Match worn or match issued... what's the difference?
Match issued means that the boots have been custom made for and supplied to the professional player, but have remained unworn and unused - essentially a spare pair. There are a number of reasons a pair of players' boots may not get used, for example in times such as during pre season and at the start of a season where players may not use the SG boots supplied to them by their sponsor as the pitches are not soft enough, so if they'll remain match issued and prepared if unused. Another time this can happen is if a player is supplied a pair during an injury spell, the boots will still be match issued and prepared but may not actually get worn as the next colourway may be released by the time the player is fit to play again.
Match worn means that the boots have been worn by the player in a match or multiple matches. This may also include training sessions, however that will differ from player to player. Some change boots almost every match, so sometimes their pairs may only ever be worn once or twice - something David Beckham was renowned for. Some on the other, hand such as Toni Kroos, like to wear their boots until they more or less fall apart!
How do we know the boots are 100% authentic and genuine?
All boots come from impeccable sources within some of the biggest clubs around Europe. We specialise in English Premier League players boots as we are based in the UK however we have access to other top clubs which enables us to get our hands on pairs from players in clubs such as Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich and so on.
There are many different ways to tell apart a player issued / match worn pair to a general commercial pair you’ll find in a retail store. These can be name personalisation, as well as custom sizing, soleplates, materials, innersoles among other tells. Player issue boots tend to be made in different countries to commercial shop versions - however this is not the case 100% of the time. These different tells can differ between brands, listed below are some ways to spot a pro players' pair from a retail pair.
Every item sold here at www.bcboots.uk comes with our certificate of authenticity (COA) which guarantees the genuine nature of the item with it having passed our stringent authentication checks and procedures.
Nike players' boots should be made in Italy or Bosnia. Since 1996, they have had an "Athlete Service" factory located in Montebelluna Italy where they hand make their elite contracted players' boots such as CR7, Neymar and Iniesta, to their exact specifications and requirements - usually there will be no size label if the boots are made here due to them being completely bespoke. However, if there is a size label it should have the serial code "999999999" located at the bottom left corner of the tag. This is the same with Nike players' boots when made in Bosnia, which is where they make other pros' boots. The row of 9's serial code means the boots are for promotional use only, as they are different to what they sell to the public, so will not be able to be sold in a general store. Sort of like a "sample". The pairs Nike sell to the public are usually of lower quality than what the pros receive, with them normally being made in Vietnam/China as they are mass produced. Below is a side by side example of a player issue size label (left) and a retail size label (right). In the summer of 2019, Nike changed their size labels within their football boots and have scrapped the "999999999" player code. Player issue pairs from this period onwards will either contain normal size labels, the same as retail, or no size label at all (if they are made to measure) but the boots themselves will still present differences which separate them from standard pairs.
Adidas have their "Athlete Services" factory located in Herzogenaurach, Germany, for players who require special customisations. However it is also common for Adidas athletes to receive retail model boots if they do not require modifications, however these will always be personalised to their request with things such as their name, nation flag, children's names or squad number which is not available to the public. Often Adidas supply certain models to the pros which are not available to the public, for example when they re-released the Predator silo, it was available to pros in leather and synthetic, whilst only commercially available in synthetic. When Adidas make a players' pair in their Herzogenaurach factory, the internal label will state the size of each individual boot, as well as their motto "Only the best for the athlete". There will also be a label in the heel area, with the code "502001" which is the factory number, along with the manufacture date (month/year) and a code which is the players' custom ID. An example of is below, from Gabriel Jesus' Adidas X19+. His left foot is size UK8.75, whilst his right is size UK8.5, which displays just how precise Adidas make their players' boots.
With Puma, the players' boots are made usually in Vietnam to their exact specifications. The size label should read either "Sample" or "Athlete Exclusive". Just like Nike's and Adidas' top sponsored players, Puma's contracted stars also like to modify their boots, some more heavily than others. Sergio Aguero is one of the most famous for customising his boots so much that they can be unrecognisable with the retail versions. An example of a size tag from a pair of Aguero's Puma ONE 5.1 is below, which shows the "Athlete Exclusive" under the barcode.
Under Armour don't have anywhere near as many sponsored athletes as the likes of Nike, Adidas or Puma however they still provide bespoke boots to their best players. The pairs they supply to players are very close to the retail versions however they add personal touches such as name ID, national flags and squad numbers. Certain players such as Memphis Depay have been seen to modify boots slightly, such as having a traditional lacing system on pairs which are sold to the public with a zip up system.
How much are player's boots worth?
There's a long list of variables that come into play with the market value of a pair or match worn or issued football boots. Which player the boots are from is of course the main variable, the bigger the player the higher the value as they will simply be more desirable for collectors to have in a collection.
Modifications have a big effect on the market value, as the more parts that separate a pair from retail versions, the more special and rare it makes them, therefore making them more desirable. The worlds' elite players can customise pretty much anything on their boots such as soleplates, upper materials and so on.
The players potential is another factor, if a player is up and coming the value of their boots may even be higher than an already established player in the same position as them. For example, Jadon Sancho's boots have a higher market value than Franck Ribery's.
Where the boots are made. This can add just that extra bit of desirability when looking for a pair of match worn boots. For example, if a Nike pair have been made in the famous Montebelluna factory it makes them just that extra bit special and more desirable.
Match worn pairs tend to be worth more than match issued/prepared pairs, mainly due to the fact they are that extra bit more desirable. A worn pair may contain a piece of history from the player they were worn by, such as the player may have scored a certain goal in that pair or they were worn in a particular match/tournament. Whilst match issued/prepared pairs are still specially made for a player and are so different to retail pairs, they just don't carry that same extra bit of X factor that a match worn pair has.
Why do some pairs of match worn and issued boots come without insoles?
Sometimes pairs of match worn or match issued boots will come without any insoles. This is because most players use 1 pair of insoles for multiple pairs of boots for comfort reasons, and usually those insoles are completely bespoke made just for their feet, by their sponsor or sometimes by a third party company. We managed to acquire a pair of Gareth Bale's insoles, which were made by Podoactiva who are a company that specialise in bespoke sports equipment such as shin guards and insoles for elite professional athletes. This is not always the case, sometimes players will just simply wear a standard pair of insoles, it really is circumstantial from player to player. Some players, such as Ilkay Gundogan & Gabriel Jesus, get their insoles specially made for them by their sponsor Adidas. Custom insoles are more commonly known as orthopaedic insoles.