Teamed with ‘knickerbocker’ shorts, usually held up by a belt of differing widths, early footballers would wear thick leather football boots and long, woolly socks with shin pads which could be tucked in or worn outside.
Earlier still, when football began to become popular in the 1800s, players would wear their tough, steel-capped work boots, with metal tacks hammered into the sole to provide some kind of grip on slippery grass surfaces.
Purpose-made football boots arrived much later, when entrepreneurs including Adi and Rudolf Dassler realised the potential in creating a whole new industry based around this burgeoning sport.
The brothers laid the foundations for what we know today as Adidas and Puma, two companies renowned worldwide for not only football boots, but for a huge range of apparel and equipment used in sporting activities as wide-ranging as running, rugby, boxing, cricket, hockey and golf.
The iconic Adidas 3 stripes are recognised throughout the world, and so too is Puma’s leaping cat logo, which can be found on sports clothing, footwear and equipment from Formula 1 to freestyle swimming.
Originally known as Ruda, after founder Ruldolf Dassler, Puma have been associated with some of the most legendary players ever to have pulled on a pair of football boots, including Pelé, Eusébio, Johan Cruyff and Diego Maradonna.
Adidas – named after Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler – are sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics, and have been associated with clubs, countries and individuals too numerous to mention, from the England and South Africa cricket teams to the British and Irish Lions, the New Zealand All Blacks, and the victorious Team Sky Cycling, currently riding the crest of a wave after Bradley Wiggin’s incredible performance at the 2012 Tour de France.
Another name that has stood the test of time is Umbro.
Well over 80 years after their initial foray into the sporting world, Umbro are current suppliers of the England team football kit, following on from the first tailored shirts and shorts they provided for the two protagonists in the 1934 FA Cup Final.
Renowned for kitting out all but one of the 1966 world cup sides, they have been official suppliers of the team strip for England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
Football writer Nicki Williams writes for Gear-Zone, suppliers of sporting apparel and footwear on-line and specialists in The North Face and Rab Clothing
Picture source: Gear-Zone/Compfight