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The first Italian team sponsored by adidas

How the three stripes arrived in Serie A

The first Italian team sponsored by adidas How the three stripes arrived in Serie A

adidas has been a constant in our football for almost always or at least since Serie A allowed teams to also show their technical sponsor on the football shirt. Unlike Nike, which gradually entered Italian football starting from the bottom and then arriving in Naples and Inter in the late 90s, adidas has represented a continuum over the last 50. The heritage and history of the two brands is very different and the advantage that adidas has over Nike in this case is due precisely to the different nature of the companies.

To discover the first Italian team to wear adidas, you have to go back to the 70s when, despite the League's rules not allowing brands to be displayed on the shirt either for kit suppliers or sponsors, several teams found alternative ways of showing the results of the first commercial agreements. The official debut season on an Italian shirt is 1977-78, with AS Roma showing for the first time the German clover not on the chest but on the rear numbers. He will use the shirt produced by adidas for the last 4 games of that championship against Verona, Atalanta, Inter and Juventus and it will be the first "modern" sponsorship contract (supply and economic part) in the Giallorossi history.

But there is a pre 1977 and a post 1977. Before that season, some clubs managed to disguise their first sponsorships by wearing the same adidas shoes or by dressing the technical staff with tracksuits with the iconic three stripes on the shoulders and sleeves - like have already made Fiorentina and Foggia in 1976. From '77 onwards, many other Serie A teams have chosen adidas as technical sponsor: Turin, Verona, Vicenza as well as AS Roma and Fiorentina were the first in the late 70s, while in the following decade we witness the real boom. Clubs such as Avellino, Cesena (which will not detach from the brand until 2004), Foggia, Genoa, CataniaAscoliLecceBariComoLazio and Empoli  will wear the German clover or the logo of the brand from 1978 to the threshold of the years 90, with a special mention for Verona who will win the Scudetto with adidas on the chest.

In the 90s AC Milan will be added - which will have adidas as sponsor from 1990 to 1993 and then from 1998 until 2018 - and there will be the return of AS Roma, with only two years of emptiness from '96 to '98. In the last 20 years, however, only 5 teams have worn adidas material: Milan as mentioned, Juventus (from 2015 to today and at least until 2027), Cesena's two-year period in Serie A from 2012 to 2012, Fiorentina in the 2004-05 season (the one with Miccoli, Pazzini, Nakata, Jørgensen and Chiellini) and the last one arrives Cagliari.

The above applies to Serie A clubs. Roma will be the first in the top flight to wear adidas, but the very first team to bring the German brand to Italy will be our national team which already in 1974 - until 1978 - will be sponsored by the Herzogenaurach company.

If, on the other hand, the Italian borders are crossed, adidas' debut in football can only arrive in Germany. In the early 60s Adolf Dassler decides to enter the world of clothing, after having depopulated in the sector of technical shoes. At that time the German national team used the sportswear provided by Schwahn, whose sweatpants - the same that he would have used in the Chilean World Cup in '62 - were baggy unlike those considered standard for the time. That particular fit didn't like Dassler, and he immediately commissioned a rep from Schwahn (Willi Seltenreich) to supply him with fitted suits and pants, adding the story-changing detail: three stripes on the sides of the sleeves and pants. Production was not as fast as it is now and for a matter of time Dassler was unable to supply the national team with the material. Material that was not lost, but was reused by Bayern Munich, the first real team to wear adidas material.