I can nostalgically remember my first pair of adidas Predator football boots.
It was 1994 and former Socceroo Craig Johnson had convinced adidas that slapping a few slabs of rubber onto a football boot was a genius move. He was right.
I was only nine years old, but I needed those boots. I didn't care that they were heavy, clunky and fairly impractical – I had seen an ad where the extra rubber made free-kicks swerve violently into the top corner. I was sold.
14 years later the adidas Predator is one of the most iconic boots in the history of football. There have been over 15 designs since conception and I've been a huge fan of most of them.
Except this one.
Annnnd maybe this one.
For three years I had my Predators custom made at the adidas shop in Newmarket (one of my feet is half a size bigger than the other and the Auckland store was the only one in New Zealand that catered to my awkward needs through their 'Miadidas program') but when the 'custom' concept fell down around 2012, so did my affair with the Predator.
Adidas have just re-released the Predator – version 18+, and they sent me a pair to review.
The boot has been released as part of adidas' Skystalker pack which includes the 18+ (laceless boot, retails for $440, worn by the big guns) the 18.1 (with laces, retails for $320, the boots sent to me) and the 18.3 (slightly more basic version, $150)
My football ability has followed a bell-curve from my first pair of Predators to my (likely) last. But my excitement for opening a box of new boots has remained the same.
The first thing you notice about the new range is that they don't look like Predators. No red tongues, no leather uppers, no rubber chunks, no free-kick fire.. gimmicks have given way to optimal technology.
The 18.1 boot looks far better on feet than it does off. It has a 'sock fit collar' which was painfully difficult to squeeze into with my old-man bad back, but once they were on they felt fantastic.