As one of its top assets, New Balance recently rewarded Sadio Mané with his very own signature Furon 4.0, known as the ‘Bambaly’. It was a bold move considering Mané had only been with the brand a relatively short period of time, but it’s something New Balance, and particularly their Football Performance Footwear Designer Dave Gall, had been thinking about from the off.

Prior to the boot being debuted by Mané against PSG in the Champions League recently, we sat down with Dave to find out all about the process of collaborating with the Liverpool forward. From the inspiration behind the design to the excitement of looking forward to seeing the finished product out on the pitch, we got the behind-the-scenes story of the special edition ‘Bambaly’. 

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When Sadio Mane joined the New Balance family, how soon was it before you thought that you’ve got to make something bespoke and custom for him?

Ever since Sadio joined New Balance, I’ve been thinking about a special edition boot for him! Watching him debut the Furon 4.0 at the Champions League Final was awesome, and then his impact in the World Cup for Senegal – it got me thinking about the design and the colours! He’s a great character, a great brand ambassador for New Balance and for Furon as well. Making a boot with Sadio has been a pleasure.

From your perspective, did you go to him with a load of ideas, or was it quite a mutual thing really? 

Initially we had the conversations with Sadio as to what he would like in a boot, and what would make a boot really special for him. They key thing from Sadio was that he wanted to celebrate his homeland Senegal. We then went away and worked on some design options, based around the Furon 4.0 boot that he wears. After that, it was just a matter of working with Sadio and really honing the design and tuning in to his love of Senegal and the Senegal flag, making sure it hits all the sweet spots that resonate with him. What we’ve created is a pair of boots that are uniquely about Sadio and I can’t wait to see him wear them.

From an aesthetic point of view, where did the inspiration come from and what did you want to portray?

The main inspiration on the boot is quite clear and it’s the colours of the Senegal flag, it’s there in all its glory. It’s his love of Senegal, his love of playing for Senegal. it’s all about his upbringing and his roots and really that’s what he wanted to display when we sat down to design this boot.

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What kind of benefits are in the boot? What’s the under-the-hood detailing?

The Furon boot itself is for the unstoppable attacker, and Sadio Mane fits that bill perfectly. So whenever we design any boots at New Balance it’s based first and foremost around the athlete’s needs how we can help our athletes to perform at their very top level. With Furon 4.0 it’s about delivering unstoppable speed, it’s about being lightweight, and it’s about traction. The Fantom Fit technology is in the upper, which is a four-layer vacuum applied upper, where we have the lining and the FantomFit frame itself – which is designed around players’ movements.

We’re always testing boots with players, where we collect lots of data and insight. In this instance for Furon 4.0, we focused on collecting upper strain data during accelerating and breaking. So the frame itself is designed in such a way that it provides more support in the areas which are under more stress during those intense movements.

You’ve made custom boots before, but is Mane someone that you could do bespoke releases on a regular basis?

I think it’s something that we’ll definitely think about. As a brand we want to celebrate our players and showcase what makes them special and unique. Special edition boots are a great way to really integrate our players into the New Balance Football family. In terms of the design process – players’ insight is so important to us, so we’re always taking their consideration on board. The players look for fit, feel and comfort as the highest priority. 

What are the elements that you love most about this boot and about the whole process coming together?

The process of designing boots is so exciting and I really enjoy seeing the boots develop.The culmination is seeing players of Sadio’s quality in the boots; scoring goals in the Champions League final and scoring goals in the World Cup. As a boot designer, it’s amazing to see guys putting their trust in the boot that you’ve designed, that’s the ultimate compliment.

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With this boot in particular from a designer’s perspective, is there anything that stands out that you particularly love?

The frame itself is the key thing, there’s a lot of work that goes into that. It’s not just a design that you just sit down and sketch out; it’s about taking in all the technical information that we have and using it to shape the design. 

In the case of Sadio’s Bambaly boot, that process has allowed us to do something that really is beautiful. We get that real depth through the mesh and you can really understand what the boot’s trying to do. The low collar is a favourite of mine! It’s really sprint spike-like. It’s designed for the fast players, the sprinters in the team and we’ve really delivered a boot that’s going to get them to their maximum performance level. 

Last thoughts before it makes its way onto the pitch?

I think it’ll definitely be a head turner. The colourway is striking and when Sadio runs out in them it will definitely make a statement and help Sadio to showcase his love and passion for his country. 

Only 90 pairs of the New Balance Furon 4.0 ‘Bambaly’ were released and in case you weren’t aware, they sold out almost immediately. Snooze you lose…