Stellars Club

The four kings: PUMA’s legacy

Football is full of stories and mysticism. Plays that stick in the memory. Goals that are included in the Olympus of sport. Balls, stadiums, jerseys that tell a story behind them. But there is one thing in football that unites the professional side with the amateur side and all the other elements: football boots. A key accessory in the history of the beautiful game.

For those of us who love football and have ever given up our weekend break on a cold, rainy Sunday morning to play a game on a muddy pitch at best, Few things capture the smell of football like the boots we wear strapped to our feet. Football shoes, one of the most forgotten and surely one of the elements that carry more stories. Within all the ingredients that make up football, there is one brand of boots and one type of shoe in particular that paved the way and left a legacy that we are unlikely to see again. The shoes with which four players became the kings of football and which were created for the king of the goal: Eusebio. The PUMA King.

The PUMA King is the first great boot in the history of football and one of the most mediatic in history: created for Eusebio, it was worn by some of the greatest players and goalscorers of all time. First they were worn by ‘O Rei’ Pele in that legendary Brazil of the 1970s. The second one was worn by the master of football, Johan Cruyff, in that 1974 World Cup where the character of the 14 caused him to play with a different jersey than his teammates , precisely because he was wearing PUMA instead of Adidas.

Four years later they were worn by Mario Alberto Kempes to help Argentina win their first World Cup. In that tournament he was the top scorer and best player. To close the circle, in 1982, the football god Diego Armando Maradona wore them and with them he scored the best goal of all time in that match against England in Mexico. Shoes that left a golden mark on the history of football.

The beginning of the reign: The king of the goal Eusebio

The year was 1966, and the rivalry between the sporting brands was just beginning. Puma was born from the hand of Rudolf Dassler, Adolf Dassler’s brother, who had founded Adidas, his main competitor and reference in football boots. In 1966, when everything was Adidas, there was a differential player who was not. Eusebio, the black panther. England won that cup, but the advertising battle was won by PUMA and their PUMA Wembley worn by the legendary Portuguese striker. Eusebio won the Ballon d’Or in 1965 and was the top scorer of that tournament.

Back then, football boots with studs were quite stiff. Eusebio asked Rudolf Dassler for soft and flexible shoes. With that in mind, the PUMA team started inventing the “perfect shoe”. Fortunately it was developed in time for the 1966 World Cup, a year in which Eusebio was top scorer and the tournament’s best player.

Helmut Fischer

In 1968 PUMA decided to make new exclusive boots, which would also serve as a tribute to the figure of Eusebio. The Black Panther continued to rack up goalscoring figures of another dimension at the club of his life. Those boots would become known as PUMA KING Eusebio and would mark the beginning of a legendary reign on the footballpitch.

Advertisement for the Puma KING Eusebio

For Pelé, Eusebio’s World Cup and his performances in Benfica did not go unnoticed and he asked to play with his PUMA KING in that mythical World Cup in 1970. In a special version for the 10 of the canarinha, wearing his dorsal and a yellow line highlighting the country he represented. The first great king of football achieved what no one had ever achieved before: winning three World Cups while being the top star of the best national team in history. And he did it wearing the PUMA King. O Rei even stopped the referee a few minutes before a World Cup match to tie his boots.

Four years later, the World Cup came to West Germany, home of the two brands, PUMA and Adidas, which had been battling for advertising supremacy in recent major tournaments. In that World Cup there was a team that redefined the way football was played, that style was known as Total Football, and that team was led by one of the best players in history: Johan Cruyff.

The 14 wore on his feet the boots that Pele and Eusebio had worn, the PUMA King. A World Cup that Johan threatened not to play if they did not let him wear the two stripes of his sponsor, Puma, a business rival of the German firm. Such was the pressure that Cruyff was the only player in his entire national team to be allowed to wear Puma kit, and so he wore a different shirt to his team-mates.

The PUMA King didn’t win a World Cup this time, but it did create a new way of approaching football for one of the most influential players in history.

PUMA’s boots were again in the spotlight at the next World Cup, the one held in Argentina in 1978. Its maximum representative Mario Alberto Kempes, the Matador. The Valencia player would become the best player in the world wearing the PUMA KING and would lead his national team to conquer his first World Cup. Following in Eusebio’s footsteps, Kempes was crowned the tournament’s top scorer and scored twice in the final. Two goals that are history in their own country

Continuing the legacy of Kempes, of the Argentinean history and of the footprint that the PUMA KING was leaving in the great moments of football, it arrived Diego Armando Maradona wearing this pair of boots at Mexico 1982 to seal PUMA’s impact on football history in golden letters. From those boots came some of the finest footballing artistry ever seen on the pitch. And from those feet came the greatest goal in the history of football.

It is impossible to find another pair of boots in the history of football that have left a bigger mark on the pitch than the PUMA King. From legends to kings.

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