With the imminent launch of the Nike T90 Laser III, the SoccerBible takes a retrospective look at some of the predecessors in the T90 series. These are the boots that have helped mould and evolve Nike's Total 90 range of power and accuracy football boots. Straight from the SoccerBible's Boot Vault is the Nike Air Zoom Total 90 II, the sequel to the ground-breaking Air Zoom Total 90...
The Air Zoom Total 90 II was a boot built for a purpose - the name itself stemming from the design concept of creating a cleat that would maximise the players comfort for the Total 90 minutes of play. Even before pin-point accuracy and power technologies were introduced, Nike aimed the T90 series of boots across a range of players and positions, with top stars like Paul Scholes, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos and a young Wayne Rooney just some of the icons who signed up to wear the T90.
The AZT II certainly had a distinctive look about it. Launched way back in 2002 originally in this Black/White/Red colourway, the upper was crafted from a soft, light KNG-100 G synthetic material intended for maximum comfort. This material is lighter than leather, claimed to hold its shape better and crucially had excellent water repellent properties, which made the AZT II lightweight even on the heaviest and wettest pitches!
Nike favoured a cross-brand sole plate at the time, which could also be seen on Tiempo and Mercurial editions out at the same time, featuring region-specific stud placement intended for the best traction. The AZT II was offered in both soft (6 stud) and firm (bladed) sole plates and of course had the added bonus of Zoom Air cushioning to give even more comfort. This is the same technology (still used today) as featured in Nike's top running performance shoes and made the AZTII highly sought after due thanks to this comfort inclusion.
The AZTII also featured off-centre lacing (a design element that returns for the Laser III) which essentially means a much larger striking surface and therefore more boot to ball contact. At the request of a lot of the top pro's the fold-down tongue covered enough of the lace area to make this clean and avoid any eractic rebounds off the boot.
Players who were covering the ground from box-to-box needed a boot that
could keep up with the pace of the game, and the AZTII was a boot
designed to meet these demands. The AZT II weighed a surprising 270g - which at the time was considered extremely lightweight for a soccer cleat! Over the course of it's release, Nike pushed several colourways of the boot as well as this one shown.
The upper featured Nike's First Touch coating, designed to give greater ball control and feel, although in more specific areas than the original AZT. The success of this can be seen with Nike's range of First Touch Indoor, Fives and Futsal shoes which use the same principles to give increased grip and contact from the boot to the ball. It is easy to trace how Nike's early soccer innovations have helped to continue to develop their boots today!
Stay tuned to the SoccerBible as we reveal more soccer cleats from the Boot Vault, showcasing the best retro, classic and once forgotten boots and bringing them back to life!
** For any of you wondering why we're showing the AZTII, we had the original Air Zoom Total 90's all ready to go until one of the SoccerBible HQ team decided it would be a good idea to "play test" them in a recent cup match. So once they're cleaned up they'll be back in the Boot Vault... **