I get messages from time to time from my blogger account. Usually it's from people who want to pay me a paltry sum of money in order to cover my blog with ads. Or its spam offering cheap viagra...
...Which made the offer from soccerpro.com even more extraordinary. After making initial contact, they said I could have any product I liked from their store and they would send it to me.
I would give an "honest, unbiased opinion" on the blog and in return, I could keep the product.
On their website, the Nike T90 Seer Football looked really cool. It looked like an aesthetically pleasing football.
But I had my doubts. I've had Nike footballs before and they've often starting falling apart with panels breaking, almost as soon as I started playing with the ball. And this wasn't just my footballing incompetence. I promise.
And so, whilst I want to avoid making myself look like an idiot with comments such as "it rolls well", I can declare this is an excellent ball.
Jens Lehmann complains that many modern balls deviate far too much in flight, which makes goalkeepers look incompetent. From what I saw this wasn't the case - the ball flew well, gathering speed, but at the same time staying true to its path.
The excellently discreet stitching meant the ball required just a caress, in order to make a great pass. It was arguably the ball designed for Arsenal and what's more, as the photos show (below), it is highly durable.
Whether its better than the other balls in SoccerPro's "soccer ball" section, I don't know.
But what I do know, is that I enjoyed playing with it, and friends of mine who are much more competent footballers said it was an excellent ball. I trust them: maybe I shouldn't, but I honestly believe this is a footballer of the highest calibre and Nike have improved.
They used to make balls where the panels didn't stick together. Whether it's the new hexagon and pentagons design, or just better glue holding the ball together, there is a tangible difference.
So, to the question of whether I'm better with a camera than a football. Well, according to my father, the photographic expert, I shouldn't have used a flash.
The first picture shows the ball, new, as it appears on the SoccerPro site.
And I suppose what is interesting is that the following two pictures - showing the ball in overview after vigorous play for two hours - show very little sign of having been played with. The ball looks pretty much like new, with a couple of scratches.
The bottom picture shows the one blemish there was on the ball, a small black mark. The fact it is so hard to see is testament to how durable the ball is, from play both on Grass and on Concrete.
Ultimately, I think its a really good ball, and whilst I don't really know whether SoccerPro offer good value, I do know that they were incredibly courteous throughout all my dealings with them and they didn't make a mess of my order. And they must be nice people if they send footballs for free.
A preview on the United match tomorrow.