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After 14 years of faithful service: A true Predator man in doubt?

Steven Gerrard is, in many's eyes, the definition of an Adidas Predator player. Almost right since the young Englishman came up on the international football scene, and dazzled Europe with his energising play, he has been faithful to the Adidas Predator collection. But now the relationship looks shaky, as he has been spotted both in a Nike CTR 360 Maestri, and also an adiPURE 11pro. We take a closer look at Steven Gerrard and his long relationship with a very special boot.

if you were to pick out one footballer to by associated with the word loyal, it must be Steven Gerrard or 'Captain Fanstic' as the Liverpool darling has been dubbed by the club's supporters. Gerrard is very near to their hearts and he has fighting for Liverpool for all time – even as there were big rumours going about that he would switch to Chelsea at one point.

He has also been loyal in connection with the Adidas Predator boot; Ever since he broke through in Liverpool, and Adidas quickly spotted the huge talent. Gerrard has been the front figure for numerous Predator models, and therefore we were quite shocked when Gerrard, last weekend, was spotted training in a pair of Nike CTR 360 Maestri III and later on a pair of Adipure 11pro.

A surprise like that naturally gets a lot of guessing and speculations going: Is the Gerrard done with the Predator? Is he dissatisfied with the boot? Is he gong to make the change to Nike? The questioning has begun, and as we have yet to find the answers, we decided to dig into the archieves and take a closer look at the relationship between Gerrard and the Adidas Predator – and why his appearance in the Maestri III wasn't the first time we have seen him in a Nike boot in his career.

We will start our retrospective session with a connection to the very recent news story; and hardcore Steven Gerrard fans may not be all that surprised to see the Liverpool skipper in a Nike boot. When Steven Gerrard, at the age of 18, came to Liverpool and made his début for the club, he was actually wearing a pair of Nike Tiempo, although he was quick the switch to make the switch.

And the reason behind the rapid switch was, that Adidas had spotted the great talent that was Steven Gerrard, and how he was able to dominate and control everything on the midfield, as well as an ability to find the back of the net, which was normally limited to the best attackers. Therefore, Adidas equipped the young Liverpool super talent with a pair of Adidas Predator Accellerator, which was Adidas' fourth edition of the Predator boot, which first saw the light of day back in 1994.

Adidas Predator Accellerator was launched in 1998 leading up to the World Cup in France, which, as you know, was won by Brazil; and it was not only Steven Gerrard who wore the boot. Legends as Zinedine Zidane, Alessandro Del Piero, and David Beckham used the boot; and the latter was almost iconic in connection with the boots abilities through the fantastic free-kick goals he produced, and which emphasised that this boot was all bout sublime ball control.

And sublime ball control was exactly what Steven Gerrard was in possession of. His name quickly got recognition both in the Premier League and on the English national team, and he got a great reputation of being a hard working and uncompromising midfield machine, who also had a power in his strikes that made him this spectacular fan favourite that he still is to this day. Enjoy the goal above that he scored against Manchester United back in 2001, at just 21 years of age.

And Adidas must have been quite satisfied when Steven Gerrard scored this goal with their fifth edition of the Predator – called Precision. A boot that lived a life parallel to Steven Gerrard, and kept growing in terms of its popularity, and got attention all over football Europe. The Predator Precision delivered a boot that really put focus on the swerve elements on the nose of the boot, and here the nose was more or less covered by the small textured rubber surface. At the same time, the boot had the iconic red tongue, which could be attached to the lacing via velcro.

When you keep performing at the very highest level, you naturally attract attention from other clubs. Steven Gerrard did also have plenty of chances of changing club, but the hard working midfielder made it very clear, very early on that he would not be moved. Many massive coaches have later on spoken of their admiration for the player and their desire to sign him on many occasions, including José Mourinho.

Adidas Predator Mania was launched ahead of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. The boot was still made with a nice kangaroo leather, where a notable change was the addition of rubber elements, which Adidas had developed to give maximal ball control. The boot did however not lead Gerrard and England on to glory, as Stevie G and the rest of The Golden Generation lost out to Brazil.

Gerrard was however not so easy to stunt and he continued to deliver on an incredible level and as the days went, his star status with the endearing Liverpool fans only kept growing. His love of the club and pride of playing for Liverpool was not made smaller, when he received the captains armband, earning him the nickname Captain Fantastic.

Fantastic was also the only word to describe their Champions League Triumph in 2005, after a game, which will undoubtedly go down in history, as one of the most thrilling encounters ever. Liverpool turned a seemingly hopeless 3-0 deficit and took the Italians to penalties, where an inspired performance from Liverpool keeper, Dudek saw Gerrard lift the trophy. The equalising goal was of course also scored by Captain Fantastic and his Predator Pulse.

Adidas Predator Pulse was presented with a completely new and modern technology, which Adidas called Powerpulse. A brief and simple way to describe it, is that they had moved 40 grams of the boots weight to the front of the boot, as to add more power to your strike. The now so well known swerve elements on the medial side of the boot, where also made slightly smaller and placed strategically better.

In 2006 it was once again World Cup time, this time in Germany and therefore Adidas presented a new version of the Predator named Absolute, which Gerrard was quick to bring into action. It was the 50th anniversary of Englands fabled 1966 World Cup win and the chorus of “This time, more than any other time” rang out again. The expectations for the golden generation, who were getting on a bit where huge, but the dreams where crushed again, as England lost out on penalties against Portugal.

The boot however was hardly at fault. According to Adidas the Predator Absolute was the lightest and most powerful version ever. They had made a PowerZone, with a row of red rubber elements, which ran along the upper and this added extra impetus to your shots. At the same time Adidas launched their PowerPulse technology, which gave more power to your strikes, by shifting the weight at the moment of kicking. This was thanks to a hollowing underneath the front foot, which was filled with Tungsten.

At the end of 2007 Steven Gerrard was unquestionably a gigantic star and therefore also a central figure in the launch of Adidas' ninth version of the Predator, which went by the name PowerSwerve. The boot was developed together with equally massive star Zinedine Zidane, who had helped add a few new technologies to the boot.

The boot was, like its predecessors made with an awesome kangaroo leather upper and had the same characteristic boot tongue. The boots main focus point was to generate more pace on the ball, more control and more swerve. Again Adidas changed the Predator-elements, which now had a see through material, which resembled that on the Predator Pulse.

A anniversary is always a special thing and in 2009 Adidas released their Predator X, which as the name implies, was the 10th version of the popular and iconic boot. It was also a boot, which Gerrard used to great effect. Worth noting is that Gerrard always tries to play in black boots and this trend continued with the Predator X. The Predator X was also the first Predator without the boot-tongue – something that caused quite a stir in the boot world.

This loyalty was rewarded by Adidas, who in 2010 made a special version of the Predator X in black and yellow, which used in the World Cup in South Africa. Here England went out early to eventual bronze winners Germany. A game that caused great controversy, when an England goal was hopelessly adjudged not to have gone in. Another upset for Gerrard and the rest of England.

But even though there were no international triumphs for Steven Gerrard, his football play was immaculate. When Adidas in 2011 launched the 11th generation, which was named Adipower, then it was a boot that Gerrard gladly pulled on.

Adidas Predator Adipower excelled with a couple of Adidas' newest technologies incorporated, some that we still see today. Among them was the Adidas Sprintframe and the classic PowerSprine. The upper was like the predecessor, Adidas Predator X, made with a calf leather called Taurusleather, which is more durable, but less supple than kangaroo leather.

The classic and legendary Predator silo, which saw the light of day in 1994, was redesigned in 2012, when Adidas launched the very popular Adidas Predator Lethal Zones, also known as the LZ. This was the first time that Gerrard didn't wear a boot, which was predominantly black.

Adidas Predator LZ was in many ways revolutionising – Adidas presented the five zines, which the boot was based on, to improve all facets of your game. With the zones First Touch, Pass, Drive, Sweet Spot and Dribble, which all helped to improve your control. They also moved even further away from the classic kangaroo leather, by introducing their new synthetic, HybridTouch. The material has many of the same advantages of kangaroo leather, but is stronger, takes in less water and weighs far less.

While Adidas tried to go new ways, there can be no doubt that Gerrard is and will always be a Liverpool lad. It also seemed set in stone that the was a Predator man, through and through – at least that's what we thought. When Adidas unveiled the Adiads Predator LZ II we naturally quickly saw Stevie G wear it, but things were about to change.

Doubt have been cast on Captain Fantastic's dedication to the Predator-collection, which has otherwise followed the dynamic midfielder throughout his career. This weekend he was spotted in the Maestri III and later the AdiPURE 11Pro. Whether this is just a summer-fling and Gerrard will switch back for the start of the season, remains to be seen. Worthy of notice is also that he has chopped off the heel of his boots – there has been speculation that the Englishman was suffering from heel problems and this definitely fuels these rumours.

We will naturally be following Steven Gerrard boot career intensely now and seeing whether he will be changing away from his Adidas Predator LZ. What do you think Stevie G will do? And which boot do you think matches him the best? As always we would love to hear from you here, in the comment-section down below, or on Facebook and Twitter.