27 long years ago, Adidas Predators were launched - part-rubber, part-Kangaroo leather boots that would shake up the game as we knew it.
These things looked weird. With big ridges on them and soft sides, they were the pinnacle of footballing technology, modelled by the likes of Teddy Sheringham and Paul Gascoigne. Well, look how far we've come.
The Predators were rested only to rise from the ashes a few years back. We've had champagne-coloured editions, David Beckham specials, Preds that were lighter, Preds that were brighter, the shiny and the stripey, the garish and the gorgeous. Phew.
What's your favourite since the mid-90s?
Adidas Predator (1994)
The very first Adidas Predator was the height of sophistication at the time but tell that to kids who are younger than this model. It must look like a Nokia phone or a CD player.
The Preds were available in black and white - of course - with red accents. This became the standard colourway for the boot as time went on, too. The first goal scored in these lovely boots was a free-kick from John Collins for Celtic.
Adidas Predator Rapier (1995)
SUPER FREAK! Buy the Adidas Predator Freak from £180
The second edition of the Predator evolved the rubber pads to make them a little less ridged. These beauties were the very first Adidas boots available in different colours - though the white/red was a limited range. Can't have players going mad now, can we?
Of course, Gazza was front and centre for the ad campaigns on these ones. Here at FFT, we'd love it if Adidas could get the big man back to advertise the new ones with comedy capers a-plenty. Love you, Gazza.
Adidas Predator Touch (1996)
Now it's evolving into something more recognisable. The third set of Predators were widely-available in white, though black was still popular. This set featured Traxion (trx) studs, which were rectangular and anatomically placed - which was weird in the 90s, because studs were always metal and round.
Adidas Predator Accelerator (1998)
With France 98 came the Accelerator. The red heel was removed by 1999 but this model had a redesigned sole. Also, 999 yellow versions were made - they basically just looked like they were designed for Watford players.
Adidas Predator Precision (2000)
The first Predators of the new millennium were suitably futuristic - well, relatively - with replaceable studs. Yes! Replaceable! The idea made sense in that you could adjust your boots depending on the weather and ground conditions, though the studs would come loose easily and sometimes just drop out on the pitch somewhere.
You'd have an entire bench fiddling with Allen keys to get ready for the surface - while the first XI searched the grass for missing chunks of metal. Other than that, classic design.
Adidas Predator Mania (2002)
Oh boy. Now we're talking.
Arguably the most iconic boot design in the history of the sport, the Predator Manias featured the rubber panels across the exact part of the foot you'd bend it like Beckham with. The three stripes continued onto the sole, too, and these were the first Preds that really moved the laces to the side of the foot.
Understandably, these boots were huge. They released a champagne colour - which Becks donned - along with blue ones and red ones with silver Adidas stripes. This is like a red phonebox or a Dalek: a classic design that will never ever age.
Adidas Predator Pulse (2004)
By now, the Predator was an icon. The red became even more prominent but Adidas launched a blue version too, worn by Patrick Vieira among others. Beckham, naturally, had silver ones at Euro 2004.
A limited edition of this boot was released called the David Beckham Ying Yang box set. 723 pairs of the things were released, along with a wooden glass display box with a small book - because that's what you really want with your football boots.
Adidas Predator Absolute (2006)
We're getting to the middle of the ostentatious noughties and unsurprisingly, gold is taking on more and more of a role in football boots.
The first colour schemes of the Absolutes were black/red, white/gold and blue/white, while Zinedine Zidane was given gold ones for his last international tournament, the 2006 World Cup. That's right - these are the shoes that were worn during football's most famous act of GBH.
These bad boys boasted changeable PowerPulse sockliners which allowed the exchange of the sockliner between the normal 40g and a lighter weight one, with no intentional weight added. Adidas would move onto weightless Predators in the years that followed.
Adidas Predator PowerSwerve (2007)
After retiring from the game in 2006, Zidane helped develop the PowerSwerve Preds, which came out the following year. With more rebound power, swerve, and improved control, it was claimed that the PowerSwerve could achieve up to 8% more swerve and increase the power behind every shot by around 3%.
With this version, Adidas introduced a foam material they called Smartfoam, while PowerPulse technology would essentially shift tungsten powder toward the point of of the boot you were kicking with, to generate a boost. It all sounds very high-tech.
Adidas Predator X (2009)
Where the Predator used to have stripes and strips for contact, it was replaced on the tenth edition with a single pad that had the word "Predator" on. This boot felt classic in many ways, while a natural evolution of what had come before. Again, Zizou tested these ones.
The Pred Xs came in black/white/red with a white/brown/yellow colourway for the flashier players.
Adidas AdiPower Predator (2011)
By 2011, the F50 was the cutting edge boot in Adidas's catalogue. The manufacturer were trying to strip away elements from the boot to get your foot closer to the ball - not add more silly panels to get in the way.
The Adipower boots were a reflection of that. Lighter than ever with no discernible pads or patches to help with swerve, touch or control. This release was followed up by the Predator adiPower SL soon after, which favoured a SprintSkin upper instead of leather. Lighter, lighter, lighter.
Adidas Predator LZ (2012)
The stripes! They're back!
The Predator LZ - Lethal Zones, guys - brought the classic feel of Predators back with all the lightweight feel of the last ones. There were even five zones on the boot designed to do different things - power on the strike zone, first touch on the toe box, etc.
Adidas Predator LZ II (2013)
A thinner, lighter version of the LZs, this pair was specifically designed for Nigel Farage. We're joking of course, they were for Beckham's retirement.
Adidas Predator Instinct (2014)
The final Adidas Predators before they went on hiatus, the Instincts marked 20 years since the original boot. They were almost unrecognisable by now: built for speed but still with those lethal zones on the boot. They were a little heavier than the last ones but replaced by the Ace boots.
Adidas Predator 18 (2017)
This was a triumphant return. After three years in the wilderness, Adidas resurrected the Predator with a bold, classic design remembering the staples of Preds gone by.
The Primeknit materials had CONTROLSKIN, ideal for midfielders controlling the ball, while the ridges of this boot resembled those on early versions. It looked great. It felt great.
Adidas Predator 19 (2018)
Spot the difference between these ones and the last ones. It's proof that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
With a ribbed heel to offer more protection, this is perhaps the subtlest change ever between Predators - not that we complained at the time. There were new colour combinations to enjoy, too.
Adidas Predator Mutator (2020)
With the Predator Mutator came DemonSkin: an all-over rubber material that harked back to the rubber of early Predators but could control the ball wherever the foot made contact. No more catching the ball with your instep just to make sure it doesn't fly off.
The colours were fantastic too, bringing back the classic black/red/white of Predators past but white/black/gold versions that referenced the mid-00s versions. They were a massive hit, these ones.
Adidas Predator Freak (2021)
With fewer spikes on the Freak, the three stripes closer to the toe and blue/green/black colours, the Predators are evolving with an ever-more sci-fi look.
These boots look more streamlined, yet retain the touch and control of some of Adidas's greatest ever boots. They're laceless, light and yet still reinforced with the wrap around the heel.
While you're here, subscribe to FourFourTwo today and save 53%. All the exclusive interviews, long reads, quizzes and more but for less than half price...
CRISTIANO RONALDO His whole record-breaking career year by year
FOOTBALL MANAGER 2021 20 teams you need to play as
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.