Design: The Millennium Collection

No 1: The spingrip outsole designed by anthony evans
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IF YOU notice Alan Shearer spinning away with ease from defenders hell-bent on leaving him nose-down in French turf during the World Cup, then thank not Glenn Hoddle's training ground tactics, but a would-be inventor called Anthony Evans. It is a measure of football's increasingly high profile that Evans' SpinGrip Outsole is among 202 Millennium Products chosen to represent creativity and innovation in British industry, and a measure of its success that the football manufacturers Umbro have signed it up for worldwide exclusive usage.

Shearer, of course, is Umbro's major player. The England striker will be hoping that the SpinGrip sole will protect him from the type of potentially crippling ligament injury that sidelined him for so long after his pounds 15m move to Newcastle United.

The SpinGrip's unique characteristic is its curved arrangement of specially profiled cleats, designed to reduce what are known in the trade as "lower limb rotational injuries"; in other words, it allows a player to twist and turn faster while still keeping his grip and, crucially, without jarring his leg. The studs are arranged around the ball and heel with a flat inner surface to prevent clogging mud and grass, and convex outer edges to prevent tripping. It sounds complex, but it works.

Former company doctor Evans says the concept of the SpinGrip came from the realisation that while injuries in professional and amateur football were on the increase, "boot soles hadn't changed for 100 years". Not strictly true. Adidas took four years, thousands of prototypes and stringent laboratory testing before launching their truly revolutionary Traxion outsole in 1996. It's a major factor behind the success of their leading boots, the Predator and the Accelerator, which they claim are "the best - and the sole - shoes for sport" (pardon the pun).

But if Alan Shearer stays on his feet and injury-free to lead England to World Cup glory, the SpinGrip Outsole will have more than earned its place among its pioneering contemporaries. Umbro's catchphrase - "the heart and soul of football" - has never been more relevant.


So far, over 200 Millennium Products have been chosen for their excellent design. Each week we will examine one of them.