By Brian Jennings – Zat Knight recently debuted his physical and mental presence with the Colorado Rapids after 15 years in his native England including stints in the Premier League along with earning 2 caps with the England national team, his first cap came against the U.S. in 2005.
At 6”6’, 225lbs Knight admits his top priority was comfort when selecting his boots, especially in an important position like central defense. His go-to boot has almost always been the adidas Predator and he has continued that preference since joining MLS bringing the Predator Instinct with him from England.
“When I was a little kid I always wanted the little (Nike) Tempos with the flapover tongue. When I went to Fulham we were sponsored by adidas in the second division so I went with them-they were comfortable,” says Zat, short for his given name of Zatiyah. “In England at most clubs I can get any boot but I just choose to stick to what I know and I’m happy. As a man, if you’re happy with something you stick with it and I’m the same way so these are my tools.”
Zat says he has always liked the way Predator’s feel. Even through the design changes over the years adidas has usually kept some sort of external ridges and the ‘lethal zones’ to improve touch on the ball in their Predator models.
“I’ve always stuck with Predators with these ridges. I’m not that skilled so I just head it and kick it,” says Knight with a self-deprecating laugh. “I haven’t got a bad touch, I’m not too bad on the ball, so as long as I’m not a donkey out there that’s the main thing.”
As far as colors on his feet, Zat admits to sporting the latest fads from time to time during his career in England, but comfort always wins out as his deciding factor. “I like the colors on the boots but I do like white boots. If you look through my career, especially at Bolton, I had yellow or silver or different ones.”
“At the end of the day you want to go with the most comfortable and they say, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. The boots are getting lighter and lighter but Predators have kind of stuck with the same dynamics and it works for me. Some guys wear (boots) that are light as a feather but as a defender that’s no good. I kick the ball a lot different than a striker.”
Knight also has an interesting practice with wearing different boots for training versus matches. While other players certainly have “training boots” and “match boots, Colorado’s new defender tells us he prefers different boots because of a directive from his youth days.
“As a kid, one of our coaches Alan Smith told us defenders wear studs in all games because if you slip you’re the last line of defense. Match ones I like to use the actual studs, training I use the firm ground ones and I like to use them for about 2 weeks. My match boots I use for 3 or 4 games.”
“Coming here not many of the boys wear that because the ground’s a bit firm, but it’s just something that I’ve stuck with so far and I’m going to keep doing it.” Even though many players shy away from wearing boots which are not broken in for important matches, Knight is just the opposite. “I like the tightness of them-I like a new boot. Some players don’t like going into a game with a new boot but I like it. In training I don’t mind it being a bit more of slipping because I’m more relaxed.”
One last subject to touch on for Zat’s sake is that he has never been an Adidas-sponsored athlete. After years of plying his trade wearing their product he admits he definitely wouldn’t say no to a meeting with the Adidas brass about being a spokesperson for the brand he loves. “I’ve never had a sponsor with them I’ve just always worn them. It would be nice but hopefully I can do well in this league and they’ll notice me hopefully for the right reasons and they can come along and we can talk.” C’mon Gents at Adidas, would that be too much to ask? (I only charge a small finder’s fee Zat)
Rapids fans are hoping to see Knight in his signature Predators along Colorado’s back line for many matches to come in MLS starting this week.
adidas Predator cleats are available at WorldSoccerShop.com and other fine soccer retailers.