Nike unveiled the latest generation of its Hypervenom football boot earlier this week, and it's fair to say striker Marcus Rashford can't wait to start playing in it.
It's being billed as the ultimate boot for quick, agile strikers who are ruthless in front of goal — which is probably why the Swoosh drafted in the Manchester United and England prodigy to be one of five players to front the campaign, alongside Robert Lewandowski, Harry Kane, Edison Cavani, and Gonzalo Higuaín.
Rashford has come a long way in a short time after he blasted onto the scene with two debut goals in a UEFA Europa League match against FC Midtjylland, scoring another 13 goals for club and country in the last year. He currently finds himself playing a big part in Jose Mourinho's attacking options, albeit as an impact substitute as he tries to force his way into the starting eleven.
The 19-year-old may not be the strongest of players, at least not yet, but his lightning pace and incredible agility allow him to get past his opponents and out of tight confinements to unleash early shots on goal. These skills are arguably Rashford's greatest strength as a player, and he believes the Hypervenom 3 could give him an extra boost to take him to the next level.
The Hypervenom 3 is specifically engineered to be light and flexible when sprinting and turning for increased agility, hard when shooting for maximum power, and soft and squidgy when controlling and dribbling for better control. We sat down with Rashford to see what he thinks about it.
So you've had a bit of time testing out the new Hypervenom 3 now, what is it like and how excited are you to take it into a competitive game?
"Yeah I'm really happy with the changes and the improvements. The way it feels when you put it on and when you're kicking the ball is really satisfying. I think Nike is always trying to improve our performances by bringing out new and improved technologies, so I'm just kind of excited to get used to wearing a different boot and seeing what the future holds with it."
How is it working closely with Nike, and how does the boot affect your performance?
"I've been with Nike from a very young age, so I think growing up with them and building a relationship with them was really important for myself. They put a lot of time and effort into the boots, in things like how it grips the ground and how it grips your foot, how the ball feels when it touches your foot.
Nike has clearly focused on helping the players make those quick "cuts" and changes of speed and direction with the new Hypervenom. I'm sure defenders already feared this aspect of your game — have you noticed even greater improvement since wearing the new boot?
"Yes, definitely. When you're turning and when you're accelerating you feel a lot more loose and fluid than other boots that I've worn in the past, and that's only going to help my game."
Aside from the new features and the technical side of it, what do you think about how it looks, and how important is style on the pitch?
"Yeah I really like the way it looks, but to me that's an added bonus. The technical side of it is the most important thing but if you look and feel good wearing it then gives you that added bit of confidence going into games."
And does that cross over into off the pitch? Do you think about what you wear before and after the games?
I try not to overthink it, to be honest. I'm a casual guy, I wear a lot tracksuits, Nike trainers, or if I'm going out at the weekend, it'll be a simple jeans and jacket look. Before the games I'm just concentrating on my game, listening to music.
Who do you listen to?
Finally, who is the best player you've played with so far?
"I'd have to say Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney. I grew up watching Rooney playing every week for Manchester United at Old Trafford and everybody knows what Zlatan can do. For the young players like myself to see how Zlatan is off the pitch as well as on it, and how he approaches games, his mentality — it's invaluable."
Nike's Hypervenom 3 will be available in “Poison Green/Hyper Orange” over at Nike.com on January 30.