Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

Ronaldo and Nike '98, Gazza's tears and Neymar jousting - watch the best footballer ads

We look at some of the greatest and funniest commercials involving players

Following the release of the new Exxon Mobil advert starring Liverpool and Egypt forward Mohamed Salah, we look back at some of the best TV adverts involving footballers.

1). Ronaldo and the Brazil 1998 World Cup squad

Not only is Nike's Airport 98 the greatest sports TV commercial, it may very well be the best advert ever.

It's hard to argue the case that more people tuned in to watch half-time runs of Nike's game-changer than they did mind-numbing 90-minute group games like Paraguay v Bulgaria at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Whoever thought of putting some of the most talented Brazilians of all time in the most mundane of settings – in this case an airport departure lounge – and telling them to show off their skills set to the beat of Sergio Mendes' banger Mas Que Nada, is quite frankly a genius.

Ronaldo was the most awesome striker on the planet, and the sight of him, Romario and Denilson showing samba skills, nut-megging security and just generally being awesome is probably the best 90 seconds of television you'll ever see.

Eric Cantona even makes a guest appearance.

2). Peter Crouch and Carphone Warehouse

Peter Crouch is a man much-travelled.

The former England striker played for Tottenham Hotspur (twice), QPR, Portsmouth (twice), Aston Villa, Southampton, Liverpool, Stoke City and Burnley during a nomadic 21-year professional career, scoring more than 200 goals.

So who better than a serial switcher to promote the ease of switching mobile phone contracts?

While most will remember his advert for another phone company, one that touched on the giant striker's famed dance moves, Crouch's performance in Pull A Switcheroo is more subtle and will raise a cheeky smile.

3). Move over, Messi

Lionel Messi has appeared in dozens of TV commercials, promoting anything from crisps to soft drinks and cars.

But the best ad the Barcelona and Argentina maestro ever starred in was one he was upstaged in.

The 2013 Turkish Airline video Legends On Board shows the most famous footballer alongside NBA superstar Kobe Bryant involved in a hilarious battle of selfies as they are travelling all over the world.

The commercial was named the ad of the decade by YouTube.

4). Gazza's tears

When Paul Gascoigne broke down in tears after earning a second yellow card that would have seen him suspended for the 1990 World Cup final (although in the end it only ruled him out of the third-place play-off), he won the hearts of a nation.

The image of Gazza's tears at Italia '90, and the profound effect it had, particularly on the English male psyche, cannot be overstated. The sight of the best young player on the planet, in the white-hot heat of fame, being comforted by Bobby Robson, walking around the Turin pitch with red-rose cheeks in floods of tears while kissing sent a powerful message: it was OK for men to cry.

He didn't know it at the time but that would be that last time Gascoigne would ever grace a global finals.

But enough gloom. The other side of Gazza is one of the clown, and he was happy enough to play a self-deprecating part in a 1995 Walkers crisp TV ad alongside his former Tottenham and England teammate Gary Lineker, who had become the face of the brand.

5). Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo duel

Dressing two of the finest footballers – still in their pomp – in medieval attire and making them sword fight that then turns into a lightsaber joust, is probably one of the more cringe-worthy sales pitches an advertising team will have to do.

So fair play to the team at Meo, a Portuguese mobile network, for getting both Brazil's Neymar and national hero Cristiano Ronaldo on board for this advert. One that fails so much it actually wins.

Updated: May 6, 2020 08:07 PM

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