The first pair of football boots noted in history are those made for King Henry VIII of England, who ordered a pair from his Great Wardrobe in 1526. Pre 1891 nothing was allowed to project out of the shoes worn by a footballer, a revision then lead to the use of small studs or bars and football boots were born.
It wasn’t until the 1950s when adidas introduced boots with interchangeable screw-in studs, which were made of rubber or plastic, this meant that depending on the weather and pitch conditions, players could have different studs on the same pair of boots. Original boots were heavy and high-ankled, but a lighter boot with less protection became popular in South America and Southern Europe where pitches were less muddy and harder and this style eventually became used everywhere. Boots just came in one colour for many years, black. Recently with new production materials and techniques and the popularity of boots as a fashion and consumer item, any colour has been possible.
When did football boots start, why and what years were certain features such as studs, blades, leather boots introduced? well the time line below should help you get an idea into the history of footy boots and the future of football boots will also be looked into.
BOOT HISTORY TIMELINE
Football during this time period become increasingly popular especially in England, the majority of people were playing in work boots which were very hard and heavy and not designed for running or kicking, they often had steel caps which meant if you tackled someone and ended up kicking them by accident well you can imagine it wouldn’t feel very nice. Later on these boots had metal tacks or studs put into the bottom of the boot so players had more grip and wouldn’t slip over, later on in this period the first ever official football boots were made from leather, they were heavy and thick and went right up to your ankle. They would weigh around half a kilogram and double this when wet.
This period of 1900 to 1940 was dominated by world wars, so football boots stayed very much the same, the likes of Valsport and Gola (originally known as Bozeat) become popular makes during this period.
During the 1940-1960s the WWII was finishing and the design of the boots were changing drastically, they become lighter and flexible, the idea of creating boots that were solely for protection was dropped and a focus on a boot that would be light, agile and give the user a better kick were main factors for new boots. The end of this period saw a lighter than ever boot that had a lower top so it gave users a more flexible boot.
Boots became even lighter and now colours were introduced in the Seventies so that players didn’t only have an option of black or black, they could have a variety of colours. The first white boots and first other than black pair were the idea of Hummel, Marketing Director Brian Hewitt. They were worn Everton’s Alan Ball in the 1970 Charity Shield match, where he was referred to as twinkle toes by the commentator.
The eighties were a time of the birth of modern classics of the game, with the Copa Mundial and Puma king being popular on players feet, leather was the material of choice, being designed with now for both, comfort and performance.
In this Nineties there was a movement of professional footballers being paid to wear boots by manufacturers. In the middle of the nineties the world’s most famous boot was designed, known as the Predator, Adidas designed a boot that was hugely popular around the world. Nike started to make an impact too, with their Tiempo Premier being worn by lots of players at the 1994 World Cup in USA, including ten players in the final.
This period saw a difference not in colour, size, shape but in the studs that were used in the under side of the boot. The sole was designed to be more flexible and allow the footballer more movement, again the Adidas Predators were the dominant player in this area and the Nike Mercurial continued to make it’s mark as a speed boot. In the 00’s the introduction of laser technology meant that boots could be customised fully for the first time.
Customisation and personalisation increased with it becoming standard for a player to have their name and number on their boots at all levels not only professional but in semi professional and even Sunday league. Blades rather than studs seem to be more popular nowadays and so this is likely to carry on. Professional footballers will continue to be paid to wear boots and this is shown as a successful method for brands to advertise new football boots to the masses, especially in big world tournaments where they will be on view to millions at a time. Latest innovations include chips and tracking in boots so players can monitor their performance online and via the phones. Collared boots and pack releases started to crystalise, with special/limited editions spearheaded by GOATs Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Football boot tech continued to evolve, whether it’s on layering of thin upper materials or the increased responsiveness of soleplates (like the Nike Aerotrak and adidas Carbitex Speedframe). The appeal of speed boots translated to some leather boots getting reworked to gain that narrow and thin profile while also shedding some weight. Remakes of iconic boots from the past decades were getting abundant, and some releases had copied the design of football boots that really made their mark in history. Nike and adidas continued to their duopoly, but Puma, New Balance and, at least to hardcore boot enthusiasts, Mizuno, all had presented their respective offerings that were arguably viable alternatives.
The future of football boots? Predator and Mercurial still reign strong as the choice of players more than twenty years since their creation. Will boots light up when you score, show you’ve got a yellow card, change stud positioning mid game to adapt to the conditions? The future of boots is uncertain, one thing you can know for sure, we’ll be here to tell you all about it, watch the Black & Orange halves on YouTube.