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Best soccer balls in history

Thu 15 April 2021 | 10:30

Without a doubt, the ball is the most important element of football as you cannot play the game without it, in this article we want to take a look at the best soccer balls in history.

Football is the most popular ball game in the world. As a child, we all used to play with it along with our friends and whoever owned the ball was awarded special status. However, football, beyond a street hobby, is a serious sport, whose stars earn huge salaries and demonstrate outstanding personal skills.

Beyond the game and its professional side, there are plenty of keen amateurs who enjoy and support their favorite teams. Undoubtedly, football has become widespread all over the world.

Ball is the main attribute of the game. And it has its own history of development. The history of soccer balls goes back a long way. The earliest traces date back to 2600 BC, when 'Tsu-Chu' was played in China. At that time, the ball had a rather irregular shape and was made from an inflated pig's bladder. From the 20th century onwards, a rubber inner tube covered with 12 strips of leather was used.

It was hard to control and at the same time so heavy that it caused severe ankle pain: however, the 'real ball' has a very long history, over 150 years, dating back to 1863 thanks to the English Football Association, where football was born.

And it is true, the ball is our best friend, always and forever. Growing up together, we have a unique relationship, one of utmost happiness at scoring a last-second goal and extreme pain at missing one.

Greatest match balls in soccer history

But which are the best soccer balls in history? Stay tuned as we want to reveal them in this article of SportMob. Before getting down to the list of greatest footballs of all time, we should say that the balls are listed in no particular order.

Adidas Jabulani

A record-breaking ball that has garnered the most attention from the press and fans. The Jabulani was developed using new, revolutionary technology that significantly improved the ball's speed and aerodynamic characteristics, while making its flight unpredictable, something that aroused a good deal of criticism. But the ball and its technology proved a success, and it was used in the 2010

World Cup

and a similar design method, in a revised form, is still in use today.

The Jabulani, which was designed in Great Britain, has also been used as the ball for the 2009

Club World Cup

in the United Arab Emirates, while a dedicated version of the ball, the Angola Jabulani, was the ball for the 2010 African Cup of Nations. It is also used in the 2010 Torneo Clausura in Argentina and in Major League Soccer 2010 in the United States.

The Guardian newspaper and The Half-time Whistle blog have suggested that Jabulani may be responsible for the dramatic drop in goal average at the 2010 World Cup. Both articles claim that the characteristics of the ball, in combination with the high altitude of many South African cities, had a negative impact on the effectiveness and accuracy of ball control, change of play and shots from outside the box.

Mitre Ultimax

The next ball in our list of

best soccer balls in history

is Mitre Ultimax. It was the first synthetic ball to replace its leather counterpart. It was the official ball of the

English Premier League

at its birth in 1992. The Mitre Ultimax is among the most popular and iconic soccer balls in the history of football, and it was the first ball to reach speeds of over 100 miles per hour. It was also the official ball of the English Premier League in 1995 and 2000.

Nike Maxim

While the Adidas company got their hands on the major international football tournaments, the Nike company took over the domestic leagues of European countries, where this model has become one of the first official balls in the leagues of Spain, Italy and England.

Nike Maxim was used for the first time in the 2012-13 season. At the same time, Nike's RaDaR technology was used in the ball. During its launch season, the ball was used in English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian

Serie A

and Turkish

Süper Lig

.

Adidas Roteiro

It was this ball that began the tradition of designing a unique ball for each important match. It debuted with its stylish design at Euro 2004, during which a separate series of balls with the names of the teams, city and stadium where the match took place and the date of the sporting event on it was produced for each match. It is the first match ball without stitching. The surfaces of the ball are not stitched together but are thermally bonded. Nevertheless, many footballers was not really impressed by this new technique.

The manufacturer Adidas said that the thermal bonding creates a rounder ball, making it easier for players to control. In fact, David Beckham and Zinédine Zidane praised the Roteiro. However, many footballers disagreed with them. For example, Phillip Cocu, the captain of the Dutch national team, referred to the ball as "a brick" after the friendly match against the Faroe Islands. The Spanish Iván Helguera compared the Roteiro to a beach ball.

However, there are not many that Adidas Roteiro is one of the most

famous soccer balls in history

of football.

Adidas Finale Power Orange

Another Adidas ball in our list of

best soccer balls in history

is Finale Power Orange. If you take a close look at the photo of this ball, you can guess that the main feature of it is its capability to be used for playing in bad weather. This is evident from its bright coloring, as well as the use of a special material that does not absorb moisture and allows you to control the ball even in heavy rain. The ball was first used in the final of the

Champions League

in the 07/08 season.

Adidas +Teamgeist

+Teamgeist was the official ball of the 2006 Football World Cup manufactured by Adidas. It was developed especially for the event, which was held in

Germany

from 9 June to 9 July 2006. The design differs from the traditional footballs used to date, which have 32 cut-outs (20 hexagons and 12 pentagons), while +Teamgeist has only 14 cut-outs, in order to ensure better precision for the players thanks to a smoother and more spherical surface. The ball's predominantly black and white color refers to the colors of the German national team, while the gold accents reflecting the World Cup trophy.

Each of the balls used during the 2006 World Cup was marked with the date, venue and teams of each match. 2,880 +Teamgeist were used during the World Cup. Furthermore, a gold-colored ball was specially made for the final of the competition, while a blue, white and red +Teamgeist was specially made to play in the final of the 2006 French Football Cup.

Adidas Wawa Aba

One of the best soccer balls in history with an African them is the Adidas Wawa Aba. It was the first football produced and distributed by Adidas specifically for the Africa Cup of Nations. It has similar characteristics to the Europass, used during the 2008 European Football Championship. In terms of structure, it is also reminiscent of the +Teamgeist, the official match ball of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Its color scheme is red, yellow, green and black, the national colors of

Ghana

, and thus deviates strongly from the classic color scheme with white as the basic tone. Its name translates as "seed of the abachi tree" and stands for strength and flexibility. The ball has a "goose skin"-like surface to improve flight characteristics and controllability.

It is made of an orange plastic air bladder that is sewn into fabric panels and also covered with rubber. As with the +Teamgeist, the shape and arrangement of the panels was chosen to improve the roundness of the ball.

Adidas Finale (Champions League 2002)

It is the dream of every football player on this earth to kick the star ball one day. The UEFA Champions League has made it its most prominent symbol, right behind the pre-match music.

Probably the UEFA Champions League final ball's most legendary edition is the 2002 edition, with its simplistic design and black stars and Zizou, who kicked the ball with his left foot and sent it wobbling into the Bayer Leverkusen net.

That year’s ball design did not had any changes compared to the 2001 Champions League final, other than the color of the stars on it changed from grey to black.

Adidas ICON

This ball is famous for being the first ball in football history to be designed exclusively for the Women's World Cup, which was held in 1999 in the United States. What makes this ball special is that it was designed with women's football as well as women's bodies in mind as Adidas claims.

It was manufactured with the same technology as the Adidas Tricolore used in the 1998 World Cup. Nevertheless, it has a more colorful design, representing the eight host cities of the tournament.

Nike 850 Geo

The Nike 850 Geo was more like a sponsored foosball. In fact, the 850 Geo was all white, simply with a black and gold Nike tick. And what more could you ask for in a football... Since 1996 to 1998, the Nike 850 Geo was the official match ball of the Spanish first division. Rivaldo was a great fan of it, while wearing the

FC Barcelona

shirt and he scored some beautiful goals with this ball in the

La Liga

. Many football fans consider it among the

greatest footballs of all time

.

Are you ready for another Adidas in our list of best soccer balls in history? Stay tuned then.

Adidas Etrusco Unico

Etrusco Unico was the official match ball of the 1990 World Cup in Italy and the 1992 European Football Championship in

Sweden

. As with most other balls used in international football competitions, the Etrusco Unico was manufactured and distributed by Adidas. It was the first ball to be used in both a World Cup and a European Football Championship without being specifically developed. In addition, the ball was also used at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

One of the reasons for the name of the match ball is Italy's long history, in which the ancient Etruscan people played an essential role. The design of Etrusco Unico, as one of the greatest footballs of all time also features three Etruscan lion heads on each of the 20 panels. This ball represented the next stage in the development of synthetic materials. In fact, it was the first ball with an inner layer of black polyurethane foam. As a result, the Etrusco Unico was completely waterproof.

Adidas Tricolore

The Tricolore was the official football used during the 1998 World Cup in

France

. Manufactured by the German sports equipment company Adidas, it was the first multi-colored match ball of the competition. The tricolore flag and the rooster, traditional symbols of the French Republic and its national football team, inspired the name and design of the ball.

The ball included a layer of "synthetic foam", a highly advanced compact material consisting of gas-filled micro-bubbles, each individually sealed and highly resilient. This synthetic foam enhanced the ball's durability, energy recovery and responsiveness even further. It was the official ball of the official Primera División and Primera B Championship in Chile in 1999.

Tricolore was the first ball to be produced outside Europe after the Telstar Durlast. It was made in Morocco and Indonesia and sewn together in Tunisia. The ball will be always remembered as one of the famous soccer balls in history.

Nike Ordem IV

The Ordem, which debuted in 2014, has been the first Nike match ball to use panels that are joined instead of sewn together. Its IV version was the official match ball of the English Premier League during the 2016/17 season. Its color scheme is not unusual, and that is what makes this ball so charming. With its big black lines, it demonstrates both character and madness. So it was a perfect match for the English league.

It's said that the ball is rounder and behave more accurately no matter where it's hit, as well as being near completely waterproof. Another modification made by the Ordem has been its graphical drawing, which increased the visibility of the ball for players on the field.

Its yellow, orange and purple version, used in La Liga, was not bad either. We believe Nike Ordem IV has all that it take to have a place in our list of

coolest soccer balls ever.

Adidas Europass

The Europass is the name of the official football used for Euro 2008 in Switzerland and Austria. It was produced by Adidas. Like the 2006 World Cup ball, the Teamgeist, its surface has only 14 pieces of leather, unlike the balls used since the 1970s, which had 32 pieces. The purpose of this reduction is to make the ball as round as possible and more stable during the “flying" phase by reducing the number of joints, thus creating less disturbance when the ball is moving.

An innovation of this ball is the polymeric material that covers its surface called PCS-Texture. Adidas says that this material is designed to give more power, spin and control (PCS stands for power, swerve and control). As a result, the ball is covered with tiny bumps all over its surface to increase grip.

Just like the ball at Euro 2004 in Portugal, this one was criticised by goalkeepers before the competition for its trajectory. Jens Lehmann, the German goalkeeper, said that "you have to be very brave to go out in the air and try to catch this ball" and that the trajectories were "surprising". The ball "moves very fast," he said. Petr Cech was also critical of the ball before the tournament began, describing it as "unpredictable" and saying that "we're going to see a lot of goals over 30m at this tournament ".

Adidas Fevernova

The next ball in the list of best soccer balls in history is Adidas Fevernova. The Fevernova is official name of the match ball designed and produced by Adidas for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea and the 2003 Women's World Cup in the

USA

. The ball is unique, but not too unusual. This ball's design is indeed very different, taking its inspiration from Asian culture, which is logical for this edition of the World Cup in South Korea and Japan. It''s also colorful, a change from the last six editions which had the Tango design.

It was particularly infamous among goalkeepers because it gave a "wobbly" impression, allegedly developing an unpredictable trajectory, and the Fevernova was therefore blamed for some sensational goals during the tournament. The Fevernova balls were manufactured in Sialkot, Pakistan. This unique ball is considered by many as one of the

greatest match balls in soccer history

.

Adidas Tango Spain

As one of the famous soccer balls in history, Adidas Tango was first revealed as the official match ball for the 1978 World Cup, however, the original 1978 design was somewhat altered for the 1982 World Cup, though it featured a major technological innovation. It continued to be made of leather, but had revolutionary waterproof stitching, which greatly reduced water absorption and therefore reduced the increase in weight of the ball to a minimum during the match in the event of rain.

Many consider Tango Spain as one of the best World Cup balls with Tango design and also amongst the coolest soccer balls ever.

Adidas Azteca

With an Adidas Azteca, in a stadium with the same name, a certain Diego Armando Maradona scored a goal with his hand against England that is remembered as 'La mano de Dios' (The Hand of God). That goal alone made him a football legend.

However, itt wasn't all about legendary hand goals. The Adidas Azteca was also the first purely synthetic ball, which considerably reduced water absorption. One could say that this ball was a before and after in matches played on wet ground. The design of this ball, inspired by Mexican architecture and Aztec murals, will always be remembered with pride by Mexican fans.

Nike Total 90 Aerow

The Nike Total 90, with several models and even a winter version, was the beginning of the redesign of footballs in the last few years. With the Nike 850 GEO, they started in the Spanish League, but La Liga fans never have foreseen that this completely white ball, with only the brand's logo on it, would end up becoming what they have today.

The first Nike Total 90, with its two blue lines forming two circles, represented a break with everything that had been established. The later versions, such as the winter version, were the color revolution in the world of footballs: orange, yellow, purple. Any color was good at a time when the world finally accepted that football was not just about black and white.

All football fans agree that the next ball in our list of

best soccer balls in history

is the best of them all!

Adidas Telstar

Telstar is a truncated icosahedron-shaped football manufactured by Adidas. It is named after the American satellite Telstar 1, which was launched in 1962. It was the official ball of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Later versions of the Telstar were used like the Telstar Durlast for the 1974 World Cup. It is the most famous and best soccer balls in history and is often used to represent the sport.

The design of this ball became the classic representation of a football and was taken as a standard by artists and cartoonists, who recreate their football-themed designs with it. In fact, the 1970 World Cup logo was the first to feature it in its design. The logos of the following World Cups featured it as the main figure. Eventually, this design was no longer used from the '98 World Cup held in France, where the logo of the World Cup had a ball with the design of the Adidas Tricolore ball as its outstanding design.

However, this did not manage to push the Telstar out of its status as one of the coolest soccer balls ever. The Telstar is mainly associated with the players Pelé, Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer. It is featured in the football anime series Captain Tsubasa, which has been broadcast internationally since the 1980s. It is surely one of the greatest match balls in soccer history.

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