With the arrival of laceless boots, sock-like mid-tops and as many colours as a bag of Skittles, football boots have changed. But players of a certain age will still remember their favourite pair from years gone by when things were a little simpler. From Puma Kings to Predators we look at the iconic football footwear we all loved more than our siblings and highlight the best boots you can still buy on eBay.
Worn by: Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Xavi, Michael Ballack, Steven Gerrard, Edwin Van De Saar. Alessandro Del Piero, Raul
Perfect for: midfielders, wingers and playmakers.
Adidas’ Predator boot range was sported by the very best of the best in world football - from Zidane to Del Piero - and has remained a strong fan favourite since its arrived in 1994. Sadly for future budding wannabe Beckhams, Adidas hung up its Predator boots in May 2015 when the football boot with a little bit extra was discontinued.
Adopting revolutionary tech throughout its 15-boot variation life cycle, Adidas went above and beyond by introducing features such as fins, a transparent outer sole, fold-over tongue for greater surface, replaceable Traxion studs, kangaroo leather and velcro. Most notable of all, the rubber strips on the forefoot (used in place of leather) were considered groundbreaking.
The iconic aesthetics of Adidas’ classic three white stripes intertwined with striking black leather and red elements - made famous by the Predator Mania, Precision, Touch and Accelerator - made the wearer a force to be reckoned with, from Little League levels to the professional game.
Buy a pair now: Adidas Predators
Nike Mercurial Vapor
Worn by: Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Didier Drogba, Franck Ribery, Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Perfect for: out-and-out strikers and forwards.
The preferred choice of world-class goal scorers since the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, Nike’s Mercurial Vapor has been worn by the most prestigious attacking talents in the sport. If you cast your mind back to the Nike Cage advert starring Eric Cantona, Thierry Henry and Roberto Carlos, you caught your first glimpse of these wonders there.
Originally debuted by, and designed for, Brazilian legend Ronaldo - who was later endowed with the ever-popular “ R9” sub-brand of the boot - it’s fondly remembered for its remarkably lightweight and durable upper, and for the impressive soft ground (SG) and firm ground (FG) stud variations which allowed cleaner strikes of the ball and attacking adaptability on all pitches.
The Mercurial Vapor’s are still expanding to this day, and have always been available in a rainbow-selection of shades and blends. However, the retro original, R9, II, III and IV Vapors are timeless.
Buy a pair now: Nike Mercurial Vapors
Worn by: Pele, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Eusebio
Perfect for: the wonderkid
With premium ultra-thin Kangaroo leather, central lacing and a fold-over tongue that offer sublime quality, the Puma Kings are the undisputed royalty of the classic football boot era.
Worn on the feet of old-school hall-of-famers such as Pele and Maradona, the Pro Classic and Top 1982 (in timeless black and white, of course) provided unrivalled comfortability and durability whilst playing, which may have been the secret behind the magnificent track records of Golden Boot winners.
Dutch maestro Johan Cruyff also donned them on the day he performed the sensational “Cruyff turn”. Now how’s that for an inspirational first boot.
Buy a pair now: Puma Kings
Worn by: Gianfranco Zola, Rivaldo, Patrick Kluivert, Dwight Yorke, Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Thiago Motta
Perfect for: quick-feet and players who cover the whole pitch
If speed and distance is your game, Morelia Classic’s are your closest friends. Designed in Osaka, Japan by Mizuno and first released back in 1985, the boot’s fabric was (again) constructed with quilted super lightweight Kangaroo leather for enhancement of speed to give you a competitive edge.
Very popular with footballing communities in South America and Asia, Chelsea and Italian legend Gianfranco Zola thanked the Morelia's for his game-changing style and Manchester United’s Dwight Yorke became the English Premier League’s top goalscorer wearing them.
So when it comes to an outstanding boot with a quality molded fit, hunt no further.
Buy a pair now: Mizuno Morelia Classics
Adidas Copa Mundial
Worn by: Eric Cantona, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Franz Beckenbauer, Oliver Kahn, Sol Campbell, Michel Platini
Perfect for: captains and all-round football geniuses
The world’s best-selling football boot. Adidas’ Copa Mundial needs know introduction, as at some point in the past you would have seen a pair, owned a pair or played against a rival wearing a pair.
From their inception at 1982’s FIFA World Cup in Spain, these expertly-crafted boots have stayed true to the original black and white with silver letters classic design with only slight modifications to its stable Kangaroo-leather supports and reinforced heel.
And who can argue with the incredible roster of professionals who have slipped these beauties onto their feet? You'll reignite Cantona and Zidane's flair with Adidas’ longest reigning studded sports shoe. Guaranteed.
Buy a pair now: Adidas Copa Mundials
Worn by: Ronaldinho, Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Puyol, Sergio Ramos, Carlos Tevez
Perfect for: game-changers, tight control and freestylers
Every iteration of Nike’s Tiempo range has prioritised comfort above all else, and it’s one of the most diverse boots you can still buy.
They come in Elite and Legend versions which add features such as carbon fibre and a synthetic water-resistant Kanga-Lite material. Four different stud types - FG, SG, artificial grass (AG) and indoor (IG) - also now provide seamless control and ball domination on any field of play.
The most famous variation of Nike Tiempo however is the R10, endorsed by none other than Brazilian wizard Ronaldinho. If you own fancy feet and play with precision, these will suit you perfectly.
Buy a pair now: Nike Tiempos
Worn by: Alan Shearer, Michael Owen, John Terry, Roberto Carlos
Perfect for: set-pieces and penalty-box poachers
Umbro’s Speciali is a simple, classy and genius English invention offering an enhanced fit with its soft leather, A-frame, wishbone outsole, dipped Achilles heel tab and retro fold-over tongue. The classic double diamond was an ever present, available in black/white or a variety of colours.
If you’ve ever wanted to swerve a free kick like Roberto Carlos, dribble past any defender like Michael Owen and hit any target like Alan Shearer, these are an essential item in your footballing armoury.
Buy a pair now: Umbro Speciali
Asics Lethal Testimonial
Worn by: David Beckham, Franco Baresi
Perfect for: ball cushioning and comfort
Classically styled and perfectly shaped for your feet, Asics’ Lethal Testimonial boot was worn by a young David Beckham in his early career (and before he switched to the Adidas Predator). It provides traction for superior touch quality - and the foam midsole allows comfortable cushioning and support. A true vintage beast.
Buy it now: Asics Lethal Testimonial
Nike Total 90
Worn by: Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres, Wesley Sneijder
Perfect for: target men and those chasing the Golden Boot
A five-star boot designed specifically with attacking players in mind. Nike Total 90’s changed the game for forwards and attacking midfielders, none more so than the signature Laser model: it was attractive on the eye and included pioneering boot technology which somehow dramatically altered your goal scoring capabilities for the better.
Feared strikers including Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres were Total 90 fans, and they both debuted and regularly wore the Laser II’s - the ultimate boot for power and accuracy, it contributed to many of their spectacular finishes over the years. And who can forget the Air Zooms?
Regrettably, the Total 90 has been discontinued in place of Nike’s Hypervenom series. But why not relive those unstoppable shots and unforgettable ball-in-the-back-of-the-net moments with a pair bought from eBay...
Buy a pair now: Nike Total 90s
Lotto Stadio Fuoriclasse
Worn by: Thomas Muster, Ruud Gullit, Dino Zoff
Perfect for: a footballing comeback
A fantastic canvas for flexibility, the Lotto Stadio Fuoriclasse are the epitome of a classic with a hint of the modern showboat that we see these days. That sharp green and black styling, a water-repellent upper, traditional fixed studs and aggressive stitching meant these football boots covered the hard yards with ease thanks to their in-built durability which impressively increased the longevity. Retro written all over.
Buy a pair now: Lotto Stadio Fuoriclasses