THE EVOLUTION OF FOOTBALL BOOTS

Football has evolved drastically in post war Europe. The increase in general globalisation and the advancement in technology has impacted on all walks of life, not least the football industry.

As players discovered the ability to move abroad and develop their personal skills, and clubs and individuals harnessed the immense financial potential in the game, evolution took place in football that changed the face of the sport forever. Quick wingers became the focal point of play during the fifties and sixties, short simple pass and move dominated the game in the seventies and eighties and introduction of strikers with lethal pace all but nullified the impact of the traditional Number 9 in the nineties and naughties.

Football as we know it today evolved at a drastic rate. But what about the tools of these new born superstars, their football boots? One would assume as the game changed, so did the rate at which boot brands invested in the advancement of their products. One would be wrong!

The classic Adidas World Cup edition was created in the sixties for the top German pros. The success of the boot quickly spread across Europe and the first and greatest football boot legend was born. Players worshipped the quality of leather and glove like fit of the boot, not to mention its inferior weight.

Adidas Copa Mundial

As sales increased, as did competition and Puma were to release their own incarnation of the Adidas World Cup, the Puma King. Created especially for Pele and the Brazil team of the late sixties and seventies, the Puma King at the 1970 World Cup was the first boot that dared to embrace colour with a bold yellow stripe. The boot proved as successful as the World Cup and its success continued in the seventies and eighties being donned by legends no less than Maradona and Cruyff.'  The lightweight genuine leather upper and the sheer quality and durability of the boot, detracted from Adidas’ sales and the Puma King went on to achieve cult status within the game among players and fans alike. That cult status remains today.

Puma King XL black and yellow

Despite the success of the Puma King and Adidas World Cup, as well as the relatively foetal Nike Tiempo, no boot had taken technology and aesthetic innovation to the next level. The challenge was there; who would dare to extend the boundaries and change the face of boots forever?

As fluid counter attacking football became the focal point of many teams success in the nineties and naughties, players demanded boots that improved pace and accuracy. The birth of the Adidas Predator range satisfied the desire for accuracy and swerve, alongside well constructed marketing strategies that used the world’s best players as the face of their campaign. No boot had ever sold as many units as quickly as the Predator and Nike and Puma needed to act.

Adidas Predator History

Puma launched the first mass selling coloured boot, the infamous red Puma King, and Nike created the R9. Ronaldo, unanimously accepted as the world’s best player and face of modern football, was chosen to market the product. The success transformed Nike and their reputation. Going from a reliable, solid brand, Nike dared to create the Mercurial Vapor and used the world’s fastest players to sell the product. The boots finally matched the era.

Nike Mercurial Vapor V white and red swoosh

Technology and evolution took place in the boot market like never before during the nineties. As the sport became ever more powerful and wealthy, and global superstars were born in their masses, the power to market an innovative product was created like never before. Coloured boots became the norm as players demanded innovation alongside individuality.

The trend of advancement in boots is still felt today. The success of the Mercurial Vapor, AdiPure as well as the Puma v1.08 merely mirrors the current state of the game. The impending release of the Nike Superfly only heightens the assumption that boot brands are working harder than ever to steal a march on their rivals and increase the speed of the game yet further. You never know, maybe one day in Serie A, we’ll see a counter attack!

All that is left is to salute Adidas and their historical desire to change boots forever. As the World Cup did in the sixties, the Predator changed modern boots as we now know them and their ability to innovate and improve is something I commend.

By Omar Saleem


17 Comments

  • Good article. A would appreciate technologies like NOMIS has, wich makes my game better and supports my feet and legs to keep healthy. Theres a lot of technologies out there wich sound pretty good, but I’m sure it’s just so unnecessary .

  • What a great article.

    The Copa Mundial and World Cup boots are, for me, the greatest gift to football ever.

    I can’t see a Vapor still being made and sold in years to come.

  • Top piece.

    And would have to agree with Sion. There are classics and there are boots for the now.

    Copa Mundial’s and old Preds are the bees knees. Vapor’s are over styled fashion statements riding on the back on the popularity of the game.

  • Take that Serie A !!!

    And i also agree with Chriz, this is about the development of football boots, not just the evolution of marketing.
    There are a few boot companies actually striving for innovation and a strive forward, rather than the vapor and predator range, which seems to be gaining profits on merit alone.

  • you forgot about rivelino in fact diego maradona said himself that rivelino was better and more important than pele….check him out and rivelino wore pumas

    • Tha world Cup and the Copa Mundial have the same kangaroo leather upper and the difference is the outsole. Copa Mundial has a directly injected poliurethane (PU) sole. The finished upper is placed at the injection maquine were hot, liquid, white PU fills a mold were the black studs are set. When it cools down, the solid PU is bonded perfectly to the upper. The final step are the rivets in the tip of the shoe. This constuction offers great flexibility and almost no break in time. Perfect shoe for hard, dry grounds.
      The World Cup has a cemented, pebax (nylon) screw in studs sole. This means the finished sole is glued to the upper. Pebax is a little harder than PU so the World Cup sole is mado of three different densities of the material. The black is softer and make the flexible base of the sole, the white and red are harder and support and give stability to the sole, making it flexible just in the metatharsal area. The six stud configuration is great for wet, soft grunds.
      The Kaiser has the same classic look and technology of the Copa and World Cup, but instead of kangaroo leather upper, they are made of supple full granin calfskin leather.

  • I know that Vapors are incomparable to boots like Predators but the best Vapor line ever was the MVIII’s, and so it gives me confidence when you see players still wear those boots. Preds own all!

  • Hey Guys,

    Apologies for my delay in responding I had the privledge of watching a thoroughlly boring Liverpool at Anfield yesterday! It’s sad times when Liverpool need to rely on David N’Goal to lead the line!

    Thanks for the comments as always and indeed I did forget to mention Eusebio, a true legend and gentleman!

    Further to the article I think longevity in terms of boots is only achieved through a well built, high quality product hence the success of the King and Copa. I think Sion is right, the Vapor won’t be around forever, but the classic will live on for a long time yet!

  • hey thanks jose luis lopez

    saludos de martin quiñonez

    me keda claro k los mejores son los copa mundial

  • i think that preds will be made for a VERY long time, even the F50 line should should outlast the Vapours does anyone agree?

  • For me puma royal or puma s.p.a. king were the best boots. Addida 2000 along with world cup and copa mundial are also boots to die for.They just don’t make spa king or Royal no more.

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