Power is nothing without control.
The “Control Boot” is a relatively new idea within the realm of football boots. It was the wily Nike who created the category in late 2009, just over 10 years ago, to promote a type of boot that would challenge the popular adidas Predator with features that are similar but focused on something more understated – passing and touch.
The Nike CTR360 Maestri was born and the industry never looked back. Every player since wanted to improve their passing and wanted to be like Fabregas or Xavi. A football boot won’t make you better with the ball at feet but some of the best control boots have found ways to assist you in small, subtle ways. Today, we take a look at elements we loved from over 10 years of control to develop our perfect control boot.
Upper – Mizuno Rebula 3 (Made in Japan)
Leather uppers are synonymous with providing a great touch. It provides a dampened sensation that is both elegant and practical for cushioning the ball against the foot. Some of the best technicians of the game like Totti and Pirlo swore by them.
It comes as no surprise that the best upper in my opinion is one from the Mizuno Rebula 3 (MIJ). It’s easily the best leather boot in the business with a soft, supple and durable upper that makes every touch a dream. Much of that is also due to the CT Frame, an internal foam cage that helps with the dampening sensation while also making sure the leather keeps its shape over time.
To master control, you need a good upper as your base. It doesn’t get much better than the upper from our best boot of 2019 – the Mizuno Rebula 3 (MIJ).
Control elements – adidas Predator LZ 1
No control boot is complete without those elements that truly make you feel like a boss on the ball. Over the years, we’ve seen cushion pods, rubber fins and textured uppers all promising to help you control the ball better. And for the most part, they all worked which made choosing 1 control element a major challenge.
Ultimately, I had to give it to the adidas Predator LZ (Lethal Zones) 1. In concept, this was the boot that fully transitioned the Predator line from a power boot to a more refined control boot. adidas pinpointed specific areas around the foot that touched the ball the most. From the instep to the outer foot, these areas were covered in rubber strips that assisted in your control.
Not only did these work well but its visual prominence against the upper of the boot was also key in getting you to be more conscious of how you were controlling the ball. This idea being more conscious of control was also aided by the excellent launch campaign where their key Predator athletes would wear a different pair of LZs each week, with each pair highlighting a different part of the LZ to bring awareness of each zone. Functional and educational. I like that.
Comfort – Quadfit from the Nike PhantomVSN
A classy playmaker needs a clear mind. And to do so, his football boots have to be free of distractions and be as comfortable as can be.
For this, there is only 1 clear winner and that is the Quadfit technology that was first seen on the Nike PhantomVSN 2 years ago. I think this is an underrated technology that could revolutionize fit in not just football boots, but most shoes. Quadfit is a stretchy material that conforms to the foot but also does a great job of keeping your feet in place – the perfect balance of lockdown and accomodating fit.
It’s a shame that, unlike the control elements, it’s a feature that’s under the hood and hasn’t seemed to gain as much prominence. Despite Nike stating that this technology will be implemented in their other shoes, we’ve only seen it in the 2 generations of the VSN and the excellent Tiempo Legend 8.
Perhaps it might have been too expensive to produce on a mass scale and might not be implemented in more shoes after all. If that’s true, it’ll be a true shame but at least it will be immortalized here as a key element in our perfect control boot.
Studs and soleplate – Nike Tiempo Ronaldinho Dois
Studs are often the last thing a boot manufacturer considers when it comes to control. They usually feature conical studs for maneuverability but basic in function. While I like the basic set up, 1 boot had me looking at “control” studs very differently.
When Nike developed the Ronaldinho Dois for the toothy genius, they took into account his play style which had roots in street football. The sole roll is a very popular move in street football but is made more difficult with the inclusion of studs where contact on the base of the foot is limited. To aid with better contact and grip on the ball, Nike produced rubber stud tips.
Such a simple but ingenius innovation has to be included as we leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of the ideal control boot.
X-Factor – Nike CTR 360 Maestri II
Our perfect control boot needs to look the part. The Nike CTR 360 Maestri II looks like the quintessential control boot.
The control elements were stellar with textured dampening pods and a grooved instep for added grip. The Kanga-lite upper truly felt like soft premium leather and that launch colourway looked divine – reminding me of the time travel suit in Avengers Endgame. And this was 10 years before that epic movie. And to wrap it all up, that carbon fiber soleplate is pure class.
The CTR series were not just great performing boots – they got us to look at football boots differently. For that reason alone, the Nike CTR 360 Maestri II deserves to bring the X-factor to our perfect control boot.
Missed something in our list? Let us know how you’d develop your favourite control boot in the comments section.
We’ve also teamed up with our good friend, James from Boot Wizard, to get this article done and he’s gone on to develop his own control boot. Check out his video below.