On its debut in 1998, the Nike Mercurial was hailed for its radical, track spike-inspired design, engineered for cut-and-strike speed. After all, “mercurial” by definition means unpredictable, and the players who have served as its muse are celebrated for their quicksilver play. The “What the Mercurial” boot echoes this ever-changing nature, upending aesthetic expectations. At the same time, it nods to the boot’s rich style heritage by showcasing 16 of the most memorable Mercurial colorways on one bold shoe
Beyond disrupting the pitch, the boot also extends the narrative of Nike’s coveted “What the” design themes. In 2007, Nike Skateboarding produced the brand’s first iconic colorway mashup, the Nike SB “What the Dunk” shoe. Then Nike Basketball elevated the concept, celebrating memorable signature basketball shoes beginning with the “What the Kobe” in 2012.
“What the Mercurial” applies this eclectic treatment to football for the first time, crafting a time capsule of Mercurial history. Four past Mercurial logos are mashed up to create the logo on the heel tab and aglets. The left and right boots boast the same design, striped with iconic Mercurial colorways, while the sockliner showcases iconic Mercurial elements. In total, 18 colors from previous Mercurial iterations meld together into one Superfly boot inspired by the boots below.
1998 NIKE MERCURIAL VAPOR Inspired by a track spike and informed by speed, Nike launched the Mercurial in the summer of 1998. Its thin plate was designed to reduce the boot’s weight and the KNG-100 synthetic upper — thinner and lighter than traditional leather — changed the way football footwear was made. Brasilian icon Ronaldo debuted the first Mercurial in France, with its bold silver, blue and yellow colorway introducing a new direction of modern speed in football.
2013 NIKE MERCURIAL IX SPECIAL EDITION Nike celebrated the Mercurial’s 15th anniversary with the release of the Nike Mercurial IX Special Edition in 2013. This boot was inspired by the original 1998 design, but employed volt instead of yellow for a progressive look and its signature silver received a metallic finish.
2011 NIKE MERCURIAL VAPOR SUPERFLY II Cristiano Ronaldo debuted the Mercurial Vapor Superfly II Windchill colorway featuring NIKE SENSE technology and innovative studs. The white upper with blue glow and red solar accents along the boot’s side provided an icy aesthetic.
2013 NIKE MERCURIAL VAPOR IX The striking Mercurial Vapor IX first appeared in Nike’s “Vapor Trail” film, on its signature player, Cristiano Ronaldo, who stood out on the pitch thanks to the boot’s fireberry, electric green and black hues. Meanwhile, the silo’s upper debuted Nike’s Speed Control texture, which increased friction when necessary while providing a comfortable, locked-down fit.
2010 NIKE MERCURIAL VAPOR SUPERFLY II Nike unveiled the Mercurial Vapor Superfly II, influenced by insights from Cristiano Ronaldo, who made a bold statement in these boots during the summer of 2010 in South Africa. The boot’s metallic mach purple and total orange scheme was inspired by the cheetah and selected after intense investigation revealed that the colors stimulate peripheral vision in game conditions. Essentially, the fierce colorway helped players quickly spot their teammates and execute pinpoint passes. The boot also featured NIKE SENSE technology designed for acceleration and speedy direction changes.
2002 NIKE MERCURIAL VAPOR I The Mercurial Vapor I, which Ronaldo debuted in silver chrome, black and volt during the summer of 2002, featured a number of firsts. It was the company’s first sub-200 gram boot, first boot with a stitch-less upper and first boot with an anatomical last.
2012 NIKE MERCURIAL VAPOR VIII Unveiled as part of the Nike Clash Collection, which featured a common theme of a specific color finished with a white toe upper, the Mercurial Vapor VIII was worn by Cristiano Ronaldo.
2006 NIKE MERCURIAL VAPOR III In 2006, Ronaldo broke the World Cup all-time scoring record wearing this limited-edition Mercurial Vapor III in chrome yellow and pine green. Made to match the Brasil kit, the boot was the first Mercurial to feature a Hi-Vis colorway and the first to debut Teijin® microfiber, engineered to conform to the foot, on the upper.
2012 NIKE MERCURIAL VAPOR VIII Complete with a new traction system featuring twin studs at the back and an overall asymmetric design for quick release from turf, the 2012 Mercurial Vapor VIII was built for explosive speed. A thinner and more responsive Teijin® Microfiber upper, with a suede-like finish, ensured a coveted touch while the bright mango colorway with blue glow and volt accents provided arresting style.
2011 Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly III The Mercurial Vapor Superfly III, designed in collaboration with Cristiano Ronaldo, delivered fast, responsive performance, thanks to NIKE SENSE adaptive traction and a carbon-fiber chassis. Nike Flywire technology in the upper offered ultra-lightweight support while the boot’s striking red plum, volt and black colorway and graphic heel treatment helped increase visibility on the pitch.
2014 NIKE MERCURIAL SUPERFLY IV Inspired by insights from Cristiano Ronaldo, Nike unveiled the 2014 Mercurial Superfly IV in Madrid, introducing touch-enhancing Nike Flyknit on the upper for the first time. Additionally, the boot’s new mid-top Dynamic Fit collar provided a locked-in fit, improving connection between the player and the boot. A hyperpunch, volt and the metallic gold palette added aesthetic impact, as evidenced by Nike’s Winner Stays ad.
2008 NIKE MERCURIAL VAPOR SL Nike Football revolutionized the Mercurial’s lightweight speed concept with the release of the Nike Mercurial Vapor SL. The limited-edition boot, constructed entirely from carbon fiber, weighed just 185 grams and inaugurated a new era of innovation in football. Moreover, the boot was a product of the global game, with the upper crafted in Italy, the plate engineered in Germany and the outsole built in South Korea.
2010 CR MERCURIAL VAPOR SUPERFLY II The CR Mercurial Vapor SuperFly II, which Cristiano Ronaldo debuted during “El Derbi,” showcased Nike’s iconic ostrich-skin print. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, VP of Creative Concepts, NIKE, Inc., the print was first introduced in 1987 on Nike’s Air Safari running shoe; applying it to performance football underscored Ronaldo’s style and speed. Meanwhile, a tonal chevron pattern illuminated under precise lighting, creating a peripheral flash, while the boot’s stud system adjusted its length in response to the surface.
2015 NIKE MERCURIAL SUPERFLY IV BHM Featuring a black and white palette with a mix of three different prints and a gold outlined Swoosh, the Mercurial Superfly IV BHM launched as part of Nike’s 2015 Black History Month Collection. Marking the first time football featured in the Black History Month lineup, the collection honored six athletes and coaches, including Kevin-Prince Boateng.
2014 NIKE MERCURIAL SUPERFLY CR7 Cristiano Ronaldo debuted the Mercurial Superfly CR7 in Madrid in 2014, followed by the “Out of this World” campaign, which starred both player and boot. The classic black silhouette made a statement thanks to its shimmering NIKESKIN technology, laces and blue carbon fiber plate — all of which appear on the “What the Mercurial.”
2000 NIKE MATCH MERCURIAL The 2000 Nike Match Mercurial was part of Nike’s Alpha Project, a series of cross-category footwear symbolized by five dots and emblematic of excellence in performance. The KNG-100 was dressed in a metallic copper that faded to black toward the toe panel. The dots are represented in metallic gold gloss on the heel graphic of “What the Mercurial.”
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