Will 4th Edge toe-poke football boot revolutionise the game?
Australian football boot could bring the lost art of the toe-punt back to the beautiful game
Football could be about to undergo another revolution, with the arrival of a new style of football boot featuring a square toe.
The unlikely-looking boot unveiled in London today, called the Serafino 4th Edge, has an equally unlikely provenance. It is the brainchild of John Serafino, a fashion designer from Sydney, and entrepreneur Mel Braham, reports The Guardian. "Les Murray, the veteran Australian football broadcaster, has also been consulted on the development of the boot, which has been five years in the making."
The boot has the potential to open up a whole new set of skills for footballers. Until now the toe-poke, the technique of kicking favoured by young children, was regarded as something to be avoided. Instead players are taught to rely on the instep of the foot as it offers more power and precision. The new footwear, however, could rehabilitate the lost art of the toe-ender.
The designers have now launched a Kickstarter campaign to help bring the boot to market, claiming that it not only adds a new "kicking zone" but provides better protection against foot injuries.
It is not the first revolutionary boot to be conceived Down Under. Australian Craig Johnston, who played for Liverpool in the 1980s, was responsible for the Predator boot which hit the market 20 years ago.
"Not since the Predator caused a storm in the early 1990s with its padded kangaroo leather uppers has a major new innovation in football boot design challenged conventional wisdom so fundamentally," says the Daily Express, whose reporter Matthew Dunn tested the new footwear and gave it a thumbs up. The boot makes toe-punts "virtually unstoppable" he says.
"That extra burst of power in either penalty area could be the difference between having a shot blocked and scoring... And a last gasp defender's intervention would whizz away to safety rather than ricocheting into the path of a strike partner."
And other footballers with more of a pedigree than Dunn have also given the boot their backing. Former Nottingham Forest, Liverpool and England player Nigel Clough has invested in the 4th Edge boot. So too have Harry Redknapp and Garth Crooks.
But not everyone is convinced. "We're not sure this is going to catch on with the wider footballing world, to be honest," admits the Daily Mirror. "Still, it might find a target market amongst the goal-hangers and self-proclaimed 'fox in the box' types you might find in abundance playing for amateur sides up and down the country."