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Football Boots (Soccer Cleats) The History
Football Boots: Earliest Recorded – King Henry VIII in 1526
King Henry VIII’s football boots were listed in the Great Wardrobe in 1526, which was the shopping list of the day. They were made by his personal shoemaker Cornelius Johnson in 1525, at a cost of 4 shillings, equivalent to £100 in today’s money. Little is known about them, as no example has survived, but it is known that the royal football boots were made of strong leather, high ankle and heavier than the normal shoe of the day.
Football Boots – The 1800s
Fast forward 300 years saw football develop and become popular across Britain, but still an unstructured and informal pastime, with teams representing local factories and villages in an increasingly industrialized nation. The players would wear their hard leather work boots, which had long yards and steel toes as their first football boots. These football boots would also have metal studs or tacks hammered into them to increase ground grip and stability.
As laws were integrated into the game in the late 1800s, the first move in football boots to a slipper-like shoe (or soccus) was seen, with players from the same team starting to wear the same boots for the first time. Laws also allowed studs, which had to be rounded. These leather studs, also known as cleats, were hammered into the early football boots, which first moved away from the earlier favored work boots. These football boots weighed 500g and were made from thick, tough leather that went up the ankle for added protection. The football boots would double in weight when wet and six studs in the sole. The football boot had arrived…
Football Boots – 1900s to 1940s
Football boot styles remained relatively constant throughout the 1900s until the end of the second world war. The most significant events in the world of football boots in the first part of the twentieth century were the formation of a number of football boot manufacturers who still make football boots today, including Gola (1905), Valsport (1920) and Danish football boot manufacturer Hummel ( 1923).
Over in Germany, the Dassler brothers Adolf and Rudolf formed the Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) in Herzogenaurach in 1924 and began producing football boots in 1925 which had 6 or 7 interchangeable studs, the they could be changed according to the weather. of play.
Football Boots – 1940s to 1960s
Football boot styles changed significantly after the end of the second world war, as air travel became cheaper and more international matches were played. This saw the lighter, more flexible football kit worn by the South Americans pushed onto the world stage, their ball skills and technical ability astounding all who watched. Football boot production shifted to produce a lighter football boot with the focus on kicking and controlling the ball rather than just producing a piece of defensive footwear.
In 1948 the Adidas company was formed by Adolf (Adi) Dassler after a falling out with his brother who was to be the cornerstone of the football boot manufacturer’s competition for the previous years until today. Brother Rudolf established the beginnings of the Puma company in 1948, quickly producing the Puma Atom football boot. This led to replaceable screws in studs made of plastic or rubber for the first time, reportedly by Puma in the early 1950s but Adidas (Read the Story on Footy-Boots) also claim the honour. The football boots of the time were still over the ankle, but were now made from a mixture of synthetic materials and leather, producing an even lighter boot for the players of the day to display their skills with.
Football Boots – The 1960s
The technological advances of the sixties led to a significant change in design which saw the introduction of the lower cut design for the first time in football history. This change allowed players to move faster and saw Pele wearing Puma football boots in the 1962 World Cup Finals. However, Adidas quickly emerged as the market leader, a position which claims to this day. At the 1966 World Cup Finals, an astonishing 75% of players wore Adidas football kits.
During the 1960s several other football boot manufacturers also entered the market with their own brands and styles including Miter (1960), Joma (1965) and Asics (1964).
Football Boots – The 1970s
The seventies began with the iconic 1970 World Cup Finals which saw a sublime Brazilian side lift the trophy with Pele again at the helm, this time wearing the Puma King football boot. The decade itself will be remembered for the way football boot sponsorship began, where players were paid to wear only one brand. In terms of design and style, technological advances produced lighter boots, and a variety of colours, including for the first time, all-white football boots.
In 1979, Adidas produced the world’s best-selling football boot, the Copa Mundial, constructed from kangaroo leather and built for speed and versatility. Although Adidas remained dominant, several other football boot manufacturers joined the fray including Italian football boot manufacturer Diadora (1977).
Football Boots – The 1980s
It was in the eighties that former player Craig Johnston developed the most recent development in football boot design and technology, creating the Predator football boot, which was eventually released by Adidas in the 1990s. Johnston designed the Predator to provide more traction between the football bat and the ball, and the football boot and the ground. The design allowed more surfaces to come into contact with the ball when struck by the football boot, with a series of power zones and swirls within the striking area allowing the player to generate more power and swerve when hitting the “sweet spots” . The eighties also saw football boots being made for the first time by the English company Umbro (1985), Lotto from Italy and Kelme from Spain (1982).
Football Boots – 1990s
In 1994 Adidas released the Predator designed by Craig Johnston with its revolutionary design, styling and technology making it an instant and lasting success. The Predator now featured polymer extrusion technologies and materials that allowed for a more flexible sole as well as the conventional studs being replaced by a bladed design covering the sole, giving the player a more stable base. In 1995 Adidas released their bladed outsole traxion technology which are taper shaped blades. Puma struck back in 1996 with a foam-free midsole football boot, known as the Puma Cell Technology, to which Adidas responded again, this time with wedge-shaped studs in the same year. During the nineties new football boot manufacturers Mizuno released their Mizuno Wave in 1997. Other new football boots came from Reebok (1992) and Uhlsport (1993) with other companies also joining the growing, profitable and competitive market . Most significantly the nineties saw the entry of Nike, the world’s largest sportswear producer, making an immediate impact with its Nike Mercurial football boot (1998), weighing just 200g.
Football Boots – 2000+
As technology developed even further, the years into the new millennium saw the application of the new research and developments to the present day and this has led to the strengthening of the market positions of the three major football boot manufacturers and the vendors, Puma, Nike and Adidas (incorporating Reebok since 2006). Fortunately, there is still room in the market for the smaller producer who do not have the big money endorsement contracts available to them, such as Mizuno, Diadora, Lotto, Hummel and Nomis.
Recent developments since 2000 have seen Nomis Wet control technology produce a sticky boot (2002), Craig Johnston’s Pig Boot (2003), shark technology by Kelme (2006) and the exceptional design of the Lotto Zero Gravity laceless football boots (2006) all of which are the basis of the successes these smaller manufacturers can achieve by producing specialized and technologically advanced football boots that differ from the mass produced products of the big three. Laser technology has also helped produce the world’s first fully customized soccer ball from Prior 2 Lever, which is perhaps the most exciting and innovative of recent developments.
Current favorite football boots include Adidas’ F50, Tunit and Predator; Nike’s Mercurial Vapor III, Air Zoom Total 90s and Tiempo Ronaldinho, Reebok Pro Rage and Umbro X Boots.
Football Boots – The Future
As the debate rages regarding the lack of protection afforded by modern football boots, and the repercussions in terms of player injuries, there is little to suggest that the major manufacturers are going to give’ r the best in their quest for the lightest football boots for more protective boots. one. The proliferation of big money sponsorship deals, namely Nike Ronaldinho, Adidas with David Beckham and Reebok with Thierry Henry, has become a huge factor driving the success and sales of a football boot manufacturer, but it is considered cost of injuries and stagnation. in football boot research and development. All we can foresee for the future is integration with sensor technology, lighter and more powerful football boots and more amazing designs and styles.
Football boots have come a long way since King Henry stormed the English fields in the 1500s: the football boot has gone from everyday protective clothing to a well-designed, technologically advanced product and which is an essential part of the player’s equipment. Whatever the colour, design, style or player – we love football boots!
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