In 1988 Liverpool midfielder Craig Johnston retired from football at just 27 to take care of his sick sister. It was a highly altruistic move away from his life as a player, but as it turned out, Johnston was not done contributing to the game. Soon after, he developed a new idea for a football cleat. He had the notion to use rubber, as opposed to the classic leather, to build ridges on top to aid control of the ball. It was a revolutionary step in the innovation of football boots, but no one told any of the big name companies to whom he presented the idea.
Nike, adidas, and Reebok all rejected Johnston, and it wasn’t until five years after he started working on the idea that he finally got some attention. He convinced German football legends Franz Beckenbauer and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to shoot a video wearing the prototype in snowy conditions and adidas took notice. They bought him out and the Predator was officially released in 1994. Thus, Johnston had invented the product that altered the boot landscape permanently. Although he also reportedly came up with the idea for the unfortunate Anfield Rap, so maybe not everything he created turned to gold.
Now 20 years later, adidas continues the Predator tradition with the Instinct. Already released among the Battle Pack in May, the new Predator Instinct was not given a proper roll-out until now. Retaining the same warrior/tribal design as the first release, this Instinct adds a little color. Recalling the first Predator’s black and red look, the Instinct features blood red spots on a black base, with the white three stripes appearing on the heel. It’s a fittingly fierce aesthetic for a boot that is included in adidas’ Tribal Pack.
Adidas has continued to go heavy on the “predator vs. prey” imagery for this release, silhouetting a jaguar (or a cheetah, or whatever that is) behind Mesut Ozil, who will be the front man for the Instinct. Other notable players in the Predator include Oscar of Brazil and Argentina’s Angel di Maria, among others.
So, what’s so different about the Instinct from past Predators? Well, there is a new hybridtouch material on the upper, which merges the comfort and performance benefits of leather and synthetic boots. The outsole has been updated with a more flexible TPU plate, while the brand new control frame (goodbye, SprintFrame) gives you the ultimate grip on the ball. Finally, the five SL rubber zones, unique to the Predator, are now combined with the outsole to improve your control and touch.
All this technical jargon is basically meant to tell you that the Predator is not getting left behind. After two full decades of impressive releases and new technology, it’s still at the forefront of boot innovation. The eccentric Predator line will always stand out, and I’m sure that’s exactly how Craig Johnston would have it.
What are your thoughts on adidas’ latest Predator? Check it out at SoccerPro.com.