Nike Football Boots
Nike is more than just a sports manufacturer, it’s a worldwide institutional brand that has one of the most recognisable symbols – that classic tick. It’s hard to see how the world of sport would have looked had it not been for the giants called Nike from Oregon, USA.
From it’s humble beginnings in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports at the University of Oregon, Nike has gone on to become the world’s biggest selling sportswear and equipment supplier. In 2007 it notched up an unbelievable $16 billion worth of revenue. Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Ronaldo have all worn that famous tick (or swoosh) and all been proud to say they ‘Just Do It’.
The History of Nike
Athletics runner Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman came up with a plan in January 1964 to start importing running shoes from Japan and selling them out of a car boot at running meetings under the name Blue Ribbon Sports. Things went well very quickly for the boys and they thought they’d design and manufacture their own shoe. They called it the Chicken and Waffle because it had a sole that looked like a waffle grill. Here is a photo of it.
Their confidence quickly soared and the lads opened their first store and then their first shoe in 1972, a football boot they called a Nike (named after the Greek Goddess of Victory). It wasn’t long before the whole coma football foot they called a Nike (named after the Greek Goddess of Victory). Pany changed to Nike and they scored their breakthrough move by signing Romanian tennis star Ilie Nastase to put their Nike swoosh symbol in front of the masses for the first time.
It was a strange history and somewhat different to other sportswear brands at the time. Nike got their heads down and went about luring people in by what they called ‘foot-of-mouth’. They didn’t even have a TV advert until 1982.
It was coming from the underground and people started to feel they had to wear what they were hearing about. 1988 saw Nike devise one of the wisest and most memorable pieces of advertising of all time when they released their new slogan as “Just Do It”. People didn’t seem to feel the need to ask what they had to do, they just did it.
The History of Nike Football Boots
It might be a hard one to fathom but the huge household name of Nike didn’t actually enter the world of football boots until the late 1990s. By this point, the likes of Adidas had made huge changes to football with their famous boots such as the Copa Mundial (made from kangaroo leather for extra light-weight feel), while their biggest rivals and former partners over at Puma showed off the most famous footballer in the world, Pele, and brought out their masterpiece, the Puma King. Not only these two, but manufacturers like Diadora and Lotto from Italy, Kelme from Spain and Umbro from England were also making football boots in their thousands. But not Nike.
Nike sat back and watched, concentrating its efforts on athletics, tennis and more US based sports. But when one of their biggest rivals in sportswear, Reebok, joined the football boot table of honours, Nike finally said enough was enough and in 1998 launched their first boot, the Nike Mercurial, which took the world by storm, weighing in at a record low weight of only 200g.
Their Greatest Works
The Nike Mercurial
The Mercurial is to Nike what the original iPod is to Apple. It brought them into a new field and set the standard for all the others. The Mercurial had to compete with the already well established and loved boots, the Adidas Predator and the Puma King, but it didn’t feel daunted. It was the lightest boot on the market and would therefore be favoured by players who desired extra speed on the pitch, such as wingers and strikers.
The boot was crafted from Teijin synthetic micro fibre uppers, looked stylish and lightweight, and was made from soft but durable leather. Unlike many other boots on the market at the time, the Mercurial was available in other colours than just black, which is taken for granted now but back then was quite a novelty.
It didn’t take long for the Mercurial to make an impact and, before long, Nike repeated the same tactics from before by signing sports-stars in their particular sport to wear their already famous Nike tick. They happened to get one of the biggest footballers in the world then by signing up the Brazilian striker Ronaldo, who took to the pitch wearing Nike during the 1998 World Cup finals in France, scoring four goals with the Mercurial.
The Mercurial Vapour
2002 saw the release of the now infamous Mercurial Vapour. It was announced to the world in what has now become a legendary TV advert. The ad depicted stars such as Roberto Carlos, Eric Cantona, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo. You can see the extended advert
However, it was Ronaldo who debuted them to the world during the 2002 World Cup tournament, where he wore them in the semi-finals and the finals. Ronaldo was the tournament’s top scorer with eight goals and brought the World Cup trophy back to Brazil.
The Mercurial Vapour II
If you’ve served up a success, good business people would say repeat it and so Nike did just that. January 2004 saw the release of the Nike Mercurial Vapour II, available in shiny red or blue. This boot had an indentation down the side of the boot, which formed a sort of ridge that many might say was borrowed from the Adidas Predator.
On top of this, the new Vapour II had more cushioning at the heel, which was a slight complaint from the first model. It was also made from a tougher leather and therefore weighed marginally more.
The Mercurial continued its evolution in 2006, when Nike chose to shorten the name but kept the product’s quality. Featuring Teijin microfibres, which were lighter and stronger and would shape to the foot of the person wearing the boot over time, this was one of the most advanced boots ever produced. There was also further attention paid to that all-important heel area and a carbon support gave it extra padding. This new boot wasn’t just about working well though, it was about looking good too.
The MVIII was Nike’s most colourful boot yet and was available in a wide range of colours from red to yellow and then to Italian Blue to celebrate the Italians winning the World Cup that summer. Nike finally topped the success of the MVIII by releasing a combination effort with the original 1998 boot in September 2007 to mark the 10th anniversary of the brand. It looked more like the original but it had all the new-found wizadry that the new boot had.
Here it is in all its glory.
Nike were now getting rather confident and were shortening their boots to initials as though they were car models. Various rumours leaked out in relation to the new boot, reflecting just how big football boots were now in luxury and sportswear.
Pictures surfaced around the internet, some of them bearing a strange looking tongue cover for the laces. Finally, in January 2008, Nike released photos of the new Mercurial Vapour SLs. They were orange and made from well-known carbon fibre but also the little known NikeSkin.
NikeSkin was a new substance thought up by the boffins at Nike which was a combination of Teijin and some other secret ingredient. The boot weighed in at only 210g, not making it their lightest but unquestionably one of their most intriguing. Then, almost at exactly the same time, Nike released the MVIVs, which were more of less the same as the SLs but instead of carbon fibre, the soles were made from fibre composite.
Nike made a huge play of the benefits to quick movement about the pitch with the new boot, drawing analogies between footballers and cars!They ran this idea in a rather dramatic TV advert in which the world’s most famous and well thought of player at the time, Manchester United’s Christiano Ronaldo, raced a Bugatti whilst wearing a new pair of the MVIVs… and seemed to win. You can see that race here.
Nike Air Legends
It’s not just all about the Mercurials for Nike. Nike Air Legends are the company’s tough boots for players who often like to get stuck in. They are made from the same soft kangaroo leather and just as supple but strong in all areas and well designed for tackling.
They are built to last and provide the most all-round comfort. To give you an idea, they are worn by players like Owen Hargreaves, Joe Cole and Cesc Fabregas, and you can check out a shot of them here.
Ronaldo wears the Mercurials so the other legend, Ronaldinho, wears something different – the Tiempo. This one is extra special because the man himself designed the shoe. He wanted a bigger ‘sweet spot’, so he sat down, drew a boot and the Tiempo was born.
It’s kangaroo again but has a longer Vamp, which is the part that runs up from the toes at the tip to the laces. It also has studs designed by Ronaldinho, who wanted a shape that would allow him to put his foot on the ball better, as he was used to this technique from his many years playing five-a-side.
Wayne Rooney is the jewel in the crown for England football fans and the precious boots he wears on his feet are a pair of Nikes. Wayne Rooney sports a pair of Nike Lasers T90s in the red and black of his club Manchester United.
The technology is once again at the helm and with the Laser there are special rings placed around the boot to give the wearer the maximum power and accuracy in passing and shooting. The rings, which are made from very thin metal, provide the wearer with a powerful connection when striking the ball but amazingly don’t cause the boot to weigh a great deal more than the Tiempos or the Air Legends.
The upper section of the boot is a firm and dense leather material, which provides the player with greater distance in the their shooting. This is something the likes of Rooney constantly benefit from. There is also a waterproof eVent Fabric built inside the boot which allows the foot to breathe and the temperature to be kept cool and comfortable.
Not just Ronaldo and Ronaldo
Christiano Ronaldo is Nike’s new golden boy when it comes to wearing and advertising their football boots. Like his namesake before him, he is now at the forefront of all of their new campaigns.
After all, Nike have always favoured the best sportsman and been taken with the idea of creating icons in the particular sport. But there are a few more names who have worn Nike boots over the years and here are a few: Thierry Henry, Didier Drogba, Aaron Lennon, Guillermo Ochoa, Wayne Rooney, Robinho, Ronaldinho, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand…