Brasilian icon, Ronaldo, also known as “O Fenômeno,” debuted the first Nike Mercurial almost twenty years ago. The boots, unlike anything that had come before them, “changed the game in football,” he says Ronaldo.
“I was part of the development of Mercurial since its beginning and that boot was at some point just part of my foot,” he explains. “It was an amazing project to be part of and the results were wonderful — writing a new chapter in the history of boots.”
The Mercurial certainly made an impression on a young Neymar Jr. growing up in Santos, Brasil. “Those were the boots everybody wanted, I wanted them too,” he says.
When Neymar debuted for the Brasil National Team (at 18 years of age), he was wearing the Mercurial Superfly II. “I scored my first goal for Brasil in those boots, so they will always be very special to me,” recalls Neymar Jr.
Befitting the connection both Brasilians have to the Mercurial line, Nike’s new Mercurial Puro Fenomeno boots (availabe now at World Soccer Shop, Kitbag, Pro:Direct Soccer and Lovell Soccer) borrow aesthetic cues from the Superfly II while also paying homage to Ronaldo’s original Mercurial boots.
The lateral side of the Puro Fenomeno features the iconic chrome and blue color scheme of the ’98 Mercurial, with the speed ribs of the current Mercurial altered to mimic the original’s wavy lines. The black tips of the cleat studs are also a nod to the ’98 version.
The medial side of the boot features the bold graphic of the Mercurial Superfly II that Neymar Jr. wore as he burst onto the international stage. “Ousadia” and “Alegria” also appear on the medial side of the boots, consistent with the daring and joyful style of play he is known for. Additionally, Neymar Jr.’s personal logo is emblazoned on the heels.
“The partnership between Neymar and Mercurial is perfect. He has this characteristic in his game, he’s very fast, can abruptly change direction,” says Ronaldo, who is happy to see Neymar Jr. making his own mark upon the Mercurial franchise. “In football, the boot has to help you perform, not only be there as a footwear, has to be part of you, at your command. The Mercurial has this power.”
Ronaldo sees continued success for Neymar Jr. “I feel a connection with Neymar. He’s a sensational young man, very balanced, focused, already following a great path. I believe the most important thing is to never ever lose the focus on being happy playing football; that’s how he makes many more people happy — watching him play,” says Ronaldo.
The respect is mutual. “He is one of my idols. Ronaldo is one of the greatest and most iconic players in history. I’m really happy and honored to have played with him on the Brasilian National Team,” notes Neymar Jr.