We’re taking a small departure from my normal subject matter in this post,straying away from the headlines that are dominating other blogs. It’s a somewhat difficult thing to do right now in the world of football, considering the closing of the transfer window (another ho-hum window I might add… van der Vaart to Spurs the “shocker” of the window) and the retardation that is an international break just weeks into the season (unfounded rumor: del Bosque is in cahoots with someone to make sure Torres stays hurt).
So what’s this new topic of discussion that I want to cover today?
Boots… football boots.
Deep at heart, I’m a huge nerd — as if this blog wasn’t proof enough of that on it’s own. But believe it or not, once upon a time, I was once much more of one. Allow me to explain the depths of my nerdiness.
For those of you who grew up playing soccer here in the States, odds are you had a Eurosport soccer catalog delivered to your door every month. Most kids would leaf through it, find a few things they like, and then they would be done with it.
I on the other hand would scrutinize every single page, looking over it inch-by-inch so I could see everything in that damn magazine. Not only would I’d pick out and circle my favorite shoes and training wear that I would never be likely to receive… but I’d do it for each brand. Prices, specs and colorways would be committed to memory. For the next few days after each edition would landed in my mailbox, you could find me on the family computer drawing my favorite jersey and boots using Microsoft Paint.
Yeah… I told you I was a nerd.
Needless to say, I have a profound love for soccer kits, boots, equipment and apparel. I love the art in the design of the products, their marketing ploys and logo placements. For some people, they love the shape and the lines of car. I get geeked about the lines and shape of new soccer shoes.
So with all of that in mind, I thought I’d give you a glimpse into my super-dork mind and share my all-time favorite soccer boots. Not that this is particularly useful for anyone or anything, but it gives me the excuse to pour through the web looking for tokens from my childhood.
Trust that you will find absolutely no shoes from Reebok or UnderArmour on this list, as they make crap products that are more heinous than you’re average wannabe WAG. Sorry, but I’m judging you if you wear them. And if any of your other favorite(s) didn’t make the list, feel free to reply and convince me as to what I should have included.
Nike Mercurial Vapor III (2006)
worn by: Cristiano Ronaldo
Gifted to me by WSOTP favorite Chris Rolfe (Hurray for having tiny feet!), these boots made me feel like all of those kids from back in the day that said their Jordan’s made them run faster, jump higher, and have my own massive gambling addiction. When wearing these kicks, I felt like I could run a thousand miles an hour and have a first touch that rivals Messi’s. I couldn’t, but I at least felt like I could. This shoe’s fantastic lines alone just made them look fast.
Admittedly, it was a hard choice choosing which model of the Vapors I liked best, especially since I personally owned four different pairs of them (Vapor I’s in black synthetic and black k-leather, Vapor II’s in orange, and the Vapor III’s in the above white). The pair above won out becuase a) they’re ridiculously white — something I highly valued at the time — and b) they were the most comfy.
Adidas Accelerator Liga (1998)
worn by: Raúl
One of the few shoes on this list that I never had the privilege of wearing, I love the curling/swerving look of this boot. Throw in the ridiculously huge “adidas EQUIPMENT” logo on the heel and tongue, and you have the makings of a transitional modern classic. A few of my friends sported these back in the day, and I remember the k-leather feeling softer than any other leather I had ever felt before. Needless to say, I enviously eyed their feet at practice day after day… secretly plotting a way to swipe them. Sadly, I never succeeded.
Lotto PU Tacto (2000)
worn by: me, my senior year of high school
Arguably the most comfortable boot I’ve ever worn, I rocked these for my senior year in high school. They hold a particularly warm place in my heart since they wear on my feet when I bagged the solitary varsity goal in my high school career. Extremely supple and very reactive, these were the first boots to feature separate heel and forefoot outsole plates — a feature that also made them remarkably light (for the time). I also loved these because nobody wore Lotto in the States, so I felt like a trailblazer. Oddly enough, I couldn’t find a single picture or reference to any pro player ever wearing this boot. So perhaps I’m a really big trail blazer.
Puma v1.06 (2006)
worn by: Samuel Eto’o
I loved these shoes, from a distance at least. Another gift from Rolfe, though these were passed down to his older brother, who as my roommate at the time, refused to let me wear them (I got the “shaft” and had to put up with another pair of Vapor III’s… boo hoo right?). They were the only shoe on the market at that time that could challenge the Vapors when it came to weight. However, that’s not what helped them on to this list. What really put them into my favorites was their design: these served as the launching point for Puma’s renaissance and subsequent avalanche of awesome designs that started to spill from their doors in the mid Naughties. Just whatever you do… try to ignore this color scheme.
Nike CTR360 Maestri (2010)
worn by: Cesc Fàbregas
There’s no way this list would have been complete without first putting up my current boots. The “shoe that Cesc built” is hands down the best synthetic shoe I’ve ever worn. Lightweight, well cushioned, and providing excellent touch and control qualities, the 360’s boast an extremely supple upper that could easily be confused for a k-leather. And while I would love to sport a pair from Elite Series, I just can’t justify spending such a hefty portion of monthly paycheck on football boots for my Sunday league team. Either way, I love this colorway much more than the current crop of neon and silver nightmares.
Adidas Adipure II (2009)
worn by: Frank Lampard
A departure from my longstanding preference for white kicks, I loved the murdered out Adipures. You could perhaps best describe the entire Adipure line as “classic with a modern edge.” The shoe clearly pays homage to the Adidas’ classic Copa Mundial (see the toe box stitching and general overall shape), the shoe features a myriad of improvements such as the external heel counter and bladed stud configuration. All of that combined make the Adipure II’s one of the best natural, out-of-the-box feeling boots i’ve ever put on.
Umbro Xai (2001)
worn by: Michael Owen
I never in a million years thought I would wear these shoes. At their release, these were the most expensive soccer shoes on the planet ever. But when a senior on my college team realized he’d bought them too small, I hit the jackpot. Super comfy with a very durable k-leather upper, they featured “rubberized leather” strips that allowed you to put excellent spin on the ball without the added weight from Predator-like rubber fins. Were they worth the $200+ price tag? Probably not, but it was a quality boot that looked good and made me feel more important than I really was.
Nike Tiempo Ronaldinho (2007)
worn by: Ronaldinho
This was another shoe where I didn’t have any trouble deciding if it was on my list or not, but struggled to decide which colorway I liked the best. Dished out by Nike in four flavors (black, off-white, brown and red), I actually managed to rock two of the models (I couldn’t ever find the brown in my size, and never wanted to sport the reds). Ronaldinho’s first signature boot borrows much of its design from the days of old, with lines that give it a very classic silhouette. You could easily picture a player from the 1950’s digging them. My only complaint? The boots’ extremely thin and supple kangaroo leather did make them very prone to blowing out — a flaw that found it’s way to all three pair that I managed to lace up.