At the Steinberg Training Center in Leoganger, Austria, on Tuesday, South Korea national team’s ace player Son Heung-min (Tottenham) slips on his shoes. Afterwards he gets up from the bench and begins to stretching exercises as his colleagues take their time tying their shoes.
Football players make sure their shoes are tied tight before a match or training session, to prevent them from becoming loose, particularly when they charge across the field. But Son, who wears laceless shoes, has no worries.
Son wears the Adidas X-18+ model, which has designed to enable shooting players to dribble fast and overtake defense players. “X18+ is made to resemble the barefoot, so the touch feels smooth when the foot brushes against the ball and can be easily controllable,” Son says.
“We designed the shoe to prevent laces touching the ball, which can cause irregular movement,” explained an official at Adidas. “We used an elastic material near the ankle and the upper part of the shoe. It extends while it is worn, but attaches to the foot perfectly after it is completely worn.”
Football shoes are one of the few items where individuality of players, who were the same uniform, can be shown. The Korean national football team is sponsored by Nike products, except for shoes.
“Most of the products, such as training wear and slippers, are sponsored by Nike,” said an official at the national team. “But we allow players to sign individual contracts with other brands. Shoes can affect individual performance, so players are allowed to pick their own products.”
Yun-Cheol Jeong firstname.lastname@example.org