The Evolution of Football Boots

Published: 08th April 2010
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Believe it or not the use of football boots dates back to Henry VIII of England. Her majesty ordered a pair from the Great Wardrobe in 1526, the royal shopping list stated: "45 velvet pairs and 1 leather pair for football". Since then football boots evolved to be an essential part of the game and nowadays they are made with high-materials such as carbon fibre and synthetic leather.

Just like football itself football boots went through a lot changes over the years. Until 1891, studs, blades or any other kind of projection weren't allowed. After the 1891 revision, studs and bladders became "legal" as long as they were made of leather and weren't bigger than half an inch, this studs and blades were originally hammered into the boots and professional players at the time had several pairs with different length studs. I consider this as the first time football boots evolved.

The second evolution came in the mid-1950s and it is also the most controversial. History says that during the 1954 in Switzerland, Adidas who was Germany's football boot supplier kitted the Germans with the first screw-in-studs football boots ever seen. But recently Puma claimed that they were supplying screw in stud as early as 1952. Despite who invented screw in studs the point here is the that the second evolution was the invention of the screw in studs.

Despite the screw-in debate another revolution was going on at roughly the same time in history. Between 1950 and 1960 football boots design took a huge step forward and boots really started to make an impact on the game. While in Northern Europe football boots still had the ankle protection, main reason they are called "boots", South Americans created a more flexible and lighter boot without the ankle protection, a boot designed to increase control, improve kicking power and make players move faster and change direction quicker.

As the years passed technological advancements allowed manufacturers to produce lighter boots in a variety of colours and studs configurations. Highlights to the Puma King worn players like Pelé at the 1970 World Cup and to one of the best selling football boot to date, the Adidas Copa Mundial.

We can't talk about the evolution of football boots without mentioning Craig Johnston, creator of the Adidas Predator. Johnston revolutionised the football boot market by creating a boot that provided more traction between ball and boot, and boot and the ground, the Adidas Predator was born. With greater contact areas, a series of power and swerve zones allowing players to create better swerves and more powerful strikes when hitting the so called "sweet spots". No wonder the Adidas Predator series are still in production these days.

Johnston's creation was just the tip of the iceberg of what was coming. Polymer extrusion technologies and other materials allowed the creating of more flexible soles; studs were replaced by blades which gave players a more stable base.

Nike also played an important role in the evolution of football boots with its first ever boot, the Nike Mercurial soccer cleat, weighing only 200g.

Nowadays football boots evolve each season with state-of-the-art technology and designs. All aimed to protect and improve player's performance.

Highlights to the rotating stud found on Lotto's Zero Gravity boots which reduces the risk of injuries, improve speed and stability. The carbon sole plate and adaptive stud that can extend and retract by up to 3mm, both found on Nike newest football boot, the Mercurial Superfly II.


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