No matter you are a professional football player or just new to the game; putting a pair of fresh, clean cleats can make a lot of difference in your performance. Now the question is, why can’t you wear the regular sports shoes for the purpose? Well, it is the same as using a basketball on the football ground just because both are used for playing games and are apparently similar. Now ask yourself, can you use a football in the basketball court? I’m afraid it wouldn’t turn out to be a good decision.
In a soccer game, cleats are as important as the role of a football, and you can only know the difference by wearing them on the pitch. In this post, we are going to discuss the diverse history and evolution of soccer cleats over the years. Read on to learn a lot of interesting and least-known facts about the spiky shoes lying in your shoe rack.
The First Ever Pair of Cleats
Currently, soccer is one of the top sports played throughout the world. Although it is believed that, people started playing the game as early as 3rd century BCE, but during King Henry VIII reign; it emerged as a sport.
As per history, the very first pair of soccer cleats were worn by King Henry VIII. They were made on order by the royal shoemaker named Cornelius Johnson. This happened back in 1525, way after soccer was introduced in England. However, players were still using the regular work boots for playing football. Here is the breakdown of King Henry’s sports shoes:
- The custom-made soccer shoes were quite similar to the ankle boots.
- Rigid leather was used for their making.
- The shoes were heavier than the regular ones at that time.
- The major feature that made the pair stand out was the addition of metal studs present on the outer sole to ensure a secure grip in the field.
A majority of players couldn’t afford to get them the same pair as the King, so they took the matter in their own hands. However, later in 1863, English Football Association (FA) found the need of some sturdy sporting shoes with a strong hold on the pitch, preferably with iron plates, gutta-percha or nails on the soles, and that is how the foundation of soccer cleats was formed.
Problems Faced By The Players Because of Wrong Choice of Shoes
Although the idea was initiated, but football boots were not worn until 1891. In fact, players would come and play in any shoes they own, mostly their formal work boots.
- The shoes were heavy on the feet and hard to maneuver as well.
- Sportsmen were not able to run and kick the ball properly.
- Usually, the footwear featured a reinforced toe, which could lead to serious injuries during the game.
- Moreover, these boots had a poor grip on the field.
The 18th Century
In 1891, a revision approved the idea of football shoes utilizing tiny studs or bars on the bottom, and that how the football boots replaced the work boots soon after.
The newly introduced footwear was crafted with leather to ensure durability and comfort. However, the material was still quite thick, making the pair heavy with 0.5kg dry weight and even heavier if it becomes wet. Moreover, these shoes were equipped with laces, and their length was up till the ankle for maximum feet protection.
And this was just the beginning. These football shoes went through a lot of changes to become the modern version of cleats we have today!
The Early 1900s
Due to an increased love of football, manufacturers of soccer cleats also emerged from all around the world. In Germany, two brothers named Adolf and Rudolf produced a unique pair of cleats under the title The Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. The special thing about these shoes was that; they featured interchangeable studs and offered an adjustable fit, depending on the condition of the field.
You know the best part? You just have to replace the studs when needed instead of investing in another pair. Hence, the footwear was long-lasting and worth the investment. Besides, other brands were also working on the category, such as Gola and Valsport.
The 1940s – 1960s ( Right After The World War II)
The end of World War II was actually the start of international soccer growth because people could finally travel to different parts of the world in order to watch matches with peace. As a result, the need of football shoes was increased drastically, and many companies joined the race of producing the best soccer cleats. However, the focus was shifted more on the comfort and adaptation rather protection. This was also the time when the popular Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory was dissolved because the founder, Adolf and Rudolf, decided to split and work individually. Later, the brand owned by Adolf was called Adidas and Rudolf chose to label his company Puma.
With the evolution of soccer cleats design, the material used in the making was also changed from heavy leather to lightweight materials for an added comfort. In addition to this, metal studs were replaced by rubber and plastic, reducing the possible risk of injuries.
During the World Cup in 1970, the soccer icon Pele wore Super Atom cleats by Puma during the tournament, and the article became famous widely. On the other hand, several players chose Adidas cleats for the international matches and helped the brand grow in popularity.
During the era, cleat manufacturing became more competitive than ever and brands started paying attention on the design and appearance of the shoe. Moreover, brand sponsorship and endorsements became a norm too as different companies started sponsoring teams or particular players to market their cleat collections. By around 1979, Adidas became the best-selling brand for manufacturing high-quality cleats from kangaroo leather.
By the 1980s, structure and design of soccer cleats was pretty much done, now the next focus of manufacturers was to add more and more comfort to the pair. In addition, they experimented with different materials to make the cleats lighter than ever. The idea was to offer players comfortable and light weighted shoes so they can concentrate more on the game than the ease of their feet. Some popular companies of 1982 were LOTTO from Italy, KELME from Spain. While in 1985, UMBRO which was a British label, earned a lot of fame.
The 1900s to Early 2000s
The very popular predator cleats by Adidas were introduced in the 1900s and the category is still doing rounds all over the world. Apart from its design and label, another good reason for its fame was; these shoes were designed by the Craig Johnson – a former professional footballer. In short, Adidas literally shaped the market of soccer cleats.
Moreover, several brands launched their football shoes in the market during the 1900s and early 2000s, including Hummel, NIKE, Diadora and Nomis.
This is the period of new technology where the manufacturing techniques and design have improved more than ever. Soccer is now one of the top played sports throughout the world, and a huge number of companies, local and international, are producing soccer cleats for the players from different parts of the world. Earlier there were only a handful of top-notch names in the business, but now it seems like almost every shoe brand is in the competition. Earlier, the choices were quite limited, but you can luckily find a good quality pair of cleats in quite a reasonable price nowadays.
Moreover, famous football players are also seen endorsing a particular company of cleats on their shirts during the game for marketing purpose. Besides, brands Ads and commercials are hiring famous sportsmen to make the audience buy their products. This was not the case earlier; only the relevant people were aware of the new brands in the market.
Today, the advancements of technology have taken over the world, and soccer cleats are not left behind either. Wondering what kind of technology is added to a pair of shoes? Well, now microchips are inserted in the cleats to track the performance of players and to provide an analysis on their weak areas to work on. For example, Adidas came up with their miCoach technology to track a record of players performance.
Let’s have a look at the evolution of soccer cleats in a comparison chart:
Type of Studs
Heavy, ankle length with metal studs.
Metal spikes with a removable or replaceable feature.
Different materials were used to reduce the weight, plastic and rubber studs were introduced. This era did the major job in getting us to the final product.
Comparatively lightweight leather and other materials.
Plastic or rubber
Technology based, lightweight, comfortable, maximum protection of feet, varied price range
rubber, polyurethane and nylon, or leather
TPU, synthetic, metal, rubber
Sport shoes play an important part in the performance of a player, and the requirements of each game is different from each other. For instance, the role of feet is significant in a football match, so for an optimum performance; you need a good pair of shoes that can protect your feet and help you run smoothly. Soccer cleats are especially designed for the purpose with all the mentioned properties. Today, we see technology-based, sturdy soccer cleats in the marketplace, but it went through several transformative stages before the final look.
The first pair of cleats was worn by King Henry VIII in the 1800s with metal studs and heavy leather, then in the 1900s a lot of brands started making much improved shoes in terms of quality, appearance and weight. You never know if any further advancement will be added to the cleats in coming years. So, before entering to the World of football, don’t forget to get yourself a right pair of shoes.