The design of the football boot remained relatively consistent from 1900 to the close of the second World War. The founding of several boot manufacturers who still make football boots today was one of the most important developments that took place in the early part of the twentieth-century football boot industry.
Rudolf Dassler brother Adolf formed Gebruder Dassler Schuhfabrik (“Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory”) in Herzogenaurach. In 1924, Dassler Brothers founded the Gebruder Dassler Schuhfabrik (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory). They started producing football boots starting in 1925.
As international travel became easier and more fixtures were played, the style of football boots evolved. South Americans brought the lighter, more flexible and versatile football boot to the world, where their ball skills, technical abilities, and professionalism amazed all who watched. The goal of producing lighter football boots was to control and kick the ball instead of making protective footwear.
Adolf Dassler formed Adidas in 1948 following a disagreement with his brother. This would become the basis of the football boot maker rivalry that has lasted for over a century. Puma Atom was quickly developed by brother Rudolf in 1948. Puma produced the first interchangeable screw in rubber or plastic studs. Adidas is the heir apparent (Read the Story on Footy Boots). The first football boots were still above the ankle. But, today, they are made from a mix of synthetic materials as well as leather. This makes them lighter for players to showcase their skills.
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Sixties technological advancements brought about a monumental step-change in football design. In 1962, the lower cut design was introduced for the first times in football history. This changed allowed players the ability to move faster. Pele, for example, wore Puma soccer boots at the 1962 World Cup finals. Adidas was still the market leader. Adidas football boots were worn in 75%, or more, of the World Cup Finals 1966.
In the 1960’s, many other football boot companies joined the market with their brands and styling.
The seventies began with 1970 World Cup finals. Pele, a brilliant Brazilian player, was again in charge of the trophy. He was wearing the Puma King soccer boot. The decade will be remembered by the rapid growth in sponsorship of football boots, which saw players being paid to only wear one brand. In terms of style and design, technological advances produced lighter boots in a variety colors, including the first ever all-white football shoe.
Adidas was responsible for the Copa Mundial being the most successful football boot. This boot was made of kangaroo skin and is known for its speed and versatility. Adidas remained the dominant football boot maker, but Diadora (1977), another Italian boot maker joined the fray.
Craig Johnston (a former player) developed the Predator footballboot in the eighties. Adidas later released it in 1995. Johnston designed Predator in order to increase the traction of the football boot and the balls, and the football boot with the ground. This design allowed for the football boot to touch the ball more frequently. The striking area also contained a number of power and steer zones that allowed the player to increase power and speed when hitting the “sweet spot”. English company Umbro (1985), Italy’s Lotto (1982), Spain’s Kelme (82), were among the first to produce football boots in the eighties.
Adidas introduced the Predator designed by Craig Johnston in 1994. It was an instant success thanks to its innovative design, styling and technological innovations. The Predator had polymer extrusion techniques and materials. They also replaced the traditional studs with a flat-soled bladed design. This made it more flexible, as well as allowing for a more stable sole. Adidas unveiled their bladed outsole tech in 1995. The blades have tapered blades. Puma responded to this with the 1996 Puma Cell Technology foam-free football boot. Adidas also responded with wedge-shaped spikes in the same model year. In 1997, Mizuno Wave became a new brand of football boots. Reebok (1992), Uhlsport-1993 also released new football boots. Other companies are now joining the lucrative and highly competitive market. Nike, the most prominent sportswear brand in the 1990s, was introduced with its Nike Mercurial soccer ball boot (1998). It weighed in just 200g.
The technology progressed further. New research and developments were applied in the years that followed the new millennium. This resulted to an increase in the market position of the big three boot sellers, Puma Nike Adidas (incorporating Reebok as of 2006). The smaller producers without the big money endorsement contracts are still able to compete in the market.
Recent innovations since 2000 include the Nomis Wet technology producing a sticky foot (2002), Craig Johnston Pig Boot (3), shark technology developed by Kelme (2006), and the unique design of Lotto Zero Gravity laceless football boot (2006). These achievements are a testament to the success of small-scale makers who can produce specialised and technologically advanced footwear that is different from the mass-produced products made by the big three.03