero after his memorable displays in Italia ’90 and is penalty save in the shootout against Romania.
The Donegal native has 80 caps for the Boys in Green.
Bonner was a rock between the sticks.
Irwin is widely regarded as one of the finest Irish footballers of his generation and was known for his versatility and consistency throughout his career.
Like Keano, the Cork man won it all at club level with Man United and was hugely experienced.
Irwin was a full-back who was equally skilled on the left and right sides of the defense.
He had outstanding positioning awareness, defensive prowess, and the ability to aid the team's offense with his deft passing and crossing talents. Irwin was renowned for his ability to remain composed under duress and his model professionalism on and off the field.
Another legendary goalkeeper, Given was truly worldclass in his day.
Given has played for teams including Stoke City, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, and Celtic.
He played 134 times for the Republic of Ireland, and he represented his nation in important competitions as the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championships.
Given was a crucial member of the Irish national team because of his outstanding saves and leadership abilities.
The Irish Fans
Irish football supporters have become well-known and admired on the international scale for their fervent and energetic presence at major events.
Sing-songs, chanting and a lot of craic is often associated with supporting the Republic of Ireland on the road.
The Fields of Athenry is a famous tune belted out across some of the most famous stadiums in the world by the Irish supporters, along with a great sense of humour, sportsmanship and some of the best flags and costumes around.
At Euro 2012, the people of Poland heaped praise on the Irish fans for the atmosphere they created around the tournament and were sad to see them leave.
The Polish Olympic Committee bestowed Ireland with a fair play award for it too!
Needless to say the partnership has been a whirlwind one between Umbro and the Republic of Ireland, and it is not over yet.
Beyond the playing field, Umbro's dedication to grassroots soccer and the growth of the game in Ireland has had a big impact.
Umbro has shaped the future of Irish football by sponsoring local clubs, developing young talent, and incorporating Irish culture into its designs.
This has also served to forge a strong bond between the company and the Irish football community.