Throughout the history of soccer cleats their has been continuous development and advancements in technology. Over the past few years, this has been particularly true with the increase in new releases and unique upgrades rising dramatically. It seems that every new boot that now hits the market is loaded with extras and the best feature you will find on a boot. It makes for an interesting period as we await the next latest and greatest release. For that reason, we looked through the archives and creative a list of the top boots we have seen over the past quarter century.
This is the 25 Best Soccer Cleats of the Past 25 Years.
No. 25 – adidas F50i TUNiT
In an effort to provide players with a boot for multiple surfaces, adidas created the F50i TUNiT. This was a boot that featured interchangeable studs and allowed for you to choose between FG, SG or HG. It was a defining boot that gave extra power to the player. The addition of a SprintSkin upper also set a new tone for the range and it allowed for further development in upper technology. For some reason, the inclusion of interchangeable studs disappeared, but at least we got to experience its joy in the TUNiT series.
No. 24 – Lotto Zhero Gravity
Creating a boot with no laces can cause several large challenges, but Lott had a go at it and were decently effective. The inclusion of this boot is less about performance and more about ingenuity and the foresight to take on a bold new challenge. The result is the largest strikezone found on any boot ever released and it is a smooth clean surface, ideal to dribbling with the ball and placing shots side netting. There is some work to be done in perfecting the technology, however, but that is something Lotto will look to accomplish.
No. 23 – Ryal La Storia
Ryal is a very small scale company in Europe that is definitely worth checking out. Their campaign “Against Modern Football Boots” tells you what they are all about – creating boots that appeal to the tradition fan. There probably isn’t a more classic design currently on the market than the La Storia. They have that 70’s style look about them but more importantly all the comfort updates necessary to take them into the modern era.
No. 22 – Diadora LX K Pro
Diadora find their way onto the list through a fantastic release that served as the company's 60th anniversary release. Designed with pure performance and classic design in mind, the Diadora LX K Pro is crafted from super soft supple kangaroo leather, offering a soft touch and great ball control. However, what differentiate this boot is the many technologies that Diadora uses to optimize comfort on the pitch. In an effort to reduce stress on the foot, an Engage insole helps to absorb shock during play, an Ergos Footbed provides extra cushioning, and a Competition Comfort Bridge system optimizes support of the plantar arch.
No. 21 – Umbro Geometra Pro
Umbro has gone through a rollercoaster ride over the past several years, yet they managed to graft out a true winner in the form of the Geometra pro. In fact, the ECZ on the instep (Energy Control Zone) stands as one of the most effective pieces of technology on any boot. The ability to control long balls out of the air and play pinpoint short passes makes them a definite contender for most players on the pitch. Add the strategically positioned stitching featured along the K-Leather upper and the very effective stud configuration, and you have a top class performer.
No. 20 – Puma V1.06
There is no doubting the innovative nature of this release, as it set in place a market shift toward lightweight releases. At 6.8oz they were the lightest boots ever released when they debuted during World Cup 2006 in Germany. They feature an integrated, covered lacing system on a thin microfiber upper that made them as easy boot to market toward speedy wingers and pacey forwards.
No. 19 – Puma King Finale
Since their initial release in 1968, the Puma King has continually been a top choice for pro players around the globe. Everything about the silo screams heritage and they are a boot that has earned respect. In terms of modern performance, the King Finale stands out as the leader. The leather upper is the absolute highlight of this boot and you get that fantastic leather smell when you take them out of the box for the first time.
No. 18 – UA Hydrastrike II
Without a doubt, the Hydrastrike II has been the best release we have seen to date from Under Armour. A futuristic H2Oi Water Intelligence Technology upper was matched with a Sleek Stud Configuration to create a very effective speed/control boot. It might be a surprise edition to some, but for those who have experienced the comfort provided while wearing the boot and the overall performance will wonder why it doesn’t sit higher!
No. 17 – adidas adiPure IV
Every boot in the adiPure range has been crafted with tradition in mind and the fourth installment was no different. Comfort has always been a main staple of the adiPure range and what sets this boot apart from others was a new neoprene pad system around the heel area. It allowed the boot to mimic the shape of your heel, providing great fit. The leather upper was super soft and offered a very natural feel on the ball thanks to the strategically positioned stitching used through the upper.
No. 16 – Nike Hypervenom Phantom
The latest and greatest from Nike has a lot of persuading to do to win over the market. There is definite potential in the new agility boot and Nike are set to make subtle improvements on the follow up range to continue growing the new silos name. Players such as Neymar, Isco and Robert Lewandowski have been key in Nike marketing so there is a definite connection between these boots and high profile athletes. The use of a honeycomb textured mesh upper creates an extremely unusual boot.
No. 15 – Nike T90 Laser IV
When released, Nike’s advertising slogan completely summed up what these boots were all about; “the perfect strike”. The strike zone on the T90 Laser IV is referred to as the Adaptive Shield, and it is broken down into separate areas. The upper region, or the strike zone, is designed to flex naturally with the fit as you contact the ball while giving you some added oomph, while the lower region, or swerve zone, features fins that are strategically positioned and sized to allow for closer feel on the ball, while supplying added bend when you need it. All in all, this is an advanced boot that matches the performance requirements of both Defenders and Forwards.
No. 14 – Nike Tiempo Ronaldinho 10R
You can’t have a top 25 list without including what were the first true personalized and complete boots released for a Nike sponsored player. At the time, Ronaldinho was playing for Barcelona and coming off back-to-back World Player of the year awards. In other words, he was the perfect marketing piece. From the fold over tongue that created a larger striking zone to the soft K-leather upper, everything was specifically molded to complement Ronaldinho’s style. The extra smooth K-Leather upper took on a completely new type of stitching pattern that allowed for a more personalized fit across the forefoot.
No. 13 – Pele Trinity 3E K
Pele Sports needed a statement boot to create an in-route to the soccer market. They did just that with the Trinity 3E, a boot that had a lot of people talking when they were released. One of the lightest boots on the market, the Trinity series also featured the first ever 3-blade heel design. In other words, a tri-pod design on the heel was set in place to help muscle train and create a faster acceleration from the surface.
No. 12 – Nike Vapor VIII
Where the Vapor VII proved to be a disappointment, the Vapor VIII reinvigorated the range and gave Vapor-heads a new reason to boast about their preferred speed boot. By introducing a suede upper and defining the stud configuration, players began to appreciate the explosive power provided by the boot. They also provide a different type of fit, with a wider forefoot that sits lower on your foot. It results in a contoured fit that is actually quite comfortable.
No. 11 – Nike Premier
With the release of the Premier, Nike immediately pierced a hole in the armour of the adidas Copa Mundial. For so long the Copa set as the go to consistent performing boot, but Nike set out to create a no-nonsense boot that could compete. They have been very successful, and the key was to keep things very simple. A very flexible soleplate is matched with a tidy leather upper, with no frills and an affordable price. This is the type of boot that is set to stick around for a while.
No. 10 – Puma V1.10 SL
Puma hold the lightweight record thanks to this V1.10 SL release. Built using a round toe design, Puma switched the direction of the V series as a result of player feedback and popularity of the range. As a result, they provided a completely different level of performance and paved the way for Puma to change the design of the V1.12. Puma used an ultra-thin premium microfiber upper and one piece of pebax with a carbon fiber inset to minimize weight and increase stability. Personally, one of my favorite boots ever released!
No. 9 – Mizuno Wave Ignite
The Wave Ignite was the boot that really set in place a revival or rebirth of the Mizuno brand. Normally a brand that released “safe” designs, the new power range caused quite a stir and had fans talking. Keisuke Honda was the player responsible for the rapid rise of the Mizuno brand after his spectacular free kicks and performances at the 2010 World Cup. One of the more appealing aspects of this release is the side Mukaiten Panels that is designed to deliver a shot from the instep that produces no spin. When perfected, it produces a shot that is extremely tough for keepers to read.
No. 8 – Nike Tiempo Premier 94
During the 94 World Cup final, both Romario, who led Brazil, and Italy's Paolo Maldini sported the absolutely classy Nike Tiempo Premier, giving you some idea of the calibre this boot holds. A super soft K-leather upper featured a fantastic vamp stitching pattern and a retro fold-over tongue gave them an unmistakable look.
No. 7 – Nike CTR360 Maestri II
Nike set out to create a playmakers boot with this rendition of the CTR360 Maestri and it proved to be very successful. Creative players were able to take advantage of pass and receive pads located on the instep of the boot, with the TPU fins providing a dampening effect as it made contact with the ball.
No. 6 – adidas Predator Accelerator
Many consider the Accelerator to be the best performing Predator created; in fact many even consider them to be the best boot of all time. They are definitely a nominee thanks to the advanced technology introduced to the market via the boot and they pushed the boundaries of player’s expectations. The Accelerator was the boot released by adidas for the 1998 World Cup in France. At the time, Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham were the lead players showcasing the boot.
No. 5 – Nike Mercurial Vapor III
Created using a new revolutionary teijin synthetic upper, the Vapor III proved to be the stepping stone for the Vapor series, allowing Nike to produce a boot with superior ball feel, control and strike in a lightweight package. Nike also introduced their new ‘Speed Last’, which was designed to contour the anatomic curves of the foot for added comfort and maximum speed advantage.
No. 4 – adidas adiPower Predator
The adiPower stood out as a top release during its time on the market and it even stuck around after the release of next Predator release thanks to players like Robin van Persie. The power zone was very useful in several different areas of your game, including first touch and while bending shots top corner. The blade soleplate design also proved to be very effective, even if adidas has removed it from all of its current silos.
No. 3 – adidas Predator LZ
First Touch, Dribble, Sweet Spot, Drive and Pass – the five Lethal Zones that make up the focal performance point of the adidas Predator LZ. Designed to be more of a hybrid than a Power boot, this installment of the Predator takes a radical turn and reaches a wider audience than any Predator ever released.
No. 2 – Nike Mercurial Vapor IX
Through extensive development, Nike has developed their highest performing boot to date in the Vapor IX. It is a boot designed for explosive speed and everything from the upper material to the soleplate is highly advanced compared to other boots on the market. Nike use a dimple textured Teijin microfiber upper and a two blade heel design.
No. 1 - adidas F50 adiZero miCoach
With so many attacking players switching to the F50 adiZero series of late, it has to be labeled as the best on the market right now. Just look at the list of players scoring goals in them; Lionel Messi, Edson Cavani, Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale, Robin van Persi - and the list goes on! Adidas has modified certain areas of the boot since their initial release, but there hasn’t been anything overly dramatic. You still get the same SprintFrame used in the original and a lightweight microfiber upper that allows them to be all about speed.