Lionel Messi's match issued Adidas X Speedportal.1 'Leyenda' 2022 FIFA World Cup football boots & Final shirt

Player name: Lionel Andrés Messi
Clubs: Newell's Old Boys, FC Barcelona, Paris Saint Germain, Inter Miami
Country: Argentina
Position: Attacker
DOB: 24/06/1987
Height: 5 ft 7 in
Lionel Messi  is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for Ligue 1 side Paris Saint Germain and captains the Argentina national team. Often considered as the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Messi has won a record seven Ballon d'Or awards and a record six European Golden Shoes and in 2020 was named to the Ballon d'Or Dream Team. Until 2021, he spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he won a club-record 35 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and seven Copa del Rey titles. A prolific goalscorer and creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most goals in La Liga (474), a La Liga and European league season (50), most hat-tricks in La Liga (36) and the UEFA Champions League (8), and most assists in La Liga (192), a La Liga season (21) and the Copa América (17). He also holds the record for most international goals by a South American male (81). Messi has scored over 750 senior career goals for club and country, and has the most goals by a player for a single club.
Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi relocated to Spain to join Barcelona at age 13, for whom he made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004. He established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, and in his first uninterrupted season in 2008–09 he helped Barcelona achieve the first treble in Spanish football; that year, aged 22, Messi won his first Ballon d'Or. Three successful seasons followed, with Messi winning four consecutive Ballons d'Or, making him the first player to win the award four times and in a row.[10] During the 2011–12 season, he set the La Liga and European records for most goals scored in a single season, while establishing himself as Barcelona's all-time top scorer. The following two seasons, Messi finished second for the Ballon d'Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo (his perceived career rival), before regaining his best form during the 2014–15 campaign, becoming the all-time top scorer in La Liga and leading Barcelona to a historic second treble, after which he was awarded a fifth Ballon d'Or in 2015. Messi assumed the captaincy of Barcelona in 2018, and in 2019 he secured a record sixth Ballon d'Or.
Here we are presenting to you and discussing one of the most sought after, desirable, and valuable pairs of football boots in the entire world of collecting. What we have here is a pair of Adidas X Speedportal.1 'Leyenda' special edition boots which were match issued to, and specially custom made for, the greatest player in the history of the beautiful game - Leo Messi. This exact pair were issued to him for the the most iconic tournament in recent history, the 2022 FIFA World Cup, played in Qatar which is of course where on that iconic night in the Lusail Stadium on December 18th all arguments against Messi being the best there has ever been were ultimately silenced, as he led Argentina to their first World Cup triumph since 1986. The way in which events panned out were largely down to Messi's resilience, determination, talent and hard work. The Argentine side certainly had to work like they never have before, running out as deserved winners with Leo leading the way. In this blog, we'll take a look at all of the modifications Messi had made to this pair in comparison to the standard model which was commercially released to the general public.
At the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Messi scored a penalty in Argentina's opening game, a 2–1 defeat to Saudi Arabia, before scoring with a low 20-yard strike in their next match against Mexico in which Argentina won 2–0, also recording an assist on Enzo Fernández's goal. In the last 16 game against Australia, Messi scored the opening goal in Argentina's 2–1 win in what was his 1,000th senior career appearance, and became the most-capped male South American (CONMEBOL member) footballer of all time, surpassing the previous record set by Ecuador's Iván Hurtado, as well as surpassing and equalling several other FIFA World Cup and national team records. In the quarter-final against the Netherlands, Messi assisted Argentina's first goal for Nahuel Molina with a reverse pass and then scored a penalty as the game finished 2–2 after extra time. Argentina won 4–3 in the penalty shootout, with Messi scoring the first penalty. In the semi-final against Croatia, Messi made a record-equalling 25th World Cup finals appearance, drawing level with Germany's Lothar Matthäus, and scored the opening goal with a penalty before he assisted Argentina's third goal scored by Julián Álvarez in a 3–0 win; with his 11th World Cup goal, Messi overtook Batistuta to become Argentina's all-time top-scorer at the World Cup. Argentina advanced to the final against France, with Messi stating that it would be his final World Cup appearance.
So, here they are, in all their beauty. Already you may have instantly noticed some special differences on this pair over the standard retail edition just from the couple of pictures above. However, before we delve into those elements, let's first take a look at what the special edition 'Leyenda' model actually are, and what they were designed to represent. The X Speedportal ‘Leyenda’ is a throwback to where it all began for Messi, with a design inspired by the Adidas +F50.6 Tunit boots that he wore at the 2006 World Cup. The Leyenda, translating to 'legend' in Spanish, aim's to tell the story of Messi's first and last ever World Cup as the 2022 tournament kicked off on November 20th in Qatar. The Leyenda marks the last of three special edition boot packs that have been rolled out by Adidas in honour of the famous Adidas designs worn at past World Cup tournaments. Both the past and future of Messi's World Cup career are intertwined in the design of the boot. The medial side of the boot celebrates the design of the +F50.6 Tunit boots, while the sides of the boots replicate the inline of the X Speedportal with a white surface. The special edition boots themselves feature a primarily gold colourway, paired with blue, white and black detailing to represent the colours from the Argentinian flag.
  In the 2022 FIFA World Cup final on 18 December, Messi made his record 26th World Cup match appearance at Lusail Stadium. He scored Argentina's opening goal with a penalty, becoming in the process the first player since the last-16 round was introduced in 1986 to score a goal in every round of a single World Cup edition. After Argentina's eventual two-goal lead was erased by France forward Kylian Mbappé, who scored twice inside two minutes, Messi would score again in extra-time to restore Argentina's lead, before Mbappé again drew France level. Tied 3–3 after extra-time, the match went to a penalty shoot-out. Messi scored Argentina's first goal in the shoot-out, with Argentina eventually winning 4–2, ending the nation's 36-year wait for the trophy. Messi received the Golden Ball for player of the tournament, becoming the first player to win it twice. He finished second in the Golden Boot race with seven goals in seven games, one behind Mbappé. With his appearance and two goals in the final, Messi overtook Matthaüs as the player with most appearances at the World Cup (26), and Pelé as the player with most direct goal contributions at the World Cup (21 – 13 goals and 8 assists). The championship game was widely acclaimed as one of the best of all time, with media coverage heavily framing it as a duel between Messi and Mbappé. Following the game, Messi confirmed that he had no plans to retire from the national team, saying "I want to continue playing as a champion".
“It’s been an absolute privilege to watch Lionel Messi for nearly two decades. Moment after moment of spellbinding, breathtakingly joyous football. He’s a gift from the footballing Gods. So pleased that he’s lifted the ultimate prize in our sport. Gracias y felicidades, campeón.” Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker has always been an outspoken champion of Messi, to the point that some critics have accused him of bias in his coverage as a presenter for BBC Sport. But his post-World Cup final tribute to the Argentina captain on social media was perfect. It was impossible not to feel emotional at the sight of Messi lifting the one trophy that had eluded him for so long in Qatar. He had fallen short with Argentina at the final stage in 2014, and had struggled with the burden of huge expectations on the international stage ever since his debut as a long-haired teenager nine years earlier. Above we present to you another tremendously special piece of Messi memorabilia from that World Cup, this is one of just five match issued shirts he was supplied for the Final against France on the 18th of December 2022. The match played at the iconic Lusail Stadium silenced any arguments against Messi being the greatest player of all time, with him completing football becoming the most decorated player since Pele and certainly the greatest player this century.
This special shirt was never sold to the general public by Adidas with the player specific features. The shirts issued to and worn by the Argentina national team players in Qatar were actually made in Argentina, whereas the commercially sold shirts were manufactured in Vietnam, they also featured HEAT.RDY technology along with special letters & numbers for the front and rear player detailings. The shirt itself features 'FRANCE 18 DECEMBER LUSAIL STADIUM' to the front centre chest area of the shirt, the AFA crest is in a much lighter shade of gold on the player's version - the crest on the retail specification shirt was a very saturated shade of gold. Another key point is to the sizing label inside the neck area of the shirt, which is very important to distinguish this shirt from a retail store model or replica. The medium size (“M”) matches the documented size worn by Messi during the 2022 World Cup. “Hecho en Argentina (Made in Argentina)” is a critical identifier along with, more specifically, the order in which each country’s size is listed – “ARG M” must be mentioned first followed by the others in the second row. In summary, the overall style, cut, colors, font, and tagging are all matches to Argentina 2022 World Cup player specific home shirts, and most importantly, to Lionel Messi himself. Getty image reference no. '1446506551' shows one of Messi’s game jerseys hanging in the dressing room prior to Argentina’s Round of 16 match. The size “M” within the collar tagging is clearly visible and you can barely make out the “ARG M” leading off the second row as well. This is certainly one of the rarest and most desirable pieces of football memorabilia in the world.
So whilst the visual design of the overall look of the boots is identical to the naked eye, let's look beyond the surface and dig into the first difference: the upper construction. Within the football boot fanatic world, it has become more common knowledge now than ever that Messi loves a custom upper design on his modern day boots, this wasn't really a 'thing' with the older model boots such as the F50's and F30's that he used to wear back in the day, however since the introduction of knitted upper constructed boots, Messi hasn't been a fan by any means of one-piece uppers. Leo much prefers his boots to have a split upper to get a better, more natural and traditional fitment, and Adidas of course have to get this absolutely spot on for the best player of all time. This pair here are no different, his boots for the 2022 FIFA World Cup do feature that custom split upper design, incorporating a totally unique and bespoke construction for the player
Above: that iconic celebration. Whether it was in the rule book or not, Lionel Messi was going to do just about anything to get to the World Cup semifinals. Football fans all over the world saw another side to Messi in Argentina’s wild penalty-shootout victory over the Netherlands — a side that can only really come out in the most pressure-filled occasions. There’s a street-fighter mentality that is never far from the surface when it comes to Argentina’s national team and it revealed itself against the Dutch in a match that boiled over on numerous occasions.
Messi, who was fueled by a desire to win football's ultimate prize at likely his last attempt, was right in the middle of it all on the 9th December 2022, at the Lusail Stadium. Not least when, soon after scoring a penalty to put Argentina 2-0 ahead, he stopped in front of the Netherlands dugout and cupped his hands around his ears. It appeared to be a jibe toward outspoken Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, who said before the game that his team would look to take advantage of Messi’s perceived lack of work rate off the ball. The gesture mimicked a goal celebration sometimes used by former Argentina playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme, who reportedly had disagreements with Van Gaal when they were both at Barcelona in the early 2000s and had to leave the Catalan club to make a name for himself in Spanish football. At the end of the game, Messi could be seen gesticulating at the 71-year-old Van Gaal and also went face to face with Edgar Davids, a member of the Dutch technical staff.
The area we are specifically going to focus on here is the 'tongue'. Typically, on modern day boots now we see the one-piece uppers which essentially incorporate an elasticated piece of material underneath the lacing system, in the centre of the upper, which replaces the traditional tongue piece found on older model boots, such as the F50's and F30's Leo wore earlier on in his illustrious career. However as we can see above, Messi totally ditches that elasticated one-piece design on his boots, he instead requests Adidas to custom made for him this wrap over tongue, which in the football boot world is commonly known as the 'burrito' tongue. In order to factor this in, Adidas have to completely change the structure of the boots for Leo and the manufacturing process is different to the publicly released variant. 
Now to add on the point about the manufacturing process being different, it would appear that there is simply no way around that for Adidas since the design is so different, when we take a closer look at the details. If Adidas were to take a regular pair, and essentially cut into the medial side area of that elasticated tongue section, it simply would ruin the structure of the boots, so they of course cannot do that for Messi's version. As we can see in the side-by-side comparisons above, the 'burrito' tongue found on Messi's pair is absolutely huge! It wraps right around the medial side of his foot, and tucks under the arch, during use. 
If we take a look at the picture above on the left, a key point to mention is the slight 'slit', so to speak, in the centre of that one-piece tongue area on the retail boot, is not there on Leo's version, it is instead over much further to the medial side. The reason for this is that as the custom 'burrito' tongue is such a longer piece of material, and where the material itself is extended beginning from the lateral side, that slit in the centre ends up being further over - however, when the boots are on Messi's feet, this slit is actually in the centre. This happens regardless with the retail version as that area of the boot doesn't move, it stays in the same place but stretches, whereas Leo's custom version is the opposite to that so Adidas have to manufacture the custom tongue piece whilst baring in mind that the slit needs to be at the centre when they are in use, to help deflect attraction towards masses of people noticing that Messi is indeed wearing a different version of the boots which are sold to the general public. We can also see on Messi's custom version that there is an extra line of stitching at the bottom of the lacing system, for further reinforcement, which isn't there on the retail variant.
Now if we take a closer look at Messi's bespoke 'burrito' tongue, we can notice that there is an additional layer of padded material applied to the entire underside. Where the retail version is thin, elasticated and stretchy throughout, Leo's version is quite the opposite. This additional layer of padding doesn't only make the custom tongue thicker and more protective, it also stops it from being at all stretchy, making it even more distant from the regular retail version.
The Messi story needed its narrative arc and it is the World Cup that has provided it. People prefer their geniuses flawed, it makes them more compelling. From the days of antiquity, the idea has persisted that there must be a price to pay for one’s gifts, a toll taken. With Messi, that struggle had long been hard to see. Uprooting to Europe aged 13 inevitably brought challenges but he made the transition seem seamless on the pitch and off it. Even the childhood sweetheart came with him. His life has been characterised by success.

That can leave people a little cold. Gabriel Batistuta said it comforted him that he had lost his Argentina scoring record to an extra-terrestrial. Carlos Mac Allister, who played with Maradona and whose son Alexis is now a World Cup winner alongside Messi, summed it up: “Without a doubt, Messi is the greatest in all of history,” he said recently. “I am rational. I believe in what I see. Messi's numbers are compelling.” And yet, still there was the caveat that Maradona had given the people emotions that Messi had not been able to provide.
Next, we'll take a closer look at the soleplate/outsole. Messi's custom version of the X Speedportal.1 does feature the Speed Frame outsole, however, this area of the boots also features some custom differences just for him. Firstly, the 'Leyenda' special edition model of this boot was only ever released in an FG variant, as seen in the picture above, which featured the standard Speedportal moulded stud configuration with the carbon fibre insert running from the midfoot and through the forefoot areas, providing what Adidas state, better responsiveness and energy return. 
The custom pair match issued to Messi himself however, features an SG Speed Frame outsole, which was never made available to or produced for the general public, it is highly likely only a handful of SG pairs were ever made due to them being produced for the man himself only. Now, whilst Messi does typically tend to opt to wear his FG pairs, Adidas do supply him SG pairs regardless since they need to prepare him with the equipment for every eventuality and condition, such as adverse weather or a poor pitch, where he would require SG boots even though it may not be his usual selection. At FC Barcelona, Messi wore SG boots on the odd occasion, most notably in 2014 with the F50 Adizero. At PSG however, Messi wore his SG boots just as much as his FG pairs, surprisingly, which isn't widely known knowledge since the vast majority of people have just got so used to seeing Leo in FG boots!
Another key point to note here, is that Messi's X Speedportal 'Leyenda' do not feature the carbon fibre insert in the Speed Frame outsole which is found on the retail model. Leo's version instead features a black plastic insert, which from a distance looks visually basically the same as the carbon, so they done a good job there on the disguising. Interestingly, this exact plastic insert was used on the later models/colourways of the X Speedportal which were released to the public, so it seems if this plastic is better than the carbon, Leo got the upgrade in his custom boots way before the general public. From the image above, we can also see that Leo's FG stud pattern is fully custom, identical to the Speed Frame found on his X Speedflow 'El Retorno' which can be viewed here:
In terms of personalisation, this pair feature nothing different to the vast majority of Messi's boots - tributes to the closest people to him, his family. Stamped on the boots are the names of his children 'Ciro', 'Thiago' & 'Mateo' along with each of their dates of birth. The name of his wife & childhood sweetheart 'Anto', short for Anrtonella, is also added to the left boot. Lastly, each boot features the Argentina flag along with Leo's squad number '10' to the medial side of the upper.
Messi was a Champions League winner as a teenager and scored in two more Barcelona triumphs before the age of 24. He had an Olympic gold medal at 21. Seven Ballons d’Or. 800 goals. One big problem. The Copa America just was not enough.

The World Cup was his final labour, the tournament that would not bend to his will. This fifth and final opportunity had come at a time when his powers had appeared to be waning. He was no longer viewed the best player at his own club let alone on the planet.

That he hauled Argentina to glory after the setback against Saudi Arabia, ensured that we finally saw the struggle. Leads were lost, once to the Netherlands and twice to France. But he endured. He overcame. It did not come quickly or easily. That makes it more special.
As is to be expected, Messi's boots are specially custom made to measure inside Adidas' Athlete Services factory which is located by their HQ in Herzogenaurach, Germany. This is the location in which Adidas manufacture the equipment of their highest profile, elite level athletes. We can see in the picture above by the label inside the boots, which is stitched to the custom insoles, that this pair are Leo's usual size UK 8. The boots made in this factory state only the UK size on the label, however this is equivalent to a US size 8.5 with Adidas. You may also notice the 'L/R' on the label next to the numbered size, this refers to the left and right boot. Adidas here state those sizes separately, as some athletes have odd sized feet, and inside this factory, they cater to those specific needs of their sponsored athletes. These are of course all services, specifications and options which are not available to the general public.
Next up, we'll take a look at Messi's custom insoles. Again this is yet another bespoke area on this pair which are totally different to what is found on the commercial market. The insoles inside Leo's boots do feature the same base as you'd normally find, however, from there everything is custom just for the player. The insoles themselves have been made much thicker and more padded throughout, on top of all that is a soft black suede liner - a nice additional touch of luxury and comfort. On the underside in the midfoot area, adidas have taken away some of the base foam structure, and replaced it with a much softer compound on both the lateral and medial sides, but interestingly they have left the centre spine as it was. Also, as mentioned further up in this blog, the 'Made in Germany' size label is stitched to the insoles on Messi's version, whereas with the retail pairs, the size labels is glued to the internal heel liner and states 'Made in China'.
 His final trick might just be his greatest too. Stripped of the searing pace that when coupled with his ability to manipulate the ball made it almost unfair, this version of Messi is battling against his own 35-year-old body. The physical advantage is with the opponent. To watch him solve that problem with a glance here and a feint there has been to witness genius. Ronaldo fans never have grasped that it is about more than goals. It is the passes he receives that others cannot. The passes he makes that never require others to break stride.
 Let's now talk upper material. This pair feature the same upper material (although as discussed further up in this blog it's overall construction is vastly different) as the retail variant, which is an interesting topic as within the football boot collector world, it's quite well known that Messi reverted to his roots and resulted in using boots made from leather, or as close to, during the matches at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Now, as the 'Leyenda' was the first model Messi has used with this type of upper material since way back in 2013, Adidas still wanted him to wear the synthetic upper of the regular Speedportal model which he had been using since the original release (green colourway) of the model in July 2022. With the previous model to the Speedportal, the Speedflow, Messi used the retail equivalent synthetic upper material throughout the entire lifespan of that model, so it was only at the 2022 World Cup where he expressed desire to go back to a leather type of upper material.
 Above we can see a close up of Leo wearing his boots during a training session in Qatar at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Now whilst we can see the personalisation of his wife's name, along with their son's name and his date of birth, let's continue to focus on that upper material. This here is a pair with that leather type of material upper that we have just discussed, notably we here would be genuinely surprised if it is actual leather due to his wife's public disagreement with the use of genuine leather because of her views on animal welfare, so it is more likely that it is a remake of the Hybrid Touch material found on the 2013-14 F50 Adizero, which incidentally was the first boot that Messi used which wasn't genuine leather since 2007. Here we can also notice that Messi is using the carbon fibre around the Stability Wings on the boot in the picture, this is another small detail which some of his pairs had, and others didn't. 
Lastly on the topic of the upper material, we can conclude that Messi was supplied by Adidas multiple different variations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Moving from the general synthetic upper material to a leather type upper is a big change, and with Adidas of course wanting Leo to still use the retail upper as he had been for multiple years prior, they still supplied him match spec boots with the synthetic upper - as seen with the pair we have here. As well as this, he was also issued with FG and SG pairs for all eventualities, as well as pairs with carbon fibre around the Stability Wings, and some without. With Messi being the front runner for Adidas' football division, they supply him with equipment for every possible condition. The synthetic upper would work better than the leather-ish upper if it were adverse, rainy, weather conditions as it wouldn't absorb any water. Of course, the weather conditions out in Qatar during the World Cup were dry and hot, allowing Messi to wear his favoured FG plate with no issues, and opting to wear his pairs with the differing upper material. 
 Messi will know that he needed those others to make this happen, he has always been a team player. He can think back to 2010 to remind him of the need for the right manager. He will recall the misses of others as well as his own in the 2014 final. The mess that was 2018.

Here, it came together amid barbecues with a band of brothers. “Everything that he transmits to his team-mates is something unparalleled, that I have never seen before,” said Lionel Scaloni after the final. “A player, a person who gives so much to his team-mates.” But that is reciprocated. Julian Alvarez had watched him on television as a child. He was Messi’s legs in Qatar. Rodrigo De Paul spoke of going to war for his captain. He was Messi’s minder. Emiliano Martinez admitted that he would be happier for Messi than himself.

Such responsibility could have been suffocating but cheered on by their supporters, it emboldened him and everyone around him. Burdened with glorious purpose, it became a mission – and the clarity of that mission helped carry them all the way to victory.
Moving the spotlight onto the construction of the heel areas, and this is yet another area of total customisation for Messi. There are no similarities here between Leo's version and the retail version, so let's take a closer look in more detail. Above, we can see inside Messi's version and instantly you'll notice the huge amount of additional padding throughout the area in it's entirety. This extra padding also rises right up to the very edge of the ankle cup, providing the ultimate comfort for Leo. To top that off, the liner may be the same blue colour as the retail version, but the material itself is of a much softer fabric material, further enhancing that level of comfort. The padding also goes a lot further in the direction of the midfoot on both the lateral and medial sides, just ensuring that the comfort for Leo's feet in those areas is of the absolute highest level possible. Now let's compare that to the retail specification...
So straight away here we can see that, inside the heel construction of the retail model 'Leyenda' X Speedportal, the padding itself is much less pronounced ultimately due to there being less of it. We can also see that the blue fabric liner is actually stitched to the inside of the heel area, and that line of stitching can also be seen from the exterior of the heel area, it runs along where the blue & gold colouring stops as it meets the white knitted material - it also runs across the black section on the heel tab. On Messi's version, that line of stitching is simply not there, due to the blue heel liner on his version actually wrapping over the top of the ankle cup the entire way round the stitching for it to be attached to the white knitted upper material would instead be underneath, as opposed to on the exterior like on the retail model. On a seperate note, whilst we are taking a look at the particular angles of the boots above, we can also see how Messi's custom insoles feature that black suede liner instead of the blue with the gold & black '10' graphic on top, as well as that custom upper material construction of the knit where the white piece on the medial side follows down parallel with the lacing system, instead of stopping above where the heel padding stops, and changing direction to go across the top of the boot to form that one-piece elasticated tongue design. Totally different.
On October 30th 2023, Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d'Or for a record eighth time, fending off competition from Manchester City striker Erling Haaland after leading Argentina to the World Cup in Qatar. "I couldn't imagine having the career that I've had. Everything that I've achieved," Messi said after getting his award. "The fortune I've had playing for the best team in the world, the best team in history. It's nice to win these individual trophies. To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing. All of them (Ballon d'Or awards) are special for different reasons."
Even prior to the 2023 ceremony in Paris, no player had won the Ballon d'Or more times than Messi, who first won it in 2009 and then again in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021. A feat like this will surely never be beaten, or even repeated. Messi is the undisputed greatest player of all time.

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