My 10 greatest trainers ever

LAST week on The Anfield Wrap you may have stumbled across a piece I wrote about how I’d somehow fallen out of love with trainers; how these days I’m more likely to go out and buy a pair of suede Clarks Originals than the latest ‘must-have’ adidas Originals re-issue of a re-issue.

Well, it wasn’t always this way.

Here, in reverse order, are my 10 favourite trainers ever.

It’s not; I hasten to add, supposed to be a list of the 10 rarest or ‘coolest’ trainers that everyone seems to pick when compiling these sorts of lists. There’s no black adidas Sambas – alright for playing football in as a kid, shocking when worn with a pair of blue jeans – and there’s definitely no Trimm-Trabs or Munchen (the Radiohead of the trainer world) to be seen – two of the ugliest pairs of trainers I’ve ever had the misfortune to see. There’s also a few pairs that don’t happen to be made by adidas which I know will upset some but, such is life – it’s my list and I’ll pick what I want. I’ve even picked some trainers that I don’t even particularly like myself these days but at some point in my life, I must have thought they were great. Anyway, here goes…


10. adidas Italia

Adidas Italia
adidas Italia

Not the God-awful adidas Samoa version that one day got renamed adidas Italia with someone thinking we might not notice. No, the version I’m on about were first released in the 1960s and re-issued in the late ’90s or early ’00s – when I first bought them. White and dark green, amazing leather, a nice bit of suede in places, not amazingly popular – which is always nice – and very sleek because as Sean Ryder almost sang, no room for clumpy trainers in my wardrobe today…


9. Puma Clyde

Puma Clyde
Puma Clyde

Sadly neglected when I went through an adidas-only phase for about six years but I do love these trainers. Got a pair in light brown and beige sat in my cupboard but had navy and light blue in the past – inspired by seeing breakdancers and graffiti artists in American films like ‘Wild Style’ and ‘Beat Street’ when I was at school. If I was a black basketball player, I’d want to be called Clyde too and have a pair of trainers like these named after me.


8. Nike Air Max 1

Nike Air Max
Nike Air Max

I wouldn’t be seen dead in these now but when I was 14 or 15, they felt like they were from a different planet. I remember getting them for Christmas the same year I got vinyl copies of the first Bomb the Bass and Jungle Brothers albums and thinking to myself, whatever you do, don’t step on a drawing pin.


7. Reebok Workout Plus

Reebok Workout Plus
Reebok Workout Plus

Never owned a single pair of Reebok trainers apart from the all-white Workout Plus – which for a short period, I used to buy a new pair, exactly the same, every six months or so. I’ve seen them in a shop recently and the tongue seemed abnormally puffed up for some reason but when I remember them, worn with a pair of dyed navy 501s around 1990, they used to look fantastic.


6. adidas Dublin

adidas Dublin
adidas Dublin

I could easily have picked the adidas Berlin or London (both of which I’ve bought in the past) or the Hawaii (which I haven’t) for this spot on my list because they’re pretty much the same trainer from the City series but I’ve gone with the Dublin as I think it’s just a classic trainer and one I’d been wanting to buy for ages before I got the chance when it was reissued first time round. Nice sleek design, timeless and great colours.


5. Puma Referee

Puma Referee
Puma Referee

Google Puma Referee and you’ll get presented with images of some awful monstrosity that looks like it could have been made by Reebok or something SportsDirect might sell for £14.99. Just to be clear, that’s not the trainer I’m claiming to like. The version I used to own was basically a total rip-off of the adidas Stan Smith – which, in my eyes, is not bad trainer to rip-off. One plus point it had going for it was the fact that hardly anyone owned a pair – which in trainer world is obviously a good thing.


4. adidas Gazelle

adidas Gazelle
adidas Gazelle

I thought long and hard (well, for about 30 seconds) about whether to go for the Gazelle or the Spezial in this list and in the end, I’ve opted for the former as over the years, I’ve probably owned more pairs of Gazelles than any other trainer – Stan Smiths aside. At school, it was the original aqua-bluey colour but since then, I’ve had everything from white leather ones (bit dodgy), dark blue suede ones (not dodgy at all) and the one pair I still own, a pair of chocolate brown ones bought in Amsterdam in 2001 or 2002, while watching Liverpool in a pre-season tournament. I actually prefer the OG re-issues that are out now as they’re less clunky – saw a nice burgundy suede pair in Aspecto this lunchtime – and the Indoor versions with the gum soles that are due out next month look great too. Very tempting indeed.


3. adidas Indoor Super

adidas Indoor Super
adidas Indoor Super

The only pair of trainers on this list that I’ve never actually owned. When they were re-issued briefly a while back, my mate bought a pair from Wade Smith but for whatever reason, I never had the money to buy them at the time and when I did, they were all gone. I had my chance and blew it but in a way, I’m glad they were only re-issued in small numbers. That’s the way it should be – which is probably why they now cost about £200 on eBay. I’ve seen the various different editions that have come out over the years in blue and also in black but unless it’s off-white version with red and blue stripes, I’m not interested. Obviously if I ever do get my hands on a pair I won’t be able to wear them as that suede toe will just get filthy straight away. No need.


2. Diadora Borg Elite

Diadora Borg Elite
Diadora Borg Elite

I loved these trainers when I was at school and even bought the first re-issue over 10 years ago despite the fact that I knew, with no Borg signature on the side, they were severely lacking real credibility. Nice trainers all the same – the white/gold version obviously – not any of this white/silver or white/red nonsense. Back at school though, when I had the real deal, they were the absolute business. Playtime fashion parade: Pair of grey Farah, Slazenger v-neck, Patrick cagoule and Diadora Borgs – what more could a young lad want? Apart from a girlfriend, obviously.


1. adidas Stan Smith

adidas Stan Smith
adidas Stan Smith

My favourite trainers of all time. All-white, Stan’s face on the tongue and his name on the back over a green heel or they don’t count. Totally timeless. Never fashionable but always stylish – just the way it should be.

Now, bring it on, trainer snobs!


  1. Lad, where are the infamous L.a. Trainer? They were boss.

  2. What? No Adidas Forest Hills? or Adidas LA? Puma G Villas? Reebok CXT?

    To be honest, i like all of ’em listed, but feel some injustices here too.

  3. No Adidas ROM’s?

  4. Kopite1971

    Some nice pairs there but them Nikes ? Not having that in the top ten, and being 14 or 15 is no excuse.

  5. Adidas Stockholm by a mile.

  6. Gazelle’s all day long for me, best trainer ever released imo

  7. Addidas all black pure class

  8. those adidas indoor supers are mega-good. i covet them.

    well done for admitting to air max ones they remain my favourite ever shoe.

  9. Adidas Ivan Lendl, mid 80s.

    I’m sure you had these at no.11, right?

  10. No SL80 or 72 am95’s, Cortez or Forest Hills? Controversial I think!

  11. scott allen

    no kegler, forest hills,handball but still a decent list them indoor super are belters hard to get hold of though

  12. Ye no sl80s or la trainer? Had diadora with blue, boss them. And what about a pair of gumps? Winners them when i was a kid.

  13. my own personal favorites :

    Adidas Columbia
    Adidas Forest Hills
    Puma California (blue)
    Adidas Samba
    Adidas Grand Prix

    Never owned GP but have come to love them bordering on obsession..

    Fantastic website btw

  14. Alexander Tate

    Nice rundown. The straight forward Adidas Superstars for me, and a pair of Chile 62’s. Currently enjoying their Fluid Training in red, naturally.

    Oh, and it’s Shaun Ryder.

  15. ken dodd lfc

    nike in the road end never,

  16. I got married in a pair of red with white stripes Italia’s in 2003

  17. I’m not gonna get into the non-Adidas world here as I’ve simply never cared for any other brand, but here’s my list:

    10. SL72
    9. Rod Laver
    8. München
    7. Forest Hills
    6. Malmö
    5. Samba
    4. London
    3. Spezial
    2. Stan Smith
    1. Gazelle

  18. Some slightly different versions of the above:

    . Puma Paris – the ones with perforated holes like the Referees above
    . Adidas Nastase
    . Adidas Rod Laver
    . Puma Wicked – They WERE the Beat Street Trainer
    . Adidas Grand Slam
    . Adidas Wimbledon – re-issued as Adidas TC in 2009
    . Adidas London – Because I am from London and there was nothing better at the time than having them
    . Nike Wimbledon


  19. nike were actually quite cool back in the early 80’s, i had a pair of nike pegasus, the first “air sole” trainees, and believe me they were the coolest in school, and what about addidas dallas and waterproof, the first to break the £50 barrier!! i never liked those daidora borg, i went for the diadora ed moses -grey leather with a burgundy sign. i used to bunk school on me own just to go to town to look in wade smiths ! (in slater street)
    my fist proper trainees ? addidas kick, if you didnt have a pair of kick in the 70’s life just wasnt worth living.

  20. forgot to mention addidas trx, who could forget their starring role in mcvicar “alright, who’s got me fackin trainers”

  21. Perth Saint

    Just got myself a pair of the black Gazelle Indoors and a pair of the tan Rom, look good but the suede and leather is painfully thin, not a patch on the Originals unfortunately .

  22. Just for the sake of “old skool” what about Adidas Kick?

  23. ive got a brand spanking new pair of those indoor super with all tags and box, the japanese (in the picture) and the white with blue and red stripes are top drawer, they last for ages, love the gazelle and stan smith. the dublin is a trainer id love but cannot find in my size. nice top ten, the air max can swivel though lol

  24. Gazelle’s and grand slam originals were and still are my most worn. All time faves though are Adidas Summer,brown suede, very cool and pretty rare. Had them years and still look like new ‘cos they can only be worn when the sun is shining.

  25. acko. soul crew 81 - 86

    heres a list of my faves

    70s – adidas ringo & adidas vip

    nike wimbledon supreme
    puma g.vilas
    adidas nastase
    adidas grand slam
    adidas barrington gold
    adidas l.a.
    adidas trimm trab
    adidas munchen
    adidas jaguar super
    adidas atlanta
    diadora elite navy suede with silver slash
    nike pegasus
    nike internationalist
    nike exile
    nike pursuit
    nike vortex
    nike omega flame

    86 it was over for me, notice most of the nikes are runners like swansea

  26. ChesterPerry PNE......

    10. Puma California…& California ‘S’
    9. Adidas Samba
    8. Nike Air 180
    7. Adidas Ringo…First decent trainers I got brand new(catalogue 1984.£25)
    6. Adidas Gazelle…Red or Green (Lfc & Celtic colours)
    5. Nike Air Safari ’86’
    4. Adidas zx-600 (original grey yellow)
    3. Adidas Harvard-Galaxy-Columbia…all pretty similar, never had galaxies.
    2. Nike pegasus 83’s in graphite/ 3 pairs now, but not this colour
    1. Adidas Dublin…From Irish family, never got round to buying them!

    loads of others deserve a mention, Munchen, trim trab, mamba’s, Nike Omega’s, and for novelty value, zx 8000 Darth Vader issue, dont wear them just for the collection

  27. have a brand new pair of indoor super..fantastic trainers will never part wi em

  28. My top five:
    5. Nike air 180
    4. Adidas Gazelle
    3. Adidas Samba
    2. Adidas Samba Special (astro turf version)
    1. Adidas Lendl Pro Court (aka Indoor) circa 1984.

    Looking to get my hands a pair of the Lendl’s if anyone has a pair of 11’s :)

  29. What happened to the bestest trainer going adidas All Black we the big tongue .they stuck to ya feet like like peles foot to a ball..made samba look like bumpers

  30. 1 Columbia -the holy grail!
    2 Harvard – blue or black
    3 Forest Hills 82- gold stripes
    4 Grand Slams – any colour apart from green!
    5 Milan – blue with gold stripes
    6 L A Trianer – blue leather
    7 Samba Super – red leather
    8 Beckenbauers – black with white stripes.
    9 SL 76s
    10 Spezials

  31. No Adidas Samba, no credibility for your Top 10 !!

  32. for what it’s worth-

    kegler – all time fave
    superstar – brilliant everyday winner like..
    samba – black only.
    SL72 – good enough for starsky..
    gazzelle – can’t wear them sadly
    puma g villas – childhood second fave
    adidas galaxy (early 80’s with three pins) childhood favourite. loved them.
    adidas samba special – astra turf ( i’m glad you mention poogie – i thought only i remembered them)
    nike air cross (1990) – only nike i’ve ever had.

    and one oddity i’ve never owned but always liked from afar..

    dunlop green flash!!

  33. Gary Bullock

    My List of my favs

    1. adidas waterproof/dallas
    2. adidas fell(Blue)/trekking boot
    2. adidas zx8000 aqua
    3. adidas columbia/Harvard/galaxy/city boots
    4. adidas miropacer
    5. adidas trimm trab
    6. adidas marathon TR blue
    7. adidas forest hills
    8. adidas zx500/600/750
    9. adidas bamba/samba
    10.adidas kick
    Football boots adidas beckenbauer super 70’s / copa mundials/ World Cup

  34. Michael King

    Original Adidas ZX600 nothing else needs to be said.

  35. Richard head

    10 .Bamba navy and Argentina blue 9.gazelle o.g 8. Puma Dallas sky blue .7.puma Madrid any colour they look good . 6.forest hills 5.adidas grand Prix 4. Nike pegasus 83 most comfortable trainers I ever wore 3. Adidas jeans 2. Puma bluebirds blue and yellow 1 adidas beckenbauer allrounds

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