Creative Soccer Culture

Nike Premier League Ball Timeline

With just under a month to go until the Premier League returns with the new Nike Flight ball at its centre, we take a look back at the history of Nike match balls in the Premier League through the last 21 years.

While, under normal circumstances, the Premier League would be underway by now, we find ourselves having to wait another 29 days until the 20/21 season gets underway, and while we have the Champions League to keep us ticking over, we thought we'd delve back into the history books to see what 21 years of Nike and the Premier League has given us.


Nike Geo Merlin (2000/01- 2001/02) 992 goals in 00/01, 1000 goals in 01/02 - Nike took over from Mitre at the turn of the millennium with their debut Premier League ball - The Geo Merlin. Charlton's Andy hunt was the first player to score with the Geo Merlin which clocked up a total of 1,992 goals over a two year stay in England's top flight including Les Ferdinand scoring the 10,000th Premier League goal.

Nike claimed to have created the fastest and most accurate ball ever and coincidently it was the ball that the fastest ever Premier League goal was scored with; Ledley King giving Spurs the lead after 9.9 seconds against Bradford. Arsenal stuck the Geo Merlin in the back of the net in every single game in the 01/02 season, the only team to boast such stat with Bergkamp's famous turn and finish against Newcastle the pick of the bunch.


Nike Geo Merlin II (2002/03 2003/04) 1000 goals in 02/03, 1012 goals in 03/04 - Nike brushed up the Geo Merlin for the 02/03 season with fresh graphics but the technology on the second generation Geo remained the same. The ball was smashed home on over 2,000 occasions over the two seasons it was in play, including a young Wayne Rooney bursting onto the scene scoring a wonder volley past David Seaman. 


Nike Total 90 Aerow (2004/05) 974 goals - In 2004 Nike brought out the T90 Aerow, a ball that would go on to last 4 generations. Utilising 6 unique layers in the ball's casing to set new standards in speed, accuracy and consistency of flight. A layer of compressed responsive foam combined with two layers of vulcanised latex rubber in the ball created a "Trampoline" effect when struck, propelling the ball off the foot at an increased speed. 

You could absolutely ping it and if you caught it sweetly on the half volley you could knock down a small 2 bedroomed bungalow. Fact. The first T90 ball coincided with Chelsea's first ever Premier League title and Everton's James Vaughan stuck it in the Palace net to become the youngest ever Premier League goalscorer aged 16 years and 271 days.


Nike Total 90 Aerow (2005/06) 944 goals - The continued distinctive design of the Total 90 Aerow Ball was making it a bit of a cult classic, but there was genuine Nike thinking behind the design. It enabled players to identify the ball more clearly in flight (particularly against a crowd background), allowing the players more response time.

It was the first Nike Premier League ball to be released in 'Hi-Vis' and was the ball which Alan Shearer scored his last and record 260th Premier League goal with. Two seasons under the belt for the T90 Aerow, two league titles for Chelsea and two golden boots for Thierry Henry. 


Nike Total 90 Aerow II (2006/07) 931 goals - The 06/07 ball once again featured the 32 panel design for truer and more accurate flight. The Aerow was becoming established and Nike had swapped the blue rings for a slightly alternative red ringed design. 

Although the Aerow II remains the Premier League's lowest scoring Nike ball, a couple of landmarks were reached; Fulham's Moritz Volz scored the 15,000th Premier League goal against Chelsea. Teddy Sheringham became the oldest player to ever score a Premier League goal at 40 years and 268 days when he notched for West Ham against Pompey and Manchester United claimed back the Premier League title.


Nike Total 90 Aerow II (2007/08) 1002 goals - Blue was back for the 07/08 season as the Aerow II received a new colourway but the Premier League title was red once again with Crisitano Ronaldo's 31 goals ensuring the trophy stayed at Old Trafford. The T90 Aerow II found the back of the net 11 times as Portsmouth beat Reading 7-4 in the league's highest ever scoring game. 

Arsenal's Adebayor became the first player to score a hat-trick against the same team twice in one season, with Derby County his victims. To be fair you needed to have words with yourself if you didn't score against Derby that season; they were relegated with just 11 points.


Nike Total 90 Omni (2008/09) 942 goals - After four successful season the T90 Aerow was retired and the new Omni ball took to the stage. Offering even greater geometric precision, the Omni distributed pressure evenly across panels and around the ball through curved stitching, for a consistent, accurate and powerful strike no matter where the ball was struck. 

The new asymmetrical high-contrast graphic created an optimal flicker as the ball rotated for a more powerful visual signal allowing the player to track it easier. All set up for a record breaking amount of goals, however Edwin van der Sar had other ideas, the United stopper kept 14 consecutive clean sheets to keep the amount of Premier League goals in triple figures.


Nike Total 90 Ascente (2009/10) 1019 goals - The new Premier League ball for the 09/10 Season was the T90 Ascente. New technology was introduced and significant testing showed that this ball travelled 2.4% faster and 0.5m further than previous incarnations. A synthetic casing on the ball created a golf ball dimple effect, allowing players to have total control of the flight and movement of the ball. 

Visually the ball had quite a lot going on and in our opinion wasn't a touch on the T90 Aerow. Chelsea racked up the most ever goals scored by a team in a Premier League season, hammering home 103 golazos and Jermain Defoe scored 5 goals in one half as Spurs' blitzed Wigan 9-1.


Nike Total 90 Tracer (2010/11) 1063 goals - Off the back of the 2010 World Cup the official adidas Jabulani match ball came in for some heavy criticism, players and keepers complained that it was too light and had an unpredictable flight path so it was an opportunity for Nike to land a top class ball for the following season. 

Utilising the same science applied to golf balls to equalise the airflow over the surface the T90 Tracer was designed with another eye catching graphic to improve visibility. Nike tampered with the design to create improved shape retention and durability. Best goal scored with the Tracer? Has to be Rooney's overhead in the Manchester derby.


Nike Seitiro (2011/12) 1042 goals - The Nike Seitiro ball was the Tracer's replacement and was the first ball since 2003/04 not to carry the T90 mark. The Seitiro featured Nike RaDaR technology, which stands for Rapid Decisive and Response; the graphic wasn't just a pretty symbol, it was crafted for optimal visual signal on pitch. 

A decade after Les Ferdinand buried the Geo Merlin to record the 10,000th Premier League goal Marc Albrighton slotted home the 20,000th past Arsenal's Wojciech Szczesny. The Seitiro's final contribution to the Premier league was a spectacular one, practically the last ever of kick of the Seitiro from Sergio Aguero handed Manchester City the title.


Nike Maxim (2012/13) 1063 goals - Enigineering wise, the Nike Maxim continued the RaDaR technology that featured on the Seitiro as well as maintaing the 360° sweet spot. Everton 'keeper Tim Howard certainly made the most of that sweet spot (and a strong breeze) as he scored the furthest ever Premier League goal launching a colossal goal kick over Bolton's Adam Bogdan from 102 yards. The 2012/13 season was the fourth consecutive season a Nike ball broke the 1000 goal barrier.


Nike Incyte (2013/14) 1052 goals - The Nike Incyte featured a new Five-layer construction and a high-elasticity layer on the surface allowing optimal feel, cleaner strikes and a more accurate ball trajectory. Nike RaDaR returned for the third season maximizing the ball’s visibility and allowing players to see the ball earlier and react faster. Once again the goal count topped 1000, and although there were screamers galore the most memorable goal of the season was a beautifully controlled tiki-taka move from Arsenal. 


Nike Ordem 2 (2014/15) 975 goals – Consisting of 12 fuse-welded panels in a three-layer casing system, the Ordem featured Nike's AEROW TRAC groove technology. The grooves were engineered to grip and channel the air to produce the truest trajectory and most consistent flight, helping to ensure accuracy in mid-air, allowing you to stick your foot through it and watch it fly. The Nike Ordem saw Chelsea return to the top of the pile, although the goal count dropped below the 1000 mark for the first time in five years.

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Nike Ordem 3 (2015/16) 1026 goals – The Ordem 3 would go down as one of the most significant balls ever played with. The colour splashes on each half contrasted brilliantly on the white-based ball that was uniquely secured under an all-over black webbing around the ball. This season saw Leicester City going against all odds to win the league and write one of the most incredible stories ever in sport. For the first time since the 99/00 season, an Englishman finished as the league's highest scorer, with Harry Kane notching an impressive 25.

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Nike Ordem 4 (2016/17) 1064 goals – Taking all the great innovations from the Ordem 1, 2 and 3, the Ordem 4 used the 3D ink to create a touch texture, which dialled into the sensitive proprioceptive 'grip' effect desired by players, giving them added confidence and control on the ball. The Flow Motion coloured graphic with the iconic 'cage' continued the great RaDaR visual signalling work.

Chelsea once again regained the Premier League title, with Harry Kane again topping the scoring charts with an impressive 29 goals for the season.

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Nike Ordem V (2017/18) 1018 goals – With an updated bladder, the Nike Ordem V – the last Order in the line – offered optimal touch and feel. Its Nike Aerowtrac grooves delivered accurate flight, while the Distorted Motion Graphic helped with tracking the ball by flickering as it moved.

Manchester City dominated the league, wracking up an impressive 106 goals on their way to the title, while Mo Sala announced himself (again) to the Premier League with 32 goals and the Golden Boot.


Nike Merlin (2018/19) 1072 goals – The Nike Merlin ball made its triumphant return and it was more innovative than ever, incorporating advanced technology, materials and construction to deliver the best Premier League ball to date. Revolutionising the design for the 2018/19 season, Nike integrated their All Conditions Control (ACC) technology in a football for the first time, ensuring optimal touch and control in all weather and pitch conditions. Using higher frequency welding techniques, the number of panels traditionally seen was also reduced further to just four, creating a larger striking surface for an even cleaner flight and enhancing accuracy.

And something must have worked, because this season saw a record high for goals scored in a 20-team Premier League season. Manchester City just pipped Liverpool to the post in one of the most hotly contested league titles on record.


Nike Merlin (2019/20) 1034 goals – Launched to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the partnership between Nike and the Premier League, the 2019/20 Merlin ball was inspired by the urban landscapes of England’s cities with its vivid graphics, while giving players an extra edge thanks to Nike’s latest innovations. A dazzling pink Nike swoosh and distinctive modular graphic borrows its look from the world-famous Nike Air footwear ranges

Despite the disruption to the season due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Liverpool managed to get over the line to lift their first league title in over 30 years, and their first Premier League title. Jamie Vardy was able to rack up 23 goals to win the Golden Boot race, while Sergio Aguero broke Thierry Henry's Premier League record for most goals scored by an overseas player.

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Nike Flight (2020/21) – Honed over 8 years and 1,700 hours of testing, the Nike Flight Football has been designed to address issues of inconsistent aerodynamics through a revolutionary design. Incorporating Nike’s new AerowSculpt technology, the ball delivers a measurable benefit of 30 percent truer flight than its Nike predecessor. AerowSculpt technology promotes air movement around the ball rather than gripping its surface, reducing wobble for a more predictable and consistent flight. It also gives the ball the unique look that it has. In addition, the Flight ball also repurposes Nike All Conditions Control (ACC) 3D ink, using the 3D ink layout to strategically print “micro flaps” along Nike AerowSculpt.

The Nike Flight's Premier League history is yet to be written but expect goals galore as a resurgent Manchester United join Manchester City and what's bound to be a stronger Chelsea as they all try and dethrone reigning champions Liverpool.

You ready for the Premier League's return? Yep, so are we...

Daniel Jones

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