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Highsnobiety Q&A December, 19 2013
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Jerome Boateng Talks the Nike Tiempo ’94, His Sneaker Collection and More

International German soccer player Jerome Boateng has been lucky enough to have achieved a lot already in his short and young career. Having started in Berlin at Hertha BSC, the versatile defender soon rose through the ranks before joining Hamburger SV. After a brief stint at Manchester City, he moved back to Germany in 2011 and joined the country’s most successful soccer club, Bayern Munich. Apart from establishing himself as a tough-tackling and versatile defender on his Munich home turf, Boateng was drafted into the German national team for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Although Germany finished in third place at the World Cup, Boateng nonetheless managed to crown his career with a treble by winning the German Championship, DFB Pokal, and the UEFA Champions League.

Having been a long time supporter of Boateng, Nike recently enlisted him to front their latest campaign for the new Tiempo ’94 sneaker. Based on the coveted soccer boot of the same name that was first released during the World Cup in 1994, the shoe has been accordingly reworked into a lifestyle silhouette to be worn off the field. Revolving around leaders and rebels, Boateng seems to be a perfect match for the campaign.

Born and raised in Berlin, he spent his youth honing his soccer skills along with his elder brothers in the streets of the gritty Wedding neighborhood. Here he also learned perseverance and toughness – important traits that would also come in handy in the world of professional soccer. Although he retains a certain rebellious edge, Boateng is often characterized as rather timid and reserved. Perhaps the campaign is a way for the star to convince all of his critics of the contrary. “It doesn’t really bother me,” he tells us, “I’m actually rather reserved. Although when I’m with my family or hanging with my friends, I tend to be much more outgoing. However on the field, you will quickly notice that’s when I really come out of my shell. During those 90 minutes I give everything that I’ve got.”

The competitive environment of professional sports sees some proper trash talking on a regular basis, with players walking a fine line between confidence and full-blown arrogance. Just recently when asked about his Balon d’Or award, Swedish player Zlatan Ibrahimovic exclaimed that he doesn’t need a trophy to remind himself that he’s the best. “A healthy dose of confidence is never bad,” Boateng comments, “especially on the field. I think it’s important to show your fellow players, as well as your opponents, the same amount of respect. Of course, this also applies to when you’re off the field.”

Besides his career as a world-class athlete, Boateng is also known as a devoted sneakerhead. Calling several hundred of them his own, the exact number remains a mystery as he explains he’s “stopped counting.” His collection includes timeless classics such as the Nike Dunk and Air Max silhouettes, all the way to top-tier releases including the Air Yeezys. Having once crowded an entire room in his Munich apartment, they are now kept neatly stored in custom-made shelves.

Though running and basketball sneakers clearly dominate the scene right now, soccer is slowly but surely gaining ground. The ongoing Nike CR7 collection, as well as the current Tiempo ’94 model, is a sure indicator of soccer’s rise in popularity. Of course, Boateng welcomes the attention his sport is receiving through the Tiempo revival. “I’m really looking forward to the release. The Tiempo ’94 soccer boot proved to be a timeless classic and the sneaker silhouette will surely contribute to making soccer more accessible to a broader audience.”

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