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The history of Total 90

A 12-year-old silhouette told through Nike commercials

The history of Total 90 A 12-year-old silhouette told through Nike commercials

It is well known that footballers are one of those categories of sportsmen who can live on memories: the retro shirts with Umbro, Fila or Lotto labels, that group of the curve - or, by now, the curve itself - that no longer exists, the balls adidas Tango and Mitre. In short, the nostalgic feature is one of the factors that most influences this large community. Brands have also understood this for some time, so much so that it has become a business habit, especially in recent years, to leave something in the new items - it can be a technical detail, naming, or a color - that makes you travel memory in the past. The most recent case is that of the Nike ''Phantom VNM Total 90'', a clear homage to the ''Air Zoom Total 90'' of 2002, one of the football boots that made the history and fortune of the Beaverton brand and of a series of Swoosh sponsored players.

It is 2000 when Nike is about to leave behind a series of practically identical models that differ only in name and color - these are Air Zoom International, Air Zoom Italia and Air Zoom Roma - to introduce the ''Air Zoom Total 90 l'', a shoe with an avant-garde design with the lateral lacing towards the outside of the foot to favor a cleaner shot of the ball. A shoe designed for the most technical players on the planet but that would soon become in the public domain thanks to the adv promoted by Nike, the first since the spot ''Good vs Evil'' in 1996, which presented a real direction: ''The Mission''.

In the spot Bierhoff, Davids, Nakata, Totti, Thuram, Figo, Guardiola, Seedorf and Vieira, they have to retrieve the new silver "T90" ball which is located inside the "square Colosseum" in Rome. After defeating cyber-samurai, they will succeed in wearing the first "Total 90".

After 2 years - and 5 colors - here is Nike's masterpiece par excellence in anticipation of the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, probably the most spectacular football spot ever: ''The Secret Tournament'', Italianized in ''The Cage''.

24 players, 8 teams and 1 host of excellence: Eric Cantona. With "Little less conversation" as a soundtrack, the tournament, which takes place on a ship, will be won by the "Triple Espresso" trio composed of Totti, Nakata and Henry - with an unexpected play by the latter - against the ''Os Tornados'' by Figo, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos. But that's not all: a few months later here is the revenge of the final where the "Os Tornados" would have prevailed had it not been for the tragicomic finale of the ship.

In addition to the presentation of the new R9, with these two spots Nike also reveals the second chapter of the saga "T90", the "Air Zoom ll", which present an even more captivating silhouette, with the first change in the shape of the tongue .

Year 2004, Nike presents the "Air Zoom Total 90 lll" through another legendary spot, "Brasil vs Portugal", in what will be the anticipation of the series "Joga Bonito", whose testimonial of exception will be Ronaldinho and the crossbars taken with his "R10".

For the first time the ''T90'' appear without the tongue, leaving more space at the instep, also increasing the possibility of inspiration from the point of view of the colors. A model that will last until the 2006 World Cup where Cannavaro, the future Balon d'Or, will in fact show off a metallic red colorway in the final.

Two years pass, from this moment there will be a turning point for this model that Nike understands having to make the central focus from which to develop the football line. Despite Ronaldinho's media outburst, there is another young man who is depopulating: this is Wayne Rooney, Manchester United and English national team forward who, by dint of superfine class shots, will convince the Swoosh to make him the man of the new ''T90'' models, which from now on will be replaced annually.

2006 is the year of the world championship and of the "Total 90 Supremacy", with even more futuristic designs and colors than the previous year, which will be introduced to the public through numerous clips of "Joga Bonito TV", with presenter Cantona again.

''Put it wherever you want'': this is the claim for the presentation of the ''Total 90 Laser l'' which in 2007 radically changed in design, introducing a foam surface, a leitmotif also for subsequent models, to guarantee greater precision.

The advertisements that concern this shoe are proof of how Nike was already anticipating the times, proposing the first attempt of engagement, a word that would have become the key to social marketing a decade later: a group of deranged British people, the ''Dirty Sanchez'', they travel around Europe testing different ''T90'' testimonials, including Gattuso, Frings, Malouda and Rooney, challenging them to hit the ''prohibited'' points.

The turning point is at the end of advertising, when Nike asks users to replicate the deeds of their darlings and to publish the videos on the most popular social of the time, YouTube; pure foresight if you think that the social of the moment, Tik-Tok, lives on the same principle.

2008 is the year of the Europeans of Austria and Switzerland, with Nike that in the meantime has also started to focus on other models, in particular on the "Tiempo", derivation of the "Premier", which has rediscovered its fortune through the R10 logo.

The ''Total 90 Laser ll'' is probably the edition with fewer aesthetic differences than the version of the previous season, but advertising represents, for the umpteenth time, a turning point: it is the first example of POV (Point of View) which will be repeated numerous times over the years by Nike.

The 2009/2010 season will be remembered as that of Mourinho's Inter Triplete - with Wesley Sneijder almost a Golden Ball - and the South African World Cup won by Spain. The former Inter number 10 and Holland's top man will be the testimonial par excellence of that year's "Total90 Laser lll" - despite Rooney still being the undisputed protagonist in the commercial pre-World Cup.

In "Write the Future", in fact, we begin to give a vision of the "what would have happened if..." which inspired David Slade, director of the episode "Bandersnatch" of the Black Mirror series.

The two-year period 2011/2012 represents the final phase of the "Total90" saga: in view there are two new silhouettes that will replace it, it is the "Magista Obra" - the first shoe with the "sock" - at the beginning 2012 and of the ''Hypervenom'' in 2013, since Nike's technological evolutions do not allow the shoe to develop further.

In two years the "Total90 Laser IV" will be produced first, seen for the last time in the white and green colorway during the Europeans, and the remake of the 2007 edition, the "Total90 Laser SE", revised also in November 2019.

The European Championships in Poland and Ukraine is just around the corner and the future of Nike Football is about to change course: a new generation of super-skilled young people is pawing, new methods of communication via social networks are about to explode definitively, new silos with more design futuristic and with characteristics more akin to the hyper-physical players of the moment are about to debut in fields all over the world.

2020, 8 long years have passed since the last "Total90". In the middle a "Phantom" which replaced a "Hypervenom", which in turn replaced a "T90". Nike's last launch was a "Phantom" colorway "T90", a circle that closes perfectly.

It's true, footballers are a category of nostalgics.