The Good Friday Agreement (also known as the Belfast Agreement) marked a sea-change in Ulster politics and signaled the normalisation of security in the province. The IFA began a concerted effort to eradicate the sectarianism among supporters that had poisoned the atmosphere at international games and led to death threats against former player and coach, Neil Lennon because of his association with Celtic FC. These efforts met with considerable success and towards the end of the decade the supporters of Northern Ireland won praise for the inclusive atmosphere at international matches.
The future of international football at Windsor Park, home of Linfield FC, and venue of Northern Ireland's home fixtures since 1905 was thrown into doubt after capacity was reduced to 9,000 because of health & safety concerns.
Patrick stepped in as kit suppliers with a classic design unveiled in a friendly against France in Belfast in August 1999. The away kit returned to the by now traditional navy, green and white theme. Patrick wove a twin-stripe motif into the detailing of both kits.
Navy reappeared in Patrick's 2002 home kit in the form of side panels on the torso that were picked up on the shorts while their new change kit returned to the simple white shirts with green shorts associated with Northern Ireland's success in the 1980s.
In 2003 Northern Ireland dropped to 122nd place in the world FIFA rankings, their lowest ever position.
Oct 2005 v Austria
The IFA turned once again to Umbro after a ten-year gap and the UK based company turned in an attractive design that won widespread approval. Navy blue was once again incorporated, now as an interesting flash across the shoulders and down the sleeves. The change kit stayed with the popular white shirt and green shorts format with subtle navy additions at the cuff, reverse collar and stockings. The home shirts and away shorts were combined for the game against Austria (who were in red shirts and white shorts) in 2005.
To mark their 125th anniversary, the Irish FA commissioned a commemorative kit. Worn only twice (against Germany and Portugal in friendlies), the shirts were dark green and featured the original crest of the IFA. The retro effect was completed by a laced collar.
Launched in a tour of the United States, the new Umbro home strip was based on a standard template. Navy blue still featured in the asymmetric shoulder trim, shorts and stockings but was far less obvious than previously. White stockings were made the first choice, a break with tradition. Due to the stringent regulations FIFA and UEFA now enforced, an alternate set with green shorts and stockings was produced for use against opponents in white shorts/stockings. The new home and blue change kits were launched in June 2006 along with a special commemorative shirt in memory of the late George Best.
Both kits had a large shadow version of the IFA crest woven into the reverse.
14 Oct 2009 v Czech Republic
<Northern Ireland 1980-1999
Umbro's new design for 2008 stuck with tradition but incorporated neat contrasting flashes trimmed with navy on the shirts and shorts. As was now customary, an all-green version was also available.
The change kit was inspired by the pinstriped outfit worn in the 1982 World Cup finals, introduced to coincide with the 25th anniversary of that landmark achievement, embellished or disfigured by (depending on your point of view), Umbro's trademark diamonds. It was used for the first time in September 2008 against Latvia and retired the following August when a new version, in white and navy, appeared in the friendly with Israel.
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