20 Coolest Soccer Balls of the Last 20 Years
One aspect of the sport of soccer that changes frequently is the ball.
Over the past 20 years, new soccer balls have been introduced for every major competition in the sport.
Certain balls are claimed to better in the aerodynamics department while some are just designed in a different manner than others from the past were.
This list takes a look at some of the coolest soccer balls from the last 20 years.
Some balls made the list because of their classic, white features, while others made the list for being completely different and revolutionary in the color department.
Other soccer balls made the list because of the tribute they paid to the host nation of the FIFA World Cup and host city of the UEFA Champions League Final.
Here is the complete list of the 20 coolest soccer balls from the last 20 years.
Let's start with one of the original match balls to be used across England.
When the Premier League was conceived in 1992, the Ultimax was the first ball that was used for the newly formed top-flight league.
Mitre made history with the Ultimax ball as it became the first synthetic ball to be used in English football, replacing the old leather footballs that were used in the past.
Nike Geo Merlin II
In 2000, Nike took control of the ball manufacturing duties for the Premier League, and it was their second ball that made some headlines.
The Geo Merlin II was introduced at the start of the 2002-03 season, and it produced 1,000 goals during that season.
The next season, the ball was in use once again and it produced 1,012 goals.
The main beneficiary of the Geo Merlin II was Arsenal's Thierry Henry, who scored 54 goals during the two-year span that the ball was in use.
Nike Total90 Ascente
After a few seasons that saw under 1,000 goals scored in the EPL, the Nike Total90 Ascente was introduced before the 2009-10 season.
Five players scored over 20 goals that season, with Chelsea's Didier Drogba leading the group with 29 goals.
Not only did the Total90 Ascente produce plenty of goals, it also distanced itself from the traditional ball designs of the past.
The Adidas ICON made history in 1999 as the first ball that was specifically made for the FIFA Women's World Cup.
The ball was used in the final of the tournament where the United States defeated China on a penalty shootout.
That penalty shootout defined the tournament as Brandi Chastain won the title on the final kick and boosted the support of women's soccer in the United States.
Mitre Meteor Pro
The Mitre Meteor Pro ball was created as a throwback to the balls used before the glitz and glamour of the Premier League.
The ball was used for the 2005 FA Cup Final, which turned into a classic between Manchester United and Arsenal.
After 120 minutes of the match, zero goals were scored, and a penalty shootout was needed to decide the winner.
Arsenal's Jens Lehmann made the only save in the shootout on Paul Scholes, and the Gunners won 5-4 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Adidas 2008 Power Orange
Time to infuse some color into this list, and what better ball to do that than the Power Orange ball created by Adidas for Euro 2008.
The tournament was held in Austria and Switzerland, and Adidas designed the ball just in case some inclement weather struck the tournament.
The orange ball is always a favorite of fans because it only gets used when snow sticks to the pitch.
Adidas Wawa Aba
The Adidas Wawa Aba may be one of the most colorful balls used in international football.
Adidas introduced the ball at the 2008 African Cup of Nations tournament that was held in Ghana.
The Wawa Aba was designed to represent the colors of the Ghanaian flag: red, yellow and green.
Ghana won third place at the tournament, while Egypt defeated Cameroon in the final.
Adidas 2013 Glider
Continuing with the colorful trend, Adidas introduced their Glider ball for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, and just like the Wawa Aba, it represents the host nation of the tournament.
With Brazil hosting this summer's tournament, the ball is covered with green and yellow.
The tournament will be held at six venues across Brazil starting on June 15, with the hosts and Spain being the two favorites to win the competition.
The Adidas Tricolore may not be as flashy as the balls in the previous slides, but it is historic in its own manner.
The ball was designed for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, and it was the first multi-colored ball to be used at the tournament.
The Tricolore was not the only part of the tournament that represented French patriotism, as Les Blues took home the World Cup on home soil as well.
While Adidas may dominate the international ball market, Nike still has a hold on some domestic markets.
The latest Nike ball to be released is the Maxim, which is used in the EPL, La Liga and Serie A.
While the yellow version of the ball may stick out more, the white version is the one that is used the most in match play, and it also contains a sharp design.
While the design of the Adidas Teamgeist, used at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, may not seem too spectacular, if you look closer, it is.
The Teamgeist was introduced prior to the tournament held in Germany and it made history because it was made with 14 panels instead of 32, which was considered the standard prior to 2006.
Teamgeist was able to last a few years and found its way into Major League Soccer for a bit before it was replaced before the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Adidas Teamgeist Beijing
The Teamgeist brand was still alive and kicking by the time the 2008 Summer Olympics started.
The ball was given a completely different color set and a much sharper look for the Beijing Games.
China could only muster one point in Group C and failed to advance to the knockout phase of the tournament.
In the knockout phase, Argentina and Nigeria advanced to the final, which was won on a goal by Angel Di Maria for Argentina.
The ball made specifically for UEFA Euro 2004 was named the Roteiro by Adidas.
While the ball was not as colorful as some of the balls on this list, the sharpness of the silver ball with its red streaks coming from the corner makes its design look amazing.
Another special quality about the Roteiro was that it became the first match-specific ball.
The Roteiro was marked with the names of both teams playing in a match as well as the stadium and city that the match occurred in.
Adidas Finale Sportivo 2006
Adidas has manufactured the ball for the UEFA Champions League final for over a decade, and one of their finest products was the match ball for the 2006 final in Paris.
The ball for the Champions League final has always used the trademark stars of the competition's logo with a different variation to represent the host city.
During the final at the Stade de France, Barcelona's Juliano Belletti scored in the 81st minute to clinch the title for the Catalans over Arsenal.
Nike Total 90 Tracer Doma
Nike's Total 90 ball was used across Europe and South America during the 2010-11, and its best design was saved for the 2011 Copa America.
The design paid homage to the host nation of Argentina with the light blue patches throughout the plain white on the ball.
At the tournament, it was not Argentina who came out victorious. Uruguay upset them in the quarterfinals on a penalty shootout, and eventually went on to win the Copa America final in Buenos Aires over Paraguay.
Adidas Questra Olympics
Before all of the fancy host-specific designs that Adidas made for the Champions League finals, the ball company made a specific ball for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
With most of the soccer balls at that time being just plain white with just a logo, Adidas stepped up their game with their colorful pentagonal design for the Atlanta Games.
The Olympic tournament was held at six different sites, with the final being held at Sanford Stadium on the campus of the University of Georgia.
The final was contested by Nigeria and Argentina, with the Super Eagles coming out on top, 3-2.
Adidas Finale PowerOrange
The Adidas Finale PowerOrange was designed for the 2007 and 2008 UEFA Champions League finals if inclement weather struck the pitches of Athens and Moscow.
Unfortunately for soccer fans everywhere, the PowerOrange Champions League ball was never actually used in either final.
While the orange ball was not kicked around in Moscow in 2008, Manchester United and Chelsea did treat fans to a dramatic penalty shootout at the Luzhniki Stadium.
The Adidas Fevernova was designed for the 2002 FIFA World Cup that was held in Korea and Japan.
Most of the Fevernova ball was white, but the signature part of the ball was the triangular flame in its center.
Just like every World Cup ball, the Fevernova received plenty of criticism from players and coaches that participated in the tournament.
The player who took advantage of the Fevernova the most was Ronaldo, who scored eight goals for Brazil.
Adidas Finale Munich
Adidas drifted away from traditional one-color star on the ball for the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final in Munich.
The ball for the match at the Allianz Arena featured multi-colored stars throughout the ball.
It was a big risk for Adidas to change up the style of the ball, and they did a great job with the design of the ball.
However, the design of the ball will never be the first thing mentioned when referencing the match, as Chelsea took down Bayern Munich on penalties.
No ball received as much attention as the Adidas Jabulani did before the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The Jabulani was improved on the outside to make the aerodynamics on the ball much better, but instead it made the flight of the ball unpredictable.
While the unpredictability of the Jabulani frustrated many in the soccer world, its design did not see many critics.
The ball was made with 11 different colors to represent both the starting 11 that a soccer team puts out on the pitch and the 11 official languages of South Africa.
Follow me on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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