The feedback from players has always been around this idea of locking the foot in. Imagine yourself in a Formula One race car – when you strap yourself into that five point harness you simply do not move around, so all your movements are very efficient. This really got us thinking about the mid-foot. Historically the mid-foot has been the most challenging area just because you’re really trying to mould and sculpt the boot to that area of the foot. Flyknit technology allows us to engineer millimetre by millimetre so we can specifically target that area. When the players told us they felt locked in around the mid-foot we knew we’d delivered an excellent fit.
It’s not just the mid-foot – the boots wraps itself around the whole foot. How have you achieved this effect?
The design process always starts with an anatomical point of view, so we’re always really trying to design to the foot. Again, the beauty of Nike Flyknit is it allows us to be very zonal and very targeted about where we design and engineer. We know that your needs in the forefoot are different than your mid-foot and are certainly different around your heel. Flyknit allows us to get very specific with what we want to do in the forefoot versus the mid-foot versus the heel. It’s just an incredible tool in that regard.
More after the break
We can’t talk about this boot and not discuss the groundbreaking high-top Dynamic Fit Collar. What was it like when you had that light bulb moment? Did you think, ‘Why has nobody thought of this before?’
The light bulb moment came to us through the players. When we were taking the early versions of the Superfly prototype around the feedback we kept getting was, “It fits like a sock”. Often, when you put the boot on you can hear the sound of air escaping. It feels like your foot is being sucked in by the boot – like a vacuum. That’s when we all thought, ‘Wow, we’ve got something special here”. This is a fit sensation we just hadn’t been able to achieve before. Flyknit is a brand new technology and it’s enabled us to deliver an experience like never before.
The first thing an amateur player is going to say when they see these boots is, ‘How is this slender boot going to protect me against a hatchet man’s tackle? And how are they going to stand up in a mud bath?’
This boot has been tested in five different countries, with literally thousands of hours of testing in conditions ranging from 95-100 degree heat in Brazil to wet, rainy pitches in Italy and Newcastle. It’s designed to hold up wherever football is played. Not all football is played on a beautiful day, on a beautiful pitch and we feel very good about it’s ability to perform in all conditions. The players who tested the boot – both professional and 17-year-old elite players – all said that the Mercurial player doesn’t want any distractions. They don’t even think about the tackle that’s coming in because they want a boot that enables them to be explosively fast and their willing to sacrifice for that. Fact is, you can get stepped on wearing a leather boot and it’s still going to hurt, so there’s no reason to feel concerned about the protection offered by the Mercurial. Trust me, it can stand up to the test.
How exciting was it taking this revolutionary boot to the world’s best players?
It was very exciting and a little nerve racking. Early on, we learned that the players responded to it very well and their responses were consistent. You’d often pull the boot out for the first time and they would look at it, then look at you as if to say, “Ok, so is this boot for real?” and then they would gravitate towards it. We’d hand it to them, they’d inspect it and then amazingly they’d put it on. The experience of watching the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kevin Prince Boateng and Frank Ribery slide the boot on for the first time and watching them react to an experience they’ve never had before was incredible. This feeling will only get better now we’re starting to see it on the pitch. This boot will change the way boots are made forever.
The Mercurial Superfly is available to pre-order at Nike.com, and on sale from June 12.