Football boots, as they are known throughout the world, are a booming industry driven by innovation, endorsements, and most of all, style. What works functionally for a player and what looks good on their feet can be very different, but the best boots throughout history have combined both to set trends around the world. Hundreds of versions of cleats are produced annually, but every year a few rise above to become iconic. Whether it is because of the players that wear them or a unique design, many of these boots have played a part in shaping the history of the beautiful game.
Footballers are very particular people when it comes to what they wear on their feet to play. Anything from the socks, the shin guards under them, down to the individual cleats that touch that ground can have an effect on a player’s touch. This is something that these athletes take very seriously, and each player has a different opinion on what makes a football boot great. For some it is comfort. For others, it is the feeling the ball has when it touches certain parts of the foot. Still, others consider style to be the most important factor.
Every year, millions of dollars are spent by companies like Adidas, Nike, Puma, and others in product testing, design, and advertising to entice players to buy the latest boots. Despite these ever changing innovations, some of the best-selling boots in the world were developed long ago. Whether your style is the latest fluorescent colored development project by Nike or the classic look of a pair of Copa Mundials, the important thing is to express your personal style and let the football do the talking.
25 Adidas Predator Accelerator
Best known as the boots that Zinedine Zidane used to lead France to victory when they hosted the 1998 World Cup, these were the fourth edition of Predators released by Adidas. The laces were arranged asymmetrically to provide a larger ball striking surface, a first for an Adidas football boot. The Accelerator was also the preferred boot of dead ball artist David Beckham and Alessandro Del Piero. The transparent red sole, made these boots instantly recognizable along with the curved three striped Adidas logo. Last year, Adidas re-released a limited run version of the Accelerator to satisfy the demand for these classics.
24 Puma King II
After sticking with the classic design of the Puma King for over 40 years, Puma released a sequel to the famous King in 2014 dubbed the Puma King II. Although many editions of the first generation of Kings have been produced, the King II gives Puma a product to compete with the Nike Tiempo line. The King II model is significantly lighter than previous versions and has a band lacing system. With few elite footballers still wearing the original Puma Kings, the King II could be making a comeback among professionals.
23 Pele Trinity
After decades of wearing Puma Kings, Pele himself took an attempt at football boot design. His Pele brand has gained some traction, and the Pele Trinity remains the best boot the brand has produced to date. The Trinity claims to have the ability to train your muscles and maximize speed potential while playing in the boots. The cool black on black design with bright yellow accenting marks give the Pele boots a distinctive look to go along with their legendary namesake.
22 Nike Magista Oro
Last year, Nike attempted to change the game by releasing the world’s first football boot with a built-in sock. The design intended for players to have as little as possible between their feet and the ball and they succeeded thanks to Nike’s new 3d knit technology. In order to protect a player’s foot from the elements, Nike also implemented a .1 mm thick NIKESKIN layer to ensure feet don’t get wet or cold. Andreas Iniesta debuted the fluorescent boots at the World Cup in Brazil, but it remains to be seen if the built in sock feature is here to stay.
21 Adidas F50
Making their debut for the Euro 2004 tournament in Portugal, Adidas premiered the F50 to compete with Nike’s Mercurial Vapor line. The boot was almost immediately a success and was worn by some of the world’s best players. They were the first boots to completely hide the laces, a trend that was later continued by several other brands. Now with several design lines, their evolution continues to influence the way football boots are made. This innovation is why they were the preferred boot of Lionel Messi for several years.
20 Lotto Stadio Primato
Sometimes on the football pitch, subtlety is the best weapon. And, the Lotto Stadio Primato is the perfect choice for a player that prefers a classic look. Their classy black on black appearance in kangaroo leather gives players comfort and durability that they would expect from such a timeless design. Lotto has released several versions since they made their debut over five years ago. the shoes are now available in orange, yellow, and red for those needing a bit more color on their feet.
19 Ryal La Storia
After a career as a Serie B, player Giulio Moriani turned his attention to becoming a cobbler and began making handmade football boots in 1946. Over a half century later, his brand Ryal has survived to produce a work of art in the form of a football boot. Sticking to their handmade philosophy, the Ryal La Storia was released in 2011 as an alternative to flashy modern football boots. With a design and feel straight out of the 1970s, the Ryal La Storia is a timeless classic.
18 Mizuno Wave Cup
The Mizuno Wave Cup was released to the world in 1997 in the lead up to the 1998 World Cup in France. To promote their brand to the soccer world, Mizuno needed a superstar attached to their product and they found just that by convincing Rivaldo to wear them. The Wave Cups featured a revolutionary stud design that gave players improved traction, and they quickly found favor with other top level professionals. Mizuno continues to release updated versions of this classic today.
17 Lotto Zhero Gravity
Throughout football history, players have struggled with how to cope with the affect laces have on their contact with the ball. Lotto attempted to correct this problem by completely removing laces from the equation with the world’s first laceless football boot, the Zhero Gravity, which was released in 2010. Coming in a fantastic design of white, blue, and gold, these Lottos had a great look to go with their game changing technology. The Zhero Gravity also implemented a 360 degree rotating stud designed to give players an edge in acceleration.
16 Nike T90 Laser
Nike’s T90 line of boots was released as the ultimate shooter’s boot, and they remain one of the brand’s most successful lines. The T90 Laser was the second version released in this line and became an instant favorite with fans and players alike. Their wide fit gave players with big feet a comfortable shooting boot that was far less restrictive than most available. Their heavier design has become less favored in recent years, as lightweight and speed are emphasized more than ever, but they will remain one of the classic Nike football boot designs.
15 Nike HyperVenom
The spiritual successor to Nike’s overwhelmingly successful T90 line, the Hypervenom gave players a much different feel. The emphasis was placed on speed in the lightweight design and ran much narrower than its predecessor. HyperVenoms included a honeycomb texture along the shoe to give players enhanced control in the dribble. Several top players have already made appearances in Hypervenoms since their release in 2013, including Neymar and Paul Pogba.
14 Adidas Predator Absolute
Coming in the classic red, white, and black design of past generations of the Adidas Predator, the Adidas Predator Absolute made its debut shortly before the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The boots were worn by players like Zidane, Lampard, and Beckham at the tournament and were an instant hit with players around the world. They were the first Predator boot to feature interchangeable sockliners and were easily distinguished by their sleek lines and rubber patches used to increase friction when contacting the ball.
13 Nike Mercurial Superfly
The Nike Mercurial Superfly continued Nike’s experiments with a built in sock implemented in a football boot. The Superfly is the preferred boot of Cristiano Ronaldo and that platform has made them an overwhelming success almost immediately. Ronaldo has worn the boots for nearly a year and in that time managed to win the coveted Ballon D’Or award. To celebrate Black History Month in February, Nike released a special edition of the boots which were worn by Kevin-Prince Boateng.
12 Adidas Predator Instinct
The minor additions made from previous versions of the Predator line for the 2014/15 version, the Instinct, are enough to make them among the best football boots ever designed. Improving upon the Predator’s already classic design, the Instinct implements all the features you would expect and a few minor improvements. The tongue has a Velcro strip designed to attach to a player’s sock to prevent the tongue from moving out of place. The Instinct introduced the “lethal zones” concept and features five zones on the upper designed to give optimal control during various skills.
11 Adidas f50 adiZero miCoach
The Adidas f50 adiZero miCoach was a pioneering step in technology for Adidas because it was the first football boot in history to implement a sensor to track a player’s performance and movement. The sensor was placed below the sole in the shoe and would not have an effect on a player’s touch. The design was very similar to the already well liked f50 adiZero boots and offered several new colors. These boots were worn by Lionel Messi during his multiple Ballon D’Or campaigns.
10 Pantofola d’Oro Lazzarini
Pantofola has earned a reputation among footballers for producing some of the most comfortable football boots on the planet. They have taken their designs a step forward with the D’Oro Lazzarini, which combines their classic look and handmade quality in a beautiful iconic boot. Available in yellow and black, these Italian leather boots are a supremely comfortable, no-nonsense option for the discerning footballer. If you are looking for classic boot, with a standard lacing and cleat system, Pantofola has the boot for you.
9 Adidas AdiPURE
Originally released in 2007, the Adidas AdiPURE was a throwback to the Adidas designed boots for the 1978 World Cup. The modern edition was significantly lighter than its historic counterpart, but was featured in the same black/white or white/black color scheme that was popular in the late 1970s. The first generation of AdiPURE boots was quickly adopted by Kaka and Frank Lampard, among others. The AdiPURE continues to be one of Adidas’ most popular designs and with a classic look and variety of colors now available, it is easy to see why.
8 Adidas Men’s Kaiser 5
Named after one of the greatest football players of all time, the Adidas Kaiser 5 was an alternative to the often expensive Copa Mudial model. The boots were worn by Franz Beckenbauer during one of the most successful stints of his career. Boasting the same durability and style as the Copa Mundial, the Kaiser 5 is a significantly cheaper option for most players and typically available for under $100. The main difference is in the type of leather used on the uppers, but they still offer the same quality that you would expect to come from the three stripe brand.
7 Nike Tiempo Legend
Since being originally released in 2005, the Nike Timepo Legend continued the legacy of the already successful Tiempo lineage. The Legend quickly became the favored boot of tricksters like Ronaldinho and Joe Cole. With their trademark oversized Nike check, these boots are instantly identifiable throughout the various stages of their evolution. Now, in the 5th instance of their creation, the Tiempo Legend boots continue to be favored by players around the world.
6 Stylo Matchmakers
George Best started the trend of involving footballers in the design of boots when he contributed to their invention. His signature eventually was featured on the side of the boot in gold and would go on to become one of the most popular boots of the 1970s. Stylo Matchmakers were the first boots to feature short laces, which meant wrapping laces around the sole was no longer necessary. Matchmakers also came in an asymmetrical lace design, which was revolutionary for the time.
5 Adidas Samba
The second most popular shoe in Adidas’ storied history is the most popular indoor soccer shoe ever made. The Adidas Samba was first produced in 1950 and has varied little in design since it was first introduced. Now, the Samba can be found in a variety of colors, but the original design is a simple black shoe with the classic three Adidas white stripes on the side. The tan gum bottoms were originally designed to allow players to train on hard and icy surfaces, distinguishing them from other Adidas models. Today, Sambas are worn by everybody from footballers to movie stars and have sold over 35 million pairs to date.
4 Nike Tiempo Ronaldinho
At the height of his powers, Ronaldinho was a soccer God capable of performing the most elaborate dribbling tricks ever conceived. To pull off these incredible stunts, Ronaldinho needed a pair of boots customized to his unique skills and he had a hand in designing these beautiful cleats. One unique touch added under his influence was textured cleats, to give improved control with the foot on top of the ball. It is an addition overlooked by most boots, but necessary when you have the sort of control honed on futsal courts and football fields around the world.
3 Puma King
The Puma King debuted in 1968 with their trademark “form stripe” that has been included in models since. Designed for the Portuguese legend Eusebio, the boots truly caught on with footballers following the 1970 World Cup. Puma released a special edition dubbed the Puma King Pele, and their iconic moment came when Pele stopped play during the World Cup Final to tie his boots. After the best player in the world had been pictured in Puma Kings, the rest of the world caught on. Johan Cruyff wore them at the next World Cup, and they would go on to be worn by future once in a generation talents like Maradona.
2 Nike Mercurial Vapor
Nike Mercurial Vapors were unleashed upon the world just prior to the 2002 World Cup. They gained significant popularity when Ronaldo led Brazil to their World Cup triumph that summer and have gone through several different versions since. Speed and traction were emphasized more than ever in these boots and each successive version has implemented the latest in Nike’s material technology. These boots have been on the leading edge of Nike’s development for over a decade and remain one of the most popular boots in the world.
1 Adidas Copa Mundial
The timeless perfection of the Adidas Copa Mundial has been altered only slightly since they were first introduced to the world in 1979. The classic black leather design with the Adidas three stripes adorning the sides has become synonymous with footballers like Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini, but continues to be popular to this day. At some point in their lives, most players at least experiment with the tried and true Copa Mundials. In an age of flashy football boots, Copa Mundials remain the best-selling boots of all time.