Long Live the King


Footwear News - - CONTENTS - By Peter Verry

The King soc­cer boot and six other game-chang­ing shoes over seven decades.

Puma’s cat­a­log is rich and deep in iconic sil­hou­ettes. But only one can be crowned the brand’s best. In­side the com­pany, noth­ing is more revered than the King.

“From a last point of view, a ma­te­rial point of view, a play point of view, the King was ab­so­lutely made to give the soc­cer player the best com­fort, best feel for the ball, best fit,” said Björn Gulden, CEO of Puma. “There wasn’t any mar­ket­ing or gim­mick or mo­ti­va­tion aside from mak­ing the best shoe.”

For these rea­sons, it was the fa­vorite model of the GM of Puma Team­sport, Matthias Meck­ing, when he was a kid.

“Grow­ing up in Ger­many and play­ing soc­cer in the ’80s , you had the choice be­tween the King and the [Adi­das] Copa Mundial,” Meck­ing said. “And the King, I felt, fit me bet­ter.”

But its per­for­mance at­tributes alone aren’t why the King, which de­buted in 1968, reigns supreme. The shoe’s leg­end was bol­stered by the stars of the pitch who laced them up.

“The best play­ers in the world, the play­ers that wore the num­ber 10, play­ers that re­ally made the dif­fer­ence, wore the King,” ex­plained Puma’s se­nior mar­ket­ing ad­vi­sor Hel­mut Fis­cher. “Pelé, Eusébio in the ’60s, Jo­han Cruyff from the ’70s, Diego Maradona — the very best [soc­cer] play­ers in the world all wore the Puma King.”

Torsten Hochstet­ter, Puma’s global cre­ative di­rec­tor, is still en­am­ored with the icons of the sport who per­formed amaz­ing ath­letic feats in them.

“When I’m in the ar­chive and I’m hold­ing the orig­i­nal shoe of play­ers such as Jo­han Cruyff or Diego Maradona, that’s in­cred­i­ble. I have goose bumps. It’s very pow­er­ful,” Hochstet­ter said. “They wore the shoe and we all know the legacy of those ath­letes. Those cleats were one of the most im­por­tant tools that they needed when they played.”

Puma King, signed by Pelé

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