Nike football: Great adverts, current player roster & latest boots

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Some of the greatest footballers of all time have worked closely with the sportswear giant, producing ads and promoting clothing

Over the past two decades and more, sportswear giant Nike has shown tremendous creativity in showing off their brand and products in football.

By marrying the appeal of the greatest footballers in the world with high-level production, the corporation has become synonymous with a certain style of football.

Speed, skill and success are the message in their advertising, but they also have fun with it, setting their vision of the game in an upbeat light.

Goal takes a closer look at some of Nike's football adverts, the star players they are associated with and some of their latest products.


Nike football ads


In the 1990s, Nike brought out a number of memorable advertisements featuring footballers, fantastic concepts and catchy soundtracks.

The 1996 'Match in Hell', in which a slew of the game's then-current stars took on the Devil and his demonic football team, kicked things off in the brand's unique series.

The likes of Luis Figo, Paolo Maldini and Ronaldo form a team expected to save the beautiful game in a match that culminates with Eric Cantona's nonchalant utterance of "au revoir" as he blastes a flaming ball through the Devil to rescue the day.

Around the time of the 1998 World Cup another Nike advert captured the imagination of football fans as the Brazil national team kill boredom in an airport by playing an impromptu game filled with tricks and flicks. Fittingly, it was amplified by Sergio Mendes' 1960s song 'Mas que Nada', which has become synonymous with 'Samba football'. 

And in the 2000s, they really set themselves apart from competitors with a series of brilliantly produced efforts. In the early part of the decade, Louis van Gaal led a crack team of skilled footballers to a high-security complex to retrieve a special ball that was said to be "rounder". 

A few years later, long after his retirement, Cantona returned as the man overseeing a high-stakes underground tournament featuring three-man teams, including the likes of Thierry Henry, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho. A remixed version of the Elvis Presley song 'A little less conversation' was the soundtrack and the concept was revisited a number of years later in a winner-takes-all bout.

Skilful footballers performing freestyle tricks figured a lot in the ads and the idea of Joga Bonito (meaning 'Beautiful Game' in Portuguese) was explored in a series of ads featuring the Brazil national team, recalling the 1998 effort. The Portugal national team, with the likes of Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo, even became involved.

Director Guy Ritchie was involved in a famous Nike football ad depicting the meteoric ascent of a non-league player to the very summit of the game. The short film is shot entirely from the viewpoint of the footballer as he climbs the ladder to success, fame and glory.

Some films have incorporated Nike athletes from other sports and NBA star Kobe Bryant featured in an ad that focuses on the narrow margins between success and failure, showing the different fates that await stars should they score a winning goal, for example. In it, Wayne Rooney becomes a hero for England, while Cristiano Ronaldo's path - foreshadowing reality - brings a gigantic statue and a feature-length movie.

Generally speaking, the Nike ads air ahead of major tournaments or events, but they have also produced slick films to promote their latest releases, such as football boots. While they are not always as elaborate, funny or fantastic, they still possess that star quality and show their products in an alluring light.


Nike football roster


Wayne Rooney Cristiano Ronaldo Neymar Nike Risk Everything

As one of the biggest sports brands in the world, it is not surprising that Nike is associated with some of the best footballers on the planet.

Chief among them is five-time Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who has long been the face of the football strand of the corporation, but the Real Madrid superstar is supported by a supremely talented cast too.

Other current Nike football ambassadors and sponsees include Neymar, Alexis Sanchez, Kylian Mbappe and Harry Kane. The likes of Luka Modric, Christian Pulisic and Robert Lewandowski also feature among the illustrious billing.

You can see some of the top footballers who are currently on their roster in the table below.

Player Country Club
Gonzalo Higuain Argentina Juventus
Mauro Icardi Argentina Inter
Kevin De Bruyne Belgium Man City
Eden Hazard Belgium Chelsea
Philippe Coutinho Brazil Barcelona
Neymar Brazil PSG
Alexis Sanchez Chile Man Utd
Arturo Vidal Chile Bayern Munich
Harry Kane England Tottenham
Raheem Sterling England Man City
Alexandre Lacazette France Arsenal
Kylian Mbappe France PSG
Jerome Boateng Germany Bayern Munich
Mario Gotze Germany Borussia Dortmund
Leonardo Bonucci Italy AC Milan
Lorenzo Insigne Italy Napoli
Robert Lewandowski Poland Bayern Munich
Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Real Madrid
Andres Iniesta Spain Barcelona
Sergio Ramos Spain Real Madrid
Christian Pulisic United States Borussia Dortmund

Notable former Nike footballers


As already mentioned, Nike has a long history of sponsoring and working closely with the world's best players.

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona figured prominently in ad campaigns during the 1990s and 2000s along with Brazilian stars such as Ronaldo and Ronaldinho.

Italy hero Francesco Totti and the unmistakabale Edgar Davids were also heavily involved in promotions.

Below you can see some of the biggest names Nike has worked with in the past.

Player Country
Ronaldo Brazil
Ronaldinho Brazil
Roberto Carlos Brazil
Romario Brazil
Paul Scholes England
Ian Wright England
Eric Cantona France
Thierry Henry France
Fabio Cannavaro Italy
Paolo Maldini Italy
Francesco Totti Italy
Hidetoshi Nakata Japan
Edgar Davids Netherlands
Ruud van Nistelrooy Netherlands
Luis Figo Portugal

Latest Nike football boots


Nike Mercurial Vapor 360 2018

Nike's sponsorship of the world's best footballers is an ideal vehicle through which they can show off their latest equipment and football boots in particular.

For example, back in 1998, Ronaldo's status as the best player in the world was capitalised on as Nike launched a new boot design - the R9s - in time for that year's World Cup.

Since then, players have naturally been central to the promotion of new footwear and in February the latest designs were launched at a party featuring a cluster of their roster.

The Mercurial range is arguably the most well known of Nike's football boots and the latest offerings are the Mercurial Superfly 360 and the Mercurial Vapor 360, which became available to buy on Valentine's Day.

On the official Nike website, the Superfly 360 are priced at £229.95 ($275) and the Vapor 360 is slightly cheaper £209.95 ($250).

Some of the other recent offerings include the Hypervenom, the Magista and the Tiempo ranges.

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