Gareth Bale's match worn modified Adidas X16.1 boots
Player name: Gareth Frank Bale
Clubs: Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid
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. In September 2013 Bale moved to Real Madrid for a fee of 100.8 million euros. In the 2013-14 season Bale helmed Real to win the Copa Del Rey and UEFA Champions League scoring in both of the finals.
Here we are able to give an up close view into Bale's modified Adidas X16.1 boots, which were bespoke made for him to wear during the 2016-17 season for Real Madrid. This pair are heavily customised and are incomparable to the retail versions of this model which Adidas sold to the general public.
This pair are made in Germany by Adidas' Athlete Services to Bale's exact specifications, with the factory located at their headquarters in Herzogenaurach, where Adidas hand make all their top players' boots.
Since Gareth has been at Real Madrid he has been known for heavily modifying his boots and this pair are a perfect example of that. Seemingly based on the 2013 F50 Adizero model, which Bale wore during his last season at Tottenham which clinched his £90 million move to the Galacticos due to his performances. It seems he has not changed his footwear much since that season.
The upper is completely different to the retail version, although to the naked eye it may not seem so. Made of a very stiff synthetic around a mould of his feet, the upper is highly reminiscent of the 2013 Adizero F50 model's "SprintSkin".
A layer of thicker protective synthetic has been applied around the edge of the toe box area, which seems to mirror the "SprintWeb" technology we saw on the 2013 F50.
The above comparison shows just how similar the layer around the edge of the toe box is to the F50 Adizero from 2013. The top layer of the upper of the X16.1 pair appear different, however the inside seems completely the same as the F50 as you will see further down.
The internal structure is practically identical to the F50, however the upper of Bale's pair is slightly thicker in comparison. Gareth's pair are also noticeably lighter than the retail Adidas X16.1.
The heels are lined with a black padded mesh material which is extremely soft. Due to the heel tabs being made considerably smaller than the retail versions, the heels are more flimsy and have a lot less structure to them.
Adidas have personalised the heels of the SprintFrame's with his custom logo on the outer sides, whilst the insides are personalised with "Bale 11" and his childrens names "Nava" & "Alba". These images also show how small the heel tabs are.
It is unclear exactly what Bale's custom logo design represents, but he has had it applied to his boots since back in 2015 he was wearing the X15.1 model.
There are some small signs that show the shape of the boots are custom. There are some pulls in the material in some parts of the boots where they have been made so specifically, as opposed to being made around a generic shape like a retail pair would be.
This pair do not use the one piece upper which you see on the retail versions, Bale has instead opted for a traditional style tongue with normal lace holes. The tongue seems to be lifted from the previous X15.1 model, with Adidas branding and the X logo being applied - which are not on the retail version X16.1 model.
The TechFit collar seems to be a dummy for TV cameras so it appears Bale is wearing a standard pair. A thin piece of the material runs underneath the laces and tongue, however would not add to the fitment or feel of the boots.
The material around the heel area up to the TechFit collar is considerably thick, which would suggest Bale wants the fit of a more traditional boot than that of what is available on the more modern pairs.
The heel of each boot has been made much taller than the retail versions, with the heel tabs being a completely different shape aswell.
Extra stitching has also been applied around the lacing system. Unfortunately Bale did not wear this pair due to being injured during the time of the release of this "Blue Blast" colourway. These differences display the lengths brands go to in order for their top athletes to feel comfortable whilst wearing and promoting their latest pairs.
What's your thoughts on this pair, should retail version boots be made closer to what the pros actually wear?