The history of football boots go as far back as 1520s, with King Henry VIII’s cleats listed within the Great Wardrobe of 1526. That first recorded football boots, created by the king’s personal shoemaker Cornelius Johnson, was costed at 4 shillings or about 480 dirhams today.
Just like the game itself, the development of the football cleats has come a long way since it was first made. In fact, the aforementioned royal boots, despite having no remaining example in existence, were known to have been ankle-high, made of durable leather, and much heavier than the football boots we are accustomed to these days.
As the game gained considerable popularity 300 years later in Britain, workers from villages and local factories would play wearing their work boots commonly made of long-laced, steel toe-capped boots. To increase their shoes’ ground grip and stability, players would also improvise by hammering metal tacks or studs into them. These informal boots then became considered as the first football cleats.
The first real innovation in football boots came in the late 1800’s with the game starting to become integrated with laws and shifting away from being just an informal, unstructured pastime. This is when the world begun to saw the new football boots in the form a soccus-style shoe still made of thick, hard leather, weighing approximately 500 grams (which would double when wet), and goes up to the ankle to increase feet protection for the players. The use of metal studs for ground grip was continued, and from here on, the first official design for the football boots came to life.
There were no significant changes in the design of the football cleats in the 1900’s to the early 1940’s but this is the time when production of the boots became more popular with the brands Valsport, Gola, and Hummel taking the lead.
After the second world war, the late 40’s to early ’60s saw a dramatic change in the design of the football boots as more and more shoemakers start to consider the role of footwear in the success of the game. Lighter and more flexible football cleats designed by South Americans eventually became the footwear of choice by the players as it allows for better control and kicking power.
In 1954, screw-in studs were introduced by Adi Dassler, German founder of sportswear brand Adidas, giving the football team Mannschaft an advantage in the World Cup that year when it was raining. The concept of the screw-ins becoming an official part of the football boot design raised a dispute between the Dassler brothers and the older one, Rudolf eventually left to start his own sportswear company Puma.
Football boots in the 1960s saw more low-cut designs which players preferred since it allows them to move and change directions much faster.
The 1970’s Adidas became the frontrunner in the production and innovation of football boot design coming up with even lighter ones and in various colors. By the end of the decade, Adidas has built a solid reputation in the line of football boots after releasing what is still considered the best-selling football cleats of all time- Copa Mundial. More materials also came into light such as kangaroo, cow, and calfskin leather.
From 1980s to 2000s, Adidas remained to be a household name in the production of football boots, but with more contenders in the industry going into production such as Umbro and Lotto.
Advancements in technology also played a vital role in the development of the modern football boots with laser technology allowing to produce the first fully-customized football cleats in the year 2006. From here on out, manufacturers have continuously found ways to innovate the modern football wear through the use of lighter, more flexible materials which would allow players to maximize their talent on the field no matter the weather.
To see the history of football boots in a more interactive platform, you can visit our timeline through this link and we will take you on the amazing journey the football boot has been through since King Henry VIII’s cleats!