I am going to take you back to the summer of 2015 and fortunately I had come back to the UK for 2 weeks as my wife and I were attending a friends wedding in Devon. Our 2 weeks were all planned out and it consisted of travelling from Manchester to Gloucester to Devon to Bexhill to Leamington Spa and back to Manchester. For those of you that don’t know the UK too well that’s roughly a round trip of around 1200km and we were going to do this in about a week. Then on the second day of the holiday I was fortunate enough to be invited by Pro Direct Soccer to attend a special event in their London shop to meet one of my all time favourite players Lothar Matthaus.
Now at this point I should say that I remember watching the Mexico 86 World Cup but it did not leave the same impression on me as Italia 90 did. Italian football was at its best and holding a World Cup in that country just made it even more special. Pavarotti was singing for it and to this day most people my age hearing ‘Nessun Dorma’ definitely think of the World Cup.
Their were 2 players that left marking impressions on me back then, the first was Roger Milla from Cameroon. Everyone fell in love with this player and he really brought the tournament alive, scoring 4 goals at the age of 38! However, the other player that shone without a doubt was Lothar Matthaus. The West German Captain was the complete midfielder and he paraded around the pitch winning tackles, hitting great passes and scoring memorable goals.
Lothar Matthaus is a footballing legend and to meet him was going to be one of the best days for me. Then I found out the next piece of news saying that I would receive a pair of very very limited Puma King Football boots made as a tribute to Matthaus winning the world cup in 1990. The boots were going to be limited to 25 pairs worldwide and were being given to competition winner, influencers and a few other people and I felt so so lucky to get them.
Now the next dilemma, I was going to be in Manchester the day before the event so had to get a train sorted to get to London on time. I left Manchester at 6.30am and arrived in London at approximately 9.00am. For an event starting at 1pm this was ridiculously early but I was not going to take any chances and be late for it. It was also a good excuse to do a little shopping around London!!!!!!!!
I also had the opportunity to meet a fellow collector that I had never met before, spoken to him many times but had never actually met Mark Christodoulou (@doolo9) so it was great to finally put a face to the name. Small dilemma about an hour before I was due to go to PRO DIRECT LDN19 and that was my battery on my iPhone was dying so fast. I am sure many of you can relate to this but I didn’t want to miss this opportunity for a picture with the great man, so a quick trip to a ridiculously busy Apple shop and had a portable charger that gave my iPhone some life again.
Mark and I went to PRO DIRECT LDN19 and they weren’t quite ready for the people who had been invited so we had to wait outside. It was getting busier and busier on Carnaby Street and it was good meeting various other people again who I follow on Instagram and Twitter but had never actually met before. On this day I had the pleasure of meeting Ben Warren (@bwboots), Sam Van Gelder (@thesportlocker) and Seokjin Kim (@kimfootball) plus a few others.
When the doors opened the 25 people invited were given an envelope containing a number which would be the number of the pair of boots you would get presented to you by Lothar Matthaus. Once inside the shop it was great to see all of the boots on show and also lots of facts about Matthaus all over the place. One look at the information on display showed just how much of a legend the guy really is.
Once everyone was inside the great man himself was led upstairs and taken to the area in front of all the boots. I have to say Ned (@nedoz9) from Pro Direct LDN19 did a great job of compering the event. He kept the questions coming and Lothar answered all the questions honestly and in some cases with humour. Obviously, he spoke in depth about 1990 and the final itself v Argentina. It was great to hear about a legend speaking so highly of Diego Maradona. Matthaus was very clear in saying that he felt Diego Maradona was the greatest player he had ever faced on the pitch. They had spent many battles on the pitch in the Italian league as well as at international level and his admiration for the Argentinian shone through. Comparisons between Messi and Maradona were made but for Lothar Matthaus i was surprised to hear him say that he felt Messi was the greatest player to play the game.The Puma King boot was discussed too and Lothar said he felt it was a great honour to have a boot like this made in his honour. He told a story about how he had become involved with Puma in the first place many many years ago and basically they offered him free boots so he was completely onside with them!!!!!!!
Being in England, the inevitable question about the Champions League Final in 1999 was asked. Fair play to Matthaus he answered it like the legend he is ina very simple way. ‘That’s football’ he said, obviously he felt Bayern were the better team but you don’t always get what you deserve out of a football game.
Ned then led the crowd into a quiz with question about the career of Matthaus and got to say I was happy with my place in the final 3 but then lost out on the tie break question!!!!!
Anyway, after this we had a short break and at this time Andrew Williams (@andrewwillz) who was running the social media for ProDirect_LDN on the day asked a quick question for snap chat which was quite cool. To this day im still not sure what snap chat is all about but one day im sure I will be able to use it!!!!!!
Then the moment everyone was waiting for. Lothar Matthaus was going to present the boots to the lucky 25 and a queue was formed. Lothar was signing the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) that went with the boots and also one of the boots. Then I had a dilemma, do I get the boots sigend or not? A trivial question you may think but in the queue quite a few of us were all thinking the samething. In all honesty it was roughly 50/50 in terms of people who got the boot signed and others just the COA. I was near the back and decided to get the white box signed instead of the boot. The box had a pre-printed signature already on it but I wanted the genuine autograph. With the help of Mark I had the presentation box for pair number 19 ready for when I got to the front and Lothar happily signed it with my gold sharpie pen. I had also bought a West Germany shirt from 1990 and he signed that ‘To Derek’ and I was delighted.
I was buzzing at this point as meeting a true legend of the game that I had grown up idolising was a huge deal to me. I got a fantastic photograph with him and the day was complete. From here it was time to say goodbye to many of the people I had met that day and thank the guys at Pro Direct LDN for an outstanding day.
From here it was back to the train station and back to Manchester and I arrived back at Hotel Football at about 8pm at night. I think this day was one of the best I have ever in my boot collecting days. Meeting a legend and receiving an ultra limited boot, it really doesn’t get much better than that and I owe a huge thank you to Pro Direct Soccer for this event.
Now this should be the end of this story however since the event I have actually managed to get a second pair of the boots as one of the guests invited decided to sell them. Fortunately for me I now have pair number 24 as well as my original pair of number 19. Its great to have the second pair as whoever it was got the boot signed by Matthaus so I am fortunate enough to have a signed pair as well as my original unsigned pair. For the record I’m just never sure about getting a boot signed. Part of me thinks it’s a great idea and another thinks I just want to keep the boots in pristine condition. Fortunately, I now have both in my collection and intend to keep it that way.
*all names in brackets refer to the persons Instagram name
I hope you have enjoyed this article about such a great day and you like the pics of the actual boots themselves