We all know how important footwear is to footballers. Modern players demand soccer cleats that are lightweight, comfortable, cool, and feature responsive and natural ball touch, all while providing incredible traction on the pitch. The experts at SoccerPro.com field a lot of questions about cleats, though usually it concerns fit, feel, and the advantages of one brand over another. In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into the history of the soccer cleat. Understanding the past can help us understand the cleats of today.

King Henry VIII

A game similar to soccer can be traced back to the 2nd century BC. From its inception until 1526, there is no documentation on anyone wearing specialized footwear for the game. All that changed with football enthusiast, King Henry VIII. That’s right, in between starting the English Reformation and marrying six wives, King Hank had time for a match here and there. He commissioned a pair of hard leather boots designed to protect his foot and provide better grip on the pitch.

Rule #13

The evolution of the soccer cleat was slow over the next few centuries. As the game grew in popularity with the working class, many players simply wore their steel-toed work boots on the pitch. As athletes began affixing metal spikes or nails to the bottom of their boots for better traction, the game became extremely dangerous. This led to the English Football Association establishing Rule #13, which stated, “no one wearing projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta-percha on the soles of his boots is allowed to play.”

Adolf & Rudolph Dassler

The biggest leap in cleat design happened when two German brothers, Adolf and Rudolph Dassler, started Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory in Herzogenaurach, Germany, in 1924. Though they first produced bobsled boots, they soon turned their attention to the booming sport of soccer. Their cleats were lighter, more comfortable, and featured replaceable and movable studs that could be arranged depending on the field conditions. A family feud led to the brothers parting ways in 1948, but they stayed in the business independently. Adolph founded adidas®, and Rudolph founded PUMA.®

A Global Game with a Global Market

In the post-war years, several other European brands start to manufacture high-quality cleats. Soccer explodes in popularity in South America, where athletes who grew up playing barefoot demand cleats that are lighter and more agile than ever before. Eventually, American manufacturer Nike® enters the market and brings their experience constructing ultra-lightweight running shoes to the table. Though many professionals stick with the classic black Copa or King designs from adidas and PUMA, many begin wearing cleats from emerging companies that feature bright, eye-catching colors.

Today’s High-Tech Cleats

And this leads us up to modern times. Soccer boots continue to evolve in every sense, with every generation becoming less like a shoe, and more like an extension of your body. At SoccerPro.com, you can find the latest Nike soccer cleats, adidas soccer cleats, and shoes from other industry-leading brands. Browse our collection, and consider upgrading your cleats to a brand-new design.