Player name: Philip Walter Foden
Clubs: Manchester City
Position: Attacking midfielder/winger
Height: 5 ft 7 in
Phil Foden is an English professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder and winger for Premier League club Manchester City and the England national team. Born in Stockport, Greater Manchester, Foden was a boyhood supporter of Manchester City. He joined the club at the age of four and signed his Academy scholarship in July 2016. Foden's breakthrough into professional football came in 2017 when he won the FIFA U-17 World Cup Golden Ball award following England's successful Under-17 World Cup campaign. He made his debut for City during the same year and in December was named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. Foden has since made over 100 appearances for the club, winning eight honours including becoming the youngest ever recipient of a Premier League winners' medal. In 2019, he won a second Premier League and became the club's youngest-ever goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League, and is the youngest English player to both start a match and score in the knockout stages of the competition. In England, hes is commonly known by many as the "Stockport Iniesta" and is widely considered to be in the top 3 U-21 players in world football with his world class performances on the biggest stages, he is one who flourishes in high magnitude games and oozes natural talent in every aspect of his game from his first touch, to his dribbling, to his precise finishing.
Here at BCBootsUK we have managed to get our hands on a pair of match worn Nike Phantom Venom Elite football boots in the "Future Lab" colourway from the brightest young talent in the Premier League, and one of the brightest in Europe - Manchester City & England's Phil Foden. This pair are simply stunning in every aspect, with features that the retail consumer can only dream of having on a standard pair of Phantom Venom Elites. Having been worn in some of the biggest matches of the 2019-20 season, in some of the world's biggest stadiums, these are simply like gold dust to acquire. A truly unique one-off piece of footballing memorabilia, with these being incredibly sought after within the collector world the desirability is only going to rise and rise with Foden getting better and better with every match. It is scary to think how good he is going to be in 2, 3, 4 years time - the England national team have got a real gem on their hands.
This exact pair were used by Foden in multiple competitions during the period January - April in 2020, the second half of the 2019-20 season. He can be seen in the above pictures wearing them in the Manchester Derby Premier League fixture at Old Trafford on the 8th March 2020. Foden began this particular season with his 7th Major Honour, winning the FA Community Shield against Liverpool at Wembley Stadium, on 4th August 2019. He scored in the penalty shootout which decided the victors. 6 Days later he made his first Premier League appearance of the season as Manchester City beat West Ham United 5-0 at the London Stadium. On 1st October 2019, Foden scored his first goal of the season in the UEFA Champions League, netting in a 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb on Match-day 2 of the group stage. Foden created the second most big chances (6) in the UEFA Champions League group stage, only behind Lionel Messi (7). He made his first Premier League start of the season on 15th December 2019, picking up an assist against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, in a 3-0 victory for the Citizens. Foden ended the season with 38 games played, registering 8 goals and 9 assists across all competitions.
With Foden now being right in the spotlight, he had during the 2019-20 season become one of Nike's biggest athletes in terms of growing stature in the game. With that, comes the best service a player can get as a sponsored Nike athlete. The above pair of Foden's match worn Nike Phantom Venom Elites are like no ordinary retail pair, and whilst to the naked eye this may not seem like the case, trust me, they are very VERY different. They have been specially custom made to measure around a last (mould) of his feet inside Nike's Athlete Services factory located in Montebelluna, where they make only their very best sponsored players' boots, crafted by hand. Just looking at the above picture on first glance, immediately the overall shape of the boots is noticeably different to that of a standard pair. The boots are of a much lower profile, with the toe boxes being almost flat, this would in turn provide a better feel on the ball as the toes are essentially stretching the upper material in that area creating a glove like fit. With the retail boots usually being made in mass production factories in Vietnam or China, the overall quality of made to measure boots from Montebelluna both in terms of materials used and the build quality itself, is simply incomparable. The top top players really do get THE best treatment.
On the 3rd March 2020, in the Carabao Cup Final between Aston Villa & Manchester City at Wembley Stadium, Phil put in a performance of maturity beyond his years, which got him the fully deserved man of the match award. It isn't often you can say a 19 year old was the stand out best player on the pitch in a cup final in front of 90,000 fans. He made the assist for Sergio Aguero's opening goal in the 20th minute as City went on to win the match and lift the trophy. Foden was a thorn to Aston Villa left-back Matt Targett all day, coming close to scoring and even showing the audacity and confidence for a bit of ball juggling as he advanced down the right flank in the second half. No wonder there is such confidence at Manchester City that they - and indeed England - have something very special on their hands for the future. Foden's stats backed up the evidence of our own eyes. He had a pass completion rate of 90.2%, had five shots and that crucial assist... the boots he wore that day? This very pair of his Future Lab Nike Phantom Venom Elites which we have.
The soleplate of the boots is where it becomes plainly obvious that the boots in question are no bog standard shop version pair. Whilst the normal pairs feature the multidirectional "Hyperreactive" soleplate in the firm ground variants, many of Nike's top sponsored players really didn't like it at all, and Foden was no different. His pair feature a modified soleplate which has been taken from the Tiempo Legend 4 FG, which as a boot released way back in 2011. Old is gold, eh? Other players such as Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Raheem Sterling and Thiago Alcantara (the list can go on and on) also had this plate put onto their Venom's.
Foden is a naturally left-footed player, and can play as a wing-back, or a winger on the right, though Pep Guardiola has described him as "more of a midfielder". In 2017, Pep Guardiola described him as "a special player", saying: "It's dangerous to say good things about young players because they are still young, and they have to grow and they have to learn many, many things... But we have a lot of confidence to help him, because we believe he is a guy who has potential, even if he's not strong, he's not tall." In 2017, Louise Taylor of The Guardian described Foden as "boasting tight, adhesive control and blessed with the knack of drifting past opponents". In 2018, veteran football writer Brian Glanville described him as a "gifted and precocious teenager", adding: "Young players of his skill and inventive quality are pitifully thin on the ground."
When comparing the 2 side by side, both Foden's custom and the retail variant, it becomes evident that there are just no similarities at all. Whilst the retail version features the multidirectional studs which an average may find to be great if playing on a 3G pitch or a muddy firm pitch for example, however judging by the amount of top level pro's that opt to not use it, it can't be very well suited to the carpet pitches of the professional game. The Tiempo Legend 4 FG soleplate features an extremely simple stud configuration layour, with 4 conical studs on either side of the forefoot combined with 2 smaller rectangular studs in the middle, and 4 studs in the heel with the rest of the plate being almost flat, as opposed to the diamond cut effect of the retail Venom plate. These conical studs are actually considerably longer than the studs on the retail FG plate, which of course leads to increased grip levels. The Tiempo Legend 4 plate is a perfect match for the elite professional pitches, and for an agile player like Foden, it will suit his game brilliantly allowing him to change direction without studs getting caught. In terms of visual looks, where Nike usually go to extreme lengths to disguise soleplate modifications to fool us into thinking players are wearing what they are advertising, with this pair of Foden's they almost haven't bothered. Whilst they have made the soleplate itself transparent, they have not applied the print of the retail version beneath it like they usually would on a custom pair. Then again, the vast majority of people wouldn't notice, it is only us boot nerds who spend time staring at the soles of players' boots in matches!
Within the hierarchy of football, many reputable names such as Manchester United & England legend Wayne Rooney are referring to Foden as a generational talent, and rightly so. The things this guy is doing on the pitch are incredible at his age, and for a player with his grounded and focused mentality, he can go right to the very top. He had the best mentor you can ask for as a midfielder, in the form of legendary Spanish play maker David Silva - many at City see Foden as a perfect replacement to fill Silva's boots since his departure in the summer of 2020 after a decade of service to City.
The heels of the boots feature the same ACC branding which is found on the retail version, however, on this particular colourway there was a silver "Future Lab" logo applied to the very rear of the heels which is absent on Foden's pair. This is likely to be due to the fact that the upper material is not quite the same as a retail pair, so where the craftsmen in the Montebelluna factory have had to make it specially and not from a general mould, it may have simply not been there for them to add on. But as this pair were never going to go anywhere near the commercial market, they wouldn't have to meet such visual requirements, so no biggie. It is worth noting, that the heel cup itself is of a much lower cut and the rear of each heel counter actually overhangs the rear of the soleplate somewhat. We have seen this heel over hang feature on other players' boots too, such as Andres Iniesta's Nike Magista Opus.
Did you know, Pep Guardiola stated "Phil is the most talented player I have ever seen in my career as a manager. He has everything to become one of the very best players" & "We wouldn't sell Phil even for £500 million". High praise from one of the football's best managers, who has coached the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and so on.
The interior of the boots is more of the same story, custom, custom, custom. The heel liner is considerably thicker, a common request from professional players A thicker, stiffer, insole board has also been built into each boot as opposed to the standard one. This essentially adds rigidity to the boots, as some players can find the standard insole boards to be a bit on the flimsy side. This not just Nike players, we have seen this across all brands, Adidas, Puma, the lot. Players at the top level may find this suits their intense level of the game better. In Foden's pair, he has had Nike add a layer of a sponge like material added on top of these reinforced insole boards likely to help with shock absorption. All of this surprisingly doesn't come at a huge cost in terms of weight, with a retail pair coming in at around 205 grams, Foden's custom pair come in at 209 grams. Somehow the wizards inside Nike's Montebelluna Factory have been able to create a Phantom Venom with all of these changes yet kept the weight almost the same. For reference, although there is no size label inside the boots (common for Nike made to measure boots, as they are not an exact size) Foden's pair are around a UK size 8. Or a size 9, if you're in US sizing.
In recent weeks, Wayne Rooney has hailed Pep Guardiola's management of Phil Foden and says the Manchester City starlet needs to keep up the good work. Manchester United legend Rooney knows all about the attention that comes with being one of English football's biggest prospects after breaking onto the scene as a teenager at Everton. The 20-year-old has netted 11 times for City in 29 appearances in all competitions during this current 2020-21 season so far, also scoring his first two England goals, and has become a key part of Guardiola's set-up after injuries to Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero. Game by game in a City shirt he is further cementing his place in Gareth Southgate's England national team squad for this summer's UEFA European Championships. Not only Foden's talent, skill and technique, but his versatility could also be a key factor for England this summer.
Foden's pair also feature custom insoles, which differ greatly to the insoles found in standard pairs. Usually, the Phantom Venom Elite would come with the "Nike Grip" insoles which are made up of a very soft and flimsy foam like material, with no real structure to them. Phil Foden however used "PORON" insoles with a layer of additional padding on top, lined with a soft black material. The Nike Montebelluna logo would usually feature on the left insole, with the Nike Swoosh and "made in Italy" to the right one. However, due to the amount of use Foden got out of this pair, these logos have worn away from the insoles over time. 9 times out of 10 the elite level pro's use custom insoles such as these, some more custom than others - that is circumstantial to the individual players' requirements.
The above picture is a side by side comparison of a close up in-game shot taken by Alamy of Foden wearing this pair during the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley Stadium on the 3rd March 2020, and a picture taken by us. Photo matching to this level is simply a thing of beauty, and provides the ultimate proof beyond question. We have circled the visible wear and tear marks, with the elements such as slight ripples in the upper material, peeling Nike Swoosh, heel crease, snapped lace tip and of course, the custom soleplate and personalisation. Foden's boots feature personalisation of the England St. George's Cross flag along with "Ronnie Foden" which is the name of his son, who was born in January 2019 with his girlfriend Rebecca Cooke, with whom he has been with since growing up together in child hood.
We also have here Phil Foden's match worn Nike Phantom Venom Elite's which he wore whilst playing for the England U-21 national team during the UEFA European U-21 Championships in France in the summer of 2019. Back then Phil wasn't quite the high profile player he has quickly risen to be today, so he wasn't having the extra special treatment of having his boots modified quite like he is now. Nontheless, these are a still a beautiful pair. During this particular tournament, Foden was a shining light in a poor England team, with him scoring a memorable goal vs France on the 18th June 2019in the group stages, where he dribbled past 6 (yes, SIX) players to calmly slot the ball into the bottom corner.
Foden boasted the number 10 jersey during this tournament, it remains to be seen just what number he'll be handed at the men's national team UEFA European Championships this summer. He made his debut for the full national side on the 5th September 2020 against Iceland in a 0-1 win. He has since gone on to make 3 caps, scoring 2 goals.
Above we can see a side by side shot of a photograoh of the right boot taken by us, perfectly photomatchable to one taken from a pre-season training session with Manchester City at the Etihad Campus Training Centre in August 2019, he continued to wear this pair following England U-21's exit from the Euro's. This pair too feature the name of Foden's son "Ronnie Foden" along with the St. George's Cross flag. Whikst this pair may not feature the modifications of the Future Lab pack pair, they are still of superior quality in comparison to that of a retail pair, with them being made in Italy.
Foden is a player who tends to "wear out" his boots so to speak. Where many players of equivilent level like to change boots after a few uses, it seems Phil likes to stick with 1 pair for a long duration of time. As we can see above, the soleplate of this pair of his Phantom Venom Elite's is considerably worn with heavy discolouration to the transparent FG studs, along with some slight splitting of the individual plastic sections on the soleplate itself. Some grass is even still present from the final time Phil used this pair! He was an avid wearer of the Phantom Venom Elite silo even with this standard FG soleplate, until his profile was raised so much that Nike deemed him a big enough asset to begin making him completely bespoke boots.
With Foden's Nike contract, like fellow teammate Raheem Sterling, seemingly being up he has been recently spotted wearing blackout Phantom Venom Elites, and in the latest matches, resorting back to the Neighbourhood Pack colourway which he has been using since the summer of 2020, which also feature all of the same bespoke elements as his Future Lab pack, minus the personalisation since Nike have stopped supplying sponsored players boots with ID in order to cut costs during COVID-19.
With Manchester City still in all competitions this season, and nailed on to win the Premier League title yet again, it seems Foden's glittering trophy cabinet is going to continue to grow. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below on these 2 special pairs, from 1 very special player!