Boots. Everyone can remember their first pair. In this series we look at the boots that have accompanied some of football’s greatest players during the pivotal moments of their careers. Lace up.
On 16 October 2004 football as we knew it changed for good, although you wouldn’t have known it looking at the scrawny offcut of a failed Indie band waiting on the sidelines.
Deco trudged off, having put Barcelona a goal to the good against Espanyol, and Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini ambled on for his first-team debut at the age of 17, wearing the no.30 on his back.
Messi’s first eight minutes of football for Barcelona came wearing a pair of Nike Air Zoom Total 90 III.
The boots had been rolled out for Euro 2004 and could also be seen on the feet of Wayne Rooney, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos and Fernando Torres.
But they weren’t the first boots that came to mind when you thought of tricky wingers flying down the wing at speed.
Champions League debut
Some players wait an entire career to play in Europe’s elite competition. Others play for the best team in Cyprus.
Messi made his Champions League bow in a 2-0 loss to Shakhtar Donetsk in which both goals were scored by Championship Manager legend Julius Aghahowa.
He was still wearing the Nike Air Zoom Total 90 III but had switched to a white and gold colourway. You’ll have to take our word for it as people were still filming football on potatoes back then.
First Barcelona goal
Messi set the ball back to Ronaldinho. Ronaldinho lobbed the ball over Albacete’s defence as if playing boules.
Raul Valbuena came out to try and cut down the angles but Messi took the aerial route and lobbed him.
Messi’s first Barcelona goal was scored wearing a pair of black and white Nike Air Tiempo Legend. A proper football boot.
First cap for Argentina
Messi’s first game for Argentina on 17 August 2005 was nothing if not eventful. Messi defied the ‘next Maradona’ tag hanging from his neck to replace Lisandro Lopez in the 64th minute.
Barely 60 seconds later he was back on the sidelines, having been sent off for a perceived slap on Hungary’s Vilmos Vanczak.
Maybe it was a switch to the noticeably lighter Nike Mercurial Vapor II boots that got Messi into bother.
First Argentina goal
Redemption came against Croatia on 1 March 2006, surrounded by legends like Juan Roman Riquelme and Fabricio Coloccini.
Carlos Tevez had earlier nicked a goal off Messi with a Nugent-esque poach, but the Barcelona man made the most of some average defending to get his very first Argentina goal.
By now he was no longer a Nike athlete, making the change to a pair of black adidas F50.6 Tunit boots. It would prove a seismic signing for adidas in years to come.
First Champions League trophy
A torn hamstring meant Messi wasn’t on the pitch to help Barcelona beat Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League final.
With teenage emotions still running high Messi decided against celebrating with his team-mates in Paris, such were his feelings of grief at missing the game.
Had he played he would have worn a blue pair of adidas F50.6 Tunit boots, judging by what he was training in during the build up to the final.
First World Cup goal
Messi became Argentina’s youngest World Cup goalscorer when he scored the final strike in a 6-0 group stage demolition of Serbia and Montenegro.
Tevez and Hernan Crespo played a rapid one-two before releasing Messi to slot home with his right foot.
He’d upgraded his blue F50.6 Tunit boots to a special 2006 World Cup edition designed to match Argentina’s flag. How about that for patriotism?
First Barcelona hat-trick
What better time to score your first Barcelona hat-trick than during El Clasico?
Unfortunately he didn’t end up on the winning side as Real Madrid struck back with three goals of their own on the way to scooping Barcelona to the 2006/07 La Liga title.
He was still wearing adidas but had moved up a decimal place to lace up the F50.7 Tunit boots.
First Champions League final goal
Messi made up for the disappointment of 2006 by running riot against Man United in the 2009 Champions League final.
It was a goal few saw coming, despite Messi’s standing as one of the best in the business. Xavi floated a ball in and Messi rose over Rio Ferdinand to head past Edwin van der Sar.
In doing so his adidas F50i Tunit boots came flying off, becoming part of Messi’s celebration in the process. They couldn’t have planned a better piece of advertising.
Record breaking goal for Barcelona
In typical GOAT fashion Messi became Barcelona’s all-time record goalscorer with a hat-trick against Granada on 20 March 2012.
He eclipsed Cesar’s tally of 232 goals, although he’s since moved on to 552 official goals and counting.
The adidas adizero F50 had the honour of adorning Messi’s feet as he shimmied and feinted his way into Barcelona history.
Record breaking goal for Argentina
What links Brad Guzan and Gabriel Batistuta?
It was Guzan who was beaten by a Messi free-kick to take the Barcelona forward above Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s record goalscorer.
He now he had his own boot series, named the adidas Messi 16+ PureAgility. We think he’d just about earned the right to have his name on his boots by then.