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In 1996, Nike partnered with the world’s most decorated international side, the Brasilian National Team, and began its mission to create a boot worthy of their caliber of play. Ronaldo, the squad’s young striker, was chosen as the muse. On the pitch, he was patient — stalking and waiting for the right moment. Then, when opportunity arose, he’d strike, accelerating to the ball with unrelenting velocity. With the goal in his sights, Ronaldo would change in nature. He was, in short, mercurial.

To craft a boot suited to Ronaldo’s explosive style, Nike designers looked to the track. Early concepts included a dissembled track spike married to a Nike Tiempo upper, which illustrated the objective of unmatched weight reduction in a football boot. To meet the challenge, the team of designers bucked longstanding trends by eschewing kangaroo leather and employing a synthetic kangaroo replacement, KNG-100. The second major breakthrough was reducing plate thickness from the industry-standard 3 mm to a game-changing 1.75 mm. “Everything was shocking at the time. The look, the materials, people didn’t know what to think. It was a truly exciting moment,” Luca Bolpagni from Nike’s Product Creation Centre in Montebelluna, Italy, said of the innovations.

Ronaldo scored the first goal, a brilliant half-volley, in the debut Mercurial on June 16, 1998. Almost 20 years later, thousands of other goals have been netted in the silo, including casual five-a-side strikes and tournament-winning penalties. The boot itself kept evolving too, always to meet the needs of contemporary mercurial athletes and giving both new innovative stance and aesthetic styling to football as a whole.

For the full timeline of Nike Mercurial from 1998 to 2016 go to https://news.nike.com/news/nike-mercurial-highlights-from-fast-to-faster


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