We’ve all been there, it’s a corner kick and you’re tightly marking the attacker with no actual intention of getting to the crossing ball before he does. He stinks of Lynx deodorant and his gelled hair has gone crusty in the cold. As you both await the kick-taker to complete their pre-corner ritual, the fella marking you evaluates your feet before he looks up at you and says, “nice boots mate.”
This was probably the best compliment you could receive on a Sunday league football pitch; it was the reason we deliberated for so long before deciding which boots to buy for the new season. To praise a fellow player’s choice of footwear in the heat of battle was oddly acceptable on a Sunday morning. So why did we do it, why did we care so much about the boots we wore?
Most of the time it was because Beckham wore them. We wanted to play so much like our idols that we made our parents pay the extortionate prices for the privilege. A new pair of Adidas Predator’s promised so much, a better touch, a more accurate free kick and an improved range of passing. For a few years it was all about bladed studs, despite their complete lack of practicality on a muddy school field.
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The same can be said with the emergence of the Nike Mercurial Vapors, which supposedly made you quicker off the mark. Again, they were completely pointless when you were carrying half a ton of mud on the heel of your boot.
Like many young adults of my generation, I look back fondly on the hysteria that surrounded the purchase of a new pair of boots. But this isn’t just nostalgia talking, the boots of my childhood were more exciting than the boots of today.
With perfect pitches and crystal clear HD it is impossible to ignore the latest pair of Nike or Puma’s. However, despite this the leading boot manufacturers still feel the need to make their products more ‘eye-catching’ than their competitors. The other day while watching Chelsea vs Arsenal I counted more pink boots than any other colour. You wouldn’t wear pink shoes or pink trainers, so why is it suddenly acceptable to wear pink boots on a football pitch?
The boots we wore were a status symbol, everyone knew if you had a pair of red and white Nike Total 90’s you were going to play on the wing. Similarly if you wore a pair of Umbro’s everyone knew you were a Michael Owen fan boy. Sadly you can’t make these kinds of judgments anymore because everyone’s boots are just as bad as each other’s.
A certain style of boot used to correspond with a certain style of player, which is why we cared so much about the boots were wore. Unfortunately the big brands are more interested in making them glow in the dark. Now that the Adidas Predator series has been discontinued the world of football lacks a real benchmark in the production of football boots.
Not even Cristiano Ronaldo could make me want to buy a pink pair of football boots; I don’t care how light they are. It’s about time the big corporations stopped worrying about each other so much, and just went back to doing what they do best, making the best boots for all the best players.
We don’t want some fancy new gimmick; we just want a new pair of respectable boots we can show off to our mates.