Have you ever wondered when and where were the first pair of soccer shoes made? Who crafted them? And who was the first human being to have donned the very first pair?
History shows that it was sometime in 1525 in England when a shoemaker named Cornelius Johnson handcrafted the first-ever pair of soccer shoes. These were made of heavy and rigid leather, and they came in high-cut, ankle-high design with 6 metal studs. And who was the first wearer? He was not a soccer player. He was King Henry VIII.
From the Tudor era of King Henry VIII, the shoe evolved for the next 300 years from the “boots” type to what was then called the “slipper” style, similar to what we have known now as low-cut. This evolution was borne out of the soccer players’ need to have a more comfortable and functional design. The metal studs – which posed risks of injuries to the players – were eventually replaced with rounded leather studs. Up to the early 1900’s, there was not much of innovation to speak of.
But around 1925, German shoemakers, brothers Adolf & Rudolf Dassler, manufactured the first generation of soccer cleats with interchangeable studs, under the brand name of Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. This effectively eliminated the need to purchase different pairs of cleats – either with metal or with leather studs – depending on the conditions of the playing fields.
At the advent of World War II in the 1940’s, the Dassler Brothers decided to part ways and then dissolved their joint venture. Adolf founded Adidas, with the old factory under his sole ownership. After a few years, in 1948, Rudolf rose from the ashes of the war to form Puma. Rudolf then started to manufacture the Puma Atom, with a new and innovative design of cleats, again with interchangeable studs. But the big difference this time was in the material of the studs. Instead of leather and metal, he used plastic and rubber.
Later in the 1960’s, Puma released its historic pair of cleats worn by soccer legend Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) from Brazil. From that golden decade of the sport, other manufacturers of soccer cleats such as Asics, Mitre and Joma joined the bandwagon. Up to this day, the soccer cleat market is so ripe with stiff competition coming from younger brands such as Nike and Reebok, among others.
So the next time you wear a pair of soccer cleats, wouldn’t it be interesting to realize that you’re actually stepping on a pair of historical artifacts? I am very sure you will now remember King Henry VIII in the 1500’s, the founding Dassler brothers of Adidas and Puma in the 1940’s, and of course, Pele, the greatest soccer player of all time. So kick the ball and make your own history!
For more information about soccer cleats, see: