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What are the best football boots ever? It’s a question that has long plagued us at FourFourTwo.

You never forget your first pair of boots. Whether they were brand new ones that a shop worker had to get down from a high shelf or battered old ones that your older brother once wore, the mere design of footballing footwear can leave a lasting legacy.

And you don’t even have to have worn a style of football boots to have fond memories of it. Whether it was a specific colour that caught your eye, the boots that scored a particular goal, sometimes a good idea – whether a flash of white, a leather upper or a golden sole – lasts forever.

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Over the past century, the football boot has evolved from that most necessary of equipment to play the sport to a fashion statement, an edge over opponents. Boot rooms around the world have been populated with plenty – but on our list, we’ve considered only the most iconic…

List compiled and written with Ed McCambridge

50-4150. Umbro Speciali: Reissue, 2010

(Image credit: ProDirect)Most iconic colourway: Red

Other colourways:  Black, white

Stars who wore them: John Terry, Darren Bent

Around the turn of 2010, while the likes of Adidas and Nike were pumping out an array of electric blue and camouflage boots built for speed and not much else, Umbro bucked the trend by reissuing a this 90s masterpiece – the same material, stitching and durability, but now in bright red to celebrate England’s World Cup journey. Lovely jubbly. 

49. Adidas Predator Mutator, 2020

(Image credit: Adidas)Most iconic colourway: Black/red/white

Other colourways: White/black/gold, all black, black/white/pink, blue/white/red

Stars who wore them: Paul Pogba, David Alaba, Georginio Wijnaldum

A boot instantly recognisable as those Paul Pogba could be seen galloping about the Old Trafford turf in; the big Frenchman sending sweeping 50-yard passes out to the corner flag and putting midfield rivals on their backsides with a wiggle of the hips. Predators were once typically the boot worn by midfield engines, but, by this stage, they’d become the boot of the swaggering playmakers. 

48. Adidas X17+ Purespeed, 2017

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: Gold/black

Other colourways: White/sky blue, turquoise/navy, ‘ocean storm’

Stars who wore them: Mohamed Salah, Luis Suarez, Gabriel Jesus

These boots were gold. Need we say more? Oh go on then… The gold was one thing, but the shimmering fish scale texture and laceless uppers made them all the more alluring. A boot built for a king – or a pharaoh in Salah’s case – that was all about speed and arrogance. 

47. Puma v1.06, 2004

(Image credit: Puma)Most iconic colourway: Red/white/black

Other colourways: ‘Grass’, black/white, camo, white/black/red

Stars who wore them: Robert Pires, Samuel Eto’o, Alexander Hleb

Puma gave us plenty of classics in the 2000s: the sleeveless Cameroon tops, the World Cup-winning jersey from Italy and, of course, these bold boots. Supported with plasticky heels but with that same Puma King swoosh design, these were a great update on the classic.

46. Under Armour Speedform Spring, 2016

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Orange (tulip pattern)

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: Memphis Depay

Too jazzy? Memphis Depay’s typically Dutch tulip-covered boots caused a stir when the now-Barcelona attacker had his ill-fated Manchester United spell. The colourful efforts were out there alright, but were one of many all-over-print boots at the time.

45. Adidas Predator Absolute, 2006

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: White/gold/black

Other colourways: Black/red/white, navy/silver, red/white, gold/white

Stars who wore them: Zinedine Zidane, Steven Gerrard, Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard

These puppies were everywhere at the World Cup in 2006, with a “back to front” version worn by Zidane in the Berlin final. The Frenchman’s predominantly gold pair were rooted into the turf as he sent a head butt into the chest of Marco Materazzi. An iconic boot through association, as well as pure style. 

44. Lotto Campionato, 2002

(Image credit: ClassicFootballShirts)Most iconic colourway: Bronze/black

Other colourways: Silver/black, green/silver, black/white

Stars who wore them: Cafu, Andriy Shevchenko

The Ballon d’Or winner had Lotto boots, back when Andriy Shevchenko was declared winner of the prize. These particular boots were rare: not your usual black but still classy enough that your dad would like them. And that copper colour? Pretty unique. 

43. Puma Future Z 1.1, 2020

Most iconic colourway: White/yellow

Other colourways: White/red, black, blue/pink

Stars who wore them: Neymar, Luis Suarez, Dimitri Payet, James Maddison

While Puma had been a major player in the boot market for years before this release, this may have been the moment they overtook Nike and Adidas as the coolest manufacturer on the planet. Neymar had recently been snared from Nike, and the Brazilian’s debut custom boot oozed samba magic. 

42. Puma evoSPEED 1.2 Tricks, 2014

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Pink/white & turquoise/white

Other colourways: Blue/orange & orange/blue

Stars who wore them: Cesc Fabregas, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann

Literally everything in the world of football boots had been done by the time Puma began reinventing the wheel with these ones. What if… it was cool to have odd boots? They certainly stood out and you wouldn’t miss them on the field. 

41. Umbro Zypro, 2002

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Gold/black

Other colourways: Black/white, black/blue/white

Stars who wore them: Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Henrik Larsson

Who could forget the sight of a schoolboy Wayne Rooney thundering one past Arsenal’s David Seaman in these on his 2002 debut? The boots were perfect for the young Wazza, resembling a hand-me-down, street footballer’s take on a golden slipper. 

40-3140. Lotto Pu Vento, 2001

(Image credit: ClassicFootballShirts)Most iconic colourway: Black/green

Other colourways: Black/silver, gold/blue

Stars who wore them: Cafu, Edu, Andriy Shevchenko

Lotto boots scream nostalgia, of Serie A in the 90s, of classy strikers, bullet train full-backs. Who could forget scuffing up the silver bits on these ones. This pair is arguably the most recognisable of all the manufacturer’s efforts. 

39. New Balance Furon, 2020

(Image credit: New Balance)Most iconic colourway: Red/silver

Other colourways: White/silver, blue/orange

Stars who wore them: Sadio Mane, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling

New Balance’s Furon of last year is perhaps the greatest-ever Mercurial Vapor that Nike didn’t make. It’s light, stylish and comes in great colours – if it’s good enough for Mane and Saka…

38. Adidas Supernova, 2005

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Black/silver

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: Patrick Vieira, Frank Lampard

The Adidas Supernova is an intriguing football boot. It was a standalone release, with no upgrade or rework later on, designed to capitalise on the Predator Mania’s success, only go more minimal. 

These black and silver beauties were short-lived but ultimately the last “proper old-school football boots” before Adi revisited the Copa range. A moment in time, indeed.

37. Nike, What The Mercurial, 2016

(Image credit: Nike)Most iconic colourway: Errmm… that one

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: –

What do you do when you’ve made dozens of iconic Mercurial boots? Well… put them together into one product. Nike have done this kind of thing with shirts, too – Arsenal and Manchester City both got mash-up kits when they left the American manufacturer – and this special edition boot brings back all kinds of memories. 

36. Nike Phantom Scorpion, 2021

(Image credit: Nike)Most iconic colourway: Silver/black

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Rodrygo

The Nike Phantom was already cool enough before Nike created a Scorpion version or honour the famous adverts of the early-00s. The shimmering, scorpion-embossed silver and black creation became an instant classic, despite being worn by kids too young to remember Cantona’s epic Hunger Games style-football tournament. 

35. Lotto Zhero Gravity, 2006

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: White/gold

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: Luca Toni, Andriy Shevchenko

Lotto is a brand that players of the 80s would love – so when the company started a research and development centre to make a new “Zhero Gravity” boot, you could understand if eyes rolled. Thankfully, these white/gold efforts were beautiful and one we still look back on fondly. 

34. Adidas X Ghosted, 2020

(Image credit: Adidas)Most iconic colourway: White/gold

Other colourways: yellow/black, red/white

Stars who wore them: Mohamed Salah, Son Heung-min, Gabriel Jesus

The X Ghosted boots were released last year – but they’re space-age. They’re beautiful, inspired by track athletes and birds of prey and they’re so light they almost float. Not to mention how beautiful they are too: a boot fit for an Egyptian king (among others).

33. Nike Mercurial Vapor X, 2014

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Coral/yellow

Other colourways: Green/red, orange/white

Stars who wore them: Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Eden Hazard

Sometimes, the colour of a football boot is enough to spark memories. That’s true of 2014’s coral Vapors which were worn by the great and the good in the blazing Brazilian sunshine. They looked fantastic, they were lighter than ever and they stand alongside most Vapors since. Bravo. 

32. Adidas Predator, 1994

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Black/red/white

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: Paul Gascoigne

Back in ’94, Adidas brought out the first ever Predator. By adding rubber parts to the upper of the studs for improved power and finesse, the German brand had invented something that had never been seen before. It is now a cornerstone of the football boot world. 

31. Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly II, 2010

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: Silver/orange

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba

The silver and orange colourway is iconic now. These were first shown to the world in an incredible Nike ad featuring Roger Federer, the greatest players on earth and Homer Simpson. They don’t look as good now as they did then – they look better.

30-2130. Adidas F50 Adizero, 2010

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: Yellow/black

Other colourways: Blue/white, gold/black/white

Stars who wore them: Lionel Messi, Arjen Robben, Dani Alves, David Villa

Pretty soon enough, the F50 just became Messi’s boot. That’s what happens when you’re that good – but also when you hold one aloft after netting in a Champions League final. This iteration was particularly nice with the three stripes wrapping around the heel. 

29. New Balance Furon: Bambaly edition, 2018

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Green/yellow/red

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: Sadio Mane

What’s so nice about the Bambaly Furon from New Balance is that it pays tribute to a star who you wouldn’t usually see custom boots for. Messi and Ronaldo have had their special editions – and Sadio Mane getting one is a lovely touch. These are quintessentially Senegalese. They still look awesome. 

28. Adidas Predator Accelerator, 1998

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Black/red/white

Other colourways: White/black/red

Stars who wore them: Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro Del Pierro, David Beckham

Adidas were getting bolder, the three stripes were getting bigger and these were the boots that Zinedine Zidane won the World Cup in. They’re not the cleanest design in terms of Predator looks but they’re one of the most memorable. 

27. Nike CTR360 Maestri III, 2014

(Image credit: Nike)Most iconic colourway: Red/white/black

Other colourways: Yellow/black/white, blue/white/black, red/black/white

Stars who wore them: Andres Iniesta, Jack Wilshere, Sami Khedira

In 100 years from now, future humans will take one look at the Nike CTR360s and inform you that they were made in 2014. They feel so of that era – to the extent that suuuurely everyone on the planet had a pair of these in the mid-2010s? Simple, cool, durable and in a range of colours, they ticked all the boxes. 

26. Adidas F50.6 Tunit, 2006

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: Blue/green

Other colourways: Yellow/blue, grey/silver, white/blue, red/white

Stars who wore them: Lionel Messi, David Villa, Lukas Podolski

The chop-and-change studs project from Adidas in the mid-2000s may have died a death when everyone lost their screw-in studs on the grass – but these boots are still beautiful today. Adi’s answer to the Vapor, these came in superb colours, they were lightweight and they felt fantastic. Bring them out today and they’d still be a hit. 

25. Adidas Copa Sense, 2021

(Image credit: Adidas)Most iconic colourway: Black/gold

Other colourways: Red/white/coral, silver/purple/pink, white/pink

Stars who wore them: Jude Bellingham, Joao Felix, Paulo Dybala

These boots are already classics, despite barely being a year old. The Copa Sense is moulded with the vintage leather of Adi boots past, while using a typically-showy stud plate. The result is something masterful. They’re absolutely gorgeous. 

24. Nike Mercurial Vapor III, 2006

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: White/yellow

Other colourways: Yellow/green, red/white, blue/grey, white/red, volt/white

Stars who wore them: Thierry Henry, Ronaldo, Cristiano Ronaldo

The Vapors were evolving. Gone was the heel panel, replaced with a halftone fade: these were the boots that Thierry Henry ripped Real Madrid apart in the Bernabeu and he looked every inch the superstar. Ronaldo, naturally, had some Brazil-coloured ones for the World Cup, too.

23. Nike Hypervenom Phelon II, 2016

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Bronze/black

Other colourways: White/volt/pink, grey/orange

Stars who wore them: Neymar, Wayne Rooney, Miroslav Klose

Mercurial Vapors are supposed to look smooth, fluid and free – but Nike’s 2016 Hypervenoms were spiky and abrasive. These boots were something different for the American brand and were perfect for speedsters everywhere. 

22. Adidas Copa Whiteout, 2014

(Image credit: Adidas)Most iconic colourway: All-white

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: –

“What’s cooler than being cool?” Outkast first pondered. The answer is of course taking a classic like the Copa Mundial, with all its rich texture, nostalgia and downright football ‘eritage and spraypainting the whole thing white. 

These special editions came out in 2014 and are extremely rare. They’re unicorns of the football boot world: something you always knew should exist but couldn’t possibly. Ice cold, indeed.

21. Adidas F50 Adizone, 2011

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: Yellow/purple/red

Other colourways: Orange/black/white, white/sky blue/red

Stars who wore them: Lionel Messi, Gareth Bale

Acid yellow and purple is certainly a statement, with the 2011 F50 Adizone resembling a couple of Chewits that had melted together in your school blazer. The design of the F50 has always been a favourite at FFT Towers. This pair, worn by Messi, Bale and school kids across the nation, were up there with the best of all.

20-1120. Mizuno Morelia, 1986

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: Black/white

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: David Platt, Aldair, Gianfranco Zola

It’s hard to know what that Mizuno symbol actually is but somehow, it’s burned itself into the consciousness of every football fan from about 1975 to the present day. The common black-and-white Mizuno boots are retro, hard-wearing and stylish – they’re part of the footballing tapestry. 

19. Nike Total 90 Laser, 2007

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: Yellow/black

Other colourways: White/black, red/red

Stars who wore them: Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres, Luis Figo

Truly iconic. The Nike Total 90 Laser was a boot every footballer in Britain had a pair of at some point around the year 2007. The banana yellow and black pair are permanently ingrained in the mind as those Wayne Rooney used to stomp around the Old Trafford turf in. The Englishman scored some early-career belters in these. How could he not, with that Total 90 concentric circles badge covering the laces? Built for turning heads and hitting a ball like a rocket launcher. Beautiful. 

18. Adidas Predator Mania: Champagne reissue, 2019

(Image credit: Adidas)Most iconic colourway: Champagne/red/black

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: David Beckham

David Beckham was the coolest footballer on earth, once upon a time and most of that mystique came from the fact that he didn’t wear black boots. But while Sir Alex Ferguson recoiled at that, the rest of us loved it – and this 2019 reissue of Becks’ classic Champagne super-preds is a re-animation of a slice of childhood. They were back and better than ever. 

17. Diadora Brasil, 2002

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Black/yellow

Other colourways: White/blue

Stars who wore them: Roy Keane, Francesco Totti

These boots simply were Roy Keane. And while the divine Francesco Totti found a way to dazzle in them, they represented the no-nonsense, midfield general more than anyone. You can imagine Keane getting these out of the box for the first time and snarling at the yellow Diadora logo. The Irishman asks if there’s an all-black pair he can have instead. No? Nevermind, he’ll have to try and smash the colour off using opponents’ shine pads then. 

16. Adidas F50+, 2005

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: Black/blue

Other colourways: White/red, champagne/silver, white/black, grey/yellow

Stars who wore them: Ashley Cole, Djibril Cisse, Jermain Defoe

While the first F50 boots were understated and minimal, the second ones were bolder, brighter and the colourways were absolutely unreal. The F50+ was built for speed but with a mesh exoskeleton and the three stripes across the outside of the boots, this made as much of an impression style-wise. This is how to do a sequel.

15. Nike Mercurial Vapor II, 2004

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: Gold

Other colourways: Crimson, blue/red, white/red, navy/white, silver/blue, off-white/black

Stars who wore them: Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Adriano, Zlatan Ibrahimovic

By now, the Mercurial Vapor was an icon that had won World Cups. The second Vapor iteration – and third Mercurial boot – was one that went slightly more stripped back but even bolder in colour, offering crimson and bright blue. When Euro 2004 rolled around, there was a gold version and a cloud-white. They all looked stunning. 

14. Adidas Predator Pulse, 2004

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Black/red

Other colourways: Silver/red, navy/silver, red/black

Stars who wore them: Steven Gerrard, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Michael Ballack

The Predator Pulse felt like a major revolution. The Mania, which had come out two years previously, had been one of Adidas’ biggest successes, and the German sportswear giants knew they’d need to do something different. The Pulse did exactly that, taking the line into the future while simultaneously giving a nod to the 1994 original. This was the ultimate box to box midfielder’s boot. No-nonsense and durable but also stylish and sinister. 

13. Umbro Speciali, 1994

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Black/white

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: Alan Shearer, Michael Owen, Carlos Valderrama

Back when simplicity was key. Umbro have always held a special place in FFT’s hearts and it’s not hard to see why. The Umbro Speciali may have just been a black boot with a floppy tongue and a big Umbro logo, but it had soul. It helped that Sheraer and Owen, two of our biggest heroes at the time, scored silly numbers of goal in them. They just don’t make them like they used to!

12. Nike Tiempo Legend, 2006

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: White/red

Other colourways: Black/white, white/gold, white/black, white/blue, grey/black

Stars who wore them: Ronaldinho, Carles Puyol, Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo

A boot that hogged the limelight more than many on this list. That’s because Ronaldinho spent half his time flicking the ball over opponents heads. They’d appear in shot, on the end off the Brazilian’s outstretched legs, about 50 times a game, as Spanish defenders haplessly tried to get close to the buck-toothed genius. They came in a range of colours and had a luxurious, almost regal vibe about them.

11. Adidas F50, 2004

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: Black/yellow

Other colourways: White/grey/blue, white/black/orange

Stars who wore them: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ashley Cole, Alessandro Del Piero, Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie

The F50 remains totally unlike anything that Adidas had ever done before. Gone were the big stripes, black, red and white and all that thick leather, replaced with pure black and a bright yellow swish of colour. This was simplistic, lightweight and gamechanging for the manufacturer, who developed ever-lighter, tech-heavy boots from this template. The originals are still marvellous, mind. That design is timeless.

10-610. Mizuno Wave Cup, 2002

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: White/blue/yellow

Other colourways: Blue/white/yellow

Stars who wore them: Rivaldo

Perhaps never before has a football boot become so intertwined with one player and absolutely no one else. Rivaldo was Mizuno – and he was also one of the best players in the world during the 2002 World Cup. These boots are both classic and ready for the millennium with their comfortable leather and touches of yellow – they became instant classics that summer in the far east, too. 

9. Adidas Predator Precision, 2000

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Black/white/red

Other colourways: Silver/red, gold/black/red

Stars who wore them: David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, David Trezeguet

Just as Zidane was building on his legacy to top his ’98 performances for dazzle and genius, Adidas were building on the Predators. The Precisions were more elegant than ever before but still with that iconic colour palette. There’s a beautiful symmetry to these ones and 21 years later, they’d be fitting in the modern game. They’re design excellence. 

8. Nike Tiempo, 1994

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: Black/white/yellow

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: Eric Cantona, Ronaldo, Paolo Maldini

People love the fact that the Swoosh logo only cost Nike $35. It’s proof that sometimes the best designs are undervalued. 

But equally, it’s in the years since that this logo has become what it is today – and it’s thanks to products like the Tiempo. It’s thanks to Cantona and others, who wore this iconic football boot and helped make the American manufacturer’s name in the sport. It’s steeped in so much mystique. It still looks class decades later – it probably always will. 

7. Nike Total 90 III, 2004

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: White/gold

Other colourways: Dark grey/silver, white/red, red/white, silver/black

Stars who wore them: Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo, Wayne Rooney, Ronaldinho

Most commonly seen just below school trousers around the turn of the Millennium. Forget Figo, Rooney & Co., these were the astros you and your mates wore on the school field at lunchtimes, cheese and ham panini in one hand, Sony Ericsson in the other. They evoke a time and a place more than any other boot on this glorious list. That Total 90 scene was pure fire when you were 14, wasn’t it?

6. Puma King, 1966

(Image credit: ProDirect)Most iconic colourway: Black/white

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: Pele

The big daddy. The guv’nor. The Pot Noodle of footwear. The boot worn by Pele at World Cups and tradesmen at Sunday League. The Puma King will forever be held up as the choice for any footballer who likes to keep things simple. No messing about. Clear your lines. Get tight to your man. They don’t like it up ’em. Let him know you’re there… we could go on all day. 

5-25. Nike Mercurial, 1998

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Silver/blue/yellow

Other colourways: Black/white

Stars who wore them: Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

This is that boot you were just thinking about when when partner snapped, “Are you even listening to me?!” If only they knew…

This wasn’t just a shoe. This was a mythical creature. Ronaldo spent the summer of ’98 skipping, galloping, blasting and slaloming his way around France in these puppies. They were the source of his powers to our young eyes – a silvery-blue unicorn with an acid yellow swish sent down from Zeus’ trident. They belong in Azkaban.

4. Adidas Copa Mundial, 1979

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Black/white

Other colourways: –

Stars who wore them: Diego Maradona, Franz Beckenbauer, Zinedine Zidane

Three is the magic number. Who would have thought that those stripes would look so good? That white on black was that simple but that effective? Every football boot since has stemmed from these beauties. They’re the Routemaster bus of football footwear: they’re so pure, so iconic and so awfully retro. 

3. Nike Total 90 II, 2002

(Image credit: PA)Most iconic colourway: White/red/black

Other colourways: Black/white, grey/black, white/blue, red/white, silver

Stars who wore them: Luis Figo, Francesco Totti, Roberto Carlos, Alan Smith

That’s right, Alan Smith! And no, not the boring Arsenal one… the boring Manchester United one.

To give him his dues, Ol’ Smudger worse these in his far more interesting Leeds United days, when the bleach-haired scallywag thundered goals in for the ailing Whites before their shock relegation. The red and cream ones were seen most often, but the other colourways were playground worthy too. This was a line of boots that taught our young minds that it was okay to wear any weird and wacky colour you wanted. Why shouldn’t we? A bloke literally called ‘Alan Smith’ is getting away with it. 

2. Nike Mercurial Vapor, 2002

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Chrome/volt

Other colourways: Grey/red, “cinder/white/maize”, “blue/white/obsidian”, red/white, black/red, red, blue

Stars who wore them: Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Ruud van Nistelrooy

The 1998 Mercurial boots were a design masterclass. But the 2002 versions that Ronaldo wore when he led Brazil to glory in Japan? They’re unbeatable for Nike.

The Mercurial Vapors are a lesson in many things. Minimalism, mainly, though they’re also a feat of engineering in their lightweight design. Every single lightweight boot since has owed something to this product and every colourway was majestic.

Ronaldo would not have been the same in battered old trainers, now would he?

Some honourable mentions…

(Image credit: Nike)Nike Magista Obra, 201411. Adidas Predator Mania, 2002

(Image credit: Getty)Most iconic colourway: Black/red/white

Other colourways: Champagne/red/black, red/white/grey, Grey/silver/red

Stars who wore them: David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro Del Piero, Raul, Rui Costa, Michael Ballack, Patrick Vieira, Steven Gerrard, Xavi, Harry Kewell, Javier Saviola, Ashley Cole… and Jonny Wilkinson

So undeniably cool, even a rugby player started donning them. Admittedly, the egg chaser in question was Jonny Wilkinson – who wasn’t like those other brutes, with his dreamy eyes and twinkle toes. In another life, Wilko was the answer to England’s midfield problem, as the Three Lions lifted the 2002 World Cup in Tokyo. 

Predators were cool before the Mania came out in 2002, but not this cool. There was a Feng Shui to the Mania just not seen in a football boot before. The tongue, laces and white gripping pads dovetailed with a harmony Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen would have appreciated but completely outlawed en route to destroying someone’s lounge on Changing Rooms. The black, red and white combo was already a hallmark of the Predator, but they never looked this smart. Even the underside of the boot could have its own range of smutty factory floor calendars. 

Above all, our heroes made the Mania so much more than lace and leather. The 00s was a ludicrous era for football and the Predator Mania was stitched into the tapestry. It will never be bettered. 

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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson’s season at Barcelona to Robinho’s career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo. 

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