Revealed: The Most Innovative Nike Mercurial Boots in History

Since its debut in 1998, the Nike Mercurial has redefined how football boots feel and perform several times. We take a look at the most innovative Nike Mercurial generations in history, ranging from the first-ever Nike Mercurial to the brand-new Nike Mercurial Vapor Flyknit Ultra.

1998: Nike Mercurial

Initially known as Tiempo Ultra Light, and the Ronaldo Ultra Speed, the Nike Mercurial was developed to suit Ronaldo’s extraordinary explosive style. Nike's first concepts of the boots started out as a lightweight addition to the Tiempo series, while the prototypes accelerated past anything made before and forged its own path as a "speed" boot: the Mercurial.

The Nike Mercurial feature a thinner plate than any other boot before, a KNG-100 synthetic upper (which behaved like leather but didn't absorb water like natural fabrics) to reduce weight for ultimate speed. The Nike Mercurial was worn by Ronaldo on football's biggest stage, the 1998 World Cup in France.

2002: Nike Mercurial Vapor

Another groundbreaking innovation was the first-ever Nike Mercurial Vapor, released in 2002. Nike weighed everything from glue to stitching thread in order to remove excess weight. However, as sustaining speed for a full match also required comfort, Nike also developed a new anatomical last. The innovative fit reduced weight, added comfort, and, in a testament to the Mercurial’s DNA, increased speed.

2006: Nike Mercurial Vapor III

The Nike Mercurial Vapor III signalled significant changes to football boots as the brand introduce the Teijin microfiber, which should be used for all Mercurial boots of the next few years.

2008: Nike Mercurial Vapor SL

A decade after Mercurial changed football boots forever, the Mercurial SL went back to its track sprint origins. At just 185 grams, the Mercurial SL was constructed entirely out of carbon fiber. The upper was crafted in Italy, the plate engineered in Germany, and the outsole built in South Korea. The concept boot pushed the boundaries of football and set the stage for new era of innovation on the pitch.

2008: Nike Mercurial Vapor IV

The Mercurial Vapor IV took the baton from the Mercurial SL, bringing aerodynamic sprint spike looks to the football pitch. The Teijin upper now covered the laces, offering an uninterrupted shooting surface, and allowed for a bold lateral Swoosh. A fast new aesthetic mirrored the properties of a hidden innovation: a ground-breaking internal chassis. Constructed of a glass fiber, the insert offered instant acceleration—just like the propulsive snap of a track spike.

2009: Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly

The first-ever Nike Mercurial Superfly model was the lightest Nike football boot at that time featuring a carbon-fiber sole plate and Nike's all-new Flywire strings.

2012: Nike Green Speed

Released in 2012, the Nike GS football boot was the lightest, most environmentally friendly and fastest production boot Nike has ever made. It is now wonder that the Nike Green Speed boots are one of the most sought after soccer cleats today.

2014: Nike Mercurial Superfly IV

The Nike Mercurial Superfly 4 football boot was the first-ever knitted football boot with a carbon sole plate. Born from years of R&D in the Nike Explore Team Sport Research Lab, the Nike Mercurial Superfly IV was likely Nike's biggest innovation in football ever.

2017: Nike Flyknit Ultra

The first-ever knitted low-cut Nike Mercurial boot, the Nike Flyknit Ultra cleats are a preview of what's to come for the 2018 World Cup. The Nike Flyknit Ultra football boots can be likened to the all-Flyknit Mercurial Vapor 12 that will be launched in 2018.

Which is your all-time favorite Nike Mercurial generation? Is the Nike Mercurial the most innovative football boot silo? Let us know in the comments below.