The 15 best match balls ever released

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Earlier this month, Nike unveiled the 2022-23 Premier League match ball.

Arriving in the league’s 30th anniversary year, the ball took inspiration from the past with a nod to the first ever ball used in the league. The references were subtle, but Nike’s new design drew on the colour palette and graphics used by Mitre back in 1992.

To mark the occasion, GOAL has looked back into the archives to spotlight the 15 best balls ever released...

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  • adidas Telstar ballFIFA

    1adidas Telstar

    Ask someone to close their eyes and think of a football, and chances are they would recall something similar to the adidas Telstar.

    The ball was originally designed to help viewers follow the ball on television, with its 12 pentagons contrasted against 20 white hexagons to make it more visible.

    The adidas Telstar is a true piece of footballing heritage, even all these years later.

  • Mitre UltimaxGetty

    2Mitre Ultimax

    The Mitre Ultimax was the second-ever Premier League ball, and is still the only one to have survived for five years. Arriving in 1995, the Ultimax sported the same Chevron graphic as the Pro Max, although the colour palette had been subtly updated with red, black and blue all featuring. The ball would remain in use until 2000, when Nike’s era of unrivalled Premier League dominance began.

    Get a version of the Mitre Ultimax from Pro:Direct Soccer for £130.00

  • Nike FlightNike

    3Nike Flight

    The all-new Premier League is a throwback to the pre-Nike days of the early ‘90s. Launched to mark the league’s 30th anniversary, the design pays tribute to the Mitre Pro Max that kicked things off in 1992. Referencing the brand’s signature chevron design, Nike has added large crosses all over the ball in the same colours as the original release from three decades ago.

    Get a version of the Nike Flight ball from Nike for £119.95

  • adidas Tricoloreadidas

    4adidas Tricolore

    When adidas introduced the Tricolore for the 1998 World Cup, the brand was creating another milestone in football history. The ball was the first ever to use colours other than just black and white and, as its name suggests, it incorporated the red, white and blue of France’s flag. It was also the final ball to follow the format of adidas’ iconic Tango ball.

  • Nike Geo MerlinGetty

    5Nike Geo Merlin

    As the first Nike ball used in the Premier League, the Geo Merlin set out the brand’s stall. Nike described it as the fastest and most aerodynamic ball ever produced, and its squared-off graphics were instantly recognisable in the early days of the millennium. The Geo Merlin lasted two years in its original form, before Nike tweaked the formula and replaced it with the Geo Merlin II.

    Get a version of the Nike Geo Merlin from ProDirect Soccer for £155.00

  • adidas FevernovaGetty

    6adidas Fevernova

    The adidas Tango created the format that all World Cup match balls would follow for two decades, but it was the Fevernova that replaced the design. Arriving for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, the ball was a radical departure from what came before it. Not only was the Tango’s pattern replaced, but so to was its white base, as adidas embraced gold and finished the design with an angular flame graphic.

  • Nike Total 90 AerowNike

    7Nike Total 90 Aerow

    Nike introduced its Total 90 line in 2000, and the franchise was arguably best-known for being home to some of the brand’s best boots. In 2004, though, Total 90 also began to appear on the Premier League match balls with the introduction of the Aerow. The Aerow’s design was immediately popular due to the placement of different coloured rings around the ball, and Nike would revisit the ball often with four generations appearing in the Premier League.

    Get a version of the Nike Total 90 Aerow from Pro:Direct Soccer for £155.00

  • adidas TangoGetty

    8adidas Tango

    Partly due its simplistic design, the adidas Tango is one of the most iconic footballs ever released. Featuring a minimal black and white aesthetic, the ball was originally introduced in 1978 with new versions arriving throughout the 1980s. adidas revisited the ball for the 2012 Euros with the Tango 12, although the brand struggled to replicate the magic of the original.

    Get a version of the adidas Tango ball from adidas for £23.00

  • Mitre Pro MaxGetty

    9Mitre Pro Max

    The Mitre Pro Max Was the ball that started it all in the Premier League era. It’s design – as with the subsequent Ultimax – is closely associated with the early days of the league and the excitement that brought with it. Away from the romance, the ball is an all-time classic thanks to its minimal design and colourful chevron design.

  • adidas +TeamgeistGetty

    10adidas +Teamgeist

    Designed and released for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, the adidas +Teamgeist took its name from the German for “team spirit” (the + sign was added due to a trademark issue). The ball itself came in for some criticism during the tournament, but it earned a place in history for the technical innovations. With just 14 panels, it marked an important new direction and became the first World Cup ball ever constructed with less than 32 panels. The nice graphic pattern didn’t hurt either.

  • UEFA Nike FlightNike

    11UEFA Nike Flight

    The ball for next month’s Euro 2022 is based on Nike’s popular Flight model, although its colourful design is a break from tradition. The ball’s white base is almost entirely covered with a swirling graphic, mixing light blue, pink and purple tones as well as a metallic silver trim. The graphic focuses on a Euro 2022 logo, sitting proudly in its own circle.

    Get the UEFA Nike Flight ball from Nike for £119.95

  • adidas Berlin Champions League Final 2005 ballGetty

    12adidas Berlin Champions League Final 2015

    There could be a whole list of adidas’ best Champions League balls, all of which feature the instantly-recognisable star pattern. One of the best, though, was released for the 2015 final in Berlin. Celebrating the host city, the stars incorporated a brightly-colored pattern with images of the Brandenburg Gates and Berlin’s lion mascot.

  • adidas JabulaniGetty

    13adidas Jabulani

    The adidas Jabulani – released for the 2010 World Cup – was almost instantly controversial. The ball was designed to be more aerodynamic than previous options, but that led to criticism from goalkeepers who complained about its movement in the air. Despite Brazil’s Julio Cesar calling it a “supermarket” ball, the Jabulani gained cult popularity due to its brightly-coloured triangle graphics.

  • Nike SeitiroGetty

    14Nike Seitiro

    As the successor to Nike’s Total 90 line, the Seitiro had big shoes to fill. Moving away from the angular graphics of earlier balls, the Seitiro featured blue and orange stripes across the ball, designed to make it more visible on the pitch. Despite its innovative design, the Seitiro only lasted for a season before Nike introduced the Maxim in 2012.

    Get a version of the Nike Seitiro from Pro:Direct Soccer for £108.00

  • adidas Al Rihlaadidas

    15adidas Al Rihla

    adidas launched the Al Rihla for the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and the ball is inspired by the host nation. The name translates as “The Journey,” and the colours used are all references to the Qatari flag, boats and architecture. As if its eye catching design – and innovative tech – wasn’t enough, adidas also announced that 1% of each sale would go to the Common Goal foundation.

    Get the adidas Al Rihla ball from adidas for £50.00