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Adidas Designer Reveals Why Iconic Predators Help Sunday League Players Bend It Like Beckham

Adidas Designer Reveals Why Iconic Predators Help Sunday League Players Bend It Like Beckham

When the first adidas Predator hit the market back in 1994 it changed the game. Here was a boot armed with rubbers fins that promised to turn your wayward shots into guided missiles. Sunday League carthorses dreamed of whipping shots around defensive walls and outstretched goalkeepers.

Adidas billed the boot as "100% legal, 0% fair". Now, 26 years later, after a number of iconic designs, the 20th iteration has been released - the Mutator. Gone are the fins, in are the spikes as part of a new DEMONSKIN.

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Adidas unveiled a new version of their iconic Predator boots - the Mutator
Adidas unveiled a new version of their iconic Predator boots - the Mutator

Spikes? DEMONSKIN? Sounds ominous for the ball. But don't worry you won't be running out of precious match balls faster than your team leg it when you ask for subs. The spikes are there to work with the ball, not destroy it. They wrap around the front and side of the boot to give players enhanced touch, control and swaz on their shots.

Anyway, want to know more? Us too. Here's Robert Ashcroft, senior director of product for adidas football footwear, to give you the lowdown on the Mutator.

The tagline for the new Mutator is "100% unfair". How do they give you an unfair advantage? Why should a Sunday League football buy these boots?

The unfair advantage is better control of the football, therefore control of the game and control over the outcome. DEMONSKIN gives you better boot to ball contact so you have enhanced grip when you control it and you're able to generate more spin when you strike it. The upper material that wraps under the foot and the Sockfit collar work together to lock the foot in place for a better fit. You're going to be comfortable and able to do things in this boot that you can't necessarily do in others.

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Ilkay Gundogan at the release of the new Predator boots
Ilkay Gundogan at the release of the new Predator boots

How long did it take to design the Mutator?

A long time. The creative journey for a standard boot is usually two years. However, months before we started drawing up designs for the Predator, we started research into the best compound to use for the spikes. What was the best size, shape, and scale? That took months so the whole process took probably nearer to three years from the initial research through to what you see here today.

Did you use Sunday League players to test the boots?

First and foremost our pro athletes are integral to what we do. We involve them through the process. They test the various prototypes and feedback on the fit and performance. Pro players are more sensitive to what they wear than you or I. Those playing on a wet, boggy pitch on a Sunday morning have slightly different requirements because they don't have the luxury of playing on amazing surfaces. With this mind, we have to make sure our testing process is very thorough. We test globally with different ages, genders and climates.

Excluding the Mutator, what's your favourite Predator of all-time?

The '96 Touch. That was my first interaction with a Predator from unboxing to striking a ball and seeing the swerve and thinking, 'Oh it does actually work.' That boot holds a special place in my heart. If we talking from a purely aesthetic point of view it's the '98 Accelerator. It's iconic. Changed the game.

Adidas designer Robert Ashcroft thinks the new boots can help Sunday league players
Adidas designer Robert Ashcroft thinks the new boots can help Sunday league players

Do you think laced boots will disappear from the game in the future?

We'll see less and less of them. Over the past five years laceless and mid-cuts boots have become the norm, 10 years ago they were non-existent. Kids are growing up in a realm where it's just standard practice. They're seeing the pros wear laceless boots and their peers. In 10-15 years the majority of boots will be laceless.

Explore the new Predator 20 now at adidas.co.uk/football-shoes

Ben Welch

Ben is the senior brand marketing manager for SPORTbible. In a former life he was a journalist, writing for the likes of FourFourTwo, Men's Health, The Daily Mirror, Eurosport, Sky Sports, Eurosport and World Soccer. He once played in a pre-season friendly for League Two Swindon Town, having previously played at Sunday League level. It didn't go well.

 

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