Scoring six goals already this season, Michail Antonio is an attacking player who has almost reached his entire total from last years run out. A double diamond player in the form of his life, we caught up with him behind the scenes as he prepared to launch the Umbro Velocita 3.
What do you remember of Umbro when you were growing up? They’re such an iconically English brand.
“Such great memories. Umbro were one of the first boots I had growing up. The Speciali’s ― they were the first boots I ever had. Umbro is an icon brand, it’s just easy to forget their history. If you think back, Umbro was everywhere at one stage. So many footballers were wearing their boots. Because Nike bought them and then sold them, it affected the brand. This is about bringing Umbro back to where it should be.”
The Double Diamond has retro cool but also has a tech savvy focus when you look at the Velocita 3. How much do you see your boots as your tools?
“Definitely. Your boots are your life basically. Football is my life right now and my boots in that respect are what I do my life in. So if I don’t have the right pair of boots, I’m not going to be able to perform. If the boots are going to affect my feet, it’s going to affect the way I play because I play with my feet. I’m not a keeper! [laughs].”
“If the boots aren’t doing right for me, the boots aren’t doing right for my career. For the last four years of my career I had been wearing adidas boots, this year I’ve changed to Umbro and it’s not had a negative effect on my career in any shape or form. I’ve tried other brands and tried to play with Nike but it just wouldn’t work out for me. It’s just about getting everything together to make sure I’m playing as well as I can.”
“I think right now I’m playing the best football of my life and the best season I’ve ever had right now. I've scored six goals already this season and I’m just going to keep pushing on.”
What have been your impressions having now been able to get a behind the scenes look at how a brand works, is that something that interests you?
“You manage to see the other side of things when you start working with a brand like this. I really enjoy it. When I was with adidas and other brands, I didn’t get to go through that kind of experience because they obviously have other players that they will use for their campaigns. With Umbro, they’ve given me that opportunity to see certain things that I wouldn’t have previously. Doing things like making the adverts and videos to go with the Velocita and being able to see what goes on in the commercial side - I like to learn things. I’m very much a person that likes to experience more things in life and the brand has given me a great opportunity.”
On the pitch, you have that flair element to your game. How would you describe yourself off the pitch?
“People call me “imaginative”. I like to think of things. If I’m involved in something or a situation arises on and off the pitch, I like to think about three or four ways in which I could do something. Like when we shot the advert with Umbro. I was putting ideas in there and giving my thoughts on what I think would work better and stuff like that so that was enjoyable. I’m quite laid back too so when I’m open to anything and say for the video, where people might say “I’m not doing that”, I just enjoyed being able to throw myself into it. I’ll always get involved, play along and try and have banter with people.”
What did you first think when you saw and held the Velocita 3? What are the first things that caught your eye?
“It’s very lightweight and I like that. The sock around the ankle, there’s no distraction there and it stabilises your feet and it hardly moves. Once you’ve got it on it fits like a sock and it’s incredibly comfortable. I saw the boot maybe a month ago and was like, “can’t I wear them now!” [laughs]. I’ve been asking them to bring the launch date forwards on a weekly basis because I like them so much. Now they’re here, ready for me, I can’t wait to wear them.”
Visually they’re big on the senses, how much does the ‘don’t get caught’ mantra play into your character and your style of play?
“As a winger and an attacking player. I’m more likely going to be on the ball and the defender is going to be trying to catch me to try and get the ball off me so yeah. I definitely don’t want to be caught! I do definitely want to get more goals so it ties into how I play nicely.”
Sharp player, strong jacket, speed boots. Pick 'em up here.