In the description on the Adidas website, the F50 TECHFIT shin pads are described as "built for the aggressive player". Now I am no Roy Keane (believe me) and though I like to think I put myself about a bit (perhaps a questionable assertion if you have been one of my team-mates), in reality what I need is protection from aggressive players rather than help being one.
But whether you are the aggressor or the victim of aggression, one thing is for certain - there's no getting through these latest shin pads from Adidas. I've tried in vain to find out exactly what material the front plate of the F50 TECHFIT is reinforced with, but if I were to guess it would probably be somewhere between the Adamantium running through Wolverine's skeleton and the Titanium that made Robocop such a fearsome crime-fighting cyborg. In short, they are rock solid.
It may be an exaggeration to say that I brushed aside every tackle aimed in my direction during the first match that I sported my impenetrable new shinnies, but I certainly felt myself oozing the sort of confidence going into challenges that has been absent for pretty much my entire football career. Extensive scientific testing - in our post-match cool down at the pub around the corner - revealed just how durable the shin pads are. No matter how hard or how many times you tried to smash the shin pads against the corner of a table, no scuff would appear. So a big thumbs up for the strength of the shin pads, which I'm sure would make me feel safe in any warzone.
Now onto the rest of the design, which has a futuristic feel that I guess would be comparable to the revolutionary special effects used in Terminator back in the 80s. In fact, it is probably the most innovative-looking product I have used since first experiencing the delights of a George Foreman grill.
Gone are the days of the Velcro attachment on the shin pads - the F5O TECH FIT is slipped into a compression sleeve (lycra sock in layman's terms) and then pulled up in a way that feels like it must be helping prevent deep vein thrombosis. The comfort levels aren't great when the shin pads are first pulled on but the sleeve, which we are reliably informed helps circulation, does seem to almost mould itself to the shape of the leg and during the game they cause no irritation.
A big criticism from someone who has become accustomed to suffering ankle injuries is that it feels that there is absolutely zero protection afforded to the bottom of my tibia and fibula. The shin pads are far from Nigel De Jong-proof and I think combining the strength of the front steel plate with the traditional ankle guards would provide a more desirable shin pad.
All in all, the F5O TECH FIT is a sturdy and also surprisingly lightweight shin pad, especially as it feels as though it could comfortably deflect a bullet. Wearing a pair will certainly make you feel safer on the pitch and, for those of you daunted by the idea of the shin pads being housed in a compression sleeve, fear not as they can be removed and be used in a more traditional manner, slipped inside a normal football sock.