The Predator is a cornerstone of the adidas boot range, which over 20 years has included such iconic models like the Accelerator, Mania and Instinct. Here we take a look at ten of the top players to have ever adorned the adidas Predator boot.
1. John Collins
He may not be the most famous name on this list, but former Scotland international John Collins holds the honour of being the first pro to score a goal wearing the Predator boots in a top-flight match. He picked quite the occasion as well, scoring for Celtic in a 1-1 draw against arch rivals Rangers in April 1994. Collins also played for Monaco, Everton and Fulham, among others, and was capped 58 times by Scotland, scoring 12 goals. His most famous international goal was in the opening game of World Cup 98, giving Scotland the lead against Brazil in a game they would eventually lose 2-1. Collins in now Assistant Manager at Celtic.
2. Zinedine Zidane
Zidane is probably the greatest ever player to have worn the Predator, and for years was adidas’ marquee player. They released the Accelerator boot to coincide with the World Cup in 1998, in which Zidane inspired his country to success, with two goals in the final. Zidane of course has other WC final history, having scored a penalty and later being sent off for an infamous head-butt against Italy in World Cup 2006, all done while wearing a special pair of gold Absolute Predators that adidas created to celebrate his final international appearance. That game also marked Zizou’s final match before retirement. At club level Zidane was superb, winning the FIFA World Player of the Year three times and winning countless honours with Juventus and Real Madrid. His transfer to La Liga was for a record-breaking $85m, and who could forget his sensational volley to win Los Blancos the Champions League in 2002? The Predator boots certainly fared well for this midfield maestro.
3. David Beckham
If Zidane was the best ever player to wear the Predator, then Becks is probably the reason why they are among the most popular boots in the world. Renowned for his ability at set pieces, Beckham was loyal to the Predators throughout a career that included spells with Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan and LA Galaxy. His 115 England caps is a record for an outfield player, and at World Cup 2002 Beckham wore what many believe to be the greatest Predator boot, the Mania. It was there that Beckham scored a penalty to defeat Argentina in the group stages, a moment of great personal satisfaction after he had been sent off against the same opponent four years prior to that. Although now retired, Beckham is part of a consortium hoping to bring an MLS team to Miami, so perhaps we’ll see him on the training pitch again in his trusty Predators.
4. Alessandro Del Piero
One of the greatest players of his generation, Del Piero was another to wear both the Accelerator and the Mania on the world stage, and was wearing the Absolute when he helped Italy to triumph in 2006. Although not quite a one-club man, Del Piero is the next best thing, having played for 19 years with Juventus where he holds the records for most club appearances and goals. Del Piero was best utilised as a support striker, and also had a reputation for being a free kick specialist. He is currently a free agent after winding down his career playing in Australia and India.
5. Michael Ballack
German midfield lynchpin Michael Ballack wore Predators as he dictated games for Bayern Munich, Chelsea and the German national team. Ballack represented Germany at three European Championships and two World Cups, and captained the side from 2004. Known for his passing range, goal scoring prowess, physical nature and commanding presence, the Predator provided the perfect complement to his abilities.
6. Edwin van der Sar
Dutch keeper Edwin van der Sar may not have covered as much ground as some of his fellow Predator wearers, but that didn’t stop him from staying faithful to the boot. He first rose to prominence as part of the Ajax ‘golden generation’ in the 90s that included the likes of Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Patrick Kluivert and Dennis Bergkamp, before performing admirably for Juventus, Fulham and Manchester United. He also has a Dutch record 130 caps and will no doubt go down as one of the greatest ever goalkeepers, and certainly the best to wear the Predators.
Real Madrid legend Raul played his entire career in Predator boots, during which time he became the record appearance maker and goal scorer for Los Blancos, winning numerous individual and team honours along the way. Shortly before leaving Madrid, Raul was one of the first players to test out the Predator X in 2009, and after short spells in Germany and Qatar, Raul has recently signed with New York Cosmos in the NASL.
8. Steven Gerrard
When Steven Gerrard made his Liverpool debut way back in 1998 he appeared in a pair of Nike boots, but was quickly signed by adidas and he has not looked back since. The 2007 PowerSwerve was a particular favourite of the Anfield icon, with the design of the boot to create more power swerve perfect for a player like Gerrard, who was so well known for his long range passing and shots. Gerrard will leave Liverpool at the end of this season to join LA Galaxy, and this weekend’s game against Crystal Palace will his final at Anfield.
9. Robin van Persie
Although currently in a blackout pair of adidas boots, Robin van Persie enjoyed a long stint in Predators earlier in his career, and has been associated with adidas since his breakthrough at Feyenoord. His most prolific spell in the Predators came in his final season at Arsenal and his first at Manchester United, when he finished as the league top scorer in consecutive seasons. Whether RvP decides to switch back into Predators remains to be seen, and it’s something we’ll be keeping a close eye on during the final few games of the season.
The final player to make this illustrious list is Barcelona midfielder Xavi. A product of the famed La Masia academy, Xavi has spent his entire career with the Catalan side (although he is rumoured to be heading to Qatar at the end of this campaign). Xavi was a key component of the Barcelona side that will go down in history as one of the greatest ever teams, embodying the tiki-taka style that won Barcelona so many admirers. Considering the sheer amount of touches of the ball that Xavi gets each game, if the Predators are good enough for him, then they’re probably good enough for just about anyone.
You can shop for the entire adidas Predator range at worldsoccershop.com.