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10 Greatest Football Ads Ever Made

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Considering how regularly football and theatrics combine, it should be of no surprise when the sport throws up some iconic advertisements.

That's certainly the case in Pepsi's glittering new commercial. Brazil-centered, soundtracked by a novel take on David Bowie's Heroes, and starring the likes of Lionel Messi, Robin Van Persie and Jack Wilshere, it's a video getting us very excited about the imminent 2014 World Cup.

With an inevitable glut of other brands to follow suit, we've assembled a winning line-up of the very best football commercials to hit our TV screens.

Prepare to bask in nostalgia.

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10. Nike – The Mission



The Matrix, meets Die Hard, meets Goal’, is the easiest way of surmising this high-octane 2000 Nike ad, featuring a crack team of players who infiltrate a building to rescue a football. As is always the problem, they also had to fight off waves of villainous robot samurai, yet with one of the team including futuristically bespectacled Edgar Davids, who we’re frankly surprised didn’t turn out to be a robot himself, they accomplish the mission in style.

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9. Turkish Airlines - Manchester United Flight



Remind us never to catch a flight with the Manchester United squad, a stance this intimately shot Turkish Airlines advert only serves to reinforce. Showcasing the spaciousness in the airliner’s business class cabins, the players embark via an impromptu bout of tiki-taka down the aisles, with head tennis from the Da Silva twins and a Wayne Rooney volley thundered towards the unbeknownst head of Sir Bobby Charlton. Impressive, although we suspect Barcelona could do the same in economy class.

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8. Pepsi - Football Warriors



Who do you call when armed bandits ransack your rural Mediterranean town in the 17th century? Why, David Beckham, Ronaldinho and Francesco Totti, of course, who are just a few of the mercenaries called upon to do battle in this memorable Pepsi advert, climaxing with a glorious free kick from the boot of Roberto Carlos to release tsunami of aluminium cans and submerge their foes.

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7. Nike - The Secret Tournament



Fun fact: this legendary Nike commercial - aired during the 2002 World Cup and estimated to have cost upwards of £100m - was directed by none other than Terry Gilliam. The investment clearly paid off; now synonymous with Elvis Vs JXL’s A Little Less Conversation, the ad is just as fondly remembered for its gargantuan cage, in which roster of world class stars (Roberto Carlos, Luis Figo and curvy Ronaldo just one of the teams) exchange skills and roughhouse challenges under the watchful eye of ref Eric Cantona. It's fair to say he let a lot go...

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6. Adidas – Footballitis



As any non-medical professional will tell you, there was no such thing as a metatarsal before David Beckham went and got his foot injured on the eve of the 2002 World Cup, leaving England’s prospects dangling by a hairline fracture. As luck would have it, this Adidas advert, beamed during the same tournament and featuring poor Becks himself no less, introduced us to ‘footballitis’, another medical worry for the world’s best players. Triumphantly silly.

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5. Nike - Next Level



Arguably the most complex football commercial ever shot, this 2008 Nike ad, viewed entirely in first-person view, treated us to a glimpse of what being a world class footballer must be like. Seen through the eyes of a young pro, we’re shown a speedily edited ascendancy from the lower league to Premier League to the World Cup Finals with Holland, all masterfully shot by heavyweight film director Guy Richie. We’re left to imagine what might have been if not for that dodgy knee, and, you know, not being Dutch.

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4. Carlsberg - Irish World Cup Win



Carlsberg don’t do adverts about Ireland winning the World Cup but if they did, they’d probably be the best adverts in - hang on, they actually did. Naturally, we’ll stop short of claiming it to be the ‘best in the world’, though this fictional imagining of the 2002 World Cup, seeing Ireland beat all that lay in their path and lift the trophy thanks to a howitzer by Jason McAteer, is still a very good watch indeed.

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3. Pepsi – Bavaria



A good rule of thumb: never play football in Lederhosen. Still, this gloriously bizarre ad from Pepsi - which had tankards of beer replaced with soft drinks as David Beckham, Raul and co. exhibited some close control in a Bavarian drinks tent - encompassed enough horn-tooting and thigh-slapping to (sort of) make the German outfits look acceptable in a football environment. Made to coincide with the World Cup in Germany in 2006, this commercial paid ode to German tradition in the coolest way possible.

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2. Nike - Good VS Evil



A team comprised of heinous, heaving monstrosities intent on snapping the limbs of their opponents? No, not Stoke City, but rather the evil' team who lock horns with the baggy shirted heroes of the 90s in this classic and surprisingly well-acted football ad. Paolo Maldini’s optimistic musing (“maybe they’re friendly”) as the unsightly rivals charge them down is timed to perfection, and only bettered by Eric Cantona's ice-cool quip of “Au revoir”. Uttered between erecting his collar and dispatching a fireball into the belly of a demonic goalkeeper, it's almost Arnie-esque.

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1. Nike – Airport Ad



It simply had to be, didn’t it? Pretty much The Godfather of football commercials, this, Nike’s airport-based 1998 ad took one of the most skillful Brazilian teams ever produced, added the unmistakable samba beats of Mas Que Nada, threw in an airport, then let the ludicrously talented lot boot the ball around terminal and tarmac. Not worth attempting in real life, of course, as running through airport security would probably prompt another sort of shooting entirely...

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(Images: YouTube)

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