The complete history of Adidas Predator

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The history of the Adidas Predator football boot

The Adidas Predator boot is unmistakable; a beacon of innovativeness in football technology. It was in 1994, former Liverpool player Craig Johnston designed a prototype of a football boot that would revolutionise the industry. The Australian born Johnston dedicated his own time and money in to his idea. It was when he was back in his native Australia coaching kids, that he told them they had to grip and bite the ball when striking it. They told him that it was too slippery and that boots are made of leather not rubber and as it was raining, they couldn’t grip the ball. It was then, that the light bulb above Johnston’s’ head flickered. He went home and ripped the rubber off a table tennis bat and glued it to his own boots. He went outside to kick a ball; the rubber engaged with the polyurethane of the ball. Eventually, Adidas accepted the idea and the rest, as they say, is history.

Written By: Ashley McCoy

Predator 1994

 

This was a simple, yet remarkable design. These were the first of the Predator range which used a rubber skin on the front of the boot, for curve and accuracy. This style had never been seen before. Although the front of the boot may look like Johnston had created a hybrid from a disposable razor and a regular boot, the sharp edge design meant for better swerve and power and was ground-breaking. The upper part was primarily made from kangaroo leather and was combined with the new traxion technology. However it was the rubber fins which caught the attention of football fanatics everywhere and meant that this was the start of a revolution.

Adidas Rapier


With the success of the first Predator, the concept was developed again a year later. This new design featured a fold over tongue, which became the signature of Adidas predators over the years. They also offered different colours, white and red. They re-designed the structure of the rubber fins so that they were smoother and therefore offered better ball control. The boot itself included more kangaroo leather to make the boots more comfortable and meant for greater movement.

Predator Touch 1996


It wasn’t until two years later that Adidas brought out the new ‘Touch’ version of predators. The tongue had now been stretched over the laces, to offer more room and a smoother surface area for the ball to be struck. The laces were now covered and the rubber fins were now placed carefully in to certain areas so that the ball could be hit in a specific way. Adidas placed the fins alongside the extended tongue, this improved the players touch and skill on the ball, this meant for more kangaroo leather being used to create even more comfort.

Predator accelerator 1998


As the predator range became increasingly popular, Adidas snatched this opportunity to now bring the new versions out at every major tournament. So it was at the FIFA world cup in France that the accelerators were released. The ‘blade’ system on the bottom of the boot had also become a trademark of the predator which was now represented by players such as David Beckham and Zinidine Zidane. It was the laces of this particular boot that changed the typical system usually used; they had changed all predators to an asymmetric loop. This meant that players got a cleaner kicking of the ball. The traditional design of the predator had changed as well; they now become unconventional with a transparent red casing on the bottom of the boot.

Predator Precision 2000


The predator precisions were released at Euro 2000, which kept with their tradition of releasing a brand new pair every major championship. The main focus of the precision was the bottom of the boot. Adidas introduced replaceable traxion studs, which were adjustable to ground conditions. This quick ‘minute screw’ concept came in to problems when studs were coming lose a lot easier. The design of the predator had changed once again in its own unique way, they now used Velcro to attach the tongue over the laces and the rubber fins had become thinner and more frequent along the front of the boot, which increased spin on the ball. They had once again re-invented themselves as a brand, whilst still making progress with the science of football boots.

Predator Mania 2002


The ‘Mania’ predator range, were released to correspond with the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea. They came with various colour schemes so that most nations could purchase the boot which most resembled their national team colours. ‘Alex’ of Japan also had a special pair made, in Japan blue, which he wore at the tournament. Again, problems with the studs occurred, this led in 2003, to Adidas releasing a version of the boots with the traditional studs. The traditional rubber fins changed into a bended, curved shape, for more accuracy and power when striking the ball. This was also the first time that Adidas had taken the opportunity to add a cheaper version of the predators, which saw the ‘Manada’ style placed on shelves. This included cheaper young cow leather and a difference in the tongue on the boot. Although throughout the World Cup, players like ‘Zidane’, ‘Del Piero’ and David beckham, wore the champagne colour, this was the only celebratory champagne from any of their home nations in the tournament as Brazil ran home winners.

Predator Pulse 2004


The interesting fact about the ‘pulse’ was to do with the weight of the boot. They had relocated forty grams of it to the front, which in turn changed the force of gravity to the force of kicking the ball. They were released in time for the ‘Euro 2004’ championship, in a range of colours which included white and gold. As with the previous predators they used a strap, which attached the tongue and this was wrapped underneath the boot. The blades were now available in metal and plastic and arranged to coincide with the curve of the boot itself, this meant that set piece specialists, such as ‘Beckham’ could get more swerve on the ball.

Predator Absolute 2006


Launched in 2006, to coincide with the world cup in Germany, this was the pinnacle of the predator as they used ‘liquid rubber elements’ to the power zone, which meant more power, accuracy and aggressiveness when hitting the ball, which may have gone to Zidanes head, as he was sent off in the final for head butting ‘Matterazzi’. The powerpulse technology in the sockliner was an innovative concept for predators; this again shifted the weight by forty grams and meant a smoother and faster ball speed.

Predator PowerSwerve 2007


The PowerSwerve predators proved to be so popular amongst players such as ‘Steven Gerrard’, ‘Xavi’ and ‘Robin Van Persie’, that they released twenty different colours. This showcased the popularity of the Predator range, as they had never released so many different colours for one boot. It was a testimony to them that they had come from the humble, black, plain style and were now becoming more innovative for each predator. They also featured a removable insole to add weight or remove it; this linked to the power and precision of a shot and gave the kicker the opportunity to choose power, speed, and accuracy for themselves.

Adidas Predator X 2009

Adidas Predator X 2009


The X range was the first predators to go back to their original design since 1994. They removed the tongue and added a boot collar, which they claimed gave a better feel when kicking the ball. They introduced Taurus leather which meant for a more durable and comfortable fit, so players such as Beckham could add more power to their shots and set pieces. As they were also made from a rubber silicon mix, the predator X increased contact time and friction with the ball.

Adidas Predator RX 2010


With the popularity of the ‘predator X’ in 2009, it was evident that rugby players were investing heavily in the model. This was due to the durability and strength of the boot, which gave them more power and accuracy when kicking a rugby ball. Players such as Dan Carter noted that the extra gip on the upper part of the boot meant he could also get more swerve on the ball.

Adidas AdiPower Predator 2011


The instep to this style had now changed, into two performance zones; it used 3d fins for extra power. Although strength, power and accuracy have always been the main focus for predators, they used the frame of the Adidas F50 to make the boot lighter and more dynamic. This coincided with different types of players now wearing the boot, such as Manchester United winger ‘Nani’ who are based more on speed and shot accuracy.

Adidas AdiPower SL 2011


This was billed as the lightest predator football boot ever, this was purely based on speed and accuracy when hitting and running with the ball. It came in a vibrant orange and black which we’re used to seeing with lightweight boots. The outsole again used Adidas’ famous powerspine technology so that most of the energy goes to the front of the boot when hitting the ball. The upper skin of the boot introduced Adidas’ new ‘sprintskin’ which radically reduces weight and also meant for comfortable running whilst still maintaining optimum force and power.

Predator LZ 2012


Released in May 2012, the predator LZ have kept the emphasis on speed, so this meant keeping the F50 frame and stud structure. The ‘LZ’, standing for lethal zone, is the focus of this football boot; Adidas have different zones that they find the most important, including the raised and thicker forefront of the boot. The focus is now on first touch, speed and greater distance when kicking the ball. Although they look a lot like the ‘F50’ range they still keep the predator heart, with their natural instep for curve and accuracy and they are specifically coloured to highlight certain zones for each boot, which means that each one will have a precise role to play when worn, by the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Robin Van Persie.