Football is the widest played sport in the entire world, all we need is a place to play and more importantly, a ball. The ball is as essential to the game as much as it is overlooked. Match balls can carry a different value in just themselves. It is a matter of prestige and respect when that ball is placed in the middle and the game is kicked off.
The Premier League is the biggest league in the entire world and has a humongous history. The beautiful game, the teams, the fans, the colours, the iconic atmosphere you won’t find elsewhere, and, the match ball.
The Premier League match ball has gone through several changes from the year 1992, when the year in which the Premier League officially started.
Premier League match ball brands
So far, only two brands have been assigned the task to make the Premier League official match balls. One of them being the classic and retro, Mitre, which manufactured the official balls for the league from the beginning and reignition of the Premier League era in 1992 till the year 2000. Mitre only supplied the official Premier League ball during the 1990s and only created different versions to be used over the span of 8 years. Both Mitre Premier League footballs rely on a simple white base in combination with a graphic pattern.
From the 2000/01 season onwards, the responsibility of manufacturing and delivering the official match balls was sold to Nike. Since then till present, Nike has been designing the Premier League match ball every season.
The Premier League match ball history
Once Nike took over, the American sportswear giant seized the opportunity and started to release a new Premier League football every year. Back then, the base design was retained over a few years with only the accent colours changing slightly.
The 2008-09 season was the first time a base design was only kept for one season, and ever since then the Premier League receives a new ball every season with a unique set of colours and a custom graphic pattern.
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Ever since then, there has been no turning back. Nike has uniquely designed a match ball for every season. Recently, they have started to introduce a different match ball for each half of the season, the summer period and the winter period post Boxing Day.
Premier League match balls
Mitre Pro Max (1992-1995)
Since the Premier League kicked off in 1992, the Mitre Pro Max was chosen as the weapon of choice. In its first season, the Pro Max was stuck in the back of the net 1222 times, mostly by Golden Boot winner that season Teddy Sheringham. The Mitre Pro Max era of the Premier League belonged to Manchester United who of course won the first-ever edition with Aston Villa just trailing behind. The Mitre Pro Max saw 3612 goals scored with it across its lifetime including some of the greatest ever.
Mitre Ultimax (1995-2000)
The Ultimax got a bit of a redesign. It was the same old story though, Manchester United continued to dominate picking up 4 of the five titles on offer with Arsenal managing to win in 1997/98. Arsene Wenger had just joined the Gunners in 1996 and had already started to ruffle some Manc feathers. The Mitre Ultimax was put in the back of the net 4996 times. David Beckham from the halfway line, Tony Yeboah vs Wimbledon, and the Cantona chip against Sunderland were all scored with the Ultimax.
Nike Geo Merlin I & II (2000-2004)
The Premier League swapped out Mitre for Nike and introduced us to the Nike Geo Merlin which was used from 2000-02. Thierry Henry was at his peak in this period, along with Australian Icon Mark Viduka and Chelsea’s Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The Geo Merlin was scored with 1993 times, with Henry’s flick up and volley and Bergkamp’s contender for Goal of the century being the pick of the bunch.
The Nike Geo Merlin received a fresh coat of paint giving us the Merlin II. Van Nistelrooy topped the scoring charts in 02/03 with Australian Duo at Leeds Kewell & Viduka were both amongst the top scorers in 02/03 as United finished top & Thierry Henry in 03/04 with Arsenal going undefeated for the whole season giving them the ‘Invincible’ title. 2012 goals were scored with the Nike Geo Merlin II.
Nike Total 90 Aerow I & II (2004-2008)
In 2004/05 nike introduced us to the new Premier League ball, the iconic T90 Aerow, a ball with increased technology allowing for more consistent speed, accuracy & flight. 1919 goals were scored with the first T90 Aerow.
At the start of the 2006/07 season, fans were introduced to the T90 Aerow II with a red ringed design instead of blue. In 2007 the T90 may have reverted back to the blue rings but the title was still red. After four seasons and 3852 goals, the Aerow was retired.
Nike Total 90 Omni (2008-2009)
Nike introduced us to the new Omni Premier League ball for the 2008/09 season. The Omni was supposed to provide a more accurate and powerful strike. In 08/09 there were 942 goals scored.
Nike Total 90 Ascente (2009-2010)
The T90 Ascente was the Premier League ball of choice in 2009/10 with new technology making the ball 2.5% faster. Chelsea broke the record for goals scored in a season with 103 adding their fair share to the total of 1053. Didier Drogba top scored for the season with 29 goals, including his chip against hull from the touchline and a peach of a free kick against Arsenal.
Nike Total 90 Tracer (2010-2011)
The Total 90 Tracer was introduced in 2010 using golf ball science to improve airflow over the ball. It was 1063 goals for the T90 Tracer with Wayne Rooney’s effort that season the best of the lot, the iconic bicycle kick in the Manchester derby.
Nike Seitiro (2011-2012)
In 2011 Nike introduced us to the Nike Seitiro, which was the first ball since 2003/04 to not carry the T90 branding. The Seitiro gave us the most dramatic final day in Premier League history with Aguero scoring in added time to hand Manchester City the title for the first time since the 60s, beating out cross-town rivals Manchester United on goal difference. There were 1066 goals scored that season.
Nike Maxim (2012-2013)
The Nike Maxim was the ball introduced for the 2012/13 season as Manchester United snatched the title right back after adding Robin Van Persie to the side.
The Maxim fell 3 short of the Seitiro’s tally, finishing on 1063 goals with RVP, Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale and Christian Benteke the main contributors. Van Persie finished top scorer, won the title, player of the year and also scored the goal of the year with his volley against Aston Villa.
Nike Incyte (2013-14)
In 2013/14 the Nike Incyte was used as Manuel Pellegrini led Manchester City back to the top of the table, just beating out Liverpool by 2 points. Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez combined for 52 goals, getting Liverpool within touching distance of top spot and Yaya Toure hit the 20 mark from midfield. 2013/14 saw 1052 goals scored.
Nike Ordem 2, 3, 4, V (2014-2018)
The Ordem 2 used in 2014/15 featured grooves to grip & channel the air through to allow for more consistent flight. Since then, we saw the Ordem series for the next 4 years, the Nike Ordem V being the last. The last Nike Ordem Premier League ball was used in 2017/18 when Manchester City started their League domination under Pep Guardiola, breaking every record available, most goals, most wins, most points and winning the league by a whopping 19 points.
Nike Merlin (2018-2020)
The Nike Merlin was back for the first time since 03/04 as a Premier League ball and it was better than ever. Nike introduced their All Conditions Control (ACC) technology in a ball for the first time allowing for better touch in all conditions. A slightly updated Merlin was used again in 19/20, getting a pink makeover inspired by the urban landscapes of England’s cities. Liverpool managed to overcome the covid interrupted season to overcome a 30-year title drought.
Nike Flight (2020-Present)
At the start of the 2020/21 season, Nike gave us the most revolutionary ball to date, the Nike Flight ball was 8 years in the making and saw to address inconsistencies with flight, providing 30% truer flight than the Merlin.
The first edition of the Nike Flight saw 1,023 goals fly in including Erik Lamela’s North London Derby rabona and Alison’s added time headed winner against West Brom. Since then, fans have gotten two more Nike Flight match balls.