Back to basics with the Nike Tiempo Legend 9.
I’ve always loved the Nike Tiempo Legend series. As per its namesake, the boots are meant to be timeless – an apt name considering how leather boots are viewed within the community. You shouldn’t mess too much with a proven formula, they say.
But this is Nike we’re talking about. They’re all about new innovations and moving forward. In recent years, the mad scientists in Oregon dabbled with the leather silo to modernise the Tiempo line. The feedback, though, has been lukewarm at best despite the inclusion of some amazing tech (I miss you, Quadfit!).
With the Nike Tiempo Legend 9, Nike went against its urge to impose tech on the boot. They kept things simple and thankfully, Nike has given back the Tiempo its soul.
The Nike Tiempo Legend 9 says goodbye to knit, mostly
Flyknit has been a pillar of Nike’s growth in the last 9-10 years. The durable but comfortable material has been central to most innovations within the Nike lineup.
The Nike Tiempo Legend 8 perfected the formula to produce a damn excellent boot that was exceptionally comfortable, accommodating and excellent with its lockdown due to its knitted foundations – the Flyknit midfoot and adaptable Quadfit forefoot. Leather was a side show, relegated to a supporting role in the form of a thin leather skin.
It never felt like a leather boot, no matter how objectively good the boot was. I loved it but like many leather purists, I never considered it to be a leather boot.
With the Nike Tiempo Legend 9, Nike went back to basics to produce, first and foremost, an excellent leather boot. There was not going to be tech for the sake of it.
What you get is a soft leather upper that covers the forefoot and midfoot. The rest of the boot is covered in soft fabric while the Swoosh is synthetic. You get a very clean and smooth surface across that leather upper that provides a clean touch while reducing water seepage. Any stitching is limited only to the perimeter of the boot where it gets attached to the rest of the boot’s body.
You get some embossed padded areas around that forefoot and instep for a cushioned touch and a pretty generic (and slightly cheap, in my opinion) textile fabric as a tongue.
That’s all you get, really. Pretty simple, by Nike’s standards.
Simplicity with the Nike Tiempo Legend 9
The Nike Tiempo Legend 9 is quite a good looking boot. It doesn’t try too hard to look modern and cool but does the job admirably well.
I understand why people were excited about it. It looks like the Nike CTR 360, one of their most beloved boots, especially when you consider the shape of both boots and the placements of their touch pods.
However, the Nike Tiempo Legend 9 feels nothing like the CTR 360 in hand. The leather is softer and the “grip” dots boot feels nothing like the more tactile rubberised zones on the CTR.
If anything, it feels like a direct successor to their last “true” leather boot, the Nike Tiempo Legend 6. I loved the Legend 6 for its simplicity, thin but soft touch on the ball, its looks and the excellent lockdown. Most of these can be found in the current Nike Tiempo Legend 9.
Fits true to size but needs better heel lockdown
The boot is relatively easy to put on despite the lip of the tongue not stretching as much as I’d like. Once you have them on feet, they feel just right. Just the right amount of padding, comfortable suede heel lining and it fits perfectly true to size in my usual US 9.5.
However, that facade was slightly shattered when I took the Nike Tiempo Legend 9 to the pitch.
Despite feeling like the best fitting boot in the Nike range, a quick jog quickly revealed that the boot’s lockdown was poor. It wasn’t a deal breaker but I could feel my heel lifting with every stride I made. A friend of mine who owns the takedown Pro variation also complaint of heel slippage too so this might be an issue with the entire Tiempo line.
Solution: Go half a size down with the Tiempo and wear a pair of grip socks (with grip zones around the heel) for good measure.
In the short term, I had to tighten up my laces real good.
Achieve peak Pirlo with the Nike Tiempo Legend 9
Once you get down to playing on the pitch, the Nike Tiempo Legend 9 is just one of the loveliest boots I’ve reviewed in years. This finally feels like what a Tiempo should. If Goldilocks was looking for a leather boot, this would be it. It’s not too thick, neither is it too thin. It’s exactly the right amount of padding and density that would appeal to all, if not most leather boot lovers.
The embossed pads on the Nike Tiempo Legend 9 have contributed to the exquisite feathered touch but don’t expect the tiny dots to add much in the way of grip.
Overall, you get a soft padded touch on the ball without compromising too much on the feel. Whether you’re picking the ball out of mid-air, receiving a pass or dribbling past defenders, I felt like peak Andrea Pirlo and I never wanted to give up the ball. The ball just felt so good against my feet.
Even when striking on goal, I tended to side foot the ball into the net instead of striking with the laces like the elegant player I thought I was.
And if your technique is really good and you can hit the ball right at its sweet spot for long driven passes or strikes, the contact just feels luxurious and divine.
An improved AG sole
As per usual with Nike boots, I invested in an AG (artificial ground) pair due to my extensive play time on AG. It did not disappoint. Traction was solid without sticking into the ground too much. Twisting and turning also wasn’t an issue and my knees didn’t feel like they were being murdered after a 2 hour session.
Looks wise, I gave this new AG soleplate a thumbs down when they first launched on the Nike Mercurial Vapor 14. I thought it looked cheap despite it being a costly Elite model.
I think this colourway on the Nike Tiempo Legend 9 has helped make this soleplate look a little more premium with a 2 tone coloured studs (yellow and translucent) as opposed to the multi-coloured approach on the Vapors. Sometimes, less is more, so kudos to Nike for that.
The Tiempo’s soul is restored
The Nike Tiempo Legend 9 is the quintessential leather boot for the modern player. It appeals to most leather boot lovers and looks like a boot made for 2021. It’s simple, effective and not divisive at all with its application of technology.
Despite its modern aesthetics, Nike has restored the soul of the Tiempo line.
I like it so much that it reminds me of another Nike leather boot – the Nike Premier 2.0. No bells and whistles, just pure performance and comfort. Of course, the Nike Tiempo Legend 9 is an upgrade on the Premier in terms of performance and price but it is a boot that is bound to keep leather heads happy.
Long may it continue for the Tiempo.