3.1.18

20 Years of Nike Mercurial

Nike Mercurial cleat

What separates the fastest and most dynamic soccer players in the world from the rest of the pack? Well, they share an uncommon level of dedication and drive to dominate. They out-train, out-think, and out-hustle their peers at every turn. And, for over the last two decades, many of the game’s greatest have chosen to do something else the same too; they’ve laced up in Nike Mercurial cleats.

Since the Merc’s origin in 1998, the line has pushed the envelope. Using insights from soccer’s past, present, and future stars, Nike has consistently created lightweight, explosive cleats that are built to help players torch the opposition when the pressure is at its highest.

This year marks the 20th year of speed and innovation from the Mercurial line and Nike is celebrating by releasing the next step forward for soccer cleats: the Nike Mercurial Vapor 12 Collection. Packed full of innovative features and built from the ground up for pure, unstoppable speed — this line takes everything that has been great about Mercurial in the past and blasts it forward into the future. But before we break down the new kid on the block, let’s take a look at some its predecessors.

Merc Through The Years

  • Nike Mercurial cleat
  • Nike Mercurial cleat
  • Nike Mercurial cleat
  • Nike Mercurial cleat

Nike Mercurial (1998)

When creating an all new line of soccer cleats, how do you gain inspiration? Well, designing it around one of the greatest players ever is a great start. Legendary Brazilian striker Ronaldo helped craft the Mercurial line, and the end result was the fastest, and possibly the coolest, soccer boot that the world had ever seen.

Nike Match Mercurial (2000)

From First Touch control coating to Dri-FIT fabric by the tongue, the Match Mercurial was the next step for Nike’s vaunted soccer cleat line. It was still blazing fast and durable, but now had its own distinct style. It signaled that Mercurial was here to stay and would be a favorite among soccer stars for years to come.

Nike Mercurial Vapor (2002)

There were lightweight cleats, ultra-light cleats, and then there were the Nike Mercurial Vapor soccer cleats. Clocking in at only 6.9 oz, the game-changing footwear was inspired by design elements of the fastest cars on the market. The NikeSkin upper and NikeFrame plate both had one thing in mind: pure speed.

Nike Mercurial Vapor III (2006)

Direct-inject studs. A carbon composite internal chassis. By this point, Nike had truly mastered the speed soccer cleat, and the Mercurial Vapor III was the perfect vehicle for the fastest players on the field. It’s easy to see why many of the world’s best players, like Cristiano Ronaldo laced up in these cleats.


Nike Mercurial Vapor 12

So now that you’ve looked into the past, let’s turn our attention to what makes the Nike Mercurial Vapor 12 a cleat from the future. It has four key features that help put it light years ahead of the competition: a second-skin fit, total control at high speeds, lightweight and flexible traction, and lightning-fast starts and stops.

Second-Skin Fit

mercurial upper

For starters, the Mercurial Vapor 12 upper is wrapped in 360 degrees of Flyknit yarns. That means your entire foot will be hugged tightly, but comfortably. This design puts less material between you and the ball, giving you better touch every time you make contact and a true second-skin feel.

Total Control at High Speed

Mercurial Texture

Going fast on the soccer field means very little if you can’t maintain control of the ball. That’s why these cleats have a raised texture pattern along the upper, ensuring that your footwork can be just as outstanding as your wheels are.

Lightweight and Flexible Traction

Mercurial Plate

The cleat plate on the Mercurial Vapor 12 is designed specifically to stand out. And with the incredible technology packed inside of it, that’s the way it should be. The metallic treatment on the plate won’t chip with heavy usage, so you’re sure to shine for a long time. As for the plate itself, it’s actually broken down into two separate parts — this keeps it as light as possible while offering an added layer of flexibility.

Lightning-Fast Starts and Stops

Mercurial studs

There’s also something special in the shape of the forefoot studs. Nike put years of research into the creation of these cleats, analyzing hours of game footage and putting the final product through numerous, rigorous tests. They found that bladed studs near the front of the cleat plate were vital for quicker accelerations and decelerations. So now, every cut is quicker, every move is more dangerous, and every defender is even more helpless.

Every soccer player could use more speed in their game and the new Mercurial Vapor 12 is just what the doctor ordered. Nike has taken lessons from 20 years of greatness and conjured up a line of footwear that is truly in a class of its own. The slow become fast, the fast become faster, and you become the fastest.


The Nike Mercurial Vapor 12 line is available now at a variety of levels and for a variety of outsole surfaces.

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