1998 was a big year of innovation from Nike and Adidas. Nike launched their signature Mercurial line that turned 20 years old this year. As for Adidas, they competed with Nike by launching their iconic Predator Accelerator Liga. 20 years later, the Predator Accelerator is often referred to as the best Predator ever made. Over the past few years, this Predator has increased in demand for both players and collectors. The resale price has soared, making the Predator Accelerator a very expensive boot to purchase today.
Finding a pair of these Predators in brand new condition is a difficult task in itself. I have been lucky enough to acquire half a dozen brand new pairs over the years, but this particular pair is among the most unique and special out of all of them.
This pair was player issued to Dutch international Giovanni Van Bronckhorst. They also featured a unique sole plate of screw in SG studs, which were different than the bladed SG studs that were commercially available. This unique sole plate was very commonly used by professional players, and was only available to professional players. It was never sold to the general public.
Most SG sole plates feature 6 aluminum studs, however on these boots Adidas decided to use 8 studs. It's similar to the SG-Pro sole plates that are used today.
If you look closely, you can see a pattern of grooves that are indented into the sole plate. As far as I'm aware, it didn't serve a performance purpose, but it does show an aesthetic appeal. It's a minor factor, but it really shows the quality that was used throughout these boots.
The Predator Accelerator used ground breaking technology, as well as an improved aesthetic look from the previous model. The aesthetics of these makes them very desirable for collectors to display. From a quality standpoint, players dream of wearing these boots even to this day. There are countless people who wore these back in 1998 and still want to get their hands of a new pair to wear today.
However, that is getting more and more difficult since there are limited quantities left after not being produced for nearly 20 years.
Some of the technology Adidas incorporated were the rubber fins throughout the front of the boots. This was supposed to help with striking the ball, it would give you more power, curve and accuracy. This was very different from the previous model, the 1996 Predator Touch. The Predator Touch had larger rubber fins that stuck out from the boots. These new fins were sleek, lightweight, and very effective.
Van Bronckhorst customized this pair of boots in several unique ways. Most noticeably, his name was stitched on to the tongue, which is very common for players to do. In addition, he added an elastic strap to the tongue. Normal Predator Accelerators don't have the elastic strap on the tongue. Not only was the elastic added, but the tongue also stretched further down from normal pairs.
At the base of the tongue, there is a soft fleece like fabric that comes down an extra few centimeters. The normal pairs did not use this fleece like material. As to why Van Bronckhorst chose that material is strange since it doesn't really serve much of a purpose. However, it is still a cool feature and adds a nice touch of quality to the boots.
As I've already mentioned, these studs are very rare to find since they were only available for professional players. An interesting feature of these studs is it has the Adidas Originals logo on them, and spells out Adidas around them.
There are similar pairs in this sole plate that come with different studs that aren't branded with the Adidas logo. Having these studs from a collecting standpoint is a very nice touch onto the boots and an added sense of quality.
The Predator Accelerator insoles featured a logo or mascot on them. The real meaning is unclear to me, however it has become very recognizable.
These boots were fully customized for Giovanni Van Bronckhorst and don't feature any size tags. However, on the bottom of the insole there is a number 7. Based on this and the measurements of the boots, I would say they are a size uk7.
With everything considered, the Predator Accelerator is an iconic pair of boots and will go down in history as being one of the best boots ever produced. The superior craftsmanship of kangaroo leather and the innovative rubber fins are major factors in the overall quality. The design and all the minor details used to help make the boots look aesthetically pleasing is a huge factor in why they are so collectible as well.
I've been lucky enough to track down this particular pair that features the special SG sole plate that was only available for professional players, and it just so happens it was custom made for an all time great. I am not the biggest collector of player worn or player issued boots, but when a rare pair like this comes up for sale its hard to turn them down. I also find it very interesting to notice all the modifications and differences that are incorporated in player made boots.
Hopefully in the near future I can find some more player worn or issued boots for my collection, but for now I am lucky enough to own one of the rarest and most desirable Predators ever made.