One of the first recorded mentions of football boots is dated from 1562, when King Henry VIII ordered a pair from his Royal Wardrobe to indulge in a Shrove Tuesday kickabout. Almost half a millennium has elapsed since Henry's Tudor tackles were flying in and oh how I would love to see the look on the pot-bellied monarch's face were he around to see a pair of the Lotto Zhero Gravity Ultra boots.
In 2006, Lotto bravely went where no company had the minerals to go before, creating the world's first laceless football boot. It felt at the time as they may have revolutionalised football footwear, but there was no raft of maufacturers following suit. That hasn't deterred the Italians, though, and the Lotto Zhero Gravity Ultra remains its top-of-the-range offering.
Upon first sight of the ultramodern Zhero Gravity Ultra model, I was filled with the sort of wonderment that Marty McFly experienced on his inaugural test-drive of the Hoverboard in Back to the Future. The adverts and the publicity weren't lying - there really were no laces. Also, this particular colour was pretty sensational; Lotto call it Spicy Orange and it's definitely turning the heat up on their rivals, the boot's shimmering surface giving it a greater depth and also offering the possbility of the reflective indents blinding opposition players into submission.
I imagine your first question is the same as mine: how do you get them on? The answer comes in the form of a shoehorn that looks part salad tong, part torture instrument - a utensil that would look equally at home as a prop in Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares as Nightmare on Elm Street.
It was initially a bit of a battle to slide them on and I wondered at one point if I would need butter, soap or some other lubricant to help things along, but once they are on they feel like an extension of your foot. The high-riding ankle and tongue acts as a grip to hold your foot in place, but they are not overly restrictive and it is a snug rather than leech-like fit.
Lotto claim the laceless design is conducive to "extraordinary contact with the ball, guaranteed by the upper made solely in microfibre". While companies like Concave have tried to make a cleaner striking area, it always seems somewhat artifical and, quite simply, ugly looking in comparison to the attractive design of the ReactiveArch outsole, which aids stability and reactivity in the Lotto Zhero Gravity Ultras
Another intriguing feature of this model is the Twist'nGo technology - essentially a 'pimped up' stud that looks like a gold tooth in a mouth of enamel. The solo, pivoting silver stud is located at the front of the boot underneath the big toe and is designed to aid acceleration and decceleration and also help reduce the risk of injuries by helping to quell the threat of foot and ground friction.
Lotto can boast the likes of Glen Johnson, Giuseppe Rossi and Luca Toni on their books, while Frank Beria of Lille also sports the Lotto Zhero Gravity Ultras, a model that will continue to be the bedrock of Lotto's boot range. As lone pioneers of the laceless football boot, the Italians should be applauded for persevering with such an innovative design.
For more on Lotto's range of products, visit www.en.lottosport.com