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  • Writer's pictureJake Holub

Your favourite player's favourite boots: Mizuno's expansion into Australian football

In football, it can be easy for fans or spectators to look from the outside in and focus on tactics, formations, playstyles, etc. What largely may be forgotten at times is simple, what the players wear to kick the football with. A space that Nike, Adidas, and Puma have historically dominated, Australian football has recently seen a not-so-new player, Mizuno, enter the market.

Mizuno's Morelia Neo IV Beta Japan FG boots, in white and radiant red. (Image: Mizuno Australia Facebook)

Founded in 1906 by the Mizuno brothers in Osaka, Japan, the company has historically specialised in golf, baseball, and running, among other sports. In recent years, Mizuno has looked to expand into the world of football, sponsoring teams such as Lazio, FC Augsburg, VfL Bochum, Portimonense SC, and players like Sergio Ramos, Tijjani Reijnders, and Oriol Romeu internationally.

Mizuno has continued this trend into the Australian football landscape this season, seeing significant growth in the number of players in the A-Leagues wearing their famous Runbird boots.

While it is one thing to have players wearing the boots, it is another when some of the finest players in the league start to switch over to Mizuno.

"From the first day [wearing Mizuno's], I felt incredible...I said if I discovered the boots ten years ago, I would wear these boots overseas in my career," Melbourne City star Tolgay Arslan told Front Page Football when reflecting on making the switch to Mizuno.

Arslan (centre) warms up with his Melbourne City teammates in his Mizuno's. (Image: Melbourne City FC Instagram)

When Arslan arrived down under, City teammates Aziz Behich and Andrew Nabbout, already wearing Mizuno's, introduced the former Bundesliga, Serie A, and Beşiktaş star to the brand.

"The boots I was training with, the other brands, I was changing every 10 minutes because it was painful and yeah, they (Behich and Nabbout) told me that they never had problems like that with Mizuno's," he added.

"I think when they push Mizuno in Europe, I think nearly every player will wear them because the comfort is just insane.

"I have a lot of friends who play overseas and as soon as the model changes, everyone has problems because you have to get adapted and that's why with Mizuno, it adapts to your feet. It's not like you have to adapt to the boot, so it's totally different. I think for sure they can be number one in football."

Along with Arslan, established A-League Men players like Joe Lolley, Damien Da Silva, Lawrence Thomas, and Steven Ugarkovic have also switched to the Japanese brand.

"I like wearing the Japan leather ones...they're quite light. That's a thing I always look at; I don't like wearing heavy boots. Even when it rains, they don't suck up the moisture," Ugarkovic told FPF about his experience wearing Mizuno boots, after also being introduced to them by Behich and Nabbout.

Mizuno has seemingly been extra popular with the league's midfielders this season, who have also praised the comfort, lightness, and control they feel with the boots.

"It's probably the comfiest boots I've ever worn and I've liked the detail, especially in the hand-made ones in Japan; you can tell the difference between that and another boot," Western United midfielder Angus Thurgate said on his early impression of the boots, after being introduced to them by his experienced Japanese teammate Tomoki Imai.

"I sit next to Tomoki in the changing room so I was immune to seeing what he was wearing and what the boots were like...I tried one of them on and really liked them."

Thurgate's former teammate, Newcastle Jet Kosta Grozos, also heaped praise on the boots.

"I've always been intrigued and interested to try them out because they always look like a top quality boot. I got the chance to last year, one of the boys gave me a pair...I've never looked back," he said.

"I've always enjoyed wearing a good leather boot and the Mizuno's are a very, very good leather, and are very light; they don't hold a lot of weight and stay pretty light."

While supplying all of the established and well-known names mentioned above, Mizuno is embracing the next generation of Australian football talent.

Enjoying a breakout season with Western United, 20-year-old Matthew Grimaldi has credited the boot's leather aspect as being well-suited to his playing style.

Grimaldi in action for Western United in his Mizuno boots. (Image: Western United FC Instagram)

"It just feels different on the ball...I think one of my qualities is dribbling and I like to feel comfort around the outside of the boot, and I think that leather really plays a big part," he said.

"I think this is not only to wear the boot for our comfort or style of game, but there's so much opportunity to grow yourself off the pitch as well. There's opportunities to be the face of the brand and do things outside of the pitch for the brand."

This potential ability to become the face of a brand and influence and inspire the next generation of Australian footballers can be a rewarding experience for these young athletes.

"After games, I've had younger fans come to me and say, 'Your boots look sick' or, 'I want to get them'. I've even actually seen some people tag me on Instagram and they've bought the boots," Perth Glory's Sofia Sakalis said, having joined Mizuno midway through this season.

Elsewhere, 18-year-old Young Matilda Mary Stanic-Floody has been a starstruck fan of her fellow Mizuno ambassadors, and has also had passionate young fans begging her for the boots.

"To be on the same line as Alex Chidiac and Sofia Sakalis, and hopefully breaking through to have a legacy like them is truly's awesome because you go around and the kids are like, 'Can I have your boots?' I'm like, 'No, they're mine, I love these boots, they're mine," the Canberra United youngster said.

Raphael Borges Rodrigues and Bernardo Oliveira, the youthful Brazilian-Australian duo at Macarthur, have also embraced Mizuno, with the former noticing benefits in making the switch.

"One of the first things that I noticed was that they were very light, and as a winger, I like that...very light, very comfortable," Raphael said.

"Bernardo, I think [he] got them at the same time as me, but he just never really wore them...When he came here (to Macarthur), I told him, 'You should wear them bro, they're comfy as,' and I think he's only wearing them now."

The suggestion for Raphael and Bernardo to start wearing Mizuno came from agent and former Ligue 1 and Melbourne Victory star Fahid Ben Khalfallah. Managing top talents across the A-League Men and Europe and knowing what it is like to be a player at this level, Ben Khalfallah has found himself recommending Mizuno to the players he manages.

"First and foremost, it's just about the quality of the boots, and everyone has been very, very happy with that. Then after the quality, it's about the person you are going to work with. If it's Tolgay (Arslan) or Marcelo or Damien (Da Silva) who wants some boots, you have to react and have to send them," Ben Khalfallah explained.

"When you come from Europe, you get everything. You get paid, you get vouchers every week, you get sent a lot of stuff. So you have to explain to those players, 'Ok, it doesn't work that way in Australia.' It's very, very different.

"What they want is to make sure [that] if they need something, it's being sent to them straight away and they don't have to wait like two or three months."

Managing Mizuno's brand ambassador program, Tom Hall has ensured their boots have started making waves amongst players across the A-Leagues.

"Initially when I started, we only had one footballer really. Now there's around 20," he said.

Primarily dealing with athletes from other sports, Hall was surprised by the overwhelmingly positive reaction from footballers towards Mizuno, and their openness to try the boots.

"When it comes to football, I'd say probably nine out of 10 times, when we get a player to try our boots, they love them."


A commonality amongst all players has been the love for Mizuno's K-Leather, used in their Morelia range, which provides the comfort and feel many other boots do not seem to possess. As one of the few brands using kangaroo leather, Mizuno has forged ahead in a boot market that has steered towards synthetic material.

While the ethical use of kangaroo leather can be questioned, research in the industry suggests it can help manage potential overabundance and minimise issues for threatened plants, animals, and vegetation programs.

Beyond this, Mizuno also has their Alpha range, a synthetic boot which is lighter and more suitable for optimising speed, particularly for wingers. Mizuno offers a regular 'Elite' version and a 'Made in Japan' version for both of these ranges. The primary distinction is that the 'Made in Japan' boots are hand-made in Japan and are said to possess more detail and quality. They are the more expensive option compared to the 'Elite', which is produced in other Asian countries.

Ultra Football has particularly bought into Mizuno and their vision, creating a whole room for the company's products at their Melbourne location.

"Ultra Football have been amazing for us...they are a massive football retailer and clearly the driver of creativity for football in Australia, and they really love the quality of our boots," Hall said when discussing the popular football store.

"People will always trust Ultra more than they will an individual football brand, so they will always drive the quality of our boots as long as they believe it."

Time will ultimately tell how Mizuno settles into the Australian football market. The brand offers top-quality boots that many A-Leagues players are jumping on. The question that remains is whether more consumers will also make the switch.


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