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Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been honoured to have former Liverpool player and football boot designer Craig Johnston assisting us as an Awards ambassador. And in this, his final contribution, he sat down with Footy Boots for a question and answer session.
Did you enjoy playing for Liverpool?
My time at Liverpool was quite amazing. I believe I was extremely lucky to be part of he most successful team and era that Liverpool have ever had. The team spirit was the most valuable asset we had and people like Souness, Hansen and Dalglish were consummate professionals, and wound everyone else up to be the same.
Most of the players have all gone on and achieved great things after playing, therefore proving they were all intelligent and motivated. It was a very, very special dressing room and team.
Who is the best player you have played with and played against – why were they so good?
The most naturally talented player I have ever played with was John Barnes, his natural skills were phenomenal, but in terms of being effective and getting the job done the best ever team mate for me was Graeme Souness. He was a hard man and elegant all at the same time.
In terms of who I played against, Glenn Hoddle was just a gifted footballer. He had an amazing balance that made him glide over the top of muddy surfaces like a ballerina, and he could ping the ball 50 yards with the outside of either foot with seemingly no effort at all. Outside of England, I played against the great Brazilian Zico in the World Club Championship in Tokyo and also Johan Cruyff in the twilight of his carrier. Although it was a privilege even to be on the same field as these legends, both players managed to roast me and I have never recovered.
Johan Cruyff in full flow
Do you think Liverpool will win the Premier League this season?
Well, they could have won the League last season with a bit more luck on their side but you have to take you chances when you get them and they didn’t unfortunately. I believe the team spirit is still very strong however and I live in hope.
Is the Premier League better than La Liga and Seria A?
In a word, yes.
How did it feel to score in the FA Cup final?
I could have died on the spot a happy man. You spend you life as a kid watching television and dreaming that you want to score in a cup final and play football for a living. You leave your country (Australia) and family at 15 years of age against the advice of everyone to try to have a go. You get told after 15 min’s of your first trial by a famous manager Jack Charlton that you are crap and to go back home on the next plane.
You then spend your time hiding from him and working you socks off for 10 bloody years to prove him wrong and then finally, out of the blue, the ball sits up perfectly for you at Wembley Stadium in the FA Cup Final and you stick it in past the diving keeper….2 -1 to Liverpool. How do you think it feels??? The lads tease me from time to time because I jumped in the air and said “I did it I did it.” I wasn’t talking about scoring the goal though, I was talking about the 12 year journey and all the heartache and crap I had to go through to get to the goal.
Liverpool, with Johnston bottom row, second left, celebrate winning the FA Cup
What do you make of foreign investors in the Premier League?
You need all these foreign investors to pay all of this money to all the foreign players.
Both the investors and the players will eventually take the money out of your country and back to their own or to wherever is fashionable in 10 years.
I want to know who is investing into the grass roots communities in England. That’s one of the reasons I left the game.
Do you think football boots could be safer? If so, how?
Generally speaking modern day football boots, and fancy synthetic materials, they don’t have any give in them like the old leather boots used to have. The players are getting fitter faster and stronger and the physical forces a modern day player produces are frightening. On top of this, the pitches are getting better and better. And players are not losing their grip any more.
When you have no tolerance or give in either the boots or the pitches and the studs really engage deeply, if nothing else gives, a players knee or ankle ligaments will give out instead. Like wise with the metatarsal injuries, the bones just snap under such enormous pressure. The traditional rounded studs (metal or plastic) on the Winter or Match boots can be too long for the grass and soil surface and therefore get stuck when the player goes to turn at speed. Part of the problem here is that the big brand companies have been working on better grip and traction for years. For the safety and well being of players all over the world, they now need to work on the stud or cleat release side of the equation As well as the elasticity of the foot casings.
Would you consider designing and producing a new football foot to rival the Predator?
Yes indeed, I would like to design a rival to the Predator.
The modern day adidas Predator
What’s next for Craig Johnston? Any more projects on the go?
I still have ambitious dreams and very ambitious projects on the go…you ain’t seen nothin yet…..watch this space!!!
How does it feel to be an ambassador for Footy Boots?
I have a passion for football boots that I can’t really explain.
I just love them. So for me to be asked to be an ambassador for Footy Boots is quite an honour for me.
I may not have been as good as Maradona, Pele, Ronaldinho and others but I know a whole lot more about the design and manufacturing aspects of a football boot. I rarely put my name to anything, but I am very excited to be involved with such a quality football boot website.