Raheem Sterling's match worn modified Nike Phantom Venom
Player name: Raheem Shaquille Sterling
Clubs: QPR, Liverpool, Manchester City
Position: Winger/Attacking midfielder
Height: 5 ft 7 in
Raheem Sterling plays as a winger and attacking midfielder for Manchester City and the England national team. He is considered to be one of the best wingers in the world. Born in Jamaica, Sterling moved to London at the age of five and began his career at Queens Park Rangers before signing for Liverpool in 2010. He was awarded the Golden Boy award in 2014. In July 2015, following a lengthy dispute over a new contract, he was signed by Manchester City in a transfer worth £49 million, the highest transfer fee ever paid for an English player at the time. He then went on to help Manchester City win back-to-back Premier League titles in the 2017–18 and 2018–19 seasons. In the 2018-19 season, he was named to the PFA Premier League Team of the Year and won the PFA Young Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year.
This pair of Nike Phantom Venom's from the "New Lights" pack were worn by Raheem during the 2019-20 season with Manchester City and the England national team, from July through until November. So far this season Sterling has scored 14 goals and assisted 5 in just 18 games.
Manchester City kicked off the 2019-20 season by winning the FA Community Shield by beating Liverpool on penalties after finishing the match at 1-1 at Wembley stadium. Raheem scored the opening goal of the match in the 12th minute, whilst wearing this pair.
Nike have added a personal on this pair for Sterling by adding "Unruly" with his children's names "Melody-Rose", "Thiago-Romeo" & "Thai-Cruz".
As this pair were worn for such a long period of time and in many matches and training sessions, there are a noticeable amount of visible wear and tear signs. The lace cover parts are discoloured and frayed, and the lace ties have become loose - great signs of match use by Sterling.
Hand made in Montebelluna, Italy, to Raheem's exact specifications by Nike's Athlete Services. No size labels are present, as is common with elite players' modified Nike boots, due to their custom nature. This pair are measured to be around a UK size 7, or 8 in US sizing. The Nike swoosh and "Made in Italy" logo on the insole of the right boot is still partially visible, however has worn away with use. The Montebelluna logo on the insole of the left boot has completely worn away.
Raheem's custom ID number can be seen written underneath where the insole goes. This has gradually worn onto the insole itself with use. This is for the craftsmen in the Montebelluna factory to be able to identify who's boots are being made as they pass along the production line. Typically, each pair of player issue boots undergo 36 assembly stages in Montebelluna, 7 cutting stages, 15 screening stages and 50 lasting stages. Lasting stages include heating the boot around the mould last so that the upper is a perfect fit.
Nike have modified this pair for Sterling by changing the soleplate to the Tiempo Legend FG plate which features conical studs with a more traditional layout. A number of elite pros have been spotted doing this with the Phantom Venom model.
Likewise with the SG soleplate, pros tend to wear the Hypervenom Phantom iii SG-Pro plate instead of wearing the standard SG-Pro "Anti-Clog".
Above we can see Raheem wearing this pair celebrating a goal in the Carabao Cup,
in City's 3-0 over Preston - a nice angle showing off the modified soleplate.
A notable point about the soleplate is the fact that Nike have made the studs completely transparent, to disguise the customisation. They have also made soleplate with a black backing so it looks as close as possible to the retail version boots. This is so when TV cameras pick the boots up it is harder for people to notice that Sterling is actually wearing modified boots.
There are many elite pros who decide to modify their Phantom Venom's, swapping out the standard retail soleplate for the older Tiempo, Hypervenom and CTR360 soleplates. Players such as John Stones, Leonardo Bonucci, Sergio Busquets and Gonzalo Higuain, among others.
With every pair of Nike's elite players' boots that they hand craft in Italy, each boot is wrapped around a ‘last’. These are moulds taken of each player’s foot (Montebelluna has bookcases full of each of their top sponsored athlete’s lasts) for a perfect fit. There are usually small signs of this, as the boots are not made with a generic shape or size, signs such as pulls in the upper material or creases can appear. In the photo above, we can see there is a pull and a fold in the material where that part of the boot has been made wider than usual to accommodate for Raheem's specifications.
Raheem wore this pair in multiple Premier League, UEFA Champions League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup ties at some of Europe's best stadiums such as Anfield, The Etihad and Wembley in the Community Shield.
Here we can see how low/flat the toe boxes of each boot are, the left being slightly larger than the right. The FlyKnit logo on the right boot is slightly cut off from the soleplate - another sign of the specially made shape.
The heels of each boot are also a different shape to retail versions, with the being slightly wider than usual. The left is also slightly taller than the right. From this angle we can see the small moulded spikes at the rear of the soleplate, with it being lifted from the Tiempo Legend IV, which came out all the way back in 2012.
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