Gareth Bale's match worn Adidas X19.1 football boots

Gareth Bale's match worn Adidas X19.1 football boots

 

Player name: Gareth Frank Bale

Country: Wales

Clubs: Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid

DOB: 16/07/1989

Position: Winger

Height: 6 ft 1 in

Gareth Bale is a Welsh professional footballer who plays as a winger for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Wales national team. Renowned for his ball striking from distance, swerving free kicks, and his ability to get past defenders with pace, Bale has received plaudits from his peers, who have described him as a footballer with tremendous speed, great crossing ability, a great left foot and exceptional physical qualities. He began his professional career at Southampton, playing at left-back and earning acclaim as a free kick specialist. Bale moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007, for an eventual £7 million fee. During his time at Tottenham, managerial and tactical shifts saw him transform into a more attacking player. From the 2009–10 season, under the guidance of Harry Redknapp, Bale became an integral part of the team, rising to international attention during the 2010–11 UEFA Champions League. In 2011 and 2013 he was named PFA Players' Player of the Year, and was named in the UEFA Team of the Year. In 2013, he was also named PFA Young Player of the Year, the FWA Footballer of the Year and the Premier League Player of the Season. He was nominated to the PFA Team of the Year three times in a row between 2011 and 2013.
 
On 1 September 2013, Bale was transferred to Real Madrid for an undisclosed fee. Press at the time reported the transfer value at figures between €91 million and €100 million. In January 2016, documents pertaining to the transfer were leaked which confirmed a then-world record transfer fee of €100.8 million, exceeding the previous record fee of £80 million (€94 million) the club paid for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009. Bale played an integral role in his first season at Real Madrid, helping the club to win the 2013–14 Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League, scoring in both finals. The following season, he won the UEFA Super Cup and scored in a third major final to help the club win the FIFA Club World Cup. Two years later, he was a key player in another Champions League run, winning the 2015–16 title and being elected to the UEFA Squad of the Season. He was also a finalist in the UEFA Men's Player of the Year Award, and was named man of the match having scored with an overhead kick in the 2018 UEFA Champions League Final.
 
 
Here at BC Boots UK we have managed to acquire a pair of Gareth's match worn Adidas X19.1 football boots which he used during the 2019-20 season whilst playing for Real Madrid, in both the UEFA Champions League & La Liga - a league title winning season for Madrid. These, of course, are not any old standard pair of X19.1's, they are totally custom just for Bale and in this blog we will go into every unique element of this pair in detail. Managing to get match worn items from world stars such as Bale is a mammoth task, boots especially as they are used for a section of the season rather than just a singular match like shirts meaning there are simply less made, so usually the bespoke differences the top players have with their footwear do not often reach the public eye.
 
 
One of the fastest footballers in the world at his peak, Bale started out as an offensive left-back or wing-back at the beginning of his career. It was at Tottenham Hotspur that his manager Harry Redknapp decided to utilise Bale's pace and played him as a left winger, where he developed into a world class player. He is predominantly known for his speed, strength, stamina, and heading ability, but also possesses good technique and ball control. His skills, combined with his acceleration and physicality, allow him to get past defenders regularly and make runs into space, where he is able to score or create. Bale is also a free kick specialist, and is known for employing the "knuckle ball" technique (popularised by Juninho) when taking free kicks. As he moved further forward onto the wing, he began to score goals on a regular basis with powerful strikes from outside the penalty box. In addition to his athletic and offensive capabilities, Bale has also drawn praise in the media for his work-rate and defensive contribution off the ball.
 
 
Bale is a player who has always had heavily modified boots, often wearing pairs that share next to no features with the retail equivalent models which get sold in retail stores to the general public - and this pair are no exception to that. In 2014, Bale signed a 6-year contract extension with his sponsor Adidas which was reported to be worth £20m to the player, making him one of the brand's highest profile sponsored athletes along with Messi, Van Persie & Robben at the time. Adidas were said to be unsure whether or not to give Bale this bumper extension in his contract due to Tottenham not playing in the Champions League, however when he signed for Real Madrid, the doubts quickly disappeared. He has since then performed, well, one or two notable moments in the UCL... one of which being arguably the greatest goal of all time in the competition, with the over head kick in the 2018 Final.
  
 
 As Bale has developed into one of the most dangerous left wingers in the world, his style of play has won admiration from managers, current and past players such as Luís Figo, José Mourinho, Igor Štimac, and Dani Alves. Bale has been described as a footballer with "tremendous speed, great crossing ability, a great left foot and exceptional physical qualities". Former Liverpool player and BBC Sport football pundit Mark Lawrenson said in 2011: "What makes Gareth Bale so special? Simple. He is one of the quickest players I've ever seen, but he has another gear and the ability to find that extra pace within the next stride. He has the ability to perform and use his technique at great pace."
 
 
As ever with Adidas' top sponsored players, Gareth Bale's boots are specially custom made to measure *by hand* in their Athlete Services factory which is located at their headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany. Adidas size the boots made in this factory "L/R" as typically some players have odd sized feet. We have known Bale to change size occasionally depending on the model, or time of year the boots are to be worn in - often smaller in the winter months as the boots do not need to breathe as much as in the hot weather summer months, especially out in Spain. His boots tend to fluctuate in size from UK9.5 - UK9.75 - UK10. 
 
 
At Real Madrid Bale has usually been deployed as a winger, but mostly on the right flank, due to the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo on the left, a position which enables him to cut into the centre and strike on goal with his stronger left foot; he has also been used in a more attacking role on occasion, as a striker or centre forward, courtesy of his goalscoring, movement off the ball, and ability to make attacking runs while his elevation, strength, and heading accuracy have seen him excel in the air in this role. However, in spite of his playing ability, his playing time during his later seasons with Real Madrid was largely limited by recurring injury struggles. Right up until Cristiano Ronaldo left the Galactico's, Bale had formed a great partnership with the Portugese forward along side striker Karim Benzema, between them they were one of the most frightening front three's in recent times. 
 
 
Adidas have personalised this pair for Bale by adding the national flag of his home country Wales, along with the name of his partner "Emma" and the names of his 2 daughters "Alba" & "Nava", and son "Axel". The right boot also features Bale's custom logo, which incorperates his heart shaped goal celebration combined with his squad number '11'. On 26 March 2013, Bale filed an application with the Intellectual Property Office to register this custom logo to be used on a range of merchandise such as clothing and footwear.
 
 
In July 2019, he was close to leaving the club, according to manager Zinedine Zidane, but later that month a proposed transfer to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning was called off by Real Madrid. In October 2019, Bale was said to be "angry" at Real Madrid and wanted to leave, but later that month Zidane said Bale had never asked to leave. Ex-Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon also said that Bale should return to Tottenham. He made 16 appearances during the league season, as Real Madrid won the 2019–20 La Liga. Despite winning the UEFA Champions League together 3 times, the relationship between Bale and Zizou appeared to have deteriorated during that season.
 
 
One of the more consistent modifications among all of Gareth Bale's boots is the heel construction. He tends to always have a totally different build in the heel area to the retail version of any model, it seems he has very specific requirements in this area, and oh do Adidas cater to his needs...
 
This pair feature a thin layer of padding built inside the heel area, which is lined with a black mesh type of material. The layer of padding actually stops quite a way before (around 25mm) the very tip of the heel tab, rather than the entire thing being padded the whole way up. The heels themselves have been made noticably higher too, around 33-35mm higher than the retail version X19.1 heels. Notice the additional layer of material between the black mesh heel liner and the insole board? That's why that's there, due to the additional height. 
  
 
Gareth Bale's stats are ever impressive, with him having made 171 appearances in La Liga and scoring 80 goals whilst making 46 assists in those games. He has won 16 trophies at Real Madrid; the UEFA Champions League 4 times, as well as 2 La Liga titles, 4 FIFA Club World Cups, 3 UEFA Super Cups, 1 Copa del Rey, 2 Supercopa de Espana, and 6 Welsh POTY. 
 
 
The heel shape from an external view gives a greater realisation to the extent of the customisation. The arc shape which wraps the heels of the boots perfectly around Bale's heel shape is just not there on the retail version, if anything the shape of those just goes dead straight upwards. In the above picture it is also noticeable that the custom black mesh heel liner wraps over the edges of the collar, with the main purpose of that being to simply prevent any possibility of blisters.
  
 
Above: This exact pair in the home dressing room of the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu prior to Real Madrid's UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg Tie vs Manchester City, on the 26th February 2020. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
  
 
The upper of this pair is where things get very, very interesting. Whist this pair visually appear to be, and are badged up as, an X19.1 this is actually just a disguise. The upper itself is made up of 2 custom layers, with the outer skin being lifted from the previous model in the silo - the X18.1. Adidas have very sneakily, and rather cleverly, applied the print of the X19.1 upper over the top in an attempt to hide this modification. This has certainly done the trick, as even in up close shots it takes some concentration to make out that it isn't a standard X19.1 upper.
 
 
  
Bale made his senior international debut for Wales in May 2006, becoming the youngest player at that point to represent Wales. He has since earned over 90 caps and scored 33 international goals, making him Wales' highest scorer of all time. He was the top scorer for Wales in their successful qualifying campaign for UEFA Euro 2016, scoring seven goals; he subsequently represented Wales in the final tournament as they reached the semi-finals, scoring three goals. He also subsequently featured for the side at UEFA Euro 2020. He has been named Welsh Footballer of the Year a record six times. In 2016, ESPN ranked Bale twelfth on its list of the world's most famous athletes.
 
 
The modified upper also features additional lace holes added at either side of the top of the lacing system, to allow Bale to get the perfect lockdown and fitment during use. These extra lace holes also feature a line of stitching applied above, which serves 2 purposes - 1 of which is to prevent overstretch of the upper in that area, the purpose other you will see below...
 
 
Internally, the upper construction features a completely custom lining which is made up of a soft fabric material in blue to match the upper colour, with additional padding throughout - especially in the forefoot areas. The additional line of stitching's second purpose is to apply this lining with the outer skin of the upper. 
 
 
Here we can get a better look at the custom interior lining - totally different to the retail version X19.1, of course. This pair also feature a modified insole board built into each boot, which runs the full length from heel to toe. This board is made of a thick, extremely stiff, plastic composite and has actually been made slightly wider than the soleplate itself to make the boots to be of a slightly wider build to accommodate Bale's foot shape. Due to the sheer stiffness, Adidas have cut 2 grooves/slits in the forefoot area to provide some flex in that specific part of the board. Typically players will have their boots built with this due to them not liking the flimsy build of standard retail pairs. As well as Bale, sponsored Adidas players such as Paul Pogba, Thomas Muller, James Rodriguez & Aymeric Laporte also use a similar modification in their boots.
 
 
From a humble background, Bale was born in Cardiff, Wales, to parents Frank, a school caretaker, and Debbie Bale, an operations manager. He is the nephew of former Cardiff City footballer Chris Pike. He attended Eglwys Newydd Primary School in Whitchurch. It was while at this school that he first came to the attention of Southampton at age nine, when he was playing in a six-a-side tournament with his first club, Cardiff Civil Service. Growing up, his footballing hero was fellow Welshman and Manchester United player Ryan Giggs. Bale attended Whitchurch High School in Cardiff. He was a keen athlete; he played football alongside future Wales rugby captain Sam Warburton, rugby, hockey and excelled at athletics. As a 14-year-old he says that he ran the 100-metre sprint in 11.4 seconds. Because of his superior footballing skill, the school's PE teacher, Gwyn Morris, had to write special rules which restricted Bale to playing one-touch football and not using his left foot. Despite being only 16 at the time, he helped the school's under-18 team win the Cardiff & Vale Senior Cup. He left school in the summer of 2005 with a Grade A in PE amongst his other GCSE results. In his final year at school, he was awarded the PE department's prize for services to sport. In the presentation, his PE teacher Morris commented:

"Gareth has a fierce determination to succeed and has the character and qualities to achieve his personal goals. He is one of the most unselfish individuals that I have had the pleasure to help educate."
 
 
The outer skin of the upper material also features an additional reinforced layer which runs around the edge of the toe box, very similar to the 'Sprint Web' technology we saw on models of the Adidas F50 Adizero circa 2013 era, the upper of which Bale used on most of his Adidas boots regardless of models right up until early 2018 with the X17.1 boots he wore, which were just nothing like the retail X17.1 whatsoever, but Bale can do what he likes...
 
This additional layer on the upper whilst adding to the durability of the boots, also provides a tighter fit of the boots for Gareth during use - let's not forget that these have been made extra wide, with those custom insole boards being wider than the soleplate itself. 
 
 
Above: a side by side photo match of this pair being worn by Bale during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg Tie, Real Madrid vs Manchester City at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, on the 26th February 2020. Here we can see just how different the upper of the boots can look under certain lighting. In our picture which has not got the floodlights of the Bernabeu effecting the lighting (shocker, I know!) we can clearly see the X19.1 upper print on the outer skin with the lines clearly visible - the actual texture of the upper is hidden. In the picture of Bale wearing them, the reflection shows the texturing of his custom upper - extremely interesting. We can also see the perfect match of the personalisation of the Wales flag, along with Bale's partner's & daughter's names "Emma Alba". Let's also note just how high up those heels go - wow!
 
 
In the UEFA Champions League Bale has scored 20 goals and made 19 assists in a total of 64 appearances in the competition for both Real Madrid & Tottenham Hotspur combined, with 3 of those goals coming in the Final itself, with 1 in 2014 & 2 in 2018.
  
 
Now, here we have a side by side comparison of Bale's custom upper with that of the retail version. It is clear to see just why Adidas decided to print those line graphics on the upper of Gareth's pair. The difference between the two uppers is greater than you would be led to believe, with the X18.1 upper usually creasing with the foot more naturally during use than the X19.1, due to those restricting raised lines on the upper.
 
 
Gareth Bale is certainly one of the most under appreciated players of the last decade in world football. His contribution to Real Madrid has been outstanding, but was often over shadowed by Cristiano Ronaldo's presence - similar to Karim Benzema. We will soon see whether Bale can get back to his peak form in the upcoming 2021-22 season, which as it stands will be his last at Madrid, unless of course they renew the 4x UEFA Champions League winner's contract.

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