Football Boot styles (Soccer Cleats) The

King Henry VIII’s football boots were listed within the Great Wardrobe of 1526, a shopping list of the day. These were produced by his personal shoemaker Cornelius Johnson in 1525, at a price of 4 shillings, very same of £100 in today’s money. Little is famous about them, as there is no surviving example, but the royal football boots are known to have been manufactured from strong leather, ankle high and heavier than the normal shoe of the day.

Football Boots – The 1800’s

Moving forward 300 years saw football developing and gaining popularity throughout Britain, but still remaining being an unstructured and informal pastime, with teams representing local factories and villages in a burgeoning industrial nation. Players would wear their hard, leather work boots, of long laced and steel toe-capped as the first football boots. These football boots would also have metal studs or tacks hammered into them to boost ground grip and stability.

As laws become incorporated into the overall game in the late 1800’s, so saw the first shift in football boots to a slipper (or soccus) style shoe, with players of the same team starting to wear the same boots for the first time. Laws also allowed for studs, which needed to be rounded. These leather studs, also referred to as cleats, were hammered into early football boots, which for the first time moved from the sooner favoured work boots. These football boots weighed 500g and were manufactured from thick, hard leather going up the ankle for increased protection. The football boots would double in weight when wet and had six studs in the sole. The football boot had arrived…

Football Boots – The 1900’s to 1940’s

Football boot styles remained relatively constant through the 1900’s up to the conclusion of the second world war. Probably the most significant events in the football boot world in the first area of the twentieth century were the synthesis of several football boot producers that are still making football boots today, including Gola (1905), Valsport (1920) and Danish football boot maker Hummel (1923).

Over in Germany, 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 replaceable, nailed studs, which may be changed in line with the weather conditions of play.

Football Boots – The 1940’s to 1960’s

Football boot styles shifted significantly after the conclusion of the second world war, as air travel became cheaper and more international fixtures were played. This saw the lighter, more flexible football boot being worn by the South Americans being thrust onto the world stage, and their ball skills and technical ability amazed all the ones that watched them. Football boot production shifted to making a lighter football boot with the focus on kicking and controlling the ball rather than producing a piece of protective footwear.

1948 saw the synthesis of the Adidas company by Adolf (Adi) Dassler following a falling out together with his brother that has been to form the cornerstone of football boot maker rivalry for the preceding years up to today. Brother Rudolf founded the beginnings of the Puma company in 1948, quickly producing the Puma Atom football boot. This led to interchangeable screw in studs manufactured from plastic or rubber for the first time, reputedly by Puma in early 1950’s but the honour is also claimed by Adidas (Read the Story on Footy-Boots). Football boots of the time were still over the ankle, but were now being manufactured from a mixture of synthetic materials and leather, producing and even lighter shoe for the players of your day to produce their skills with.

Football Boots – The 1960’s

The technological developments of the sixties bought a momentous step-change in design which saw the reduced cut design introduced for the first time in football history. This change allowed players to maneuver faster and saw the kind of Pele wearing Puma football boots in the 1962 World Cup Finals. Adidas, though, quickly emerged as industry leader, a situation it claims until the current day. In the World Cup Finals of 1966, an astonishing 75% of players wore the Adidas football boot.

The seventies began with the iconic 1970 World Cup Finals which saw a sublime Brazilian team lift the trophy with Pele again at the helm, now wearing the Puma King football boot. The decade itself is going to be remembered for the manner in which football boot sponsorship took off, where players were being paid to wear just one brand. In terms of design and style, technological advancements produced lighter boots, and many different colours, including for the first time, the all-white football boot.

In 1979, Adidas produced the world’s best selling football boot the Copa Mundial, built of kangaroo leather and built for speed and versatility. Although Adidas remained dominant, other football boot makers joined the fray including Italian football boot maker Diadora (1977).

Football Boots – The 1980’s

The maximum development of recent times in the design and technology of football boots was developed in the eighties by former player Craig Johnston, who created the Predator football boot, which was eventually released by Adidas in the 1990’s. Johnston designed the Predator to supply greater traction between football boot and the ball, and football boot and the ground. The look allowed for greater surface areas to come into connection with the ball when being hit by the football boot, with a series of power and swerve zones within the striking area allowing the ball player to create greater power and swerve when hitting the “sweet spots” ;.The eighties also saw football boots for the first time being produced by English company Umbro (1985), Italy’s Lotto and Spain’s Kelme (1982).

Football Boots – 1990’s

1994 saw Adidas release the Craig Johnston designed Predator with its revolutionary design, styling and technology rendering it an immediate and lasting success. The Predator right now featured polymer extrusion technologies and materials allowing for an even more flexible sole in addition to the conventional studs being replaced by a bladed design covering the only real, giving an even more stable base for the player. In 1995 Adidas released their bladed outsole traxion technology which are tapered shaped blades. Puma hit back in 1996 with a foam-free midsole football boot, referred to as Puma Cell Technology, to which Adidas responded again, now with wedge shaped studs in the same year. The nineties saw new football boot producers Mizuno release their Mizuno Wave in 1997. Other new football boots came from Reebok (1992) and Uhlsport (1993) with other companies also joining the ever increasing, lucrative and competitive market place. Most significantly the nineties saw the entry of Nike, the world’s biggest sportswear producer, immediately making an impact with its Nike Mercurial soccer boot (1998), weighing in at only 200g.

Football Boots – 2000+

As technology advanced still further, the applying of the brand new research and developments were observed in the years into the brand new millennium right up to the current day and this has led to a reinforcement of industry positions of the big three football boot makers and sellers, Puma, Nike and Adidas (incorporating Reebok since 2006). Fortunately, there still remains room on the market area for small producer that doesn’t have the big money endorsement contracts at its disposal, such as for example Mizuno, Diadora, Lotto, Hummel and Nomis.

Recent developments since 2000 have experienced the Nomis Wet control technology making a sticky boot (2002), the Craig Johnston Pig Boot (2003), shark technology by Kelme (2006) and the exceptional design of the Lotto Zhero Gravity laceless football boots (2006) which underpin the successes why these smaller makers can perform by producing specialised and technologically advanced football boots that provide a distinct differentiation from the produced in higher quantities products of the big three. Laser technology has also helped to produce the world’s first fully customised football by Prior 2 Lever, that will be perhaps the most exciting and innovative of the recent developments.

While the debate rages with regards the possible lack of protection distributed by modern football boots, and the repercussion when it comes to player injuries, there seems little to suggest that the major manufacturers are going to give up their search for the lightest football boot for an even more protective 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 that drives the success and sales of a soccer boot maker, but is viewed as at a price of injury and stagnation in football boot research and development. All we can predict money for hard times is integration with sensor technology, lighter and better football boots and more outlandish designs and styles.

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