Pedro's match worn Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly iii UCL Final 2011
Pedro's match worn Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly iii from the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final
Player name: Pedro Eliezer Rodríguez Ledesma
Clubs: San Isidro, FC Bacrelona, Chelsea
Height: 5 ft 7 in
Pedro is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a forward or winger for English Premier League club Chelsea and the Spain national team. He spent 7 years at La Liga giants FC Barcelona scoring 99 goals in 320 appearances across all competitions for the club from 2008 to 2015, before joining Chelsea in 2015 signing a four year contract in a deal worth £19 million, rising to £21.4 million with add ons. He has won 25 major honours, including five La Liga titles and the UEFA Champions League three times. During the 2009–10 season, he became the first player in history to score in six different official club competitions in one season. He has represented Spain in two FIFA World Cups and two UEFA European Championships, winning each tournament once.
We've managed to acquire Pedro's match worn Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly iii boots, which he wore during the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final, FC Barcelona vs Manchester United on the 28th May 2011 at Wembley stadium. Special pairs like these from such big matches do not come around often, all collectors know these are simply like gold dust.
During his time at FC Barcelona, he was definitely one of their unsung heroes and overshadowed by the sheer brilliance of the players around him such as Leo Messi, Xavi and Iniesta. A product of the famous La Masia academy, he worked his way through the ranks to become an integral part in the clubs success. He sort of went under the radar in terms of getting the praise he deserved, however he consistently performed at his peak performance level week in week out for the Spanish giants. So it comes as no surprise that he was a constant name in the starting XI under the four different managers he played under during his time at the club, which were Pep Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, Gerardo Martino and Luis Enrique.
This pair are completely custom made and bespoke just for Pedro, whilst they visually may appear to be not so different to the retail version of the Mercurial Vapor Superfly iii, they are in actual fact worlds apart. The treatment that elite pro's get from their sponsors is incredible, stunning attention to detail in the manufacturing process of their made to measure boots, and this pair are a perfect example of that.
Each boot features the match and date embroidered into the outstep area, which is a lovely touch from Nike to mark the special occasion, it was a UCL Final after all. It is not always the case that players have the match and date information personalised on their boots for big matches, some even wear boots they've worn previously that season just purely out of comfort and not wanting to deal with breaking in a new pair for such a big occasion. However some, like Pedro, wear a special one off pair just for that one match, and considering the amount of finals he has played in during his trophy filled career, Nike would have made plenty of special pairs for him over the years.
Pedro played a vital part in the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final, scoring the opening goal of the match assisted by Xavi in the 27th minute, with a cool side footed finish into the bottom corner of Edwin Van Der Sar's net. FC Barcelona went on to win the match 3-1 and were crowned champions of Europe once again, in front of an 87,695 crowd at Wembley Stadium.
Due to the bespoke nature of these boots, there are no size labels present. Carefully hand made to measure by the craftsmen in Nike's prestigious Athlete Service factory in Motebelluna, Italy, to his exact specifications and measurements. This pair are measured to be a size UK5 / US6, which is incredibly small for a player who was 24 years old at the time. We also have a pair of Jesus Navas' Nike Mercurial Vapor IX which interestingly are a similar size, so Pedro is not alone with his tiny feet!
Interestingly, in the weeks leading up to the match Nike released photos of some retail pairs of what their highest profile players would be wearing during the match, with the same personalisation that they would have embroidered on their actual pairs. For the CTR360 they did Iniesta, the Tiempo Legend they did Pique & Puyol, for the T90 Laser Elite they did Rooney, and Pedro for the Superfly iii. The aim of this was to lead people/consumers to believe that these were the boots those players would be wearing during the Final, which was completely misleading as it was far from the truth, especially in the case of Pedro's Superfly's.
They chose to promote Pedro for the Superfly iii as he was the highest profile player to wear the model during the Final. Above is a different angle of the Superfly iii boots they promoted at the time, with the same embroidery that he was to wear on his boots in the Final. Apart from the colourway, that is pretty much where the similarities end between that pair and what Pedro actually wore during the final.
The retail version of the Mercurial Vapor Superfly iii featured a full length carbon fibre soleplate with the two Sense Studs in the forefoot, white Nike swoosh in the centre of the midfoot area along with a purple tint plastic layer around the edge on this particular colourway. The Sense Stud technology was, on paper, a good idea but in reality never really worked. The circular stud in the middle of the two blades was supposed to extend/retract a few millimetres depending on the playing surface, but proved to be a bit of a gimmick.
The majority of Nike's top players who were contracted to wear the Mercurial Vapor Superfly ii and iii which featured this Sense Stud technology were mostly unimpressed judging by the sheer amount that had their soleplates modified to get rid of it. The story is no different with Pedro, whilst he still opted for the full length carbon fibre soleplate he decided to instead have the stud configuration of the Mercurial Vapor VIII, which essentially replaced those two Sense Studs on the instep area of the forefoot with the same triangular blades that are on the outstep area of the forefoot. Countless players had this done to their Superfly boots at the time, including the likes of Neymar and Mario Gotze.
Like 6 of his Barcelona teammates, Pedro started the 2010-11 campaign coming off the back of a successful World Cup campaign in South Africa with the Spain national team. He made a slow start to the season in terms of stats, scoring just 2 goals in the opening 14 games, however, after that difficult stretch he simply exploded back into fine form. He scored 17 goals and created 4 assists in the following 18 matches, in some matches single-handedly leading Barcelona to victories. He finished he season with a total of 22 goals and 10 assists in 53 appearances, starting 40 of those matches and making 13 appearances coming off the bench.
Another difference in the soleplate area in comparison to the retail version is the absence of the white Nike swoosh in the centre of the midfoot, which seems a strange thing to leave off when you take into consideration the fact that Nike try to make their elite players' modified boots to look as visually close to standard retail pairs as possible. The layer of plastic around the edge of the soleplate is also transparent and not purple tinted like the retail pairs - although this difference won't make much different to the naked eye they're when on feet.
Nike have also embroidered the instep of each boot with his name, adding a nice personal touch. He is a player who, in the boot world, is known to simply just have his name personalised on his boots, where other players may have their children's and other family members names. Unless it's a special occasion like this pair, where the match details may be added also.
During his professional career, Pedro has made a total of 522 club appearances, acquiring 142 goals and making 90 assists in that time. These figures are still climbing season by season as his career is not done yet, he continues to apply his trade in the English Premier League for Chelsea FC, so far scoring 43 goals for the club
Another interesting modification on this pair is the addition of Fly Wire technology in the toe box area. This is something a number of players who wore this model, including CR7, added to their boots. Now, on a retail pair where the upper was incredibly stiff and non-flexible, this would make the boots much worse as the reason it is there is to add stability and structure. However on Pedro's pair the upper is made from a different material to that of the retail models, it is unbelievably soft for a Superfly iii so the addition of Fly Wire in the toe box on this pair does make sense. The shape of the toe box itself is also much flatter than the bulky retail pairs, however that is to be expected as with retail pairs Nike try to cater for every foot shape in one.
In the heel area, Pedro's Montebelluna ID number has been written in by the craftsmen inside the Athlete Service factory, this number is a reference to his foot last mould.
Above: Pedro slotting home the opening goal of FC Barcelona's 3-1 win in the UEFA Champions League Final vs Manchester United.
Inside the boots is where the different upper material is visually noticeable. Inside the retail pairs, the colour of the material would be the same as the main exterior colour, as it was 2 pieces of the same material fused together with the Fly Wire in between, and the Fly Wire structure would be visible from both the inside and outside. However with Pedro's pair from the inside, the Fly Wire is not visible and the material is instead a soft black nylon lining with some extra lines of stitching on either side. Comfort was the biggest let down for the Superfly model, with that rock solid upper they took wear after wear to break in, and countless blisters along the way (I know from personal experience!). Until the Superfly 4 came along in 2014 with the revolutionary knitted upper, the Superfly range was just horrendous in the comfort department. It seems Nike have tried everything possible to make this pair wearable straight out the box for Pedro, which is extra vital for this pair considering they were for one game only.
Another interesting modification Pedro requested on this pair was to have absolutely no heel structure/support whatsoever. The retail version of the Superfly iii featured a strong and sturdy internal heel counter, as you would expect from a high performance football boot, however Pedro had chose to have his pair made without this and in it's place, there is literally nothing. It is hard to conceive that a model as stiff as the Superfly iii can be made to be this flexible, but that is how Pedro likes his boots. The Fly Wire technology still runs through the heel so that does at least offer some support, however not much in comparison to what a normal internal heel counter would. Nike have also made this pair with an incredibly thin heel liner in comparison to retail pairs.
Let us known your thoughts on this pair in the comment section below!