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A love letter to the Nike CTR360 Maestri

Shout out to the OG control boot.

It’s not often that a boot comes along and shakes up the football hierarchy. There are notable names, like the Nike Mercurial creating a legacy for speed boots, and the adidas Predator’s introducing the power silo. Boots have come and gone since then, but just 10 years ago, Nike’s CTR360 created a completely new category – the control boot. It was so influential that power boots were slowly phased out to provide a softer approach. It was all about the subtle art of control.

Since the launch of the CTR360, we have seen the control boot category evolve with the Magista and the Phantom VSN series. The impending Nike PhantomGT might see another evolution of the “control” format though, despite years of technological advancements, my heart still pines for the first football boot I’ve truly loved – the Nike CTR360.

The Nike CTR360 just felt right

I had a few pairs of Nike Mercurials, an adidas Predator, and a pair of Tiempos, but none of them really felt…right. Then, as fate would have it, the Nike CTR360 and I crossed paths.

Nike released the CTR360 Maestri I, spearheading the control boot movement that, unlike the Tiempo, comes with several technical features. It can be argued that the soft leather on the Tiempo provided you with the ultimate touch but it lacked the technological advancements of the CTR360. The boot had cushioned touch pads, instep control fins and synthetic leather that provided a sensation comparable to leather at a fraction of the weight. Even the stud patterns alluded to control elements with bladed studs shaped into a circle for optimal pivoting.

“Maestri” is Italian for master, and the control boot was built to master every game through an inch-perfect pass or a perfectly timed tackle. Although predominantly marketed for midfielders, highlighted by Cesc Fàbregas’ endorsement, defenders also heavily favoured the CTR because of its robustness and how it assisted your touch when playing passes out from the back.

The Nike CTR 360 helped me with my game

As a rough-&-tough defender myself, what I have in aggression, I lack in finesse. My game has absolutely no grace in it, and my cement first-touch means I need any kind of help I can get. I sent my prayers to any higher powers that be, and descending from the heavens comes a boot that was tailored to my prime weakness.

I took my time to save up my money and made sure I combed through all the reviews of the CTR 360 to ensure my investment was towards a worthy cause. One year later, the CTR 360 Maestri II came out with some slight upgrades. I finally took the dive and bought myself a pair – it was magical.

I remember the first time I slipped them on and I knew…I just knew, that this boot was finally my match. I felt that it was the pinnacle of boot design, addressing all aspects that one would want in a football boot.

Nike CTR 350 Maestri II
I finally invested in a pair of Nike CTR360 with the Maestri II

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone with a legitimate critique about it. I even remember my first touch with the CTR 360 Maestri II. My friend launched a low cross and when I stuck my foot out to receive it, the ball latched onto my foot midair and literally hung onto my instep. Both he and I were amazed by this and since then I had a surge of confidence every time I was on the ball with those boots on my feet.

The aesthetic of the CTR360 Maestri II was also clean and simple. It wasn’t just the technical features on the outside of the boot, but little details that made the experience of wearing the boot that much more enjoyable: A suede heel lining to prevent slippage, cushioned pads near the ankles, and a plush insole with arch support.

I could never forget my first love

I’ve had a number of control boots since then: the adidas Predator LZ, the first control boot by adidas; both Nike Magista Obras (the descendants of the CTR), and the evoPOWER Vigor 1, but the CTR is, in my humble opinion, still unrivalled when it comes to comfort and providing an amazing touch.

My CTR360 Maestri IIs have long been retired, torn apart by tackles and stick-ins, the remaining rubber instep fins grinded down to become smooth, and the dampening pods had lost all their cushioning.

While we patiently wait for the second coming of this glorious boot, we can only appreciate what we have lost now that it is gone. The CTR will hopefully return one day, and when it does, I will be there to welcome it with open arms.

Forever and always,

Edward

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