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Nike's 'Secret Tournament' In The Cage Was Brimming With Legends

Nike's 'Secret Tournament' In The Cage Was Brimming With Legends

Nike have produced so many belting adverts over the years but the one in the cage back in 2002 could well be the best.

Before the 1998 World Cup, we had the classic advert of the Brazil team, including the likes of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Roberto Carlos, playing football throughout the airport.

But four years on and they somehow managed to better that production by bringing is some of the best players on the planet battling it out on a container ship to become the best three-a-side cage football team in the world.

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The Junkie XL remix of Elvis' 'A Little Less Conversation' played in the background and Eric Cantona was the referee for proceedings. The teams were stacked with legends all over the place as a mini-preview to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

Image: Nike
Image: Nike

Triple Espresso:

Thierry Henry - Unplayable for Arsenal in his pomp before winning the Champions League with Barcelona. Currently managing Montreal Impact.

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Francesco Totti - Remained a one-club man throughout his illustrious career and after leaving post as director at his beloved Roma, now tears it up in eight-a-side games in Rome.

Hidetoshi Nakata - One of the finest Japanese footballers of all-time. Had spells with Roma, Fiorentina and Bolton.

The Onetouchables:

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Patrick Vieira - Legendary Arsenal captain who also turned out for both Milan clubs, Juventus and Manchester City. It's a good job Roy Keane wasn't in this advert.

Ruud van Nistelrooy - Scored 150 goals in 219 games for Manchester United and there will always be the feeling that he was underrated.

Paul Scholes - Won 11 Premier League titles with his beloved Manchester United, scoring over 150 goals from midfield. One of the most technically gifted English players ever.

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Toros Locos:

Freddie Ljungberg - The Swede was most recently interim manager at Arsenal but he'll always be best remembered for darting down the Gunners flank with his bright red hair.

Javier Saviola - Lifted league titles in Argentina, Spain, Portugal and Greece during his career and finished playing futsal for Encamp.

Luis Enrique - Enjoyed success with Spanish football's two big boys and has since gone on to manage both Barcelona and Spain.

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Cerberus:

Edgar Davids - Well-travelled Dutchman best known for sporting those orange glasses and giving himself the No.1 shirt when player-manager of Barnet.

Lilian Thuram - Excellent French defender who turned out for Monaco, Parma, Juventus, Barcelona in decorated career.

Sylvain Wiltord - Scored the goal that sealed Arsenal's title win against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

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Os Tornados:

Luis Figo: Portuguese legend turned out for both Barcelona and Real Madrid. Won the 2000 Ballon d'Or.

Roberto Carlos - Reinvented what it mean to be a full-back with some blistering attacking displays for Brazil and Real Madrid. Those free-kicks were next level.

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Ronaldo - Persistent injuries stopped the two-time Ballon d'Or winner from having an even greater career. Quite possibly the best No.9 ever to play the game.

Funk Seoul Brothers:

Denilson - Not the fella who played in midfield for Arsenal. Joined Real Betis for £21.5 million back in 1998 but never hit the heights he ought to.

Ronaldinho - Don't let his recent issues and stay in prison distract you from the fact that the 2005 Ballon d'Or winner was the most exciting player ever to play football.

Seol Ki-hyeon - South Korean international played for Anderlecht while this advert was filmed and later played in England with Reading and Fulham.

Tutto Benne:

Fabio Cannavaro - The last defender to win the Ballon d'Or. A master of defending, the World Cup winner now manages Guangzhou Evergrande.

Tomas Rosicky - The final player of the crop to retire from football. Was key in some of the beautiful football Arsenal played under Arsene Wenger.

Rio Ferdinand - We see him on our screens as a BT Sport pundit but Ferdinand was one of the best defenders in Premier League history, winning titles at Manchester United.


Equipo Del Fuego:

Claudio Lopez - The Argentine was contracted to Lazio back in 2002 and would end his career Stateside with spells with MLS sides Kansas City Wizards and Colorado Rapids.

Gaizka Mendieta - Classy operator who played for Valencia, Lazio, Barcelona and Middlesbrough. Enjoys spinning the tunes on the decks as a DJ these days.

Hernan Crespo - Experienced immense success in Italy with the likes of Parma, Lazio, Inter Milan and AC Milan and also won the Premier League with Chelsea despite an ultimately disappointing stint in England.

It was 'Triple Espresso', with Henry, Scholes and Van Nistelrooy, that came out on top - beating the all Real Madrid trio of Figo, Carlos and Ronaldo in the final.

The cracker of an advert brings back all sorts of nostalgia but also a tad bit of sadness knowing that none of the players are still lacing up the boots.

Former Arsenal midfielder Rosicky the last man standing, finishing his stint in the game by playing 12 times for hometown club Sparta Prague.

Considering this was one of Nike's most successful adverts/campaigns - surely it makes sense for them to revisit the concept with their current esteemed list of athletes?

Cristiano Ronaldo, Eden Hazard, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Kevin De Bruyne and the like would rip it up, no doubt.

Is it the greatest football advert of all-time?

Sound off in the comments.

Topics: Football News, Ronaldinho, Patrick Vieira, Football, Nike, thierry henry, Francesco Totti

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Josh Lawless

Josh is a sports journalist who specialises in football and wrestling. He has been published by Curzon Ashton FC, Late Tackle, Manchester City FC, The Mirror, Read Man City and Manchester Evening News. He provides coverage of professional wrestling and has interviewed some of the biggest names in the field - including the first UK interview with The Hardy Boyz after their return to WWE. He has never sported a pair of Lonsdale Slip-ons, contrary to reports.