From Mitre classics to multi-coloured Nike ball

August 14, 2016

Since its first season in 1992-93, everything about the Premier League has evolved significantly – and that includes the ball used in the division.

With players now going for £100million and kits almost unrecognisable from a decade ago, England’s top-flight has changed out of all recognition over the course of the last 24 years.

And the new season ahead will see top stars including Paul Pogba, Leroy Sane and Granit Xhaka in action with another new ball after Nike released the official design for the season ahead last month

Here is how it has evolved over the years:

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla (right) holds the new Premier League ball for the season ahead

1992-95: Mitre Pro Max 

The early days of the Premier League era began with England’s new division using Mitre as their official ball supplier. 

The Mitre Pro Max lasted for three seasons and had the honour of being used for the first ever games in the league. 

The first goal scored with the ball came from Sheffield United striker Brian Deane in his team’s clash with Manchester United at Bramall Lane. 

The Mitre Pro Max was the first ball to be used in the Premier League which began in 1992

1995-2000: Mitre Ultimax

After three seasons with the Pro Max, Mitre stepped up their game by upgrading to the Ultimax in 1995. 

Used for half a decade in England’s top-flight, the Ultimax is the longest serving ball in Premier League history. 

Its first season in use saw United take the title back from the previous season’s surprise winners Blackburn Rovers and coincided with the glory years of mid 1990’s football. 

Les Ferdinand scores for Newcastle against Blackburn with the Mitre Ultimax ball in 1995

The Ultimax is the longest-serving ball in Premier League history - it was in use for five years

One of the most famous goals scored with the ball saw West Ham’s Paolo Di Canio execute a superb scissor-kick volley from a Trevor Sinclair cross against Wimbledon at Upton Park in 2000.

It also coincided with United’s league title triumph in 1999 as part of their historic treble under Sir Alex Ferguson. 

A classic image of a Mitre Ultimax, which was used in the late 1990's in the Premier League

Arsenal striker Ian Wright gets a spectacular volley away using the Ultimax at Highbury 

2000-04: Nike Geo Merlin

The transition into the 21st century saw the Premier League move from Mitre to Nike as their ball supplier and they haven’t looked back since. 

The Geo Merlin maintained the classical white design from the decade before but came with added panels. 

The new millennium saw the Premier League switch from Mitre to Nike as ball provider 

John Arne Riise takes on an acrobatic bicycle kick for Liverpool with the Nike Geo Merlin   

Middlesbrough’s Colin Cooper faces a stray boot as he heads clear against Everton in 2001

Children across the country growing up at the time tried to emulate top players such as Dennis Bergkamp and Teddy Sheringham, who were scoring goals for fun at the time with the ball.

Bergkamp’s strike on the spin at Newcastle won’t be forgotten in a hurry while the 10,000th Premier League goal was scored with the ball, Les Ferdinand gaining that notable achievement.

The Geo Merlin was the first of Nike's search for constant technological advancement

At the time the Geo Merlin was one of the most advanced footballs available to buy

2004-08: Nike T90 Aerow

The T90 Aerow was synonymous with some of the Premier League’s glory years, its blue circular design the first real change out of the ordinary. 

A four-year spell saw the Aerow change slightly but it was with that ball that Chelsea claimed their first Premier League title. 

Its first two seasons were inextricably linked to Arsenal’s Thierry Henry, the Frenchman finding the ball to his liking as he scored 25 and then 27 goals in consecutive seasons from 2004. 

The Nike T90 Aerow had a simple design but was hugely popular in the mid 2000's

John Terry in action in the Premier League with the Nike T90 Aerow

Thierry Henry in action in the Premier League with the Nike T90 Aerow

Everton’s Phil Neville and Sunderland’s Dean Whitehead in top-flight action in 2006

2008-09: Nike T90 Omni

As technology evolved, so too did the Premier League ball with 2008 seeing the arrival of the T90 Omni. 

Nike, at the time, said the ball was their most spherical yet and allowed the world’s best footballers to get more power on their strikes at goal. 

The Omni’s white design with black stripes was simple, but also hugely popular.

James Milner, here in action for Aston Villa, fires a shot on goal with the Nike T90 Omni

Blackburn’s El-Hadji Diouf (left) and Wigan’s Maynor Figueroa battle for the ball in 2009

2009-10: Nike T90 Ascente

The T90 Ascente, like its predecessor the Omni, was used for just the one season as Nike chopped and changed with their designs. 

Nike’s latest product at the time was particularly popular in the yellow version, used in unfortunate weather conditions in England’s top-flight, and came on to the market with the sports giants insisting it would travel faster, further and longer than any previous versions. 

A view of a fluorescent yellow Nike T90 Ascente Premier League ball used in 2010

The first season of its use saw Chelsea claim the title once again, with Didier Drogba banging in just one shy of 30 league goals for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

2010-11: Nike T90 Tracer

Continuing Nike’s trend of releasing a new ball every year – one which has continued up until today – the Tracer’s white, black and blue design was arguably one of the league’s best. 

It will certainly be well remembered by United fans with the sole season of its use seeing them win the title, ahead of reigning champions Chelsea.

The Nike T90 Tracer continued the brand's trend of changing the ball every year

The Nike T90 Tracer continued the brand's trend of changing the ball every year

Former Liverpooler, Jamie Carragher battles with ex-Chelsea’s Didier Drogba with the Tracer ball 

Fulham's Andrew Johnson shoots on goal against Newcastle in the 2010-11 campaign

2011-12: Nike Seitiro

May 2012 and Vincent Kompany lifts Manchester City’s first Premier League title following a dramatic season with the Seitiro.

It was a campaign to remember for the club with arguably the most dramatic final day in the history of the Premier League.

City’s 3-2 win over QPR at the Etihad on the last day courtesy of an iconic late minute goal from Sergio Aguero sent Sky Sports’ Martin Tyler into meltdown and left Arsenal, for whom Robin van Persie had scored 30 goals and runners up United, to go into the summer disappointed.

A Nike Seitiro football placed on the centre sport, before the start of the 2011-12 season
Sergio Aguero in action with the ball during Manchester City's dramatic win over QPR

2012-13: Nike Maxim

Nike’s pre-season news told Premier League fans the Maxim possessed  ‘Geo II Balanced Technology’, which allowed for an ‘accurate and powerful strike’.

United and Van Persie were certainly fans, the Old Trafford side coming out on top and the Dutchman again among the goals following his move north. 

Van Persie’s stunning volley against Aston Villa was the crowning moment of their season. 

A Nike Maxim ball, the official football of the Premier League for the 2012-13 campaign

Manchester United's Patrice Evra in action with the Nike Maxim ball against West Ham

2013-14: Nike Incyte

The Seitiro and Maxim were certainly bold designs and the Incyte continued that, with an orange Nike tick surrounded by dark red and purple panels. 

With another modern name, it was the latest in Nike’s ever evolving quest for technological perfection. Luis Suarez, then of Liverpool, banged in 31 league goals with it over the campaign as Brendan Rodgers’ side just fell short of the title. 

Terry Gennoe, goalkeeping coach of Aston Villa, carries Nike Incyte match balls
 Luis Suarez celebrates a Daniel Sturridge goal during a Premier League game in 2014

2014-15: Nike Ordem 2

The first of Nike’s Ordem products, why there was never an Ordem 1 remains an unanswered question. 

This design contained blue and lime green – you can never accuse Nike of being afraid of holding back – while the winter ball was orange and yellow. 

A view of the Nike Ordem football, the official ball of the Premier League in 2014-15
A view of the Nike Ordem football, the official ball of the Premier League in 2014-15

2015-16: Nike Ordem 3 

Last season’s Premier League season saw Nike go all out. 

Their multi-paneled design was certainly bold and the fact it was bright pink made it almost unrecognisable from the designs of the decade before. 

The shock pink colour coincided with a shock league campaign as at 5,000/1, Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester City carried off the title in one of the biggest surprises in football history. 

Manchester United's Daley Blind using the Nike Ordem 3 against Tottenham last season

United's Chris Smalling (left) and Aston Villa's Jordan Ayew battle for the Ordem 3 ball

Last season's Nike design was certainly innovative, especially in its bright colour

2016-17: Nike Ordem 4 

From bright pink to blue, green and purple, the Nike Ordem 4 features multi-coloured segments surrounding the official badge. 

Nike are promising the geometric 12 panel fuse-welded constructed ball contains the design principle of ‘Flow Motion’, which means the ball will be completely visible at all times. 

But that hasn’t stopped some goalkeepers already complaining it is difficult to handle at times. ‘After two weeks with it, you could see it is a little bit greasier when it gets wet, which is never great as a goalkeeper, said Burnley and England stopper Tom Heaton. ‘It is what it is and it’s something you can’t control.’

 The 2016-17 ball is similarly bright, with innovative green, blue and purple colours

The Nike Ordem 4 ball has been designed to be completely visible on the pitch at all times



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *