The Nike Shoe That Revs Forward Charlie Davies Called 'the Best Decision of My Career'

For New England Revolution forward Charlie Davies, his career could have been over just as it was taking off. For those who don't know the story, Davies was one of the most promising players in U.S. soccer in 2009, helping the men's national team to a stunning run in the 2009 Confederations Cup. But a tragic car accident later that year left Davies with terrible injuries.

Suffering a lacerated bladder and fractures of his right femur and tibia, Davies also sustained facial fractures and a left elbow fracture. He carries lingering effects of the crash to this day, as his right leg is permanently shorter than his left. And though the crash happened six years ago, it was only recently that Davies finally found a way to feel fully comfortable on the field again.

Thanks to Nike, who stuck with Davies as his sponsor through his injury, Davies has an answer to a serious problem that was plaguing him with constant injuries.

"I wear a lift inside the shoe because my right leg is shorter than my left after my femur break," Davies explained. Yet the lift would keep popping out of his cleat. "And I would get nagging little injuries because of that."

The problem was found in the design of standard soccer cleats.

"Normally, the shoe comes down to your ankle bone," Davies explained. "My heel would always be popping out of the shoe."

For years, Davies tried to battle against the defect, but to no avail. At a certain point, he became resigned to simply never feeling quite normal again when he would play. Especially for a forward like Davies, who relies so much on his intensity and work rate, not being able to run comfortably was a terrible thing to endure.

"I felt just screwed in a way," he candidly admitted. "And I'd just have to deal with these calf and hamstring issues."

Finally, midway through last season, Nike delivered a shoe that brought an answer to the question of Davies' problem.

I've always worn Mercurial Vapors. That's always been the shoe I've felt most comfortable with. And Nike made the Mercurial Vapor with this, what's called the Mercurial Superfly. They finally made it with this high top. You can also get it with the normal thing because a lot of the European players didn't like it (the high top). But I said 'yeah, send me the high top!' Sure enough, it was the best decision of my career.
It's not lightly that a player will call the usage of a shoe as "the best decision" of his career. Yet Davies is adamant about it. Since he began wearing the Nike Mercurial Superfly, he's been a regular starter and leads the Revs in goals this season. Here's a look at the shoe, with its characteristic high top "Dynamic Fit" collar that helps hold Davies' lift in place:
It's helped to bring Davies' career back to a place that he's struggled so hard to reach. Following the accident in 2009, Davies had no idea how long the road to full recovery would be.

"I spent a month in the hospital and throughout that time I was just focused on getting back and trying to get back for the World Cup," he remembered. "There wasn't a doubt in my mind that I would be able to get back to playing again or playing at the level that I had previously been at."

Soon, however, Davies realized the scope of his injuries and the impact they would have on his comeback.

"I guess it really didn't hit me until rehab," said Davies. "I was changed to a rehab hospital once I left the original hospital. They had me try to walk and I couldn't do it. And after 10-15 minutes of trying to walk, I actually took a step. I lost it, I was crying for you know 20 minutes and that's when it hit me that it was going to be a long journey. It was going to take a long time for me to get back to being the player that I was."

And since his leg was now shortened forever, it only added to the mental strain.

"I just remember walking for the first time and I had a limp," Davies recalled. "Almost like I was a pirate with a peg-leg. And I just remember thinking how am I going to be able to play? I was wearing a lift in my regular shoes but I just couldn't wear it when I played. That was the problem. So it wasn't until they made these shoes that I didn't have to compensate."

Davies, now 29, says he's all the way back at last. Having struggled for so long to overcome his injury, Nike has provided the energetic forward with the tool he needs. Through hard work, he's doing the rest himself.

"I'm able to be there physically as well as mentally. I think I've always been lacking at least one in these past six years."

The road to recover was a long one for Davies, but it appears he's reached the end of it. And with the playoffs looming, the New England Revolution could be the main beneficiary.

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