Nike R9 Air Mercurials 1998

The world was watching as the greatest number 9 of all time took to the pitch at the Stade de France in 1998. Ronaldo Luis Nazario da Lima “O Fenômeno”  had been playing superb football and with four goals and three assists he had led one of the best Brazilian sides all the way to the Final against France.

Ronaldo was wearing the first Nike boots in the now extremely popular Mercurial series that have been worn by players such as the “other” Ronaldo CR7, Neymar, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Didier Drogba, Thierry Henry, Luka Modric, Eden Hazard and Kylian Mbappe of PSG, among many others. “O Fenômeno”’s boots were called the Nike Air Mercurials.

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The original Air Mercurials were released in black but a version in silver/blue/yellow was released for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and a blue/black version followed after the tournament. They were Nike’s first boot designed for speed and also the first to be made using synthetic materials.

The Mercurials proved to be very popular among players, specially strikers like Ronaldo although some wingers and even midfielders have also taken advantage of the speed boost this boot provides. Since the Air Mercurials debuted 20 years ago Nike has released many versions of this boot:

  • Mercurial Vapor I – XII
  • Mercurial Vapor Superfly I – VI
  • Mercurial Puro Fenomeno (homage to the original Air Mercurials)
  • Mercurial Vapor 360 Elite

All of these boots have remained true to the original spirit of the Mercurial line: Ultralight, so your legs can be as fast as your imagination”

Back in the 1998 Final it would take another football legend to deny Ronaldo of the glory of lifting that year’s trophy : Zinedine Zidane (Adidas Predator). “O Fenômeno” would go on to win the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan, scoring two magnificent goals in the final against Germany.  

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