RANKED: The five best Premier League footballs of all-time

There's been some beauties over the years

Football is nothing without the ball, that's just a fact, it would merely just be called 'foot'. Without that spherical bag of air, made from leather, we quite simply wouldn't be able to play the beautiful game, would we? It is a vital part of the whole game, the ball, which is why it is so important that they are hand-crafted to perfection, with an array of different, unique, cool designs to keep things fresh.

There's no better feeling than wrapping your foot around a ball and curling into the top-corner of the onion bag. I don't do it a great deal, my shots usually go high, wide and not at all handsome (Martin Tyler voice), but when I do manage to get one in, much to my dismay, it feels fucking excellent.

Over the years I have owned more or less every Premier League ball that's been released, many of which have become extremely accustomed to my somewhat disgruntled next door neighbour's back garden, many of which have been popped or lost all together in local thorn bushes.

Nevertheless, what i'm trying to say is i've given them all a fair crack of the whip; i've tested them all equally and analysed every last detail, so I know what makes a good football a great one. It can't just look good, though that is one of the main aspects to owning a good footie - it also has to travel well in the air, be heavy enough to keep your shot down but light enough to carry it airborne into the roof of the net.

With next season's brand new Premier League ball being released this week, it got me thinking of all the balls that have gone before in the top flight over the years, and which ones have been my favourite; so much so that I created a list of them.

Below, you'll find my top five favourite Premier League balls of all-time, alongside an explanation and reasoning behind each selection. I've also named which player and memory each ball reminds me of, because, nostalgia innit. I hope you all agree with my selections, though i'm sure not all (any) of you will. Be kind enough to let me know which selection you'd change, but please be polite, i'm only human after all.

5. Nike Total 90 Tracer (2010-11)

Nike PL
Image: Premier League

We kick off this list with the Nike Total 90 Tracer. So many fond memories of this beautiful ball, mainly that obscene overhead kick from Wayne Rooney in the Manchester derby (pictured below). The 2010-11 season was a memorable one for Manchester United as they finished top of the division and made it to the final of the Champions League.

Sir Alex Ferguson was still in charge and the kits were still sponsored by Nike. There was no monstrous Chevrolet sponsor to ruin their strip and Dimitar Berbatov finished as the divisions highest goalscorer. Life was good for the Red Devils. Joe Hart won't remember this ball well, sheepishly picking it out of his net but we do. What a cracker.

Memorable player/moment: Wayne Rooney's overhead kick vs City.

rooney
Bins.

4. Nike Total 90 Omni (2008-09)

nike
Image: Premier League

We all had this ball, didn't we. Either in the standard white/red colourway with that subtle gold tick, or the outrageously cool yellow and purple hi-vis version used throughout the winter months. Who knew yellow and purple would go so well together? Not me, that's for sure, but what a partnership. This ball was used during my peak post-school kickabout era.

In from a hard day's grafting Year 8 science, maths, english and geography at 3.15pm, straight out on the Apollo mountain bike cheaply made and terribly put together by my dad (the handle bars came off more than once), down the shop for a can of Dr. Pepper and a Pick 'n' Mix then it was straight off to the local playing fields, where i'd play until a lack of sunlight quite literally forced me home. Good times. Really good times.

Memorable player/moment: Roque Santa-Cruz consistently banging them in for Blackburn Rovers.

ball
Great ball. Look at Luke Moore's vapors too, pure class.

3. Mitre Ultimax (1995-2000)

Mitre
You just know you'd get some good flight on that.

This ball is for the older reader and one you whippersnappers won't know anything about because, believe it or not, the Premier League did actually exist before the 2000's and perhaps even more shockingly, Nike didn't sponsor it. Mitre were the official partner of the top flight throughout the 90's, effortlessly producing some really cool footballs for the likes of Alan Shearer, Dion Dublin, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Robbie Fowler to smash home from long range.

Before the turn of the century came a time of extremely loose-fitting kits, subtle-yet-effective boot designs and questionable haircuts. They were memorable times, especially for Arsenal fans who actually enjoyed watching their side play teams off the park with a fluid-but-damaging style of football. David Seaman, Tony Adams, Ray Parlour and Dennis Bergkamp were in their prime, Highbury was a scary place to visit. This ball signifies the good times for the Gunners, it's also just so retro and unbelievably suave.

Memorable player/moment: Arsenal's 1998 title-winning team, Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane kicking lumps out of each other.

parlour king
Rare sight of Ray Parlour without a beer in his hand.

2. Nike Total 90 Aerow I (2004-05)

nike footie
Image: Premier League

This was a tough one, because it could've easily claimed top spot. The battle for the king of Premier League footballs went right down to the wire, but i've picked this as my second favourite due to the pure, uncut admiration I have for the best ball ever made; you'll find out what that is soon enough. The Nike Total 90 Aerow I is just amazing, though, isn't it? I can guarantee you that any football fan ever loves this ball, especially those who follow Chelsea.

The 2004/05 season kicked off the Blues' domination of the Premier League, with Jose Mourinho in charge the west Londoners were unstoppable, winning the division on 95 points. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink took the piss with this ball, rifling it past the likes of Jussi Jaaskelainen and Maik Taylor in the opposing net. Andy Johnson also scored 21 league goals with it for Crystal Palace, madness. The hi-vis version was even nicer, just saying.

Memorable player/moment: Chelsea becoming really good, Yakubu at Portsmouth

barry
Gareth Barry there, the model pro with a model technique.

1. Nike Geo Merlin Vapor (2002-03)

best football ever
Image: Premier League

Well, where do I start with this one. It's the best ball ever made, in my opinion. It is certainly the best ball ever used in the Premier League. Everything about this slick, stylish design just worked. The pattern was a little different, the rings were funky, there is no doubting that but that's what made it so cool. Thierry Henry is the go-to memory when you look at this ball: visions of the Frenchman at the top of his game effortlessly gliding past defenders with those stilt-like pegs of his, brushing bullish centre-halves aside before finessing it into the far corner of the net, like you do on Fifa, over and over again.

henry
This ball was Thierry Henry.

The 2002/03 season was again dominated by Manchester United, who finished top on 83 points, in front of Arsenal who came second on 78 points. It was the third-placed team who surprised the world that year, though, as Newcastle United obtained Champions League football for the second consecutive season, having finished fourth the year before under Sir Bobby Robson. The Magpies were a force to be reckoned with in the early-noughties, with Alan Shearer just seemingly finding the net every time he stepped onto a grass surface.

Dodd
Two Premier League players wearing Copa Mundials, how times have changed.

I had this ball, we all did. At the time I didn't realise how special it was and I wish more than anything that I kept it for the future. At the time it was just any old ball, sure I enjoyed kicking it around my garden, but at the end of the day it was just a football and the young me was just happy to have one at my feet. It is only now, almost two decades later that I realise how unbelievable that football truly was. Nostalgia to the highest degree, Rest In Peace.

Memorable player/moment: Thierry Henry's free-kick vs Charlton Athletic (a season later but the same ball)

Bottom of the pile

This was the worst Premier League ball ever made by the way, in case any of you were wondering.

ball
Terrible.


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