How important is footwear to a pro footballer?
It’s one of the most important things about performance. Your feet are the tools of your trade so they've got to be comfortable. If they’re causing you problems and giving blisters you’re not going to be able to concentrate on your game. Above all else, your boots need to fit just right.
What are the things you need in a boot?
Comfort. You obviously want to look good if you can, because if you look good and feel good that gives you confidence. Grip is a massively important. All the pitches are different now, but you can wear moulds, studs, blades or a mix. It comes down to the surface you’re playing on and personal preference. If you feel unsteady on your feet you're going to be thinking more about slipping over when you receive the ball. Again, that’s going to take your concentration away from the game. Feel and protection are also important. Some players like added protection so they can go and kick someone and not worry about it. Other players want their boot to be as light as possible. Most people want a boot that feels nice when in contact with the ball. You don't want a boot that effects your feel for the ball. If can't feel it you won't be able to manipulate it properly.
More after the break
How many boots do you have on a match day?
The kit man will generally take two pairs of moulds and two pairs of studs in case one of the boots splits. Around 90 per cent of the time I wear studs in games and I always train in moulds. I feel more comfortable in moulds in training, but don't feel like I can take a chance in a game. Moulds have less grip and the pitches get watered down so I’m worried I might slip. Studs are a safer bet for a matchday. I've always been a round stud rather than a blade man.
Is there anything unique about the boots Nike make for you?
I've got wide feet so I might make some adjustments. A lot of players wear orthotics now so that’s factored into the building of a boot as well. I've got one leg slightly longer than the other so that also has to be considered. I normally burn the ends of the laces so they’re not too long and flapping about.
Do you keep any boots from your career?
I've got a few knocking about. I have the pair I wore in League Cup final when I scored for Aston Villa. I’ve collected more shirts than boots, but I have got a few.
Is there a lot of excitement in the dressing room when someone breaks out a new pair of boots?
Yes there is. All the Nike players will get one drop of the new boots so they’ll be dotted around the dressing room. You’ve got some players in the Magista and some in the Tiempo. New colours are always coming out so everyone is interested to see what each other has got. Nobody will ever try each other’s on though - I wouldn't want anyone putting my boots on that’s for sure.
James Milner wears the Nike Magista Opus and Nike Revolution Jacket available at nike.com