The Mercurial Superfly series made its return last week, marking Nike Football's second breakthrough innovation of the year. Nike Design Director Denis Dekovic knows a thing or two about football boot design - already he has the Mercurial Vapor IX, Tiempo Legend V, HyperVenom Phantom and Magista Obra in his portfolio. As Nike unveiled the Superfly IV to the world, we caught up with the main man behind the groundbreaking boot.

 How does it feel to have the Mercurial Superfly back in the Nike line-up?

Denis: It feels amazing. Superfly gave us an opportunity to elevate performance to completely new levels. We focused on making the best possible boot we can by following the voice of the player and what they're asking us is to make the fastest boot on the planet. Our focus was to deliver the fastest boot in the world.

SB: It's quite a return. Tech-wise, what's new with the boot and how does it compare to the Magista Obra?

Denis: We always think about fit, touch and traction when designing our boots. These are the areas our players tell us they want to see benefits in the product. For the fit we're using a different last to the Magista, we want to get the Mercurial as close to the foot as we possibly can because we know that's important for high speed.

In terms of touch, although we're using Flyknit we really thought about how we can reduce the layers between the foot and the ball, while still giving that lock-down feel. So how we've applied the Brio Cables and the NikeSkin is different to the Magista but the benefit is similar. Flyknit is about fit and it's about ball touch so the benefit overall is similar between the two boots but how we apply that benefit is very different.

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SB: There's a lot of tech going on in the plate. Can you detail the design of the outsole?

Denis: We've introduced a new full length, two-layer carbon chassis. In the past we have used three layers, but the new design is much softer because our players requested a softer plate so they can put that power they have through the plate and into the ground. We've evolved the iconic Mercurial traction system and added more studs to the heel for additional stability as well. We learned from the Mercurial VIII about quick penetration and quick release and have added these two studs for better stability without compromising quickness.

The biggest news though is in the forefoot. We've added more studs to allow for great traction from that very first contact with the ground to the very last. Another big thing that's probably hard to notice is the new torsion bar that's asymmetric. It's asymmetric because it follows the natural motion of the foot. The way the foot strikes the ground on the lateral side and transmits power into the medial side and the first metatarsal of the forefoot  - that's what informed this asymmetrical torsion system. You don't lose any power when going from heel to forefoot. 

SB: And you worked alongside Cristiano Ronaldo when developing the plate...

Denis: Yes, Cristiano specifically asked for one more stud in the forefoot because he felt that would provide more traction. We followed his insight and actually our testing proved him right! A lot of what players said led us to where we are today.

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SB: How different was the first prototype compared to the final model?

Denis: Very different! But you know Flyknit is a great tool that allows us to put a boot on the pitch, test it, learn about what opportunities there are to improve it and make those changes for the next day of testing. Maybe we abuse it a little bit! I'm not sure of the exact number but for sure there were over 100 samples.

SB: Was there much sketching involved in the early design phase?

Denis: There wasn't a lot of sketching with this shoe. The process when we work with Flyknit is a little bit different. It allows us to work very directly with technicians so it's very much about making quick visions on paper, but not a lot of sketching. What took the longest was listening to the players and working with the experts on developing Flyknit for football.

SB: How did you decide on the launch colourway?

Denis: We are using two colours for this summer in Brazil. One is 'Volt' which is an iconic Nike colour we use for big events like the Olympic Games. The second colour is 'Hyperpunch' which is inspired by the pink Mercurial that Ribery wore a few years ago. Finally in the Swoosh we have a little bit of gold just for that sophisticated motivation - if you're playing in Brazil this summer it's all about that gold trophy.

SB: Does any research go into colour trends etc. before deciding on launch colours?

Denis: At Nike we make trends, we don't follow trends so what we are trying to do with colour this summer in Brazil we are trying to be the most unique. We want to stand out, be visible and dominate that pitch.

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SB: How quickly was Flyknit identified as the key technology for the Magista and Superfly?

Denis: We developed the Magista and Mercurial at the same time and the big moment for us was deciding that we were going to design boots for the players body and not for the players foot which lead us to a new silhouette. Then we started to look into how we can develop this idea in a product and how can we deliver upon a new silhouette. Flyknit is the best technology we have that enables us to do that, so after we came up with a vision very quickly we landed on Nike Flyknit.

SB: How did you use 3D printing in the production of the boot?

We always use 3D printing to print the sole-plate prototypes, to do simulation in the lab and to even sometimes quickly test them on the pitch. So 3D printing, just like Flyknit, enables us to produce new samples much quicker and test much more.

SB: How have you enjoyed leading the design team in such a big year for football?

Denis: For me to be at Nike it's like working in a dream factory. Nike's DNA is to break new grounds, we can make things happen here and execute big visions and change the whole industry with Nike. We've made huge progressions with the Magista and Superfly and we really believe this is a true revolution. It's not just about writing the next chapter, we want to close the book that began with the Mercurial 98 and start a completely new book with Magista and Superfly.

Good ideas do not come only through designers, the idea can come from anyone including our players. For example Cristiano asking us to put another stud in the forefoot - that was a great idea to make the boot faster. It's really about orchestrating the team and realising what the great ideas are and trying them. That's what our teams personality is.

SB: How to you view Nike's progression in football as a whole since 1994?

Nike is always about the highest product performance. There were some disbelievers back then but if you really know Nike you know they're going to deliver and Nike's very serious about delivering in football of course.

To get more info on the new Nike Mercurial Superfly IV, click here. Stay tuned for our full video feature from the Nike Innovation Summit in Madrid.