The Adidas Predator is a boot that transcends generations. With each iteration of this iconic boot, a new generation can feel a part of the legacy. This boot has been at the epicentre of football since its launch in 1994. Predator has led many footballing greats to victory, turning players into icons. As fans these icons have become the ones we love to watch, the ones we mimicked as a child and reminisce about as time goes on. These players fuelled the obsession, the passion, the love of the game. They brought fans together even in competition. The Predator boot has become an icon in football, and rightly so. It’s revolutionary in its tech throughout and the only thing that matches the beauty of the technical ability of the players we look up to, is the design of this boot. There will be few out there who didn’t crave this boot. It’s time to reignite the flame. First, let’s look at how the Predator legacy has developed.
Name dropping is often seen as a detrimental way of boasting associations and accomplishments. However, in the case of Predator, it’s a must. Many players have worn the boot and added to its history, but Predators throughout the years have played their part in the players development and capabilities.
The most notable players to represent Predator are: Lampard, Lahm, Beckham, Zidane, Alonso, del Pirlo, Raúl, David Beckham, Xavi, Robin van Persie, Michael Ballack, Raúl, Steven Gerrard, Edwin van der Sar, Petr Čech, Eiður Guðjohnsen and Del Piero.
Former Liverpool midfielder Craig Johnston is the matriarch of the Predator. The legend is that while coaching children in Australia, he decided to attempt modifying boots in a bid to improve ball-control.
Johnston’s prototypes, which originally were fused with the rubber from table tennis bats, were rejected by all of the major boot manufacturers. Despite this setback, he managed to convince former Bayern Munich stars Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Paul Breitner to be filmed wearing them.
Johnston brought the film to Adidas, and it convinced the brand to take them on. In April 1994, the original Predator model was released, and a footwear revolution began.
PREDATOR ORIGINAL (1994)
1994, where the story began. The OG Predator that superseded its aims. The boot was made with a technological development that developed into an ideology adopted by this silo – innovation. It dared to go where no boot had gone before. It achieved that, and far more. It sparked a revolution. A personality within the boot that strived for greatness. It built the DNA that would continuously push boundaries and reach the next level that some couldn’t even dream of.
The life of the first ever predator, and unknowingly the vast stardom to follow, depended on the success of rubber elements that were on the upper on this leather boot. These were added to improve the power of the strike and increase the ability to curl the ball. This boot prided itself on allowing the player to achieve greater power and curl on the ball while possessing more control. The boot technology was ahead of its time, but its ideology was even further. So great, that it lives on today.
PREDATOR TOUCH (1996)
One of the many highlights of predator came in 1996 when the Predator Touch was launched. Like its predecessor, this boot went further than before with results in mind. This boot was the first to feature a fold-over red tongue that has been associated so heavily with the Predator franchise since. Not only did the aesthetic develop, but also the technology. The Predator Touch featured directional studs to boost movement and speed. As well as this, the length of the lacing system was reduced to increase the strike zone and lessen any impact on the strike. The fold-over tongue was not only a cosmetic upgrade, it served as a function to cover the lacing so that the strike was clean.
By this time, the Predator featured heavily in the top level of football. The iconic moments that live eternally in football had begun to explode on the scene. One moment we all dreamed of recreating was the unforgettable goal from the halfway line that a young David Beckham scored in Selhurst Park. Beckham had requested a pair of revolutionary Predator boots. The only pair that Adidas had available at the time were personalised for the Rangers midfielder Charlie Miller and had ‘CHARLIE’ embroidered on the red fold-over tongue. This didn’t deter Beckham, he burst out onto the pitch in the iconic boots that had indirectly found their way to him. As if it were fate Beckhams instinctual strike came out in injury time as the ball rolled to him with the keeper off his line. Just like a dream, Beckham lined up his unique technique and glided the ball over the keeper as it sailed into the net. The boot fit the player, and the opportunity fit the player, in a moment that seemed tailor made for Beckham. This goal rocketed both Beckham and the Predator to stardom, while solidifying everyone’s favourite celebrity pairing; Beckham and the Adidas Predator.
PREDATOR ACCELERATOR (1998)
1998 the Predator accelerator featured bold moves in design and features. Its visuals were outstanding, with thicker, fluid-looking stripes at the side of the boots. More importantly, the rubber band was born, that held down the tongue to cover the laces. The Accelerator features an asymmetrical lacing system that complimented the sown-down ridges for a pure strike on the ball.
Notably, these boots were worn by Zinedine Zidane, who famously scored twice in the World Cup final, while Beckham continued to defy physics with the ball as Del Piero played at his peak in Serie A.
PREDATOR PRECISION (2000)
The first Predator of the millennium did not disappoint. It brought emotion, flare and memories through its stunning design and physical advances. The Adidas Precision featured the classic rubber striking strips around the front of the boot in enclosed, individual sections. Patches of ridged rubber were incorporated on the entire front of the boot, while the ‘Traxion’ blades were now replaceable, in a similar fashion to traditional studs, to allow players to adapt to different conditions. This boot also looked the part, with waving stripes that eluded to the speed of striking the ball. Along with this the tongue grew longer and adapted the use of Velcro to be held in place.
This boot starred in one of the most mesmerizing displays of skill and passion in the game. Again, a gift from Beckham. A moment that seemed to slow down time and made everyone a spectator. Down 2-1 in the final minutes of a 2002 World Cup qualifier against Greece, England needed at least minute point to seal advancement to the World Cup finals. Greece’s defense was stubborn but conceded a stoppage-time free 30 yards from goal. An air of anticipation and doubt crept into the stadium. Surely a miracle would be needed to cause an upset, but it was the power-couple of Beckham and his Predators. What followed was pure glory. Beckham struck the ball with power, bend and dip. The ball whipped into the corner of the net, leaving the keeper to watch on as the ball sailed into his net just like the rest of the world. The goal earned England a 2-2 draw with Greece and a spot in the World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan.
PREDATOR MANIA (2002)
Another icon from the Predator silo. The Mania represented the next generation of football. The fold-over tongue now featured an elastic strap to keep it in place which was visually mesmerizing. Technology wise, the boot featured reinforced heel protection and updated swerve elements replacing the rubber fins that made the Predator famous.
They were worn by David Beckham, who himself was taking the global brand power of footballers to new levels around the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. The Predator Mania was worn by Damian Duff as he lit up the world stage and the Irish cheer followed in Korea/Japan 2002.
Zinedine Zidane also scored what many consider to be the greatest goal in the history of the Champions League. An attack down the left saw left-back Roberto Carlos send in a lofted ball for Zidane on the edge of the area. The average player would have tried to touch the ball down, but average is not a word that features in the same sentence as Zinedine Zidane. The Los Blancos talisman swiveled his body shape and let fly with a stunning left-footed volley that rippled into the net.
PREDATOR PULSE (2004)
The Predator Pulse followed in 2004. This boot was technologically driven. It featured an insole feature called the “Power Pulse System”. This sockliner shifted weight in the boot to help offer more power upon impact with the ball. The control aspect of this boot came from the rubber strips, which altered to a much thinner version. This boot also looked the part with the white stripes joining at the bottom of the foot.
This Predator was released for Euro 2004 and was widely worn during the competition.
This Predator also played a massive part in one legendary moment in particular. A moment that encapsulated the aim of this boot. It was the moment a name became a verb, and the ripples of the passion displayed by the commentator would be heard in playgrounds, pubs and nursing homes, alike for years to come. “Gerrarrrrd! Ahhhhh ya beauty! What a hit son. What. A. Hit.”. The line that lives long in the memory, just as the goal. As Steven Gerrard, with just 3.5 minutes remaining, 8 yards outside the box, put his foot through a moving ball which released a bullet of a strike that flew into the net.
PREDATOR ABSOLUTE (2006)
For many, the Predator Absolute represented the silo. Perhaps the boot with the fewest technological advances, but the most aesthetically pleasing visuals. This boot retained the “Power Pulse System” and added an interchangeable sockliner to the player and conditions.
This boot was an artistic masterpiece. The tongue extended down over the laces in magnificent fashion. This whole boot looked slick and controlled, which represented the players who wore it.
The Predator Absolutes were designed for David Beckham and claimed to be “the lightest and most powerful Predator boot ever”.
The Predator Absolute took the World Cup in 2006 by storm, worn by big names including Patrick Vieira, Kaka and Raul as well as Beckham and Zidane.
PREDATOR POWERSWERVE (2007)
Okay, we take everything we said about the other Predators back. This simply must be the cover-image of the Predator silo. There is nothing that can be said about its design, we can only admire it.
Technologically, this boot was built to improve ability when striking balls over a long distance. This edition featured new Smartfoam material that gave more rebound power, swerve, and improved control through longer ball contact. Zidane himself helped develop this boot after his retirement from the professional game. He had the knowledge of what was needed and shaped this boot for the all-round playmaker. This boots success came from its ability to get 8% more spin and 3% more power that previous models.
PREDATOR X (2009)
An inevitable turning point in the Predator silo. Modern style and the core idea of predator being functional and futuristic, had eventually caught up with itself. To the frustration of many, the fold-over tongue had been cast away. Instead, to improve the upper of this boot a Tauras leather upper was added which offered a thinner material between the foot and the ball. As well as this, the Predator X reverted back to its prior idea of a single large striking area, rather than striking strips. This area of foam was developed to give the upmost control and power.
These were a regular feature in the 2010 world cup, worn by players in every position.
PREDATOR ADIPOWER (2011)
The 2011 edition of the Adidas Predator saw AdiPower come to the forefront. These elements were added to improve the movement and speed of the player, to keep up with the demands of the modern game. After all, you had to be fast enough to get the ball before you could kick it. Most importantly, a SprintFrame outsole was added which reduced the weight of the Predator and offered a lighter fit for the modern player while keeping rubber power zone elements. The Predator element on the instep of the boot had been split into two performance zones for striking the ball with key areas of the foot. The power zone incorporated 3D fins, while the silicon rubber Predator element provides swerve and ball control.
This edition may be most prominent in the minds of Kaká fans, who witnessed him at his peak in these Predators.
PREDATOR LZ (2012)
The 2012 Adidas Predator Lethal Zones saw the surface of the boot divided into five distinct “lethal zones” that Adidas identified as the key points of contact with the ball. The first point is on the front of the boot. It gives the wearer a good first touch. The second zone is called “dribble”. It is on the side of the boot and gives a better touch. The third is called “drive”. This is the classic predator zone in the striking part of the foot, used for long passes down the field and more powerful shots. The fourth is called “pass”. It is made up of extra foam with a bit of tacky material in the passing zone. The final zone is called “sweet spot”. It is on the side of the big toe and is helpful for giving spin and chipping.
The boot focused on the touch, power and control of the ball and the design resulted in a futuristic looking edition which for the first time, displayed the classic 3 stripes in red rather than white. The Predator LZ featured that same SprintFrame and stud configuration as before. The first zone is called “first touch”.
This boot was worn by some of the key players of 2012, many of whom still feature in the boots today. These included Pepe Reina at Napoli, Fernando Torres, Mata, Oscar and Petr Čech at Chelsea, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil and Per Mertesacker at Arsenal and Angel Di María and Xabi Alonso at Real Madrid.
PREDATOR INSTINCT (2014)
The 2014 Predator Instinct received a complete facelift compared to previous versions of Predators. The famous three stripes have been pushed back to towards the heel, but much like some of the older, more popular Predator models such as the Mania and Accelerator the stripes are visible underneath the boot thanks to the transparent sole plate. The technology of this boot was revolutionary.
The Predator Instinct featured rubber elements that were slightly raised to improve power and control along with a passing pad on the inside of the boots. The signature Predator rubber panels were bigger than before and moved around slightly to optimise control of the ball, sweet spot for shooting and bending the ball. The crossed pattern from the LZ is replaced with a zig-zag style design that covers more of the upper. The pass-zone gel pad on the instep of the boot has been dramatically modified with a new, bigger design to aid accuracy when passing. The most significant transformation on the adidas Predator Instinct is the new outsole. The outsole came with improved flex movement in the forefoot, it was more responsive for touch and the studs moved slightly forward to improve flexibily, traction and weight distribution.
PREDATOR 18+ (2018)
And then we come to 2018. The return of the king. Predator now returns to the football world after a short, yet heart-breaking pause to the development of the iconic boot.
A complete remake of the boot that still embodied the core of Predator – the focus on touch. Not to say this boot ignored the other features that are key in the modern game. Technology wise, the boot featured a brand new laceless design that focused on minimalizing impact on striking and having the ultimate fit for each player individually. ControlSkin grip elements on the upper improved control of the ball in all conditions. Primeknit sock-fit collar focused on ankle support and stability of the player.
This edition featured on the feet of stars such as stars such as Paul Pogba, Alvaro Morata and Dele Alli. The boot was launched in a black colourway but re-released in a traditional red, black and white colourway which played on the nostalgia of past legends of the game.