The Adidas World Cup football boot – a football/fashion classic

This article originally appeared in the brilliant Esquire Weekly

September and October is the time when Sunday league football really gets into its stride. And a new season means new boots – after all, there’s no excuse for not maintaining sartorial standards just because weekend mornings are spent kicking a ball of sodden pigskin around a windswept public park.

But which to choose? Many a Hackney Marshes Messi will rock up with the latest lightweight, fluorescent striker’s boot – all space-age materials and multi-coloured uppers. Nothing wrong with that, but if you’re after a football boot that marries functionality with classic sports style you can’t beat the Adidas World Cup.

Originally designed for the 1978 World Cup tournament in Argentina, the boot was the last shoe that Adidas’ founder Adi Dassler worked on. Thirty-five years later it’s still worn by players all around the world at every level.

The first thing you notice when holding the World Cup – and its moulded stud brother, the Copa Mundial – is the softness of its kangaroo leather upper. Qulited around the toe to enable the player to get more control of the ball, there’s a luxurious feel that you just don’t get with any other boot. And that’s before we look underneath.

Make no mistake, the sole of the World Cup is one of the most beautifully designed pieces of equipment in footwear history. Six screw-in studs – all slightly splayed for extra stability – sit on a perfectly proportioned sole in red, white and black with the Adidas trefoil at the centre. It’s breathtakingly beautiful.

Good design marries form and function, and the World Cup boot epitomises that. No wonder that Adidas have released a limited edition ‘78’ version complete with leather holdall and cleaning kit. For those who can’t get hold of that rare gem, the original remains on sale – a relic of a time when shorts were short and the World Cup was the greatest thing you’d ever seen on television.

The sole is made of dual density plastic – the harder white section sits on the softer black platform, giving the shoe increased flexibility

The World Cup comes with an extended, foam-filled tongue which can be folded over the laces for extra padding when striking the ball – something that was popular with late-’70s strikers like Liverpool’s be-permed genius Terry McDermott

The heel is reinforced with extra pieces of leather for more stability – and to protect the wearer’s Achilles tendon

The six screw-in studs work best on soft grass pitches. Adi Dassler is credited with the  invention of the screw-in, an innovation that gave the West Germany team an advantage in the rain-sodden World Cup final of 1954 against Hungary


  1. Anonymous7:03 am

    Great piece. I read it the Weekly on iPad and it was lovely to see stuff like this appearing in Esquire again. You and Dan Davies appear to have the measure of what regular readers and regular men actually want to read. Something surprisingly rare in the world of modern men's mags.

    1. Thank Mr Anon, really kind of you to say so.

      Have you tried Umbrella, the online/iPad I edit and co-publish? You'll find a lot to read there. Go to – all the issues are there.



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