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colo-colo 1991

In 1991 Colo Colo won the Copa Libertadores. No Chilean team had ever achieved this feat, nor has one since. This victory consolidated a fifth straight season in which Brazilian or Argentinian clubs failed to win South America’s greatest prize, a level of competitiveness that could only be dreamt of at the moment. It was also a very apt victory. The Copa Libertadores pays homage to the likes of Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin who, as Libertadores, fought to secure South American independence from Spanish and Portuguese imperialism in the 17th and 18th Centuries.

Around two-hundred years earlier, a Mapuche Chieftain led his people against Spanish insurgents in Chile. His name? Colo-Colo. The club is named for an original Libertador who, as he does in all of Colo-Colo’s kits, features prominently in this 1991 version. As Colo-Colo became a symbol of fighting for and preserving indigneous ways of life and Chilean culture, the club became a symbol of Chilean footballing culture across the continent and the world in 1991. Wearing this classically crafted white kit, adorning the now timeless black Adidas three stripes and original leaf logo, they conquered South America, defeating reigning Paraguayan champions Olimpia in a two-legged final.

It’s a beautifully simple kit and also a rare example of a sponsor actually fitting in with a kit’s colour scheme or design, an increasing rarity in today’s game. Here LADA, producer of globally exported affordable Soviet cars (retro), made their appearance.

In a decade of loud and often visually offensive football kits, this one brought a refreshing timelessness, fit for all ages and immortalised further by the club’s continental exploits. It also immortalises one of the club's former players and it’s founder, David Arellano. Having founded the club just two years earlier, Arellano died in 1927, while on tour with Colo-Colo in Valladolid, Spain. Following an on-pitch collision, which caused Peritonitis, Arellano tragically passed away in hospital the next day, aged 24. To this day all Colo-Colo kits feature a black band above the crest.

Though this kit featured in the 1991 Copa Libertadores Final, a change of manufacturer saw a Pony branded kit feature in next season’s Intercontinental Cup Final in Yokohama, with Colo-Colo appearing on the world stage. Sadly, they were comfortably defeated by the European Champions Red Star Belgrade that day, but the fixture brought further international renown to the club and to Chilean football generally. Vamos Colo Colo.

Luke Connelly

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