Updated: Jul 11, 2020
Football or soccer is the most popular sport around the world and has it's beginnings in England. This page explains the history of football boots and how they began and developed over the years to where they are today.
We could go back the time of King Henry the VIII (1526) as this was noted as being the very first recorded "football boot" although the game as we know it has not actually been developed until much later...
The 1800's - the beginning
This was a time when the growth of football starting taking off in England and many players wore work boots, however as you can imagine in those days, they were heavy and tough that restricted movement and comfort was virtually not-existent. Basically they were not designed to be played football in. After all this was the industrial revolution that meant many boots were steel capped so getting tackled and kicked by them was a very painful experience.
As time wore on, boots were modified so they were better suited for the grassy surfaces and so steel caps were replaced with metal tacks or studs to help with grip and reduce slips.
This is the first official football boot, during this period made from leather. They were heavy and still pretty think and went to your ankle. The weight doubled to 1kg when wet!
1900-1940's - The War Years
As the game gained popularity, war intervened the football boots remained largely the same, and during this period specialists boot makers started cropping up such as Gola, Hummel and Valsport. At the same time, football was now also established internationally and played by many nations. In 1925 in Germany the Dassler brothers started producing football boots that had 6/7 replaceable studs that could be changed depending on the playing conditions.
The 1940's to 1960's - Post War Era
Football by now was being played worldwide and this was also the period of the first real change led by technological developments that led to lighter and more flexible boots. Focus moved from protection to playability giving players better ball control and in turn allowed players to move around faster. The South American's led the charge and the German company Adi Dassler produced the first screw in studs giving the German Team a distinct advantage in changing conditions.
The 1960's saw a move towards a lower cut of shoe, which helped move around faster and change direction quicker. This was the era where the likes of Pele shone!
The football boots market was dominated by some big players like Puma and Adidas and others also entered the market including Mitre, Joma and Asics.
1970's - Continued Developments And Choice
Boots not only became lighter but now you had greater colour choices. Hummell made the first white boots. Adidas dominated the market and towards the end of the 1970's released the Copa Mundial that was one of the best selling of all time.
1980's - More Market Entrants
The boot market by this stage was still dominated by Adidas, but that didn't stop the likes of Umbro, Lotto and Kelme to try and grab a slice of the pie and leather was the material of choice.
1990's - Professional Sponsorships
Incremental changes were still being developed and boots were now improved the help with better balance with changes to the soles. At the same time money started to pour into the game and professional players were now being paid to wear branded football boots. This was also the beginning of Nike to enter the market with their Tiempo Premier that competed with the Adidas Predator (designed by Craig Johnston) .
2000's - Customised Football Boots
Laser technology meant that the simple boot could by fully customised. The Adidas Predator dominated with the Nike Mercurial with innovations including studs used in the under side of the boot. lighter and more flexible.
2010's - Branding and Technology Advancements
During the 2010's the tempo of the game increased and the game now had many more technical players, so manufactured continued to made advancements towards lighter boots made from lighter materials.
Also, blades rather than studs were becoming popular and brand endorsement continued unabated (as it doe today) with greater personalisation.
In efforts to keep ahead of their rivals, teams began adding chips to monitor player performance tracked online mobile phones.
Today and the Future
The development of football boots will no doubt continue - what the future holds is anyone's guess, but with so much money in the game today computer technology will continue to play a key role in not only player monitoring and tracking but other features to make the game more appealing - maybe boots that light up when you score a goal perhaps? What is certain is that manufactures will want to defend their positions and will offer greate choice and customisations.