I will never forget signing my first boot deal with Adidas in 2011. I had signed with Wellington Phoenix and we were sponsored by Adidas as a team.
Five or six of the boys had individual shoe deals with them, and I was lucky enough to be one of them. I had just been through a terrible experience with Gold Coast United, so this really felt like a turning point.
I always remember the first shipment coming through. I felt like I had made it as a footballer. Paul Ifill would tell us that there were many footballers in the EPL that didn’t have boot deals, and here I was getting two or three pairs of new boots a month.
The first pair they sent me was the Adidas Adizero F50 III. Neon yellow, neon red, and light as your finger. They were a thing of beauty – and they were free. The way that makes you fel as a footballer is indescribable. The confidence that brings to your game is immeasurable, it made you feel loved, wanted.
"The way that makes you feel as a footballer is indescribable."
After a solid year with the Phoenix, I signed a new agreement with Adidas, and this one included money I could spend at the store throughout the year. It wasn’t anywhere near the big players, but it was mine.
Different people measure success in different ways, but I considered this to be major accomplishment in my footballing career. So much so that I kept one of those first pairs of F50s and still have them in my closet. That is a sign of the times and an endorsement to all those early footballing TV ads I watched growing up.
"It wasn’t anywhere near the big players, but it was mine."
I ended up having a good relationship with Adidas even when I went overseas to play in Malaysia for 2 years. I had signed with Negeri Sembilan with 3 other Aussies including Andrew Nabbout, whom I knew had been with Adidas in Australia.
We were having a coffee one day and complaining about paying for boots again and I said, “Stuff it, I’ll get the number for Adidas Malaysia and try our luck”. Turns out I got put through to the player management guy and he is a massive Melbourne Victory fan – Nabbout’s old team. We lived about 45 minutes from Kuala Lumpur, so he said, “Come on up, what are your sizes?” One phone call.
"Different people measure success in different ways.."
We drove up to Kuala Lumper a week later and they had the whole spread for us, boots, runners, clothes, the lot. I stayed in Malaysia for 2 years and had a great relationship with them.
It lasted right up until the last pair of football boots I had given to me, the Adidas Ace 17 Primeknit. A pair of those also sit in my closet.