Il Gladiatore Totti

The Legendary Francesco Totti will finally hang up his boots at the end of the season. Brining to end a glorious 24-year career at Roma.

The 40-year-old forward and club captain has scored 307 goals in 783 appearances since making his Roma debut.

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He will then take up a position as a director at the club he has served all his career. Roma’s final game of the season at home to Genoa on 28 May will be his last.

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His boot sponsor Nike recently released an exclusive signature Tiempo Totti X Roma football boot ahead of the Rome derby against Lazio. And I think that was a rather fitting tribute to a rare breed of player in the modern game.

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Only 2500 pairs of the golden limited edition boots were released and as expected he went for the 10th pair. The boots feature a fully leather upper with Totti’s trademark elasticated fold-over tongue bearing the Roman numeral ten to represent his shirt number at Roma.

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The only difference to the boots that hit the shelves is that Totti has further personalised his with the names of his three children Christian, Chanel and Isabel above the Swoosh.

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GRAZIE CAPITANO!

The Blue Blast ACE

Last month, adidas Football launched its Blue Blast football boot collection.
The Blue Blast was launched under the “Stadium to Street” umbrella, with the street version available for the first time ever in South Africa.

I’ve had the privilege of playing in these over the past four weeks and I must say I am truly impressed by its comfort and support of my rather weak ankles.

The Blue Blast ACE 17+ PURECONTROL’s latest feature is an all-new Purecut Sock System.
It’s designed to provide an optimal fit, while the highly stretchable material helps to lock your foot in place while adjusting to even the most complex movements.
So with any sudden turn on the field, you still feel protected and not like you’re going to break your ankle. The boots also features a 360 degree fully PRIMEKNIT upper.

But you don’t have to take my word for how good the boot is, I had a chat with Abbubaker Mobara and the no-nonsense defender has given it his stamp of approval.

Nike Hypervenom Phantom 3

Nike recently brought out the third generation Hypervenom. The boot is designed with goal scoring in mind and it’s no wonder it’s led by a strong line-up of strikers like Marcus Rashford, Robert Lewandowski, Harry Kane, Gonzalo Higuaín, Edinson Cavani, and in South Africa, Bernard Parker and Thabo Mnyamane.

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The Hypervernom Phantom III has a completely new look, which includes a few technological advancements. Something that definitely caught my eye are the multi-layered Poron foam pods which have been integrated into a Flyknit upper. The pods are said to create a dampening soft touch at low velocity contact with the ball, but activate rigidity when striking it with high velocity to create a firm launching pad for a true strike. Sounds cool, but I actually don’t know what that means.

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Nike have also included a new plate with far more flexibility. And Parker is an advocate of the new plate as he doesn’t like any stud pressure from his weapon of choice.

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The flywire cables enable players to fine-tune the fit at each loop for a more precise lock-in to support lateral cuts, with extra lateral stability provided by the new Dynamic Fit Collar.

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To be honest, I was more impressed with the look of the low lo-cut version of the boot.

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One man who knows all about goal scoring is the second deadliest striker in a Bafana Bafana jersey.
Shaun Bartlett banged in 28 goals in 74 appearances for South Africa and the Hypervernom III has received the thumbs up from the former Charlton Athletic striker.

 

Journey of 5000 miles

 

Mamelodi Sundowns recently cleaned up at the 2016 CAF Awards held in Abuja, Nigeria. Dennis Onyango was named the African Player of the Year – Based in Africa, while Pitso Mosimane walked away with the Coach of the Year award. And Bafana ba Style were crowned Club of the Year.

But not only that, Onyango together with teammates Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly made it onto the continent’s finest XI side. And all that came about as a result of their triumph in the CAF Champions league.

While watching the awards on television I remembered how I had received an unexpected call a day before my departure to Egypt to cover the Champions League final.

Keagan Dolly had left behind his new mercurial superfly boots and he needed them for the match against Zamalek.

And the gentleman on the other end of the line asked if I could take them to the land of the Pharaohs, and I duly agreed.

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O.R. Tambo International Airport

And so off I went to O.R Tambo International on Friday the 21st of October with the precious cargo safely packed in my backpack.

We had a bit of trouble trying to check-in for our Egypt Air MS840 flight to Cairo. Together with the group of journalists I was travelling with, we were told our names were no longer on the list of passengers.

And then I started to panic a little bit, because I had to deliver these boots to Keagan, and if I wasn’t on that flight that meant he wouldn’t get them. After a few hours of toing and froing with the airline’s officials, the issue was finally resolved and our names had miraculously reappeared.

But it was only once I was past the boarding gates that I felt at ease knowing I would fulfil my duty as the carrier of a nation’s hopes.

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O.R. Tambo International Airport

It was an eight hour flight from Johannesburg to Cairo and just as we were flying over Ethiopia I decided to check my backpack again to make sure all was still in order.

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And once we touched down in Cairo on Saturday morning, we still had a four hour bus ride to Alexandria where the clash between Zamalek and Sundowns would take place the following day.

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Cairo International Airport, Egypt

But our departure was not so smooth as the Egyptian authorities confiscated our cameras because we did not have an approval letter from CAF to bring them into Egypt. After two hours of trying to reason with the officials, who only spoke in Arabic, we left the airport and made the long journey to Alex….without the cameras of course, but I still had the boots in my backpack.

I needed to communicate with Keagan to arrange a collection point. And as the South African journos scurried through the city centre in search of mobile sim cards, I sat and watched the manic taxi drivers in the never-ending traffic.

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Alexandria, Egypt

We South Africans love to complain about our taxi drivers, but they have nothing on their North African counterparts.

Once we all had means to communicate, we finally arranged to meet at the Borg el-Arab Stadium with Keagn, where “The Brazilians” would hold their final training session before their date with destiny.

Come match-day, I hoped that Keagan would score for Sundowns on their way to lifting the Champions League trophy. Sadly it wasn’t to be as they lost the second leg tie 1-0 through a Nka Ohawuchi goal. But still, I had great satisfaction in my heart as I watched Dolly hoist the trophy above his head following the 1-3 aggregate win.

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I knew that in a very small and perhaps insignificant way, I had played a part in getting that long awaited star for Masandawana.