With a 2017 edition of the adidas Predator Mania Champagne the most talked about release of the year we take a look back to the moment they became iconic. Headlined by David Beckham at the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea, the Champagne Mania had a presence that no other boot before it had, a feel that only greatness could wear them.
For adidas, there was only one player who could pull off the Champagne Mania with such flair for the 2002 World Cup – a boot designed to complement the match ball for the tournament. It was David Beckham’s first World Cup as England captain. He’d heroically dragged his country onto the plane to Japan with a last minute free-kick against Greece at Old Trafford, he’d been named FIFA Player of the Year Runner-Up and his side had been drawn in a group with Argentina, with memories of 1998 still fresh in the mind of every England fan.
A will he/won’t he be fit summer ended with Beckham declaring himself ready for business. After a 1-1 draw with Sweden in the opening game, Beckham led England out against Argentina and the pressure was on. Goalless approaching half time until Michael Owen majestically dives over the outstretched leg of Mauricio Pochettino. Penalty. Beckham places the ball on the spot and buries/scuffs it down the middle. The red card from 1998 had vanished, the villain headlines, gone. This was redemption for David Beckham. The celebration a mixture of relief, ecstasy and Trevor Sinclair.
The greatest footballers are often defined by singular moments of heroism. That penalty, had four years of history dragging Beckham back as he ran towards the ball. Seconds later and he’s an England legend for life. If you didn’t have that blonde mohawk, you knew someone who did.
It’s easy to see why adidas opted for Beckham to sport the Champagne colourway when other key players remained in the “Black/White/Red” colourway. Beckham wasn't alone in the Champagne colourway, Del Piero and Rui Costa flew the flag for their respective nations, but for England, there was only ever one man. Beckham was already an icon, the poster boy of adidas Football. He was different. Not in the same class as Zidane and Xavi, but far more... Beckham. A man of spectacular key moments rather than consistency, and that was exciting.
Equipped with a different personalised pair for each England match that summer, Beckham added his children's names in Japanese to the famous Mania tongue, along with the St George's flag and the name of England's opposition. Beckham made this the tournament that kicked off the 'personalisation' movement. A bespoke option that opened up to the public, and one they embraced thanks to Beckham's personal touches.
In an era before decent smart phones, only Beckham could trigger 50,000 camera flashes when running up to take a free-kick. A theme repeated every time an England player hit the deck on the edge of the box.
For an England fan, the 2002 World Cup was a success for that Argentina victory alone. We’re a revengeful nation and that penalty gave us closure, only made sweeter by the fact Argentina failed to qualify from the group. If it wasn’t for the sun in Seaman’s eyes, who knows what Beckham and those Champagne Manias would have achieved. Yeah, knocked out on pens in the semis. Fair enough. Reminisce below...