Diadora is a sporting manufacturer very much in touch with its heritage. The product of the industry of its founder, Marcello Danieli, the Italian brand is indelibly associated with its country of origin. Indeed, since the company’s foundation in 1948, Diadora have retained a manufacturing presence in Italy right up to the present day. It is therefore unsurprising that, although the brand is far less recognisable when compared with giants like Nike, Adidas and Puma, on Italian shores, the Diadora name is one associated with quality across a multitude of sports.
This brand association has continued throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries. Furthermore, despite the company’s purchase by Invicta in 1998, their new owners have retained a presence in their home country – a smart move to ensure a loyal fanbase in a highly aggressive marketplace.
History of Diadora
As with any such manufacturer, Diadora have neither been chiefly associated with nor founded with football solely in mind. A husband and wife combination at first, the Danieli family launched the brand with a line of mountain climbing boots in mind. The premise was a simple one – the links between Italy and Austria in the Veneto region necessitated frequent mass troop movements during the Second World War and, accordingly, the military needed good boots so the Danieli family flourished.
Unlike many such wartime ventures though, this one continued to boom in the post-war period. Finally, in 1948, the brand was officially formed, with the name of Diadora soon after suggested to Danieli himself. Despite being a Greek term, one of the definitions of Diadora was ‘to share gifts and honour’, so it was little surprise that such a name appealed.
Riding high with their mountain climbing boots, Diadora took the name literally and decided to ‘share’ their products with other sports. Once skiing experienced a boom in Europe during the 1960s, Diadora were right there at the forefront, innovating with products like the après-ski boot. Similarly, when tennis and running shoes took off, Diadora capitalised once again.
As a result, when one speaks of Diadora today, you refer to a multi-national brand with a share in nearly every sporting market imaginable. Considering the company’s situation, one could hardly have thought of a more apt name for the Danieli family’s enterprise.
Diadora in football
Of course, no footwear manufacturer worth his salt could afford to ignore football and Diadora were no different. After easing their way into the skiing, running and tennis markets, the logical step was to move into the lucrative and ever-expanding football market. This was taken over the course of the late 1970s.
The company developed a range of boots geared towards certain types of performance. For example, the LX K-Pro and Maximus series have focused on meeting the needs of the professionals, while the LX K MGs and Maracana RTXs have generally appealed more to the casual player.
One constant, however, has been celebrity endorsement. Diadora made their first serious foray into the market in 1978, signing a deal with Roberto Bettega, the famous Juventus striker. The connection proved to be an incredibly successful one within the domestic arena, as the 1980s saw Diadora expand their list of associates, to the point of having the entire Italian National Football Team wearing their products.
The 1990s were marked by the continued capture of Serie A’s finest players, from the Juventus and Milan sensation Roberto Baggio through to Milan’s Dutch maestro Marco Van Basten. With such a pedigree, it’s unsurprising that the brand has rarely ventured outside of Italian shores for sponsorship reasons. It is also unsurprising that, currently, their biggest prize is AS Roma’s captain and World Cup winner Francesco Totti, who currently wears Diadora’s LX K-Pro boots.
With such powerful names in Italian football connected to their product, Diadora has retained its historical hold over the market within those borders. Indeed, they not only supply boots, but also the kits to all referees in Serie A and Serie B! However, the brand has a long way to go before they can hope to match juggernauts like Adidas and Nike.
Diadora and football today
Diadora is exceptional in the extent to which they tie themselves to certain teams across the world via sponsorship. Although chiefly associated with Italy, the multi-national character of Diadora is manifest in their connections outside those borders. As of the 2008/2009 season, Diadora has links to countries such as Germany, Israel and Brazil through Hannover 96, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Atletico Mineiro respectively.
Moreover, as a testament to their commitment to football above all else, Diadora have allied themselves with the lower leagues on plenty of occasions, supplying sides like Colchester United, Preston North End and even the Kazakhstan National Football Team! Reflecting their desire to expand even further, Diadora announced that they would be spreading their influence to Argentina by sponsoring Atletico Tigre for the 2008/2009 season.
Diadora do not stop at mere sponsorship though. The company also supports the sport at grass-roots level, particularly in the United States via their links to colleges like Brown University and Missouri State University. They are also responsible for a range of competitions and training camps. For more information on their involvement in that area of the world, check the website.
However, the company still invests a great amount in superstars to market the brand. As well as the aforementioned Francesco Totti, Diadora has personal deals with Serie A’s finest, such as AC Milan’s Filippo Inzaghi and Fiorentina’s Danish midfielder, Martin Jorgensen. Diadora have also moved beyond Italy in searching out stars to sponsor, retaining a contract with former Real Madrid striker Javier Portillo, who currently plies his trade for Osasuna in the Spanish league.
Their Greatest Works
Diadora have a plethora of different series packed with nuances which can make all the difference, no matter in what context you’re using the boots. The three chief series are the LX, the Maximus and the Axeler, but there are many variations and even a degree of cross-pollination to produce the best overall product. Whichever one you choose though, you are guaranteed some of the finest technology Diadora has to offer, loaded with a wealth of knowledge reaching back 60 years. The line itself is a celebration of this heritage, as LX in Roman numerals is translated as 60.
The LX series is chiefly associated with the professionals and you can find Serie A stars like AC Milan’s Massimo Ambrosini putting them on every matchday. The premier product in this line is the LX K-Pro, but you can also find lesser (and subtly different) models in the shape of the K MG.
Diadora LX K-Pro
The weapon of choice of Diadora poster boy Francesco Totti, these boots are the pride and joy of the company, and with very good reason. Beautifully designed, as you might expect from an Italian manufacturer, with sweeping colours and supple leather, the LX K are designed to be as soft and light as possible to ensure attacking players are not inhibited in any way.
Accordingly, the boot weighs a remarkable 9.5 ounces, with kangaroo leather forming the majority, complemented by similarly light nylon and Engage materials. But it’s not all about the weight, as the LX K-Pro guarantees absolute control on the surface thanks to a newly developed MG 14 stud system for the outsole. Speed is also emphasized via Diadora’s own Axeler technology, providing what’s known as progressive flex and elastic action (which basically means your response time off the turf is made easier and the impact is less severe). To top things off, the heel is also made with an ergonomic cup, known as Morpho, to prevent sharp turns of the ankle delivering severe injuries.
Diadora LX LT MG 14
For all those who want most of the benefits of the LX series without the intimidating price tag, the LT MG 14 is the obvious choice. This pared down version of the K-Pro lacks some of the selling points, such as kangaroo leather and other touches to reduce weight, but retains some of its best bits.
For example, the LT MG 14 enjoys the Axeler technology for the outsole as well as provisions for shock absorption. The design is also sleek and professional-looking, with the LT MG 14 available in black and gold or blue and white.
Diadora Maximus RTX 14
The Maximus was previously worn by the aforementioned Francesco Totti before his move to the K-Pro model, but that should not be taken as a sign of the Maximus’ decline. Like the K-Pro, the Maximus is covered with kangaroo leather, making the boot extremely light and an excellent choice for forward-thinking players. Indeed, with the boot’s fold-over tongue, unique in the Diadora line, the boot has a more level kicking surface, so it is in many ways preferable for attacking midfielders and, in particular, strikers.
The Maximus also benefits from the Axeler technology for the outsole, meaning superior reactivity. Meanwhile, the insole is packed with EVA foam to minimise shock and prevent lasting injury problems. As an overall package, there are very few products out there to match the Maximus, hence its historical popularity with Diadora’s own fanbase. However, if you are looking for a cheaper option for the amateur, there is the alternative of the Maximus II R RTX 12.
Diadora Brasil Axeler RTX 14
The Brasil Axeler, as well as an outstanding boot in its own right, provides an opportunity to wax lyrical about two of Diadora’s lines: the Brasil and the Axeler. The Brasil, in general, has been associated more with the amateur rather than the professional game, while the Axeler technology has imbued the professional models with extra quality for years. Therefore, the amalgamation of the two is, in theory, a great premise.
The proof is there in the specifications. The Brasil Axeler is typically lightweight at 10.7 ounces, being composed of kangaroo leather and Air Mesh, and the focus is definitely on shock absorption, as the boot is imbued with not only Double Action material but also Engage materials. The outsole, as you might expect, is provided for by Axeler technology married with a titanium frame to provide a robust but remarkably flexible boot.
The design is also a major selling-point. Unlike the more extravagant Maximus and K-Pro lines, the Brasil Axeler retains the brutal simplicity of the old Brasil line, being a mixture of black and white or straight black.
Diadora Maracana RTX 12
One of Diadora’s less specialised lines, intended for the casual player, the Maracana does have some fine attributes. Continuing Diadora’s general penchant for lightweight boots, the Maracana weighs in at just 9.6 ounces and also enjoys the much-vaunted Axeler technology for the outsole. The boot is made of kangaroo leather and there is shock absorption technology in the shape of Double Action and Engage materials. However, the boot’s design is geared towards natural grass fields, meaning the market is more for the Sunday footballer rather than the Totti’s of this world.
Diadora Squadra MD PU
A more reasonably priced boot, if admittedly lacking some of the attributes of the LX and Maximus series, the Squadra is one of the most popular for newcomers to the sport. As the boots are aimed at a younger and less experienced market, a premium is placed on shock absorption but little else. The studs are a basic mould, while the extended tongue provides a smoother surface for striking the ball. Befitting the price tag and the technology, the design is basic and contains little more than Diadora’s trademark forked stripe.
Diadora Veneto MD
Harking back to Diadora’s origins, the Veneto is marketed as a ‘recreational’ boot by the company and has little of the advanced technology dealt with in detail previously. However, what it does have on its side is a very decent price and everything you need for the entry-level player. The outsole is rubber based to provide decent enough traction, while there is provision made for shock absorption. The boot is also rather snazzy, coming in black and gold or gold and white.