From the iconic adidas Copa Mundial to the flashy Nike Mercurial, soccer cleats have come a long way since the first players laced up their boots on muddy pitches. But it’s not just the design and technology of cleats that have evolved over the years – the players themselves have become key influencers in the world of soccer footwear. From Cristiano Ronaldo’s sleek and stylish Mercurials to Lionel Messi’s signature adidas line, the cleats worn by top players have become fashion statements in their own right.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most influential people to talk about soccer cleats, and how they helped shape the game both on and off the field.
1 – Cristiano Ronaldo
The Portuguese superstar is known for his signature Nike Mercurial cleats, which feature a sleek and futuristic design. He first signed a contract with Nike in 2003, when he was playing for Sporting CP in Portugal. Since then, he has been a prominent ambassador for the brand, and has been seen wearing Nike apparel and footwear both on and off the pitch. Ronaldo has been involved in the development of the Mercurial line since 2010 and has helped create several special editions, including the CR7 line.
In 2016, Ronaldo signed a lifetime contract with Nike, making him one of the highest-paid athletes sponsored by the company.
In October 2019, Nike started a range called “Dream Speed“, a series of boots inspired by Ronaldo’s incredible journey to the top of the soccer World. Each release in the series featured a unique, individual design that represents the idea of chasing your dreams at top speed.
2 – Lionel Messi
After winning the World Cup with Argentina, Messi has cemented his position as the greatest ever, winning everything possible that he can win in the game. Is influence is the cleat market is very close to that of Ronaldo, he has been an icon adidas athlete for the majority of his career.
In 2017, Messi signed a lifetime endorsement deal with Adidas, which is said to be one of the most lucrative athlete endorsement deals in history. As part of the deal, Messi wears adidas soccer boots and apparel exclusively and has his own signature line of Messi cleats known for its exceptional comfort, agility, and control, which are all attributes that are closely associated with Messi’s playing style.
3 – David Beckham
The English legend was one of the first soccer players to become a fashion icon, and his endorsement of the adidas Predator cleats helped turn them into a cult classic. “Bend if like Beckham” was born from his pinpoint accuracy on crosses and set-pieces. Beckham famously wore the adidas Predator during the peak of his career in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.
In 2014, Adidas released a special edition of the Predator to commemorate Beckham’s retirement from football. The boots were designed with input from Beckham himself, and featured a white and gold colorway, as well as his famous number 23 on the heel.
4 – Ronaldinho
The Brazilian trickster was known for his flashy skills and his endorsement of Nike’s Tiempo cleats helped turn them into a popular choice for players who value comfort and durability. Ronaldinho’s cleats often featured bright colors and eye-catching designs, reflecting his playful and irreverent personality. He signed a deal with Nike in 1998, which was a major coup for the brand at the time, as Ronaldinho was still relatively unknown outside of Brazil.
He was also heavily involved in the design and development of the Nike Ronaldinho R10 football boot, which was released in 2005 and quickly became a fan favorite. Off the pitch, Ronaldinho was also a prominent ambassador for Nike, and he appeared in a number of advertising campaigns for the brand, including the iconic “Joga Bonito” campaign in 2006. And I think we all remember that viral crossbar commercial, right?
Although Ronaldinho’s time as an active player has come to an end, his legacy as one of the greatest footballers of all time has helped to cement his place in Nike’s history as a key ambassador and influencer for the brand.
5 – Mia Hamm
The American icon helped popularize Nike’s first line of women’s soccer cleats, the Air Zoom Total 90, and is considered one of the greatest female soccer players of all time. Hamm’s cleats were designed specifically for women’s feet and helped pave the way for greater recognition and opportunities for female soccer players.
The Nike Air Zoom Mia quickly became a popular choice among female soccer players, and it helped to establish Hamm as a trailblazer for women’s soccer both on and off the field. In addition to her signature cleat, Hamm also worked with Nike to develop a line of soccer apparel and equipment for women, including shorts, jerseys, and shin guards.
6 – Pelé
The Brazilian legend is one of the most famous soccer players in history and was instrumental in putting the Puma name on the map. Pele and Puma had a close relationship, and the brand developed several custom boots for him, including the iconic Puma King, which he wore throughout much of the 1970s.
There are several iconic moments in Pele’s career that are associated with his Puma football boots. One of the most memorable is the 1970 World Cup final, in which Pele wore a customized version of the Puma King boots. In that game, Pele scored the opening goal and helped Brazil to a 4-1 victory over Italy, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest footballers of all time.
Another iconic moment in Pele’s career came during the 1970 North American Soccer League (NASL) season, when he wore a pair of white Puma boots that featured his name and number in gold lettering. Pele helped to popularize the NASL in the United States, and his Puma boots became a symbol of his larger-than-life personality and influence on the game.
Another important fact; Pele is one of the very few who has had an entire brand named after him.
7 – Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane, the French football legend, wore a variety of soccer cleats throughout his career, but he is perhaps most closely associated with Adidas and the Predator range. Zidane had a long-standing relationship with adidas and was one of the brand’s most high-profile and influential ambassadors.
One of the most iconic pairs he wore during his career was the Predator Precision, which he wore during the 2000 UEFA Euro tournament. Zidane played a key role in France’s victorious campaign, and his performances in the Predator Precision boots helped to cement his reputation as one of the greatest footballers of his generation.The Predator Precision cleat has since become an iconic symbol of Zidane’s career and a sought-after collector’s item among soccer fans.
Zidane also wore other popular adidas football boots throughout his career, including the Adidas Copa Mundial and Adidas Predator Mania. He was known for his technical skills and creative playmaking abilities, and his choice of football boots reflected his personal style and preferences on the pitch.
8 – Neymar Jr.
In September 2020, Neymar announced a long-term partnership with Puma after parting ways with Nike, which he had been with for over a decade. During his time with Nike, he was an instrumental piece of their Nike Hypervenom advertising, receiving several custom pairs including his partnership with Jordan.
The move to Puma was seen as a major coup for the brand, and as part of the partnership, Puma released a signature Neymar football boot, the FUTURE Z. This was a boot that featured a distinctive design and innovative technology aimed at enhancing performance on the pitch. The Future Z quickly became one of the most popular football boots on the market, with fans and players alike praising its comfort, durability, and style.
Neymar has also been seen wearing other Puma football boots, including the Puma King Platinum, which is a modern update on the classic Puma King boot that has been worn by some of the greatest footballers in history. Neymar’s association with Puma has helped to raise the profile of the brand and has cemented his status as one of its most influential and high-profile ambassadors.
9 – Francesco Totti
What sort of a list would this be without a Diadora reference? Francesco Totti, the legendary Italian footballer, had a long-standing relationship with the Italian sportswear brand Diadora. Totti was one of the most high-profile ambassadors for the brand, and he played a key role in promoting Diadora’s football boots and apparel around the world.
Totti’s association with Diadora began early in his career, and he wore the brand’s football boots throughout much of his time at AS Roma, the club where he spent the bulk of his career. One of the most iconic pairs he wore during his career was the Diadora Brasil, which was known for its classic design and high-quality construction. Totti also had a signature pair, the Totti 10, which featured a distinctive black and gold colorway and was highly sought after by fans and collectors.
Totti’s association with Diadora helped to elevate the brand’s profile in the highly competitive world of football boot endorsements and partnerships.
10 – Thierry Henry
Thierry Henry wore Nike soccer cleats during his career and was one of the brand’s most high-profile football ambassadors. He played a key role in promoting Nike’s football boots and apparel around the world. He wore a variety of Nike football boots throughout his career, including the Nike Mercurial Vapor, the Nike Total 90, and the Nike Tiempo, and he was known for his speed, agility, and scoring prowess on the pitch.
In 2006, Henry was spotted wearing a pair of Puma v1.06 football boots during a training session with Arsenal. The boots were part of Puma’s v-series line of football boots, which were designed to be lightweight and provide a close-to-the-foot fit. Henry’s decision to wear Puma boots caused a stir in the football world at the time, as he had been a long-time endorser of Nike. But it wasn’t untill 2011 that he signed a multi-year partnership with Puma.