1996-2022: A Chronicle of the Nike Air Zoom Football Boots

With Nike’s revolutionary new Air Zoom Mercurial football boot, Soccerbible takes the opportunity to take us through the full history of Nike’s Zoom Air in football.


Air cushioning technology is the most well-known of all Nike sneaker technology. In fact, it’s made from a strong, resilient chamber infused with pressurized air to cushion and bounce your foot without compromising the boot’s construction. With every step, air pressure is applied to the Air cushioning, which absorbs and releases energy when you step on it.


Nike first introduced Air cushioning technology in 1979, and has continued to develop and improve it since then, evolving from the Zoom Air that debuted in the mid-1990s. Since 1996, in addition to being used in American football, basketball, running and tennis shoes, Nike has also introduced this technology in football shoes.


Shortly after the Tiempo football boots allowed Nike to really enter the football boot field after the 1994 World Cup, the advent of the Air Rio Zoom apparently failed to attract people’s attention, but was released by rival Adidas. Another boot The edge is covered up. But this combination of Tiempo’s kangaroo leather upper and Zoom Air unit will soon welcome a successor.


Nike‘s factory in Montebelluna, Italy, was established in 1996, and its first football boot product, the Air GX, was released the following year. Not only is it equipped with Zoom Air cushioning technology, it is also the first football boot to be launched in a color other than black. Red and blue embellishments, the use of metallic Nike Swoosh and the unique upper routing are Nike‘s performance in the field of football boots beyond the times.


Next up was the Nike Air Zoom Italia football boot that came out in 1998. In retrospect, its release time is obviously a bit bad, because it appeared with the first-ever Mercurial boots, and people only remember the pair of Mercurial football boots on the feet of “alien”, and it became a Nike shoes. Another forgotten product that brings Zoom Air cushioning technology to the world of football boots.


Entering the millennium, Nike launched a series of football boots that differed only in name and color scheme, including the Nike Zoom Air International, Air Zoom Brasilia and Brasilia II released in 2000. As for the performance of these football boots, it seems that we can only find people who remember them, or with the help of a search engine. All in all, they failed to secure a place in Nike’s football boot family and became a forgotten piece of history.


Then came a revolutionary boot. In 2000, Nike launched the Air Zoom Total 90 I football boot. It uses a different design than the Tiempo or Mercurial series. The boot has a built-in Zoom Air unit in the heel and a diagonal lacing design, and featured one of the most memorable TV commercials.


Nike’s attempt to use Zoom Air in football boots isn’t over. In 2001, the Nike Air Zoom Mercurial football boots were released with a synthetic upper and Nike’s first hybrid stud outsole. Of course, this new boot is also equipped with a full-length Zoom Air cushion.


Two years after the launch of the first generation, Nike has launched the new Air Zoom Total 90 II football boot, and it can be called the pinnacle of the series. As a blockbuster product for the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, the boots are as iconic as the marketing campaigns since then. In addition to being lightweight, it features a soft KNG-100 G synthetic upper with a First Touch coating for improved ball control and feel.


Then came 2004, the new Nike Air Zoom Total 90 III football boots came out. The first impression it gives is the huge T90 Logo on the inner vamp and the disappearing tongue. A newly designed external heel wrap cup provides extra protection to reduce the risk of Achilles tendon injury. The midsole is uniquely designed to reduce pressure on the foot from the cleats and improve comfort. Nike’s specially designed ridge structure appears on the outsole to improve traction.


In 2005, with the release of the Nike Air Tiempo Legend football boots, the Tiempo series ushered in a complete overhaul. This is an important moment in the history of the series, the most notable feature of its versatility and adaptability to changing game requirements. Suddenly, it has a more modern, sleeker look that puts it on par with other shoes on the market like the Mercurial. In addition to the cosmetic changes, the new Nike Air Tiempo Legend features a number of improvements, such as a tongue with breathable mesh and a built-in Zoom Air unit in the heel.


In 2006, the Nike Air Zoom Total 90 Supremacy football boots were released. There are only minor changes in the technical aspects of the sneaker and a change in appearance. Whether the Zoom Air cushion is still present on this sneaker, the answer is yes.


This year, Ronaldinho became the face of the Nike Tiempo series. Nike created a personal signature boot for the Brazilian star at the end of the year – the Nike Zoom Tiempo Ronaldinho 10R. This is the first complete collection of personal exclusive boots created by Nike for its contracted stars, and Ronaldinho is also involved in the design and development of the shoes. In addition, this boot is also equipped with Zoom Air cushion.


The Nike T90 Laser I football boot was officially released in 2007, and the Total 90 series ushered in a major revolution. The signature design of this boot, which has been described as the ultimate precision and powerful shooting performance, is the rubber shooting area on the instep. The Zoom Air cushion still appears in the heel position, providing an unprecedented comfortable wearing experience.


The last Tiempo football boot to feature a Zoom Air unit, the Nike Air Zoom Tiempo Legend II features a redesigned heel Zoom Air unit for responsive cushioning and better protection during tackles.


In the 12 years since, Zoom Air has disappeared from Nike football boots until the Nike Air Zoom Mercurial Concept football boots, which came out in 2020, have revived interest in the technology. The boot is built around a full-length articulated Zoom Air unit for a distinctive fit and enhanced energy return. In order to achieve this, the outsole of the sneakers cancels the midsole design, so that the contact between the feet and the Zoom Air air cushion is more direct, and it no longer only provides cushioning, but brings stronger propulsion.


Two years later, Nike released the Air Zoom Mercurial Ultra SE limited edition football boot, bringing the previously released concept boot to reality. Nike designers aimed to make the Zoom Air the focal point of the shoe, so they created a lightweight, breathable translucent upper that combined with Flywire technology to support and lock in the foot. At the same time, the Zoom Air air cushion also adopts a visual design, and even exposes a position at the outsole for people to touch. Although it may seem a bit daring and provocative, at least now it has become a reality.


Finally, there is the new Nike Air Zoom Mercurial series football boots released recently, including the Superfly 9 and Vapor 15 models, both with Nike’s first football-specific Zoom Air cushion. The air cushion is installed directly on the inside of the outsole, which brings the feet closer to the ground for greater agility and energy return.


The new Nike Air Zoom Mercurial Superfly 9 and Air Zoom Mercurial Vapor 15 football boots will officially land on PDS on July 1, local time.


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