Traditionally, there are two types of football players when it comes to their boots. There's the hard-working, gritty player wearing those classic black Copas, and the flashy, high-maintenance player sporting every colour under the sun as each new season begins.
Recently, however, those lines have become more blurry. Boot manufacturers are making jazzier boots with each passing day, so much so that neon seems to be the new standard.
The latest trend are special "limited edition" boots, which give an already in-use design some extra mileage. Nike's recent release of Merlot-colored boots for Andrea Pirlo – inspired by his winery – along with the those made to honour EA Sports' FIFA series, got us thinking about some of the more ridiculous boot concepts in recent history...
1. Puma evoPOWER MB 9
Mario Balotelli is no stranger to attention, and Puma have played to his persona through the years, making him – among others – boots with newspaper headlines printed onto them and the phrase, “Why always Puma?”.
But the Puma evoPOWER boots Balotelli had designed for him were all-time levels of disturbing. Sure, they featured the “Why Always Me?” slogan, but next to that, on the backheel, was a protruding, fuzzy substance meant to replicate Balotelli’s Mohawk. The very concept of hair – fake or not – on a boot is surely an epic level of disgusting, made worse by Puma actually putting the strip of fuzz on the ball sold as part of the same line.
2. Warrior Gambler
In 2013, when Warrior was still a Lacrosse brand trying to break into football at Liverpool’s expense, the company released a boot called the “Gambler”. The back heel, which can always be an annoying part of the shoe for those with oddly shaped feet, featured an opening – presumably for flexibility. Ok, that’s cool. The problem? Warrior called these “gloryholes”…“for precision fit in sticky situations.” Didn't their teachers ever remind them to read their work back?
3. Serafino 4th Edge
Finally, a boot that speaks to the average Sunday League player. It's football’s answer to the steel-toed boot and, frankly, it’s ridiculous. "The first thing I noticed was how comfortable the boot was," said Alan Curbishley, while presumably tied up in a darkened room somewhere (along with the five other ex-pros they've got promoting the product). "Also. I was intrigued to see how the ball moves when toe punted." We can only imagine, Curbs. Anyway: want a pair? Yours for only £99.99.
4. Yohji Yamamoto adiZero F50
The dragon is a symbol of power and good fortune in Eastern cultures, but Western ones have typically portrayed the mythical being as a fire-breathing nuisance. It’s unclear if Adidas were trying to meet them in the middle with this effort, but the end result was more one-too-many than oh-so-lucky.
Japanese fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto was the man responsible in 2014, one year after his similar design revolving around the Japanese lion-dog. Adidas made a similar F50 called the "Tatoo". It, too, looked terrible.
5. Crystal-encrusted Nike Vapors
Think Cristiano Ronaldo was the first player to wear gems on his boots? Think again.
In 2012, Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang donned a pair of grim pea-coloured Nike Vapors which reportedly cost £2,500, included 4,000 Swarovski crystals and took over 50 hours to design. The worst part, though? He only wore them for warm-ups anyway.
Next: Suction cups and frogs for inspiration
6. Zygo Deztruct
Getting the right kind of grip on the inside of a boot has been an obsession for manufacturers for two decades now. There have been different approaches and ongoing tweaks to the concept, but none more ridiculous than Australian brand Zygo’s attempt of putting “pods” – miniature suction cups – all around the boot for grip, feel and power. They're supposed to release energy and assist with ball control. They look more like the tentacles of an octopus.
7. Puma evoSPEED 1.2 Camo Limited Edition
Need we say anything at all?
8. New Balance Visaro Signal Edition
Fresh to the market for the end of 2016 is a design from New Balance, based on the poison dart frog (well, it's better than the bullfrog we suppose). In real life, the frog's patterning is meant to warn potential predators to keep their distance. In football, it probably does nothing more than invite vicious two-footed lunges. We wouldn't blame them.
9. Adidas Primeknit FS
Adidas’s attempts to one-up Nike ended with them producing Ugg-like boots with stripes and studs. Adidas rushed to market the Primeknit FS – a boot and sock all-in-one – and called it the "world’s first". It will hopefully be the last. Nike have taken over the market on boots with built-in ankle protection, though, through their Magista, Mercurial and Hypervenom range.
10. Under Armour Speedform
Under Armour released special-edition Batman and Superman boots in 2016 to commemorate the 'Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice" movie. Batman or Superman? If you're older than 12, you probably shouldn't even be asking yourself the question.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.