The best boots of the 90s

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Modern football boots? Do me a favour.

Luminous green. Solar-bright yellow. Pink! And that’s just the colours. Let’s not even get started on the “primeknitted uppers”, “super-flex soulplates” and “integrated flywire cables”.

Hate to go all Christian Grey on you, but give me black leather any day of the week.

Nike Vapor X

The Nike Mecurial Vapor X is the most popular boot among Premier League footballers

Apparently, the most popular boot in the Premier League is the snappily titled Nike Mecurial Vapor X, with 105 players wearing them. Some by choice, most because they get paid handsomely to do so.

These bad boys cost about £170 and offer features such as “locked down fit”, “enhanced touch” and “explosive traction”.

But where did it all begin? The answer is – like most of the best things in life – the 1990s. The decade that gave  the Spice Girls and New Labour also brought us a prevalence of kangaroo skin leather, blades instead of studs and power-adding rubber uppers.

The difference was boots in the 90s had some self-respect.

Here’s our best boots of the 90s

Umbro Speciali
Best football boots of the 1990s Quasar Lineker Magic

Umbro Speciali

A truly classic boot, oozing with class from Umbro. Kangaroo skin leather upper and a fold-over tongue that made you want to kiss it. But it wouldn’t be a French kiss, on no. This was a boot for proper, tough Englishmen. Like Steve McManaman.

Worn by: Alan Shearer, Steve McManaman

Nike Tiempo 94
Best football boots of the 1990s Nike Tiempo 94

Nike Tiempo 94

Before Nike started making boots that looked as though the designers had all taken acid, they turned out this classy offering, just in time for the sun-drenched 1994 USA World Cup. Nike still make the Tiempo but not like this.

Worn by: Romario, Paolo Maldino

Quasar Lineker Magic
Best football boots of the 1990s Quasar Lineker Magic

Quasar Lineker Magic

Ah, Quasar. Not a laser shooting game you play at a bowling alley, but a brand of boots that no one had heard of before they were endorsed by England captain Gary Lineker. He’s still famous and on the telly every week but his old boots are not.

They were black, of course, and came with traditional or moulded studs.

Worn by: Gary Lineker and, er, no one else.

Adidas Predator Rapier
Best football boots of the 1990s Adidas Predator Rapier

Adidas Predator Rapier

The Predator was where all the trouble started. At least on the upper of the boot.

Invented by former Middlesbrough and Liverpool midfielder Craig Johnston, the first Predators had rubber teeth around the top of the foot, with the idea being this gave players better power and accuracy.

Celtic’s John Collins was apparently the first player to score wearing Predator in a top-level match back in the days when Scottish football could still just about be regarded as top-level.

Worn by: David Beckham, Alessandro Del Piero, Paul Gascoigne

Cica Blades
Best football boots of the 1990s Cica Blades

Cica Blades

If Predator changed the game on top of the boots, Cica Blades shook the boot industry to its very soles.

They featured a revolutionary grip system that was designed to make twisting and turning easier and safer than when wearing studs. They proved controversial, of course, as modern-thinking managers criticised Cica Blades for injuring players. It couldn’t possibly have been Dennis Wise’s fault, could it?

Cica Blades were briefly worn by David Beckham, before his marketing potential was spotted by Adidas, who swooped in to claim him for their own.

Cica continued to make sure their boots appealed to the cool kids by selling them in Clarks.

Worn by: David Beckham (for about three months).

Puma King
Best football boots of the 1990s Puma King

Puma King

Another traditional-looking boot that has stud the test of time.

The finest quality leather allowed cultured players to feel the ball, while the firm sole meant they also packed a punch when it came to shooting (or smashing the ball long, if you played for Joe Kinnear).

Puma still make them now but instead of being worn by superstars, they are named after them. The Puma King Lothar Matthaus, for example, will set you back £150 in today’s money.

Worn by: Roy Keane, Lothar Matthaus

Adidas World Cup / Copa Mundial
Best football boots of the 1990s Adidas World Cup

Adidas World Cup

A timeless classic from Adidas, so much so that the version you can buy today has changed little from the original released in 1979. A bit like the Puma King in that no recent decade’s best-of list would be complete without it.

Sporting black kangaroo skin leather and the iconic three white stripes, the World Cup is the world’s best-selling boot, proving that we do have taste after all. Hey, if it’s good enough for Zinedine Zidane and Ally McCoist, it’s good enough for us.

Worn by: Zinedine Zidane, Ally McCoist, Jari Litmanaen, Franco Baresi.


Get involved: Which was your favourite football boot from the 1990s? Have we missed any out? Leave a comment below, or send us a non-abusive tweet.


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