Umbro Football Boots
Umbro is one of the biggest football equipment manufactures in the world, and its products are now sold in over 90 countries across the planet. Its history is one of world domination and sporting triumphs, which explains why it is still considered one of the best brand names in football.
The company was established as a small setup in Cheshire in 1920, and originally went by the name of Humphrey Brothers Clothing. However, four years later this was changed to the far snappier Umbro, with the new name coming from a contraction of the old one – the ‘Um’ from Humphrey and the ‘Bro’ from Brothers.
Complete with its fresh new image, the company did a good trade, although a lot of its early work involved producing equipment for the British armed forces. In 1930 a new factory was built in Macclesfield, which at the quite substantial size of 10,000 square feet was a testament to the rapid growth and success that the company was experiencing.
Although its sports clothes were being worn increasingly by teams across the UK, the first real publicity coup for Umbro came in 1934 when Manchester City won the FA Cup wearing their kit. This soon turned into a double coup when the very next year Sheffield Wednesday followed Manchester City and performed the exact same feat. Umbro’s name became known far and wide, and things were never quite the same again for the company.
The second major coup for the company came in 1958 when Brazil won the World Cup whilst wearing Umbro. It was the ultimate publicity triumph, and the biggest thing ever to happen to the company. Suddenly they were known around the world, and success came rapidly. This was not hindered in the slightest by the fact that Brazil won the World Cup again four years later, and the effects of this could be seen in 1966 when 15 out of the 16 teams competing in the World Cup wore Umbro. The Umbro brand had become linked with triumph and success, and England were happy to continue the success story by taking the title.
In 1985, fifteen years after Brazil had yet again won the World Cup wearing Umbro in 1970, the first football boot was introduced to the country. The success of the boot led to an entirely new industry for Umbro, and they began to develop more boots to go alongside their clothing range.
The most recent major success by Umbro was achieved when Manchester United won the famous treble in 1999 whilst wearing its kit, and the company continues to rack up major successes with teams across the world.
Although Umbro is currently in the process of being bought by Nike for £287 million, the company continues to grow through its sporting success and through its major sponsorship deals. It most recently became the official sponsor of the new Wembley Stadium, a massive event for the company and one that is certain to keep its name up there amongst the very best in football clothing and equipment for the near future.
Umbro’s name stands for quality and success, and the main way that it has managed to achieve its standing is by consistently producing top quality products. The range of football boots is now considered one of the best available, and with new releases continuing to push the boundaries of comfort and technological enhancements, it comes as no surprise that the boots below are worn by some of the best players in the world.
The first Speciali came onto the market in 1992, and since then it has been worn by some of the best football players around, including Rivaldo, Henrik Larrson and Alan Shearer. It has also played a part in some memorable moments, including when it was worn by Michael Owen during his spectacular solo effort against Argentina in the ill-fated World Cup game in 1998.
It has now been re-launched as Umbro’s latest model for the new 2008-09 season, and the new boot is better than ever.
The company have stuck to the same simple, elegant design that has characterised the boot since its inception. In an age of numerous technological advances and various superfluous gizmos, the simple design remains one of its fundamental drawing points.
However, on top of the popular original features, the boot has now been integrated with the latest up-to-date technology to create the best Speciali so far. None of the new features, such as the covered lacing to provide greater ball control, has come at the expense of the style and comfort of the boot. And fans of the originals will be pleased to learn that the same Italian kangaroo leather used in the original has not gone away.
The boots are priced anywhere up to £79.99, although they may be found cheaper at certain online stores.
The SX model was launched in December 2006 with the mantra: “Two Sides One Goal”. The reason for this somewhat strange slogan becomes apparent when you realise that each boot within a pair comes in a different colour.
Shameless gimmick? Of course, but in the world of football-boot design where new models focus so heavily on the latest technological breakthroughs, it doesn’t hurt to see a bit of pointless fun brought in.
The most popular pair comes in black and red – that is, black for the left boot, red for the right boot – and has proved a popular model since its inception. It has also not done the boot any harm that it has been picked up by world-class players such as Deco over the years.
In July 2007 new colours were released in the range, which were set to further confuse opposition members. Indeed, the boots are equally liked and loathed by both players and fans, some of whom claim that they create needless confusion on the pitch.
Whereas some boots come with comfort and simplicity in mind, and others focus more on new technologies, the SX aims to please both camps. An incredibly lightweight boot, the upper is constructed of lightweight Tejon microfibre, and the protective heel counter is made from lightweight TPU, both of which keep the weight down.
As with other models from Umbro, Michelin have got involved in the manufacture by developing the strike zone of the boot using microfibre suede with silicon print. This is designed to provide the boot with extra grip and give the player a greater feel of the ball, and has proved a popular addition to Umbro’s models.
The hard ground model has 13 fixed metal studs, and the soft ground comes with six screw-in studs. The RRP is £130.
The SX Valor is the newest model in the SX range, and is popular with England defender, John Terry.
Made of soft kangaroo leather, the material provides a good feel for the ball and adds to its overall anti-abrasion properties. It also works well in keeping the foot of the player dry in wet conditions.
The light TPU heel reduces the weight of the boot whilst offering increased protection, and the anatomical inner sock allows the foot to fit comfortably into the boot. The Kontakt outsole also provides increased protection for the foot at the same time as adding to the overall stability.
The boot comes with the new ‘Control’ system which has been specially designed to cut out the technological jargon that sounds impressive but is not always easy to understand. Instead, it provides details of three areas of the boot that have been technologically enhanced without going into meaningless details. These three areas are:
- Touch Control – provides better physical contact which aids comfort and grip.
- Impact Control – geared towards protecting the foot whilst playing.
- Motion Control – increases stability and improves movement on the ball.
Michelin has again got involved to provide its suede vamp, and there is also a leather flip over the tongue which can be attached by Velcro, a stylish and practical feature.
The SX Valor has been available since November 2007 and has an RRP of £99.99.
Whereas the SX Valor is designed with defenders in mind, the SX Flare is made entirely for speed. As a result, the lightweight materials that it is made of and the comfort, safety and control enhancements included in the boot are found in abundance.
The soft, high-grade leather is used to create a waterproof barrier that reduces the weight of the foot when playing in wet conditions, and Michelin’s developments have again been used to increase the touch and feel of the ball. The TPU heel counter is incredibly light whilst providing strong protective properties, a feature which is increased by the rigid outsole of the boot.
The ‘Control’ series is again used in the construction of the boot, with the Touch Control, Impact Control and Motion Control all being employed for the characteristics mentioned above.
The inner-sock is made from compression-moulded EVA, which has excellent shock-absorption properties as well as providing the wearer with the perfect fit as the boot moulds to their unique foot shape.
The SX Flare was released in February 2008 and has an RRP of £99.99.
Xai V Football Boot
The Xai V is part of the Evolution X series, the range of Umbro boots that puts a special emphasis on new technology. At 10.8oz it is a very light boot, and its primary goal is to increase speed on the pitch.
It is again constructed of kangaroo leather, the soft but durable material that provides water resistant qualities to reduce the weight of the foot during wet conditions. The boot also incorporates an offset lacing design to provide a clean striking surface to improve accuracy. The boot also uses an EXO skeleton heel counter for added protection and stability.
The Xai V is available in black/white, yellow/red or red/white/silver. It was launched in August 2006, and with an RRP of £80 it is very affordable for a top-of-the-range boot.
X Boot II
Another boot in the Evolution X range, the X Boot II has proved to be a popular model. Arriving on the scene to coincide with the 2006 World Cup, it essentially carries many of the characteristics of the Xai V.
It too is constructed of kangaroo leather, but it also includes a flip tongue with a Velcro positioning band to allow for a much cleaner strike of the ball.
Including X Static technology, which consists of silver fibres embedded within the boot, it aims to improve the regulation of temperature to add to the overall comfort levels on the pitch.
With an RRP of £100, it is quite often found around the £80 mark.
X Boot III
Released in February 2007, the X Boot III is the upgrade from the X Boot II, and has been developed to ensure that it is the boot which has the highest degree of control on the market.
According to various reports, the boot was tested extensively in recent studies which revealed it to have a much better grip than its competitors in both damp and dry conditions. Grip is key to accurate passing and shooting, and this is therefore a boot designed with attackers in mind.
The X Boot III has an RRP of £90.
X Boot Destroyer
Released in February 2007 at the same time as the X Boot III, the X Boot Destroyer has been dubbed as another boot designed especially for defenders.
It too employs the ‘Touch’ technological system, with the added protection that this provides being crucial for defenders. It also has an Exo skeleton frame and a carbon-fibre heel counter to increase the flexibility for players.
The X Boot Destroyers have an RRP of £80.
Umbro has a long list of dedicated users across the world, including some of the best names in the game. Although by no means comprehensive, the list includes:
- John Terry, Michael Owen, Hernan Crespo, Deco, Alan Shearer, Steve McManaman, Rivaldo and Henrik Larrson.