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Boot camp

If Chris Kemp were a football player, and boots were goals, he’d easily be the Champions League all-time top scorer. As it is, he has a huge collection of adidas Predators to show off

WORDS Seb Powell

Predator: someone or something that hunts prey. Or alternatively, something that started with two rubber bands and a ping pong bat (more on which later). For most, the adidas Predator is a killer on the pitch, synonymous with the stars of the game. Yet, for some it’s also a source of nostalgia, resulting in a hobby spanning a couple of decades. Meet Chris Kemp, AKA The Pred Collective, AKA the man with the world’s largest collection of adidas Predators.

Despite having more than 350 pairs to his name, and a haul that boasts boots worn by actual professional footballers in actual matches, Kemp shows no hesitation when asked which shoe sparked his adidas love affair. “It all started with the 98 Accelerator for me,” he says. “David Beckham was wearing them and he just epitomised what the boot was all about. He was the England captain, a dead-ball specialist and his right foot was just ridiculous.” 

As is the case for many young football enthusiasts, Kemp lapped up the TV pictures of players wearing the latest in footwear innovation and was keen to share this passion with his parents. “I just remember begging my mum for the Accelerators, for months and months with no success. Until one day I came home from school and there they were, lying on top of my bed. That’s where it all began, the very first in my collection.” 

David Beckham with the Accelerator (right)

So why the Predator? In a world saturated with boots – some bright, others light, with and without laces – the options are endless. Not for Kemp. “It was something different. I just remember them being like nothing I’d seen before. And it’s only since I’ve started collecting them that I’ve become aware of the story of their foundation. Craig Johnston, the original designer, developed his very first prototype with a pair of boots, two elastic bands and the rubber from a ping-pong bat!”

Kemp’s collection has come a long way from the makeshift Predator volume one – and thankfully, elastic bands are nowhere in sight as you scan through his expansive archive. “I’ve got some stupidly rare ones in my collection. I’ve got the boots Steven Gerrard wore in his final game for Liverpool, Beckham’s from his last game at Paris and I finally managed to track down Xavi’s from his final game at Barça.” Now, it’s impossible to talk about holding such pieces of footballing history in your hands without considering those looking to take them off your hands, and this is something that Chris has had to take into account from time to time. “I know a lot of guys who are in the business of trading, but I’ve always been more of a collector – I’m not in it for the money.” 

“Luckily my wife’s father owns a storage company, so I’ve managed to move the majority of them out of the house. I’ve had a friend of mine on my case for ages about getting myself organised with a spreadsheet, but to be honest with you I think it’s gone beyond that now!”

But as the pile grows, surely the storage options decrease? Fear not, he’s got that covered – and handily, he’s kept it in the family. “Luckily my wife’s father owns a storage company, so I’ve managed to move the majority of them out of the house. I’ve had a friend of mine on my case for ages about getting myself organised with a spreadsheet, but to be honest with you I think it’s gone beyond that now!”

Of course, adidas shares a special bond with the Champions League. And this season, that synergy has been recognised in the form of the UCL Pack, showcasing the unmistakable starball branding across the Copa, Predator and X Speedflow range. And while Kemp is a fan of recent modernisations, he admits that it’s hard for the die-hards to divert their attention from the classics. “The remakes are a big thing for collectors such as myself, mainly because it’s a big hit of nostalgia for what we would have worn when we were younger. Don’t get me wrong, I used to consistently collect the newest releases, but Covid and kids have slowed me down to strictly limited editions these days.” 

Speaking of limited editions, Kemp and fellow collector Hinson were brought in behind the scenes by adidas to create their very own exclusive boot: the Archive. “They got in contact with us, mentioned the project and asked if we were interested – it was a no-brainer. We made a blue pair, a black pair and a red-and-white pair, of which there are only two pairs of each in existence. So I guess you could say those are my rarest pairs.” Careful, Beckham might get jealous.  

Predator: someone or something that hunts prey. Or alternatively, something that started with two rubber bands and a ping pong bat (more on which later). For most, the adidas Predator is a killer on the pitch, synonymous with the stars of the game. Yet, for some it’s also a source of nostalgia, resulting in a hobby spanning a couple of decades. Meet Chris Kemp, AKA The Pred Collective, AKA the man with the world’s largest collection of adidas Predators.

Despite having more than 350 pairs to his name, and a haul that boasts boots worn by actual professional footballers in actual matches, Kemp shows no hesitation when asked which shoe sparked his adidas love affair. “It all started with the 98 Accelerator for me,” he says. “David Beckham was wearing them and he just epitomised what the boot was all about. He was the England captain, a dead-ball specialist and his right foot was just ridiculous.” 

As is the case for many young football enthusiasts, Kemp lapped up the TV pictures of players wearing the latest in footwear innovation and was keen to share this passion with his parents. “I just remember begging my mum for the Accelerators, for months and months with no success. Until one day I came home from school and there they were, lying on top of my bed. That’s where it all began, the very first in my collection.” 

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David Beckham with the Accelerator (right)

So why the Predator? In a world saturated with boots – some bright, others light, with and without laces – the options are endless. Not for Kemp. “It was something different. I just remember them being like nothing I’d seen before. And it’s only since I’ve started collecting them that I’ve become aware of the story of their foundation. Craig Johnston, the original designer, developed his very first prototype with a pair of boots, two elastic bands and the rubber from a ping-pong bat!”

Kemp’s collection has come a long way from the makeshift Predator volume one – and thankfully, elastic bands are nowhere in sight as you scan through his expansive archive. “I’ve got some stupidly rare ones in my collection. I’ve got the boots Steven Gerrard wore in his final game for Liverpool, Beckham’s from his last game at Paris and I finally managed to track down Xavi’s from his final game at Barça.” Now, it’s impossible to talk about holding such pieces of footballing history in your hands without considering those looking to take them off your hands, and this is something that Chris has had to take into account from time to time. “I know a lot of guys who are in the business of trading, but I’ve always been more of a collector – I’m not in it for the money.” 

“Luckily my wife’s father owns a storage company, so I’ve managed to move the majority of them out of the house. I’ve had a friend of mine on my case for ages about getting myself organised with a spreadsheet, but to be honest with you I think it’s gone beyond that now!”

But as the pile grows, surely the storage options decrease? Fear not, he’s got that covered – and handily, he’s kept it in the family. “Luckily my wife’s father owns a storage company, so I’ve managed to move the majority of them out of the house. I’ve had a friend of mine on my case for ages about getting myself organised with a spreadsheet, but to be honest with you I think it’s gone beyond that now!”

Of course, adidas shares a special bond with the Champions League. And this season, that synergy has been recognised in the form of the UCL Pack, showcasing the unmistakable starball branding across the Copa, Predator and X Speedflow range. And while Kemp is a fan of recent modernisations, he admits that it’s hard for the die-hards to divert their attention from the classics. “The remakes are a big thing for collectors such as myself, mainly because it’s a big hit of nostalgia for what we would have worn when we were younger. Don’t get me wrong, I used to consistently collect the newest releases, but Covid and kids have slowed me down to strictly limited editions these days.” 

Speaking of limited editions, Kemp and fellow collector Hinson were brought in behind the scenes by adidas to create their very own exclusive boot: the Archive. “They got in contact with us, mentioned the project and asked if we were interested – it was a no-brainer. We made a blue pair, a black pair and a red-and-white pair, of which there are only two pairs of each in existence. So I guess you could say those are my rarest pairs.” Careful, Beckham might get jealous.  

Predator: someone or something that hunts prey. Or alternatively, something that started with two rubber bands and a ping pong bat (more on which later). For most, the adidas Predator is a killer on the pitch, synonymous with the stars of the game. Yet, for some it’s also a source of nostalgia, resulting in a hobby spanning a couple of decades. Meet Chris Kemp, AKA The Pred Collective, AKA the man with the world’s largest collection of adidas Predators.

Despite having more than 350 pairs to his name, and a haul that boasts boots worn by actual professional footballers in actual matches, Kemp shows no hesitation when asked which shoe sparked his adidas love affair. “It all started with the 98 Accelerator for me,” he says. “David Beckham was wearing them and he just epitomised what the boot was all about. He was the England captain, a dead-ball specialist and his right foot was just ridiculous.” 

As is the case for many young football enthusiasts, Kemp lapped up the TV pictures of players wearing the latest in footwear innovation and was keen to share this passion with his parents. “I just remember begging my mum for the Accelerators, for months and months with no success. Until one day I came home from school and there they were, lying on top of my bed. That’s where it all began, the very first in my collection.” 

David Beckham with the Accelerator (right)

So why the Predator? In a world saturated with boots – some bright, others light, with and without laces – the options are endless. Not for Kemp. “It was something different. I just remember them being like nothing I’d seen before. And it’s only since I’ve started collecting them that I’ve become aware of the story of their foundation. Craig Johnston, the original designer, developed his very first prototype with a pair of boots, two elastic bands and the rubber from a ping-pong bat!”

Kemp’s collection has come a long way from the makeshift Predator volume one – and thankfully, elastic bands are nowhere in sight as you scan through his expansive archive. “I’ve got some stupidly rare ones in my collection. I’ve got the boots Steven Gerrard wore in his final game for Liverpool, Beckham’s from his last game at Paris and I finally managed to track down Xavi’s from his final game at Barça.” Now, it’s impossible to talk about holding such pieces of footballing history in your hands without considering those looking to take them off your hands, and this is something that Chris has had to take into account from time to time. “I know a lot of guys who are in the business of trading, but I’ve always been more of a collector – I’m not in it for the money.” 

“Luckily my wife’s father owns a storage company, so I’ve managed to move the majority of them out of the house. I’ve had a friend of mine on my case for ages about getting myself organised with a spreadsheet, but to be honest with you I think it’s gone beyond that now!”

But as the pile grows, surely the storage options decrease? Fear not, he’s got that covered – and handily, he’s kept it in the family. “Luckily my wife’s father owns a storage company, so I’ve managed to move the majority of them out of the house. I’ve had a friend of mine on my case for ages about getting myself organised with a spreadsheet, but to be honest with you I think it’s gone beyond that now!”

Of course, adidas shares a special bond with the Champions League. And this season, that synergy has been recognised in the form of the UCL Pack, showcasing the unmistakable starball branding across the Copa, Predator and X Speedflow range. And while Kemp is a fan of recent modernisations, he admits that it’s hard for the die-hards to divert their attention from the classics. “The remakes are a big thing for collectors such as myself, mainly because it’s a big hit of nostalgia for what we would have worn when we were younger. Don’t get me wrong, I used to consistently collect the newest releases, but Covid and kids have slowed me down to strictly limited editions these days.” 

Speaking of limited editions, Kemp and fellow collector Hinson were brought in behind the scenes by adidas to create their very own exclusive boot: the Archive. “They got in contact with us, mentioned the project and asked if we were interested – it was a no-brainer. We made a blue pair, a black pair and a red-and-white pair, of which there are only two pairs of each in existence. So I guess you could say those are my rarest pairs.” Careful, Beckham might get jealous.  

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