There is not much information about them as there are no examples. But, the royal football boot is made of leather. It is thicker than the average shoe and is taller than the regular. In the next 300 years, football developed and gained popularity throughout Britain. But, it still remains an unstructured, informal pastime. There were teams representing local factories or villages in a new industrial nation. As the first football boots, players would be wearing their leather work boots. They were long-laced with a steel toe and covered in leather. These boots were also equipped with metal studs and tacks to improve ground grip and stability.
The integration of laws into football in the late 1800s saw the first transition in football boots from a shoe made of leather to a slipper (or socus) style. Players on the same team started to wear the exact same boots for their first time. Laws allowed for studs that had to be rounded. These leather studs (also known as cleats) were hammered into the first football boots. They markedly changed from the work boots that had been popular in the past. These boots were 500g in weight and made from thick, hard leather. They reached the ankle for added protection. The football boots weighed in at 500g and had six studs on the sole. The football boot was here.
From the beginning of the 1900’s until the end, the styles of football boot have remained relatively stable. The formation of several football boot makers, including Gola (1905), Valsport (2020), and Hummel (1923) were some of the most important developments in the history of the football boot industry.
Rudolf and Adolf Dassler, brothers from Germany, founded the Gebruder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) at Herzogenaurach in 1924. In 1925, they began manufacturing football boots. These boots had 6 or 7 replaceable nailed studs which could be adjusted according to the weather.
The styles of football boot changed dramatically after the second world war. This was because air travel became less expensive and more international fixtures were played. South Americans wore a lighter, more flexible soccer boot. This allowed them to be positioned on the international stage with their technical skills and ball skills. Production of football boots shifted to a lighter boot that focuses on controlling and kicking the ball.
Adolf Dassler, a brother of his, formed the Adidas company. It was the beginning of the rivalry in football boot making for many years. In 1948, Brother Rudolf started the Puma company and quickly created the Puma Atom soccer boot. Puma was the first to offer interchangeable screw-in rubber or plastic studs. Although the original football boots were over the ankle at the time, synthetic materials and leather were used to create lighter shoes that allowed players to show their skills.
With the technological advancements of the sixties, a significant change in design was made. The first ever lower-cut football design was introduced. This allowed players to move quicker and Pele was seen wearing Puma football boots at the 1962 World Cup Finals. Adidas was quickly able to establish itself as the market leader and maintains that position till today. Adidas’s football boots were worn by an astounding 75% of players in the 1966 World Cup Finals.
Many other manufacturers of football boots entered the market in 1960 with their own branding and styles, including Joma (1965), Mitre (60), and Asics(64).
The seventies started with the 1970 World Cup Finals, which saw the triumphant Brazilian team win the trophy. Pele was back at the helm and he wore the Puma King football boots. This decade will be remembered for the rise of football boot sponsorship. In this case, players were paid only one brand. Technology advancements resulted in lighter boots and a wider range of colours, including the first all-white football boots.
Adidas’ Copa Mundial football boot, made from kangaroo leather, was the best-selling in 1979. It was built for speed, versatility, and durability. Adidas remained the market leader, but Diadora (1977) and other bootmakers joined the fray.
Craig Johnston, an ex-player, was the one who developed the Predator football shoe. Adidas eventually released it in the 1990’s. This was the greatest advancement in football boots technology and design. Johnston designed Predator to improve traction between the football boots and the ball, as well as the ground. The design of the Predator allowed for greater contact surface areas with the ball during impact. It also included a series o power and swerve zone within the striking area, allowing the player greater power and control when hitting the “sweet spots”. Football boots were first made in England by Umbro (1985), Italy’s Lotto (1982) or Spain’s Kelme (1982).
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Adidas’ 1994 Predator was a revolutionary design and styling success. The Predator was now made with polymer extrusion materials and technologies. It had a flexible sole that allowed for more flexibility. Also, the traditional studs were replaced by a bladed sole design. This gave the player a better base. Adidas introduced their bladed outsole-traxion technology in 1995. They are tapered-shaped blades. Puma came back with the Puma Cell Technology midsole football boot in 1996. Adidas responded by releasing wedge-shaped studs that year. In 1997, Mizuno Wave was the new football boot producer. Reebok (1992), Uhlsport (93), as well as other companies joining this ever-growing, lucrative, and competitive market. Nike, the biggest sportswear company in the world, entered the market in the nineties with the Nike Mercurial soccer boot (1998). This shoe weighed only 200g.
The application of new research and developments was seen throughout the 2000s and up to today. This has helped to strengthen the market positions of Puma, Nike, and Adidas, which have incorporated Reebok since 2006. The market is still open for the smaller producers, who don’t have the large endorsement contracts, such as Mizuno or Diadora, Lotto and Hummel.
Since 2000, Nomis Wet control technology has been producing a sticky boots (2002), Craig Johnston Pig Boot (2006), shark technology from Kelme (2006), and the extraordinary design of Lotto Zhero Gravity lacesless football boots (2006). All of these developments underpin the success that smaller makers have achieved by producing specialised and technologically advanced boots that are distinct from mass-produced products by the big three. Prior 2 Lever produced the first ever fully customized football, which is probably the most exciting and original of all the new developments. While the debate continues over the lack in protection offered by modern football boots and the consequences for player injuries, there is no indication that major manufacturers will abandon their quest to create lighter, more durable football boots.