Center Forward – Finding the right pair of soccer cleats is extremely important in helping to ensure that you are performing at the highest level come kick-off time. Each position is going to have specific boots that are more suited than others. So, in our Best Cleats by Position series, we take a look at what boots suit the needs of each playing position on the soccer pitch.
Without a doubt, one of the most psychologically challenging positions to play is that of the center forward. Your role is to score goals, and going a few games without scoring can be one of the most challenging experiences a striker will face. Self doubt can creep in very easily and when you are not scoring, you could easily find yourself sitting on the bench. This makes having the right footwear crucial – you need to know that your boots will offer you the top level of performance on a consistent basis. This is exactly why strikers often search and swap boots in an effort to find the right pair, until the day (and it doesn’t come often) when they feel like they have the perfect boot to compliment their game. With that being said, this could actually be one of the more important positional posts I write! When it comes to the needs of a forward, the essential requirements in a suitable cleat are:
- Touch – It is often that one piece of magic in 90 minutes that makes the difference, that one touch that takes you away from the defender and gives you space to score! Having the confidence and desire to get by the defender is a vital component for any top striker.
- Power – It only takes one shot, so you want any advantage you can take. Think of strikers like Rooney, Drogba or Ibrahimovich who emphasize the importance of striking the ball well. You need a boot that will tempt you into hitting the target.
- Presence – This one is pretty complex as it encompasses two different areas. It starts with the fact forwards always want to be one step ahead of the defender, with every single step making a difference. Having a boot that removes any reservations a forward might have going into the game is very important. Basically, you need a boot that screams confidence!
Nike Total 90 Laser III
A boot that is built around power, the Nike T90 Laser range enhances your ability to really strike a solid ball. At to that the fact it is no stranger to pacey players and these are a pretty optimal choice. Wayne Rooney really epitomizes the type of player these boots are designed to match. He is strong on the ball, has excellent pace and never fails to have a pop at goal when the space opens up. Nike has rolled out a bunch of new features on the Laser III including the key addition of five ‘pods’ that sit right along the strike zone and are designed to even out pressure distribution on ball contact. This is definitely a benefit to players that like to strike on sight. The Elite version is the more advanced release and weighs even less, but the regular version is sure to be a good match also. I think from US striker Taylor Twellman summed it up perfectly with this tweet!
Adidas F50 adiZero
They might not pack a lot of power, but you are not going to get a better boot that offers a fantastic lightweight feel and great touch. The leather version, in particular, matches the best boots on the market in terms of touch. The adiZero range also matches the requirements of presence, with a flashy looking upper that is attached to a very plain, yet advanced soleplate. You will also have absolute confidence that you are wearing one of the lightest soccer cleats on the market. But, the one thing you lose with the adiZero is that added layer of protection. If you look at the forwards currently wearing them, they seem to be the more crafty and creative players (Messi, Villa, Suarez.)
Nike Superfly (II or III version)
Now here is a boot with ultimate presence, and if you just need a player as example simply look at Cristiano Ronaldo. Although he also falls into the winger category, Ronaldo can also be found up top banging in goals so, there can’t be too much wrong with them! The Superfly is another boot that falls into the speed category, but it also holds a lot of power. I am not a huge fan of the adjustable stud, but when you pair it with Flywire technology, you have a boot developed for deadly acceleration, particularly when it comes to sharp turns. At time of posting, the Nike Superfly III has just been released (but not yet reviewed.)
Lotto Zhero Gravity Ultra
One of the surprise selections in the category, but the laceless design leaves a large strike zone that is screaming for a striker to take it into action. The Zhero Gravity Ultra also has a great look to it and defenders will take note of the player wearing them. If you turn the boot over you will notice the use of Lotto’s patented Twist n’Go stud at the front of the cleat. The idea of Twist n’Go is to enhance turning speed and acceleration when you look to turn. The stud basically rotates 360 degrees, so as you turn the stud turns with you. The one issue with this boot is ensuring you have the right fit – something that is vitally important. It can be tricky finding the match for your feet, but once you get that right, these are a boot that will compliment any striker!
What Center Forwards are currently wearing: (as of Mar 2011)
Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) – Nike T90 Laser III
Zlatan Ibrahimovich (AC Milan) – Nike Superfly III
Didier Drogba (Chelsea) – Nike Superfly III
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – Adidas F50 adiZero
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – Nike Superfly III
Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Hamburg) – Nike Tiempo Legend III
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) – Adidas F50 adiZero
David Villa (Barcelona) – Adidas F50 adiZero
Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy) – Nike CTR360 Maestri II
Thierry Henry (NY Redbull) – Reebok Instante Pro
Javier Hernandez (Man Utd) – Nike Tiempo Legend III
Carlos Tevez (Man City) – Nike CTR360 Maestri II
Robbie Keane (West Ham) – Nike T90 Laser III
Darren Bent (Aston Villa) – Umbro Speciali R