The release of the Umbro Stealth Pro has had one of the most bizarre advertising campaigns in recent memory! “Are you Fox or Chicken?” reads the headline, followed by guys running a round a field in masks with feathers flying about the place. Strange, odd, confusing. But, once you get past this and actually try out a pair things become a little more predictable. With the World Cup just around the corner, Umbro have stepped up their range of releases in order to compete with the rest of the market. Players like John Terry, Deco and possibly Darren Bent will be on hand to dazzle in them. For testing, I wore a size 9US in the hard ground White/Red/Silver color and got in 5 games and 2 training sessions (more games than training the past 3 weeks!)
No complaints on this one! I took these out of the box and into the first game without any problems (*I don’t recommend that you try this, over time I have developed a sense of what will work well from day 1.) My advice to you is simply wear these for one training session and they will be ready for game time. I didn’t encounter any blisters or any discomfort for the duration of testing. The Stealth fits absolutely true to size and they really mold to the shape of your feet quickly. Umbro use a grip type material just inside the cleat that surrounds the heel area. Because it has a grip texture feel to it, the boot moves in sync with your foot. Another cool feature that helps is the padded tongue that Umbro have included. If you lift the tongue area, there is a yellow mesh strip that runs along the forefront of your foot. Again, this area feels like it aids in keeping your boot in place, while also adding a little extra comfort when striking the ball. Umbro also use a high performance Poron insert that adds increased amount of shock absorption.
Style and Performance
The initial releases in the Umbro Stealth range are very unique. Both versions have a focal color with a second color running in two separate lines across the cleat. I tested the White version, which has red lines running through it (the Red version has blue running through it.) I have to admit that I am a fan of both designs. They are not overly flashy, yet they offer something unique that is not present in any other releases on the market. Admittedly, I was glad to get the White version as I prefer it over the red. In terms of performance, there are n0t many better cleats currently on the market! Throughout wearing the Stealth, I felt comfortable and well protected. Along the upper front of the boot there is a riveted area, almost like Umbro have created a series of ridges. This also falls along the strike zone, and whether intentional or not it creates an extra element of power when you strike the ball (or that is how it felt to me.) You can clearly see the area in the images of the boot.
Rather than spending time trying to create new elements to add, Umbro have worked on improving what they know works! The boot is built around tradition and success. These are created using a soft, lightweight Teijin Japanese microfiber that allows for a shiny looking finish. I am more of a fan of leather, but there is nothing wrong with this material and it almost adds a new dimension to the design since it is shiny to look at! One key advancement on these is the stud design. Umbro have added two additional lateral studs that act just like running spikes to give extra grip when you take-off, with the purpose of improving acceleration. These two studs are located on the forefront of the sole, in the middle of the cleat. Do they work? I felt like I could push off faster on my first step so I would say they do serve a purpose.
The one problem I have with these is how easily they scuff. After only one or two wears the scuffs are quiet evident. I took some time after wearing them to clean them off, and this is key if you want to give them extended life. I don’t really have any other negatives to report. Umbro have really done a great job in creating the stealth and I enjoyed the fit, comfort and performance of the boot without it causing any problems.
The Umbro stealth really doesn’t fit into one of the Speed, Power or Control categories. It is more of an “all of the above” type cleat. Weight wise, they are a decent 9.8oz, not the lightest on the market but anything below the 10oz mark is decent. The ridges on the front of the cleat add a slight element of power, but not enough to place them in the category. After testing, these will be one of my go to cleats over the next few weeks as I know they offer comfort and I can rely on them to perform well. If you are looking for an all around effective cleat, without having to pay a large fee, then I highly recommend checking out the Umbro Stealth.
(*boots supplied for review by soccer.com)