As professional sport took off on association football pitches around predominantly Europe then the World, there were very few football boot manufacturers on the ground so to speak. Unlike today original manufacturers such as Gola (england), Hummel (germany/denmark), Valsport (italy) and Pantofola D'oro (italy) only very slowly realised that as the years progressed and as their footwear became ever more popular, that perhaps there may be a market for this sort of thing.
In 1954 Adi Dassler (founder of the Adidas sports company) introduced screw-in studs for the first time after extensive testing the year before, this gave Germany an extreme advantage during the World Cup of that year which featured bad inclement weather and water soaked pitches.
An unusual story which we won't go into here revolves around the split between the two brothers Adolf (Adi) & Rudolph Dassler who both formed Adidas & Puma respectively after a dispute involving their wives.
Why not Read - Pitch Invasion: Adidas, Puma and the Making of Modern Sport
A decade later saw lighter boots and better water resistant leathers with football boots being designed with a lower cut. Players saw the benefits immediately in faster and more agile movements on the pitch and boots evolved to accommodate and enhance this evolution with more manufacturers coming on board such as Asics (japan), Mitre (england) and Joma (spain).
In the 1970's football boot sponsorship deals began to become popular with Alan Ball of Everton wearing Hummel white boots and then Adidas made huge leaps as the market leader in 1979 bringing out the Copa Mundial which has seen a renaissance some 30 plus years later. In the 1980's the Adidas Predator was designed by Australian and former Liverpool player Craig Johnston and after its eventual release in 1994 made an immediate impact which encouraged other boot manufacturers to redouble their efforts to get a slice of the lucrative pie, these manufacturers included Umbro (england), Lotto (italy) and Kelme (spain) now competing with the BIG 3 heavyweights Adidas (german), Puma (german) and Nike (american).
New soleplates started to become important after this time with manufacturers realizing that they could increase profits and get a player to purchase not just one pair of boots for the season but to also encourage players to buy sole specific boots for each surface or weather they would be playing in. This has in turn led to boots being manufactured in experimental materials such as knitted wool, shark skin, ecological friendly and bio-degradable materials such as hemp and with all new technology & safety features.
The future is indeed bright.......................for boot manufacturers and confusing for us!
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