Look, I’m fully aware that with all Lionel Messi’s accolades there are more important things to be talking about than his boots.
But I’m a boot nerd. Nothing pleases me more than Santi Cazorla wearing Copa Mundials, or Kylian Mbappe sporting a remake of Ronaldo’s Mercurial Vapors.
As for Messi, adidas have been designing boots- specifically the F50 range- for the GOAT’s hooves since 2006.
All five Ballon d’Or awards were won thanks to his on-pitch feats laced up in Adi Dassler’s finest. At the 2014 World Cup, Messi was the only adidas athlete to wear a signature boot.
However this isn’t about adidas, for Messi wasn’t always Team Three Stripes.
Cast your mind back to 16 October 2004, the date on which Messi made his La Liga debut against Espanyol. Now, glance down in your mind’s eye and look at a 17-year-old Messi’s feet.
The Argentine took his first steps in top-flight football wearing a pair of Nike Air Zoom Total 90 III boots.
It was a strange choice, given the Nike Air Zoom Total 90 III were favoured by agricultural centre-backs. But then again, Ronaldinho was sporting the same range (as were Juliano Belletti and Rafael Marquez). If it was good enough for Ronny, who are we to argue?
Nike had the foresight to give Messi a contract at 14. Unfortunately for the head honchos at Nike, they didn’t have the foresight to hand him a lifetime contract.
Messi’s first Barcelona goal, against Albacete, was scored wearing a pair of Air Legends.
Again, not particularly fitting for a flying winger, although your dad would find them ‘quite smart’.
By July of 2005, less than a year after making his La Liga debut, Messi was on the move again.
The Mercurials- a boot of true beauty- had the honour of being part of Messi’s ascent.
Lionel, who was still wearing the no.30 shirt, sampled both the white and the red colourways of one of Nike’s most iconic silhouettes.
Messi never settled on a favourite range, swapping between the Air Zoom Total 90 IIIs, Air Legends and Mercurials almost as regularly as he was dropping defenders.
The GOAT chose the Air Legends for his first taste of El Clasico in which he ran riot for 70 minutes as part of a front three with Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o, both of whom scored in a 3-0 win.
But then, on 1 February 2006, there was a momentous shift in the boot world. Messi took to the pitch for a Copa del Rey tie against Real Zaragoza wearing a pair of adidas F50s. After 42 minutes he opened his adidas account, although Barcelona would go on to lose the tie on aggregate.
Thirteen years later, the Messi x adidas dynasty is still going strong. In February 2017 adidas made sure Nike wouldn’t be able to get their foot(ball boots) back in the door by handing Messi a lifetime contract.
When a 40-year-old Messi is pulling the strings in holding midfield for Newell’s Old Boys, he’ll be doing so wearing adidas.
Like peanut butter and gherkin sandwiches and Arjen Robben cutting in on his left foot, some things are just meant to be.
READ MORE FROM THE WORLD OF LIONEL MESSI:
- Lionel Messi is winning La Liga on his own – and it’s not even a big deal
- Remembering 19-year-old Lionel Messi’s first professional hat-trick… in El Clasico
- 31-year-old Lionel Messi is at the peak of his career — a look at illogical brilliance