A Brief History of Football Boots

A Brief History of Football Boots

Jul 29 , 2021


Tags - History of Football Boots

Football shoes are designed to specifically play football.

Sounds obvious I know - but you wouldn’t wear shoes with studs to walk or run in and you wouldn’t wear walking boots to play football in.

It just wouldn’t work.

Well, it might, but you wouldn’t be able to perform to the best of your ability on the pitch.

Former Juventus player Paolo Rossi says, “Boots are the footballer’s tools.”

Essentially, a good pair of football boots will provide the best traction, the best support and the best feel for the ball.

Football boots are not a new concept and thanks to advanced research and new technology, they have been able to evolve so that footballers have better grip during their game.

From the 19th Century, where football shoes once reached over the ankles and were made from tough leather, to today where they are super lightweight and come in various designs - let’s take a look into how football boots have evolved over the years.

19th Century

It was only until 1891 when football boots first came about.

Before this, players would actually play in their work boots which were not very practical at all - they were too hard and heavy to move quickly around in.

As work boots tend to come with a steel toe cap, these boots often caused injuries when a player accidently kicked another.

Plus, they did not have any additional grip for the pitch as in 1863, the Football Association introduced a rule stating “no one wearing projecting nails, iron plates or gutta percha on the soles of his boots is allowed to play”, so this meant footballers were not allowed to wear shoes that anything sticking out of them.

A few years later, in 1886, Ellis Patent Boots Studs advertised a new product with a backing from a footballer who said “[these studs] are a wonderful improvement in making football boots suitable for any weather.”

Then, in 1891 the Football Association approved football boots with studs, which saw the beginning of the type of football boot as we know today. 

1900 - 1940

As football boots were now allowed to have studs, it was still demanded that the boots themselves needed to be made from leather which weighed around 0.5kg when dry, and double that when wet - which wasn’t ideal in wetter conditions.

In addition, the area around the toe was made from hardened leather, which offered better protection as during this time players typically kicked the ball with their toes, rather than using an instep.

Up until the 40s, the football boots pretty much remained the same in terms of style and stayed very basic; Valsport and Gola (formerly known as Bozeat) were the popular brands at this point.

1950 - 1960

After the second World War, players took an interest in the sport and shoes again, and the design of football boots began to change for the better.

As new technology emerged, manufacturers were able to design football boots that were much lighter on the foot - the key driver behind this being a corner for better agility and performance when on the pitch.

In addition to being lighter, the style changed away from traditional boots that came up to the ankle and shifted into the “trainer” style, (low cut at the ankle), we see today to give players more flexibility - the focus shifted away from protection to increased control of the ball and better kicking power.

With this change in design, places such as South America and Southern Europe appreciated this more as their conditions were far less muddy than England.

During this decade, Adidas introduced their own football boot which featured screw-in studs, either rubber or plastic to adapt to different weather conditions; for the first time, players didn’t have to carry around 2 pairs of boots.

And, they quickly became the top manufacturer with 85% of players in the 1966 FIFA World Cup wearing Adidas.

1970 - 1990

During the 70s, different colour football boots began to emerge - before this the only option was black.

Plus, they started to become even lighter in weight and boot sponsorship was widely adopted; players were now receiving endorsements to wear specific brands.

Still the market leader, Adidas released new technologies like padding for heel protection, and the most popular and famous boot was created - Predator by Adidas.

By 1980, Umbro and Puma, as well as other brands, joined the party and leather was the material of choice.

Fast forward another ten years, 1990 saw the rise of Nike who truly made an impact with their boots, the Nike Mercurial Vapor, which Ronaldo wore at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

2000 - 2010

Adidas and Nike continued to be the big players in the early 2000s.

However now, there was not only a wide range of colours, sizes and shapes, but also the sole had been redesigned for better flexibility.

During this time, laser technology had been introduced which meant football boots could be customised for the first time; which became increasingly popular with the rise of the internet.

Present Day

Laser technology has made it possible for football boots to be made specifically to a player’s foot, which only enhances their performance in terms of speed and agility when out on the pitch - there is no longer a “one size fits all” strategy.

With the technology available today, designers are able to analyse a player’s movements and technique and design a boot according to their needs. 

Moreover, players today customise their shoes to match their shirt names or numbers.

In addition, the studs used are now more like blades, however plastic and rubber studs are still available - you can find out more about the different types of studs in football boots in our previous blog here.

Last but not least, and perhaps the most exciting advancement, is the use of microchip technology where tiny sensors are used within the boot for players to assess their performance using their smart devices. 

Want to know more? Get in touch today.

In the meantime, check our full range of Football Boots here.

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