A Boot Story – Ben Hooper aka beans

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Oct 7, 2014

A Boot Story – Ben Hooper aka beans


Every soccer player has their own unique boot story, a story about pairs in their past that made a significant lasting impression on how they remember the beautiful game. Sometimes it relates to a pair that produced that one magical moment during their career, maybe a spectacular goal or the time they played against a certain player. For others, it can be a connection to a period of personal growth or prosperity while they played. We all have an individual story to share because we love our boots.

In this series we are calling “A Boot Story”, we bring you personal insights from players in the game and the reason they hold a particular silo at the front of their memory.

Our dude Bryan Byrne shared his story first, and now I figured I would share mine as well.

It’s 1998. I’m living in Europe. I’ve been signed by a professional team in Holland that plays in the Eredivisie. I’m in the reserves, but I’m there. I’m getting to train with players like Mark van Bommel (dude was a beast by the way) and a whole bunch of other really good players.  The team had a sponsorship deal with Lotto and I was wearing some black and neon green Lottos (which I really liked).

One day I get called into the director of the clubs office. He told me he had got a fax from US Soccer and that I had been invited to a training camp for the US Olympic team. He told me he had already approved me to go and wished me well.

I’m stoked at this point. Like super jonesed about this. I had never participated with a national team at any level. So I was beyond excited. I knew Dunny would be at the camp as well as a couple of my other boys, so I was stoked to see them too. Things looked pretty good.

I get to Portland and I don’t remember exactly how the following went, but it went something like this:

I get a call to go to the room where the equipment dude is at. I head over there. Walk in and the room is completely filled with Nike gear. Training gear. Sweats. Jackets. Polos. Running sneakers. Boots. I basically get the greatest gift bag full of Nike Soccer gear given to me.

The boots I was given ~~ Nike Tiempos. And the boots were cool. Nike was still working their way into the sport. They weren’t the greatest boots I had ever worn. They were heavy (even for those times), the leather was thick and they got super waterlogged. But they meant way more to me than any of that. They represented me getting to pull on a jersey that had the US Soccer crest on the front.

I still remember my first game for the US Olympic team on that trip. It was against Canada. I don’t remember the score. We won. If memory serves me correctly, I think my first game was a success. And I obviously played in those Tiempos.

When I got back to Holland and wore those at my first training session back with my club, I felt like a new man. New confidence. Swagger on a hundred thousand trillion (maybe not that much, but you get the point).

I wore those Tiempos for the rest of my time as a pro. The Tiempos are still my favorite Nike boot and the one that I would choose to wear to this day. The new versions are light years ahead of those early joints, but the 98 Tiempos will always be my favorites.

For the best boot coverage on the Interwebs, check out SoccerCleats101.

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