10 Best Soccer Cleats of All Time

16 Nov 2023

Depending on where you're from, this is a list of the best soccer cleats - or best football boots - of all time.

Best Soccer Cleats

Soccer cleats, or football boots, are traditionally made of mostly kangaroo leather and features metal studs. They've since evolved into a technologically advanced combination of rubber, nylon, polyurethane, other synthetic materials and different leathers. 
We took into account on-field achievements, design, and overall impact to find the 10 best soccer cleats, or best football boots of all time.

10. Mizuno Wave Cup

In 1997 little known Japanese sportswear company Mizuno somehow convinced Brazilian superstar Rivaldo to ditch his Umbro's and to wear its football boots in a major coup for the company. 

Rivaldo wore the Mizuno Morelia to the 1998 World Cup. It was the Mizuno Wave Cup cleat however that made "waves" at its home World Cup in 2002, cohosted by Japan and South Korea. Rivaldo would earn three Man of the Match awards, scored five goals, three assists and won a World Cup winners medal with Brazil wearing it. 

The Mizuno boot would then explode in popularity, with the revolutionary cleat configuration at the bottom of the boot copied by other soccer cleat brands. The company continues to push the boundaries, the introduction of the "non-spin" Mukaiten panel another example of this. 

Rivaldo pioneered the way for other stars like Adrian Mutu, Patrick Kluivert, Shunsuke Nakamura, Hulk, Roberto Carlos, Andriy Shevchenko, Fernando Torres and Sergio Ramos to wear Mizuno's.

9. Adidas Samba

Adidas Samba was first introduced in 1949 so that players could train on hard, icy ground. It's since become one of the highest selling soccer cleat designs and is among the best football boots of all time.

The Samba has a leather upper and a gum sole, and it is known for its durability. It exploded in popularity in the 70s and 80s along with the growth of indoor soccer and futsal.
Thanks to its rigid wearability and stylish looks, the Samba has evolved from a sports staple, to a hugely popular cultural icon and a fashion statement piece.

8. Nike Tiempo

The Nike Tiempo is one of the best soccer cleats and has been worn by some of the greatest players including Romario, Paolo Maldini, Ronaldinho, Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique. Introduced at the 1994 World Cup, it's a classic that's lasted the test of time with its comfort and durability. 

Tiempo's first generation was launched with a soft leather upper to give players the best touch and feel available on the market. We'd have to wait until 2009 for the third generation which weighed in at 10.7 ounces (304 grams). 

The ninth generation launched in 2021 and only weighs 7.3 ounces (207 grams) with its upper designed to help attackers shoot, dribble and control the ball. It continues to be one of Nike's best sellers and was worn by Messi, until Adidas poached him in 2006. 

7. Umbro Speciali

English manufacturer Umbro launched the Speciali in 1992 and was marketed as the lightest set of cleats available. It's one of the best football boots of all time thanks to its iconic and classic look.

The Speciali features the Umbro double diamond on each flank and it's made with a leather upper, and a gum or rubber outsole. America's Carlos Valderrama, one of the best MLS players of all time, wore it at the 1994 World Cup.

Alan Shearer made it famous during his Golden Boot Euro 1996 run, and Roberto Carlos gave the boot legendary status with one of the best goals of all time, his 35 yard "banana free-kick" against France in 1997.

6. Nike Total 90

Nike Total 90 equipment was popularized in the Joga Bonito campaign which features one of sports greatest commercials of all time. The Nike Total 90, or T90 cleats, became an instant Premier League classic during the early 2000's.

The boot has been released in various versions including Total 90 Laser, Total 90 Shoot, and Total 90 Strike. It's one of the best soccer cleats of all time, designed to provide maximum power and accuracy in shots and passes, with features including a dimpled upper for improved ball control.

Didier Drogba, Luis Suarez and Robin Van Persie have all starred in Nike Total 90s. It was a young Wayne Rooney however who made it famous, his first Nike boot being the Air Zoom Total 90 II after ditching Umbro in 2003 before tearing it up in the Premier League.

6. Adidas F50

Just before Euro 2004, Adidas came up with an idea to cover up laces on a set of cleats, and the result was one of the best football cleats of all time. 

The Adidas F50 series continued to be innovative. It offered customisable screw-in studs in 2006, the introduction of Kevlar in 2011, and the production of an insanely light 3.49 ounce (99 grams) set of cleats in 2015. 

Players like Arjen Robben, Dani Alves, Luis Suarez, Benzema and Gareth Bale all played in the F50 which was seen as lightweight, groundbreaking and revolutionary. 

It was Lionel Messi however who took the Adidas F50 to the next level, wearing them in 2009 and through until 2015 when he began wearing his own Messi 15 line. The F50 was discontinued that same year, replaced with the Adidas X series.

4. Nike Mercurial

Launched in 1998 the Nike Mercurial is one of the best soccer cleats of all time. The iconic boot was first seen at the 1998 World Cup when Ronaldo laced up his very own colourway called the "R9". It was a revolutionary boot and Nike’s very first to be made of entirely synthetic material.

The boots then developed into the Mercurial Vapors which were first seen in The Cage Nike adverts in 2002 - one of the greatest sporting commercials of all time. By 2008 an all carbon fiber version was developed and in 2014 a mid-top Dynamic Fit Collar was introduced.

Players like Harry Kane, Eden Hazard, Raheem Sterling, Neymar, Luka Modric, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Didier Drogba have worn the Nike Mercurial. Superstar Kylian Mbappe is taking the cleats to the next level. 

It's another Ronaldo however, this time Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, that really propelled the Mercurial cleats as he burst onto the world scene at Euro 2004 wearing it. The longevity of the Mercurial goes in tandem with Cristiano Ronaldo's career and partnership with it.

3. Adidas Copa Mundial

Adidas' Copa Mundial is one of the best soccer cleats of all time. Launched in 1979, it was lightyears ahead of the rest of the market, being the lightest cleat which allowed for player speed and versatility. 

The Copa Mundial has stood the test of time with its no-nonsense design which has barely changed since its launch. It's a successful recipe as it's the best selling soccer cleat of all time and still sold to this day. 

Superstars to have worn the cleat include Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Franz Beckenbauer, Paolo Rossi, Karl Heinz-Rummenigge, Michel Platini, Lothar Matthaus, Paulo Maldini, Francesco Totti, Berti Vogts and Franco Baresi.

2. Puma King

The Puma King is without a doubt one of the best soccer cleats of all time. The classic cleat has a long and storied history in the world of soccer. 

Puma introduced the Puma King as a revolutionary product. Its flat structure made it light which also increased softness and comfort. Puma's "S.P.A. technology" included a higher heel which relieved pressure on the achilles tendon. 

First worn by Brazilian legend Pele in 1970, he cemented the cleat into legendary status by winning the 1970 World Cup with it. Minutes before the final whistle in the quarterfinal against Peru, he famously stopped the game to tie up his laces, whilst a worldwide audience watched as the camera panned in at close range on the cleats.  

Puma's aim was to have superstars playing in Puma Kings and they succeeded with legends like Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Eusebio, Lothar Matthaus, Paul Gascoigne and George Best wearing the Puma King.

Maradona scored the Goal of the Century in the Puma King solidifying the cleat as one of the most iconic and influential soccer cleats of all time.

1. Adidas Predator

The Adidas Predator is the best soccer cleats of all time, and the best football boots ever. Introduced in 1994 it was designed and marketed to enhance ball control and shot power. It's since gone on to define modern football and is the top selling boot worldwide. 

Adidas introduced rubber fins with the first generation to offer more power, swerve and control than ever before. In 2004, ten years after its introduction, a sock liner was introduced that shifted the boot's center of gravity closer to striking impact.

Staying ahead of the game, Adidas implemented "Power-spine" technology in 2010 which improved shot power by reducing the amount the foot bends back as it kicks the ball.

Some of the greatest players of all time have worn the Predator including David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Raul, Patrick Vieira, Kaka, Rui Costa, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Alessandro Nesta, Paul Scholes and Alessandro Del Piero. 

The Predator soccer cleats were discontinued in 2015 but were brought back in 2017 to replace the Adidas ACE. New technology implementing light "Primeknit" materials and "CONTROLSKIN" which aids in controlling the ball, is further proof that the Predator is ahead of the game and is the best soccer cleat of all time.

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