Adidas Predator: The history of the iconic boot as German brand releases fifteenth permanent edition of famous footwear

ADIDAS have brought back one of their most famous creations: the Predator.

Nearly a quarter-century after they revolutionised the football boot market, and nearly three years after they were discontinued, the Predators are back.

The iconic Adidas Predators through the years

Paul Pogba showcased the new Predator18+, the fifteenth permanent boot in what has become one of the most iconic styles of boots ever made.

Here, we look at the history of Adidas’ top seller.


In the early 1990s, former Middlesbrough and Liverpool midfielder Craig Johnston, winner of five league titles and the 1984 European Cup, was coaching kids.

During a session he came up with an idea to add rubber tips to a boot to increase grip and control – his initial prototype saw him tie rubber from a table tennis bat around a traditional boot with an elastic band.

Getty Images - Getty
Former Liverpool star Craig Johnston, the original designer of the Predator[/caption]

Three years after his initial idea, and 100 design variations later, his design was complete.

But Johnston still have trouble finding a company to back his scheme.

Urban legend has it that the South African-born former pro gatecrashed a Bayern Munich board meeting, convincing Franz Beckenbauer and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to try his boots.

He filmed them having a kick about, in snowy conditions, and used that footage to convince Adidas to take put his idea into mass production.

Adidas Predator (1994)

The first boot was released in 1994 and cost more than £100, an obscene amount for boots at the time.

But product testing proved that players in Predator boots could put significantly more power and swerve when striking the ball, with high-profile players helping the boots became firm favourites.

adidas AG / studio waldeck
The original Adidas Predator[/caption]

Predator Rapier (1995)

A year later the Predator Rapier was on the market and was now the boot to have for young players.

The fold over tongue was a novel design and it was also the first boot ever released in multiple colours.

adidas AG / studio waldeck
The Predator Rapier[/caption]

Predator Touch (1996)

The next boot promised a bigger striking surface than the previous versions, with the elongated tongue covering most of the lace area.

The rubber fins were also noticeably less pronounced than those on the first boot, giving the wearer increased control.

David Beckham’s stunning half-way line goal against Wimbledon only added to the boots’ myth.

Action Images
David Beckham scoring his famous half-way line goal against Wimbledon[/caption]

adidas AG / studio waldeck
Predator Touch[/caption]

Predator Accelerator (1998)

Zinedine Zidane was the iconic star who wore this boot in his greatest period.

The French superstar had Accelerators on his feet on the way to dominating the 1998 World Cup – famously scoring two goals (albeit with his head) in the final against Brazil.

The less said about Beckham’s kick out against Diego Simeone, the better.

Accelerators made the famous three Adidas stripes much longer and more curvy, while the translucent red outer sole was a slick styling feature.

The fins were again made smaller, with a grid system introduced.

Times Newspapers Ltd
Zinedine Zidane scored twice in the 1998 World Cup final against Brazil[/caption]

adidas AG / studio waldeck
Predator Accelerator[/caption]

Predator Precision (2000)

For the Precision, Adidas almost eliminated Johnston’s fin design completely.

Instead, thin groupings of rubber lines were strategically placed around the boot.

The Precision also had interchangeable studs, so players could adjust to the conditions.

adidas AG / studio waldeck
Predator Precision[/caption]

Predator Mania (2002)

Arguably the best looking Predator ever designed, the Mania got rid of the fin design completely.

The three Adidas stripes were brought onto the toe of the boot, with considerably less rubber grip than previous boots.

The heel also had a rigid structure for added protection.

This was the boot Zidane wore when scoring that famous volley against Bayer Leverkusen in 2002.

Zidane’s stunning volley against Bayer Leverkusen in the 2002 Champions League final
Predator Mania

Predator Pulse (2004)

Similar in design to the Mania with a few key changes.

A new liner in the boot – the PowerPulse – claimed to shift the boot’s centre of gravity closer to the strike zone.

There was a lace loop to secure the tongue and several different aesthetic changes.

adidas AG / studio waldeck
Predator Pulse[/caption]

Predator Absolute (2006)

The PowerPulse sock liner was now interchangeable and there were just three rubber groves on the toe area.

A number of colour schemes were available, with Zidane wearing a special white and gold pair for the 2006 World Cup.

That was the tournament he headbutted Marco Materazzi in the final as France lost to Italy.

Zidane’s final act on a football pitch… headbutting Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final

adidas AG / studio waldeck
Predator Absolute[/caption]

PowerSwerve (2008)

The design remained similar, but Adidas introduced another new technology in ‘smartfoam’.

It was supposed to give the wearer more bend and power.

The boot also came in a massive 20 different colour schemes.

Predator Swerve

Predator X (2010)

The 10th version of the boot, the X was a radical redesign. The tongue was gone, with the laces almost hidden at the top of the boot.

Individual stripes with grip on them were also ditched for one larger strikezone.

adidas AG / studio waldeck
Predator X[/caption]

AdiPower Predator SL (2011)

This was the lightest Predator at the time, weighing in at only 211 grams.

The colour scheme drew on the early black, white and red design.

Predator SL[/caption]

Predator LZ (2012)

The LZ – standing for Lethal Zones – looked little like the boots that had made the Predator such a favourite in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The miCoach system, an electronic chip that aided training, was found in the boots, while the strikezone was also increased.

adidas AG / studio waldeck
Predator LZ[/caption]

Predator Instinct (2014)

The final boot before the German giants decided to discontinue the range.

Again, they bore few similarities to the classic Predator design, instead looking more like a version of the F50 – a lightweight boot built for speed rather than control of the ball.

The boot was replaced by the X and the Ace.

Predator Instinct

Predator+18 (2017)

The new range, worn by the likes of Paul Pogba and Dele Alli, again bare little resemblance to the classics.


Although there is a rubber grip running along the toe, there is no tongue and the boot uses the lace-less technology seen on recent versions of the Ace.

In fact, with the ankle-sock design, the new Predator looks near identical to the latest version of the Ace.

Leave a comment