Emdad Rahman: A number of footballing icons attended the European Launch of The Serafino 4th Edge boot which is set to revolutionise football. As the stars descended on the capital to support the innovative new footwear it was a good opportunity to speak to them about the product and aspects of their illustrious careers.
In a video message ex Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said: “The Serafino 4th Edge is a very comfortable boot with the added weapon of a harder toe. Watching a game recently I noticed one Premier League striker nearly scored with a toe poke - it reminded me of a player I managed at West Ham who scored a lot of goals that way.
“The toe is not used enough and with this harder toe it gives the player an extra dimension to get that shot off under pressure. It’s an interesting boot.”
John Serafino is a renowned Italian-Australian fashion designer and is a massive football fan and inventor. He conceived this after he could not understand why nobody utilised the toe zone when kicking. In fact, it is the most natural way to kick, just like he used to kick pebbles as a boy, he felt there was real scope for a new boot.
Former Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United striker Garth Crooks was at the event: “I’m looking at this new innovation with a square toe. I tried it on last week for the first time and was surprised how comfortable it is. It doesn’t look aesthetically attractive compared to other boots but when you put it on it looks exactly like any other boot and is extremely comfortable. Those two areas I found very interesting and I really want to explore its performance."
Crooks reels off a list of players he's locked horns with: “I’ve played with some great players. The obvious choices would be Ardiles, Hoddle, Alan Hudson, and Jimmy Greenhoff. I have played against Cruyff and Ruud Krol. They were great players. Karl Heinz Rummenigge was an exceptional player. Jean Pierre Papin was an excellent striker with great movement.”
Crooks had some excellent advice for budding youngsters: “Always believe you’re capable of achieving your dream - on the pitch and in life.”
Arsenal double title winner Perry Groves added: “The Serafino 4th Edge offers more protection on the metatarsal. You can get more power and purchase from an area of the foot that you were not previously able to – and with minimal back lift.
“It is so comfortable from the first wear, so there is no breaking-in period. And it allows players with toe injuries to play when maybe not previously able to as it offers greater protection.”
The Predator changed the face of football boots a generation ago. Now the new revolution is here, the new generation boot, challenging convention, challenging the status quo.
The Serafino 4th Edge is the first of its kind – a genuinely unique boot which allows players to use a part of the foot that was previously dormant and encourages the use of both feet whilst reducing metatarsal and toe fractures due to extra triple layered padding.
Iconic Spurs star Micky Hazard called and pulled off a cheeky crossbar challenge after a passing relay with yours truly. Hazard just needed a single boot to do the magic. He said: "It's very comfortable and gives another part of the foot some use. The toe we haven’t been able to use with great accuracy and this changes things. I used to wear the Asics Tiger and they were very much like these. The leather was very comfortable. I used to wear them tight and they fit me like a glove. These are incredibly comfortable but open up use of the toe too.”
Hazard reminisces his career highlights: “It has to be winning the UEFA Cup Final at White Hart Lane in 1984. I won the FA Cup too but winning in front of your own fans in your own ground is something special. That will always live with me. Being selected for England was another massive plus but I would always choose the 84 UEFA Cup final.
“The greatest I played alongside were Glen Hoddle and Ossie Ardiles. Two unbelievable footballers. Ossie obviously won the World Cup but Glen was just a genius. The greatest player I played against was Johan Cruyff who was my schoolboy idol. I remember watching him in 1974 in the World Cup where he was unbelievable. And then luckily I got his shirt when I played against him. I had dreamt of this as a schoolboy. It was a massive high."
It's clear Hazard is a thinker of the game and his ideas contrast his playing style. The ex Chelsea star was also a pivotal cog in Glen Hoddle's promotion winning Swindon Town team. Hazard's resurrection with the Robins led to a second stint at White Hart Lane. He concluded with some wise words for those playing the game at any level: “Practise hard - but don’t just practise for the sake of it. Go and practise something that you need to improve. That is called good practise because we can all go and train and whack balls around for 4 hours and not really work on anything in particular.
"Or, you could practise your skills, practise your turns, your little twists, practise disguised passing and the disguise of the turns too. Work on lots of things because your opponents are always looking to stop you. So the more you focus on disguise the harder it is for your opponents to stop you. Lastly, never do the same thing twice."
Former West Ham United legend and Premier League champion Tony Gale found the square toes concept interesting: "It’s quite suited to 4G and 3G pitches, which is interesting for me because my non league club (Walton Casuals) are developing and they are going to have a 4G pitch. I would like to see my players wear it but would need to see a little bit more of it. I think their input would be useful in developing this further.
"My favourite boots were always Adidas, moulded soles and studs as well as the Mundial. They were brilliant boots and my favourites. Later on as I started playing professionally then sponsorship became a big factor. Puma was a good product. Hi Tec was around at the time. Mizuno, Mitre, all great boots. Modern boots have changed dramatically.”
At the end of his career Gale achieved a milestone as Kenny Dalglish's Blackburn took the Premier League in 1994-95: “People say that I won the league with Blackburn so it must be the best part of my career but it isn’t. I must say we had a season at West Ham in 85/86 when we should have won the league. We finished third and it all came unstuck on the last day of the season. But that season every single game was fantastic to be involved in alongside fantastic players who still remain friends to this day."
Liverpool feature in his memories: “As a defender my greatest opponents were strikers. They come in a pair and in my opinion the greatest I have faced and the two I consider to be the greatest in British football are Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish. Ian Rush had that blistering pace to get behind you and the other one was a footballing genius who later managed me at Blackburn Rovers. It was a pleasure to play under him at the end of my career. But those two were easily the greatest ever for me.
“The greatest player I played alongside was Alan Devonshire. A footballing genius. He would have played more for England had his cruciate ligaments not troubled him so much. Today he’d have been sorted out much better medically. He never came back the same player but was still fabulous. During my spell at Blackburn it was Alan Shearer easily."
As a trainee, player, winner and club chairman Gale has a lot to share: “Work hard but more importantly play to the best of your abilities, play to the high level possible. More importantly than anything, have confidence in yourself and confidence in those around you. And just listen to people. Not all information is good so it’s up to you to use your judgement and dissect the good from the bad.”
Ray Wilkins was in his usual chirpy mode and the first question was about his favourite career moment. “Good grief," he mulled and paused for momentary thought. "Probably being made captain of Chelsea at 18 and also playing for England. My advice is the same as always. Work hard. Your talent is given and you can work on talent but you’ve got to have hard work and your work ethic is very important. Whether you’re at school or employed if you work hard enough you will succeed.
"My favourite football boot was any boot my mum and dad could give me. I come from a very working class family and my mother and father worked very hard to get any boots. I would have played in slippers if I needed to.
“The best player I played with was Franco Baresi of AC Milan and the best player I played against was George Best."
Former Chelsea and Liverpool title winner Nigel Spackman was in good spirits as he struggled with boot sizes. "They haven’t got my size but it looks very interesting," he laughed. "This is a different type of boot. If you look at some of the great strikers like the great Ronaldo and Romario they scored many goals through toe pokes."
Spackman enjoyed success with the rampant Liverpool team if the 80's: “Winning the First Division, which is now the Premier League, with Liverpool was special. Also playing in a cup final was very special as well but lifting the league was the ultimate."
“The greatest player I played alongside for two seasons was John Barnes. He was simply magnificent. At times we just got the ball and gave it to Johnny and he’d do the rest. It was a pretty special team but he was the best amongst us for sure."
Like Liverpool fans Spackman is excited at the prospect of what Jurgen Klopp can achieve at Anfield: “I think the right manager is in the right place. Jurgen needs to be given time and patience to move the club forward. Liverpool will as they always do back the manager and I’m sure there will be money for him to bring in the right players who play the way he wants to play - pressing the ball high up the park. For him it's about having skilful players who work very hard. I think Jurgen Klopp could be the one over the next 3-4 years to bring success again. Enjoy it!”
Arsenal legend and Talksport pundit Ray Parlour is glad the boot is a traditional colour: “It looks like a very nice boot to be fair. I’m really pleased with the product and they are black as well. A lot of these boots now are just so colourful, pink and all that. As a young player I loved Puma King and as I got older I wore Diadora, Adidas for a while and Asics too."
“I'm fortunate to have enjoyed a great career. The unbeaten season was incredible. To score in a Cup Final in 02, to skipper the side - all amazing memories. If I had to pick one memory it would be the unbeaten season with the Invincibles. It will probably never happen again. It was simply an amazing season. We won the league at White Hart Lane and followed that up by getting through four very tough last games. It demonstrated the mental strength we had along with our ability - That we were able to still perform with our foot on the throttle even after the league was sown up.”
Former Nottingham Forest and Liverpool star Nigel Clough has seen these boots before: "They bought them up to Sheffield and the players tried them. I believe they have come on an awful lot after the first prototype. As a player my boots varied. I wore Puma for a while and then the Lotto boot.
“It's tough to choose a career high. For me it has to be the thrill of running out onto a pitch to play football on a Saturday, Tuesday or any other day. That’s a highlight in itself. Until you’re not doing it anymore you don’t realise how much of a pleasure it was to do so at the time.”
Arsenal and England great Kenny Sansom was at the launch. It's great to be out and about with friends and I wish this boot great success," he said.
Sansom has bravely battled with personal issues in recent years and his thoughts will be published in a separate interview to inspire and help others.