Back in 1970, the World Cup-winning ginger terrier, football legend and all round nice fella was the first footballer of status to wear a modern football boot in a colour other than black. Now, you would be hard pressed to find a black pair. Blue, white, red, purple,even pink; all are regularly spotted being worn by the contemporary footballer, much to the chagrin of my old man and, more than likely, Richard Keys – such is the fashion today.
But with this wide range of colours comes a wide range of styles. Whether you like them tight on the foot, loose around the toe or with leather softer than a sheet of Andrex double-quilted, there are a pair of boots out there with your name written on them. Or, more likely, Wayne Rooney’s or Lionel Messi’s. And, as we’re approaching World Cup season, that choice is about to get much bigger.
The World Cup is an important time for football boot designers and manufacturers. Every team from the 32 that will be taking part will have its hero, the one person ready to step up and become a national legend: the man who will score the winner to put your country through to the quarter-finals for the first time; the defensive stalwart who keeps you in the game despite having a leg removed at half time; the goalkeeper who saves all 5 penalties in the shoot-out. And each of these heroes will be sporting a rather nifty pair of footy boots.
With this in mind – combined with the fact that you will no doubt be inspired to get out there between games and play yourself – we thought we’d have a look at the top boots that we can expect to see, and have seen, during the World Cup. Which is the boot that will score the winning goal? Which are the pair that will miss a pen? Which brand will be imprinted on a nimble winger’s backside the most? Let’s take a look – and if you fancy buying a pair, just click on the highlighted title to go right to the front of the queue…………..
I won’t lie to you; my jaw hit the floor when I saw the quite frankly astonishing price tag of £274.99 for a pair of these. I dare say that if you’re buying some boots for a few kick-abouts after work/school, these probably aren’t a warranted purchase. However, if you’ve got the cash, the latest Nike Mercurials will provide you with “Adaptive Traction Technology”, which you might think sounds like a load of bollocks, but actually will give you better grip, acceleration and quicker changes of direction. The boots are extremely light and very soft and although hideous in colour, are made exactly like that for that reason – to help your team mates spot you that split second quicker. Sported by prize peacock Cristiano Ronaldo – you could have guessed just by looking at them – and Alexandre Pato. Not recommended for those of limited ability – by wearing them in a Sunday League game, for example, you will be seen as asking for a punch in the face.
Bit of a bargain, here; adidas’s Predator PowerSwerve X TRX SG are now on sale for £95, down from £135. The Predator range has been around since 1994 and have been extremely popular ever since. The PowerSwerve boots feature a lightweight upper with adapting SMART foam which learns your style and changes to suit the way you kick the ball. Another key feature is the “Power Pulse Insole”, which is home to 40g of tungsten powder that moves and shifts to get behind the point of impact, offering you that little bit of extra power when you’re passing, shooting, or throwing your boot at an under-performing team-mate’s head. The Predator PowerSwerve X TRX SG will be sported by Steeeeeeeeeve Gerrard, Gerrard and Holland’s Dirk Kuyt. Top-of-the-range boot for a decent price – and the best thing about them is; they’re black, so whether you’re playing for your county, or The County Arms, you shouldn’t get much stick with a pair of these.
If you’re unimpressed by the new-fangled style of boot, then why not settle for an absolute classic? adidas’s World Cup boots cost less than £70 in the sale at the moment and have been around since the ’78 World Cup in Argentina for one good reason – they are superb. A kangaroo leather upper offers incredible softness; so much so, that when you put them on for the first time you’ll think you’ve been wearing all your life. You get protection from possible injury that modern boots just don’t seem to give you (we all know where the metatarsal is now, don’t we?), whilst losing none of the comfort. Perfect for British weather conditions, these adidas World Cup boots thrive on soft, wet ground and have been worn by football legends such as Michel Platini.
Another retro classic here; the Puma King is currently on sale from £49.99. Perfect for those of you wishing to sport the retro look, Puma King’s have been the choice of many for the last few decades – Puma celebrated the King’s 40th anniversary in 2008. The list of players who have sported a pair of Kings reads like an ultimate World Cup fantasy football line-up – Pele, Maradona, Kempes and Eusebio to name but a few. The attraction is a simple, classic design with soft leather upper and “GripTex” ankle lining. Don’t be fooled by the lack of current celebrity endorsements who are generally plugging high-fashion, high-ticket boots – Puma Kings are, and always will be an excellent choice of football boot that is still used widely throughout the lower leagues and at semi-professional level.
Another bargain alert! These Nike Tiempo soft ground boots, designed on instruction by Ronaldinho himself, have had their price slashed by 50% and you can pick them up for a very reasonable £50. A kangaroo leather upper offers soft and lightweight flexibility for an excellent first touch, whilst a molded sock-liner and full-length “Poron” inserts provide comfortableness around the whole foot. I would probably avoid these if you have a wide foot, as they are thin and narrow up the full length of the body, although this does provide that slight “pinch” that many footballers prefer for closer control. Nike’s Tiempo Ronaldinho boots are sure to make many appearances at the World Cup Finals – unlike the man they were made for, as he has failed to make the Brazil squad.