When Nike announced that they were killing off the T90 in 2013 in favour of a new boot series players weren’t happy. The T90 was, and still is, one of the most loved football boots ever, so for us to be discussing its successor as a possible all time Nike classic shows just how perfectly the Swoosh delivered the Hypervenom.

Being responsible for ending the shelf life of the T90 series isn’t the best first impression to make, the Hypervenom was playing catch up from day one, but Nike cooked up the perfect storm for their new generation boot to arrive in and now we’re labelling it as one of Nike’s greatest and most significant boot releases of all time. Hang on, it only last three series and the second generation was nasty. Fair points, but we’re talking about the first generation here.

Are six seasons enough to release a special edition PhantomVSN inspired by the Hypervenom? Granted, that’s a quick turnaround for a re-release of sorts, but this is a design that will become legendary, if it isn't already. Okay, now we better explain why we’re ranking it amongst Nike’s very best work...


– The Birth of the Agility Silo

For years the leading brands broke their silos down into four categories: Power, Control, Speed and Comfort. They were your choices. For attackers, they’d usually opt for speed or power, but in 2013 Nike realised that the game had evolved; it had become more intricate and dynamic with attackers placing a stronger emphasis on sharper movements in tighter spaces, and that’s where the Hypervenom created a new category that delivered lightweight design, enhanced touch and an agility focused soleplate.

The Introduction of NikeSkin

The upper of the Hypervenom was, and arguably still is the most supple and flexible upper to adorn any football boot. It was super soft and moulded around the foot while offering a super close feel on the ball. Nike did have a few issues with tears, but the feel of the boot built a huge following amongst players. The fact that they’ve not really developed NikeSkin suggests that perhaps they can’t make a more durable version of it?


– The Rise of Neymar

The Hypervenom’s iconic status was most certainly enhanced by Neymar. For years Cristiano Ronaldo had dominated Nike’s football output, but now a new dynamic boot existed for a completely different type of player, and Neymar defined that player perfectly. He launched the boot at a headline event in Rio de Janeiro and the launch of the silo coincided with his move to Barcelona and his poster boy status ahead of Brazil hosting the 2014 World Cup.

The move to Barcelona was the conclusion of months of speculation surrounding this new Brazilian wonder-kid and with the whole world watching his unveiling at the Nou Camp and his debut, Neymar stepped out in the Hypervenom just a few weeks after Nike launched it. Perfect timing.

Was this Nike’s first step in targeting a post-CR7 footballing world? For years CR7 was Nike’s main man and with him approaching 30 (and without knowing his superhuman power of still being unstoppable in 2020) Nike were beginning to pick out his successor from a talented pool of next-generation prodigies and Neymar was their selection.


– The Design

That trademark launch colourway, with the orange taken from Nike’s shoeboxes was a strong statement. The Swoosh on the Hypervenom was taken from the Mercurial and flip-reversed to the instep to give the silo a familiar yet twisted aesthetic that players immediately related to, while remaining fresh.

– Headline Player Uptake

It wasn’t just Neymar who wore the Hyervenom upon launch. Boots worn by attackers are always the most memorable and Nike ushered the likes of Gonzalo Higuian, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and Robert Lewandowski into the boot ahead of the 2014 World Cup. The Hypevenom, along with the Superfly was Nike’s star attraction and the fact it dropped ahead of a World Cup year was pivotal. Not just any World Cup year, a tournament in Brazil, the most exotic of all World Cup host nations.

– First Generation Glory

The iconic status of the first generation Hypervenom was probably amplified by the fact that the second generation was a flop and the third generation had departed so far away from the first-gen that it had lost its identity. These factors, over time, have made the first-gen more desirable and had players craving that unique sensation of the NikeSkin upper. Did Nike make the first-generation too good? It definitely peaked too early, and changed too quickly.


– World Cup Presence

Nike took Neymar’s golden boy reputation and turned it into a literal and physical product by presenting him with an all-gold colourway to wear in Brazil’s knockout stage games. Of course, he was injured against Colombia in the quarter final and missed the rest of the competition where they were infamously dumped out by Germany 7-1.

Neymar was also handed a starring role in Nike’s big video productions ahead of the tournament, wearing the Hypervenom in both the Winner Stays & Last Game films, as well as his own ad titled ‘Mirrors’.

– Questions?

As we’ve already touched on, the Hypervenom was incredibly successful considering it replaced one of the most loved boots series of all time - the T90 - but could they have co-existed? They were completely different silos, albeit made that way because Nike determined that the power of the T90 was redundant in a faster-paced game. Our bet is that they could have.

One final point to consider is if players struggled to understand who the Hypervenom was for? The agility market was difficult to define at the time, adidas have since entered it with the Nemeziz, ironically as Nike ditched it and went back to the more power focused PhantomVNM. But as Nike moved to a second and third generation Hyperveom, the boot had changed so much that players may have just seen it as a chunkier Mercurial.


What is clear though, is that the Hypervenom truly disrupted the market at the time and elevated Neymar into a Nike icon at the perfect time. In its short life the first-generation Hypervenom built a cult following who would snap it straight up if it re-launched right now. With that in mind, blended with the fact a younger generation will consider it a throwback to the first World Cup they properly remember, the orange and black launch colourway deserves a spot in Nike’s ‘Future DNA’ collection. One down, three more to follow.

Shop the Nike PhantomVSN II 'Future DNA' Hypervenom football boots at prodirectsoccer.com