People who don’t play football cannot understand the fascination with boots. It is something that is very hard to explain, and there is an element of enchantment among the game's participants.
They are the only tools that a footballer possesses, hence the undeniable importance they play in our lives. They are talked about constantly and more tellingly, they are reminisced about by footballers all over the world. We'd ask, “You remember when the Total 90s were out, those were the days."
The feeling you get when you put on 'that' pair of boots is indescribable, and it never fades. For me, two pairs of boots changed the entire football world for the better.
I will always remember the first time I put on the Nike R9 when I was 14 years old. Nothing had ever been that light, not even close. It was a revolution.
No, bigger than a revolution. It was as if someone at Nike (Ronaldo in my eyes) had turned the way our game was played upside down. The boots were ahead of their time so much, it was actually like playing barefoot. These days all boots are light, but everyone had to learn how to basically play football again.
"It was actually like playing barefoot."
Everything was different. The way the ball felt, the way you ran, the way you turned. It's very hard to explain the impact the R9 has had, but you only need to weigh every single boot on today’s market to see it.
After everyone thought that nothing could change the game as much as the R9, Adidas cameout with Predator Precision. These might be my favourite boot to play in of all time. I felt invisible wearing them. The amount of whip I could get, or felt I could get, on my free kicks instantly changed, and they gave me the feeling I could genuinely 'bend it like Beckham'.
The boot coincided with the emergence of Beckham as a global icon, and I had the fever. I would beg my mom and dad for the latest colour and as soon as they relented, I put them on and spent hours in the back yard hitting free kicks. I truly and honestly felt like David Beckham.
"...I put them on and spent hours in the back yard..."
Around this time, we saw the emergence of all the stars having their own personal boot. Beckham had his Preds and Ronaldo had the R9. On top of that, who could ever forget those first Nike ads? Nike changed the game. 'The match in Hell' was as big a revolution as the actual boots.
The world’s best footballers were all in one ad promoting Nike. It was the dawn of a new era that would lead to the infamous ad with Brazil at the airport and later, 'the Mission'. Unbelievable. No other word can describe the impact these ads had on young people.
Gone were the days of choosing between the Copa Mundial and Puma King, and the world hasn’t looked back since.