Cristiano Ronaldo has been an ambassador for Nike since since his debut 20 years ago. Ronaldo has worn Swoosh footwear for the entirety of his playing career, including all 815 goals and 1122 games, and has largely stuck to the Mercurial line, which debuted in the late 1990s and was first created for his Brazilian namesake.
Ronaldo initiated a series of ‘Chapters’-style collaborations with the Mercurial in 2015, which marked the beginning of a new phase in their relationship. Beginning with the seventh chapter, which alludes to his now-iconic number 7, and ending with the “Savage Beauty” design, which was motivated by his hometown of Madeira.
Since the release of Ronaldo’s first trademark boot in 2010, Nike has released a new model almost every four months. No other sportsperson has worn any of Ronaldo’s designs during that time, at least not in relation to Mercurial boots specifically.
This is the history of his love affair with the Mercurial line, as seen in the context of his 20-year career thus far.
Chrome Nike Mercurial Vapor shoes
Ronaldo first donned the Mercurial Vapor 1 in the beginning of his career. His first matches for Sporting Lisbon were played in a pair of bright orange boots that can be seen in some of the most significant moments of his short career. But a “Chrome” colorway was what fundamentally altered his life and the history of football. Ronaldo was wearing the Mercurial Vapor Chrome during the renowned exhibition match versus Manchester United, which Sir Alex Ferguson used to decide whether to sign him.
“Gold” Nike Mercurial Vapor shoes
When Ronaldo first entered the Premier League, he continued to wear the “Chrome” color scheme, including the occasion when he scored Manchester United’s 1000th league goal. However, by his second season, he had switched to the gold color scheme. The new coloring of the boot originated from the R9 series, which is named after the other Ronaldo, but was worn by CR7 during Manchester United’s run to the FA Cup final, where they defeated Millwall, and Portugal’s Euro 2004 home campaign (where they finished second, losing to Greece).
Mercurial Vapor III by Nike
The Nike Mercurial Vapor III is regarded as one of the best football boots ever made by the Swoosh and was crucial in Ronaldo’s development. Ronaldo ultimately won the Premier League championship in 2006–07, his second season sporting the Mercurial Vapor III, nearly tripling his career goal total in the process. In the ensuing years, Ronaldo would don a variety of color schemes as Manchester United dominated the Premier League, including “Platinum,” “Argon Blue,” and “Sport Red.”
Mercurial Vapor IV by Nike
Perhaps a pattern is emerging at this point. In 2008, Ronaldo continued to use the Mercurial Vapor brand. He introduced the IV edition in the eye-catching “Orange Peel” colorway just before scoring his first hat trick for Manchester United (against Newcastle, in case you were wondering). Ronaldo continued to wear the Mercurial Vapor IV through a few iterations in which the orange was swapped out for “Sport Red,” “Pine Green,” “Marina/Volt,” and “Citron.” Ronaldo did stray from the path for a brief while while playing in the Champions League triumph for Manchester United while donning the special-edition Mercurial SL.
Mercurial Vapor Superfly by Nike
With the introduction of the Superfly, the Mercurial Vapor line entered a new era, with Ronaldo once more taking center stage. Ronaldo wore a “Max Orange” pair in the 2008–09 Champions League’s final rounds, and he also wore the Superfly in black when he was introduced as a Real Madrid player. Later, after Ronaldo scored 33 goals in 35 games during his debut season with Real Madrid, the color scheme was changed to “Orion Blue.”
Mercurial Vapor Superfly II by Nike
Ronaldo once more replaced his Mercurial Vaporfly boots with the most recent Nike models. Ronaldo first wore a “Vaporfly Pop” colorway of the Vapor Superfly II when it was first released in 2010, and then he wore a “Elite” pair especially made for South African fields when he competed in the 2010 World Cup. Ronaldo dressed the boots in “Cactus” and “Cherry” upon his return from South Africa before the release of his first signature shoe, the Nike Mercurial Vapor Superfly II CR “Safari,” in late 2010.
Nike Vapor Superfly III Mercurial Vapor
Ronaldo’s signature boots became famous in the 2010s, and he replaced the CR “Safari” in less than six months with the Mercurial Vapor Superfly III “Safari Black.” Real Madrid won the Copa del Rey in 2011 while Ronaldo was sporting his second signature boot. Despite the season’s relative lack of championships, Ronaldo became the first player to score 50 goals when he scored 53 in 54 games. For a large portion of the following season, Ronaldo continued to use the Mercurial Vapor Superfly III and decorated it with a striking pinstripe pattern.
Mercurial Vapor VIII by Nike
In 2012, the Superfly line was discontinued, and Ronaldo switched to the Mercurial Vapor VIII design. Wearing a vivid orange colorway, Ronaldo scored his 40th goal of the season in April of that year, reaching the milestone for the second consecutive season. He scored 60 goals in all throughout that season, helping Real Madrid win their first La Liga championship. Before his next signature release at the start of the 2012–13 season, which featured a black, pink, and blue design, the Mercurial Vapor VIII also came in a white and blue colorway.
Mercurial Vapor IX by Nike
Early in 2013, Ronaldo sported the Nike Mercurial Vapor IX CR SE, which included features drawn from the previous year’s triumphs and came in a white and orange colorway. For the remainder of the 2012–13 season and into the next year, Ronaldo continued to don the Mercurial Vapor IX, including a pair that was inspired by the “Rainbow Jersey.” In November 2013, as he scored his 100th away goal in 106 games, a Supernova-covered pair was released. Later, a limited-edition pair in white, gold, and black was released to commemorate Ronaldo’s second Ballon d’Or triumph.
Mercurial Superfly IV by Nike
During the 2014 World Cup, Ronaldo wore the FlyKnit footwear, bringing his Superfly line back. While donning a black and gold pair of the Superfly IV in late 2014 to commemorate his second Ballon d’Or victory in two years, Ronaldo became the fastest La Liga player to reach 200 goals in the league. Ronaldo continued to support the Superfly IV with additional limited-edition releases, including as the “Silverware” pair in 2015 as he set new goalscoring records, the “324k” pair when he broke Real Madrid’s goalscoring record (324 in 311), and the first two parts of his seven-part Nike partnership.
Mercurial Superfly V by Nike
Ronaldo first debuted the Superfly V, his first signature boot, in the Champions League final, where he also scored the game-winning penalty, before switching back to it for that summer’s Euro 2016. Ronaldo then announced his new long-term contract with Nike, referencing the 60 boots he had worn in 13 years. Ronaldo, who suffered an injury early in the contest, cheered from the sidelines as Portugal defeated France and he earned his first cap. The third chapter of his collaboration, the “Discovery” style, which was motivated by his transfer to Manchester United, was also featured on the Mercurial V.