First Studded Football Boots: A History

Going in ‘studs up’ is one of the unforgivable footballing sins. “Could’ve ended his career,” one pundit will say. “Absolutely ridiculous,” the other will reply, light bouncing off his halo.

Thankfully, a true career-ending tackle is rare.

But, if you’ve played football at any level, you’ll know the pain of receiving a studs-up challenge.

That initial hit. Followed by a thumping ache. Replaced by an unfettered desire for retribution… until you see the 6-foot-4 lump who inflicted it.

Having been on the end of a few high tackles myself, it got me thinking: Which bright spark thought that studs were a good idea? And who created the first studded football boots, anyway? To find out, I embarked on a fact-finding mission…

Before the First Studded Football Boots

It turns out, the first pair of football boots (that we know of) belonged to a man who would, quite literally, have taken your head off. Old King Henry VIII. A big fan of the beautiful game, Hazza’s pair were fashioned by royal cobbler Cornelius Johnson in 1526.

The boots set His Royal Highness back four shillings – roughly £104 in today’s money, if we trust the National Archives’ currency converter.

Regrettably, his pair are no longer with us. But we understand that they were heavy, ankle-high leather numbers. Which sounds rather fetching to me.

However, despite the royal thumbs up for football, the game remained an amateur pursuit – and predominantly for the working class – until the late 1800s.

Which meant boots were basic. Players typically wore their (unstudded) work shoes, which were often heavy, leather, and ended with a steel toe cap.

FA Kicks Studs Out Of Football

But as the game continued to develop, the craftier players looked to enhance their grip by hammering tacks into the soles of their shoes.

In response to the – admittedly dangerous-sounding – modifications, the FA struck back and implemented Rule 13 in 1863. The complete ban of studs.

And with that decision, the stud could have died forever.

But this was football’s Age of Innovation. And a little thing like Rule 13 was not going to stop the evolution of the beautiful game.

Old Foresters line up in 1885, the year before the introduction of Ellis's Patent Boot Studs

Old Foresters line up in 1885, the year before the introduction of Ellis’s Patent Boot Studs Credit: Wiki Commons

The Birth of the Modern Football Boot

In 1886, and despite Rule 13, Ellis’s Patent Boot Stud entered the market. The revolutionary product could be fixed to the bottom of boots and came in a range of materials – compressed leather, wood, or rubber.

They offered better grip and made it easier to play in all weather conditions. They were, in all senses of the word, a game changer.

Eventually, the FA could no longer stem the tide of change. In 1891, they eased Rule 13 and gave the go-ahead to studded football boots. And football has never looked back.

Where to Buy and Sell Vintage and Classic Football Boots

Getting your hands on classic football boots couldn’t be easier. Just head to FutbolMarkt and check out the Marketplace. There you’ll find a dedicated footwear section with an ever-growing list of the best football boots around.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to get rid of your old boots, become a seller at FutbolMarkt. Not only will you clear out your cupboards, but you’ll make some cash in the process. Win-win.

Header picture: Three boys carry early versions of the studded football boots (circa 1915) Credit: Wiki Commons/Nationaal Archief

The Process of Changing Boot Sponsors: How It’s Done

A footballer has a number of reasons to change their boot sponsor. They might want more money, they might have similar values to their new boot sponsor, they might want their own signature shoe and go to a less popular shoe in order to get one.

New brands like Puma and New Balance have created a deep market for footballers looking for a new boot sponsor. A football player ́s individual sponsorship is in many cases his second main source of income. Elite players will have brands lock down their loyalty with large amounts of money and different conditions.

Often players will black out their boots when in the process of negotiating a fresh new boot deal with another company. They don’t want to give out free advertising. For a number of elite players, wearing the particular branded football boot is only one part of an overall brand ambassadorial role. It means that for all public activities a player’s role will not only be wearing particular footwear, but most likely also be kitted out, depending on the circumstances, in the brand’s clothes when attending photo sessions and promotional appearances.

Here is a list of players that axed that boot sponsor and looked for a new deal with a competitor.

Aaron Ramsey
Many fans were discouraged when Ramsey started wearing New Balance boots, He had just come off a season where he had dominated the premier league with 18 goals in the 2013/14 season wearing Adidas. It was also a major shock because he was one of the faces of New Balance, likely to have a signature shoe but he still decided to go back to Adidas in 2018. From the outside it illustrates that Ramsey actually left because he doesn’t enjoy playing in New Balance boots, and would prefer to take less money, for more comfort and performance on the football pitch. 

David Silva
Manchester City star David Silva joined Puma from Adidas. David Silva said on the move “I was already wearing PUMA football boots when I was a kid and I am looking forward to wearing the brand again. Some peopIe call me ‘El Mago’, so for my next trick I’ll be wearing the PUMA One.”

Cesc Fabregas
He was a Nike player during his entire time at Arsenal and even in his first year as a Barça player. Then, in 2011 PUMA pulled off one of their biggest ever signings by capturing the signature of Cesc Fabregas from Nike. The Monaco midfielder put pen to paper with PUMA on a five-year-deal worth £16million, which at the time made him the third highest earner from a boot deal behind just CR7 and David Beckham.

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Mesut Ozil
Mesut Özil’s relationship with Nike turned pretty sour. Under the terms of their deal, Nike had the right to match any offer made by potential rival sponsors before he could legally switch brands, but with his contract up Özil began wearing the Adidas F50. Nike took court action which resulted in Özil being fined £122,000 every time he laced up in Adidas and forced him to either wear Nike or unbranded boots. In August this year Özil unsurprisingly left Nike to officially join the Adidas team in a deal believed to be worth up to €25 million until 2020.

Sergio Aguero
The Argentinian was in the Liga BBVA with Atletico de Madrid wearing Nike boots, but didn’t have a strong image on the brand – something he did achieve with Puma after he arrived in England to play for Manchester City. Sergio Aguero could see more value in pursuing a brand like Puma because he will be valued more and thus have more control over his career. Aguero came in to the Premier League wearing Puma V1.11.The Aguero capture began a spending spree for PUMA who have since built a strong squad of top players. Aguero has had some memorable moments for Puma to cherish with one of the most famous goals the Premier League will ever see, that last minute winner against QPR to clinch the Premier League title. Do you think he’s missing his days with Nike?

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Paul Pogba 
Paul Pogba was a Nike player for several years. He has recently become the most important signed player of the year by Adidas and it will be difficult to see him wearing another brand. Pogba signed a 10-year deal in 2016 worth a staggering £31 million.After a reported bidding war between Nike and Adidas, Pogba stated.“I chose Adidas because we are united by our passions and values. We have the same vibes on and off the field.”

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Lionel Messi
During Leo Messi ́s first games with the first team we saw him wear Nike boots but this would not last since Adidas saw the talent in the Argentinian player and immediately decided to offer him a top contract when he was only 18 years old.The Argentine took his first steps in top-flight football wearing a pair of Nike Air Zoom Total 90 IIIs. On 1 February 2006, Messi playing in the Copa del Rey tie against Real Zaragoza wearing a pair of Adidas F50s. After 42 minutes he opened his Adidas account. In February 2017 Adidas made sure Nike wouldn’t be able to get their football boots back in the door by handing Messi a lifetime contract.When a 40-year-old Messi is playing as a holding midfield, he’ll be doing so wearing Adidas.

Adidas Predator Mania: Football’s Red-Tongued Superstar Boot

The Adidas Predator Mania was first released in 2002, making a splash during the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan. Often considered to be the most elegant and coveted of the predator series, the boot saw production in numerous colorways including black and red, white and red and a limited edition world cup model in blue. But what made this boot so iconic, was the consistent red fold-over tongue.

A favorite of many icons of that era, the boot was worn by legends such as Zinedine Zidane, Steven Gerrard, Alessandro Del Piero and Raul – just to name a few.

But, perhaps the most famous player to wear the boot, was David Beckham. When you think Mania, you think DB7. Often seen sporting the white and red editions of the boot, Beckham emblazoned his initials and the names of his children on his boots, and rolled down the tongue to its maximum – inspiring the world to rock the Mania in a similar way.

So successful was the boot, that Adidas broke the internet and rolled out a remake in 2017 of the Adidas Predator Mania Champagne – fully-loaded with the latest stud configuration and the iconic red tongue.

Nike T90 Laser I: The Boot That Sold Out In Seconds

On March 21, 2019, Nike broke the internet by releasing the extremely limited edition, Nike Total 90 Laser I remake – mere 2000 pairs available worldwide, all snapped up in seconds by collectors and nostalgic players.

But what of its history, what made it such a coveted boot? Released in 2007, the first Laser was the successor to Nike’s famed Total 90 range. Promoted by the mammoths, Wayne Rooney, Luis Figo and Fernando Torres – the boot quickly became a classic.

The technological advances from the T90 to the Laser range were immense, precision rings and eVent fabric on the top of the boot allowed for greater comfort while Nike’s Air Zoom heel provided improved cushioning and impact protection for the player. As usual, the offset lacing allowed for a greater kicking surface area allowing for greater precision and control, hence the name – the Laser.

And who could forget the adverts. A thing of class.

And what of the remake? Limited to only 2000 pairs worldwide, the boot sold out in seconds on the internet. It’s no doubt that we’ll see all of the legends sporting this boot in the coming weeks.

What are your thoughts on the laser? Have your say in our comments section and stay tuned for more #BootStory posts soon! 

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