Two weeks ago Adidas revealed the latest boots their “Welsh Galactico” Gareth Bale would be wearing in the Champions League this year and when they did so the worlds of football and fashion raised a collective eyebrow. Whilst fans of Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto might be used to seeing his eccentric designs appear on clothing, few would have expected to see one of the world’s top fashion designers venture into the world of football and design a pair of football boots. Etched with sketches of beastly dragons and finished in multiple colours, they are certainly eye-catching and soon began to go viral on social media. But even whilst few people agreed the boots themselves will be “trending” any time soon, it did give the Y3 and Adidas brands some priceless publicity.
This got us thinking, which are the greatest football boots ever made?
Here’s what we came up with, what are your favourites?
Nike Air Mercurial
In 1998 Nike’s boot made especially for the World Cup year was to change the way boots were made forever. It wasn’t just its shiny exterior with the futuristic swirl running through it which made it stand out, football had never seen such a lightweight boot and its use of synthetic materials for a focus on speed has set the trend which now dominates the market. Nike made this boot for the top players in the world and it was the best boot in the world too, helping it become the most sought after boot for years to come. Its impact lives on today in the form of the Mercurial series which featured the Vapour worn by Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba.
Iconic wearers: Thierry Henry, Roberto Carlos, (Brazilian) Ronaldo
It is still one of the best-selling boots today and its revolutionary design has received heaps of praise from the world’s best players. The focus on increasing power and curve onto the way a ball was struck led to the incorporation of the fin-like panels on the boots and as a result the phrase “bend it like Beckham” became a reality. The predator proved to be one of the hardest wearing boots around and its striking appearance of black, red and white will forever be associated with the model which is still being revised and worn by the world’s elite footballer today. The first 90’s edition has that unique retro appeal these days too.
Iconic wearers: Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Steven Gerrard
Adidas Copa Mundial
Adidas’ World Cup boot is one of timeless quality and its original still gets worn today unlike any other model you’ll find on a list like this. The simplicity of the design and classic look makes it one of the most visually beautiful designs to date and it stands out more so today- in an age where bright neon boots are the norm- than it did in its 1980’s prime. Copa Mundial- Spanish for World Cup- is a reference to the boots release which was in the run up to the 1982 tournament in Spain. They are made of kangaroo leather and there quality design is still hard to match.
Iconic wearers: Franz Beckenbauer, Lothar Matthaus, Mario Kempes, Franco Baresi, Eric Cantona.
The first version was made in the early 2000’s and it has since grown to become one of the German brand’s best-selling boots. Its latest AdiZero version is the one which has been adapted by Y3 for Gareth Bale but even after several modified versions down the years it is the original which was the real work of art. Hidden laces, a netted finish and weightless feel to rival the aforementioned Nike Mercurials made this model worth remembering.
Iconic wearers: Arjen Robben, Lionel Messi, Dani Alves, David Villa
These boots have an instant place in history thanks to two legendary World Cup campaigns from Brazilian Pele and Argentine Maradona. Maradona wore the “Mexico Finale” version when he scored that goal in the semi-final against England and like the Mundial the Puma King has that rare timeless quality which makes it remain stylish. Puma were one of the first to tamper with studs and their rivalry with Adidas was so well documented that some claim it is how sponsorships between footballers and bootmakers first came into fashion.
Iconic wearers: Maradona, Pele
Lotto Stadia Potenza
The low key Italian sports wear brand became most well known in the 80’s and 90’s when their league, the Serie A, was considered the best in world football. The green and black boots of Lotto became almost as recognisable as the likes of Mark Hughes, Paul Ince and Paul Gascoigne who all moved over to play in the league, and Lotto quickly earned a reputation for their classy designs. For a small brand they were very forward thinking though and they actually developed the first lace-less boot in 2002.