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A Definitive Ranking Of The Greatest Soccer Ads Of All Time

Soccer ads are better than all other ads. And here’s the best XI.

11. “Good vs. Evil” (Nike, 1996)

Why is it so good?
An All-Star team takes on a team of monsters for control of Earth. Basically, it’s “Space Jam.” For soccer. In 90 seconds.

Why isn’t this a full-length movie, again?

Is there a GIF-able moment involving a Ronaldo or Ronaldinho?
Yes! A super young Ronaldo is here, calmly juggling his way past a sub-par monster defense. (Let’s be honest, about this: You’ve really got to question a team that throws everything forward and refuses to maintain shape in the back when you’re playing for the future of Earth. Come on, monsters, you’re better than that.)

Does Eric Cantona make an appearance?
Yes! He’s got so much space up front, he even has time to pop his collar before taking a shot so hard, the ball catches fire and kills the monster’s goalie. Again, monsters: Play a 4-4-2, and your goalie probably lives.

Does Kobe Bryant show up for no apparent reason?
No, but only because he was focused on starring in Sprite ads with Tim Duncan in the ’90s.

Will this ad make you want to go play soccer RIGHT NOW?
Yes! You’re going to watch Paolo Maldini execute a perfect slide tackle on a monster, and you’re going to want to play right away.

10. “Leo Messi Is All In” (Adidas, 2011)

Why is it so good?
When you watch Argentina, it’s obvious that all eyes are on Messi — but in this ad, all eyes are literally on Messi. It’s mesmerizing.

Is there a GIF-able moment involving a Ronaldo or Ronaldinho?
No! So here’s Messi walking under a shower of confetti instead.

Does Eric Cantona make an appearance?
No!

Does Kobe Bryant show up for no apparent reason?
No! (No Cantona AND no Kobe? How did this ad even happen?)

Will this ad make you want to go play soccer RIGHT NOW?
Yes! As an added bonus, every time Messi touches the ball, you’ll be reminded that you should have listened when your coaches taught you how to dribble and shoot with your left foot. (Sorry, coach.)

9. “Airport” (Nike, 1998)

Why is it so good?
Because it’s Brazil, and they can get away with being the jesters of the soccer world. This ad wouldn’t make sense for any other country, but Brazil can dribble a soccer ball around an airport and make it seem fun. Only Brazil.

(Also, airport security in the ’90s: Were you always this lax?)

Is there a GIF-able moment involving a Ronaldo or Ronaldinho?
Yes! Here’s Ronaldo’s reaction to missing a wide open net.

Does Eric Cantona make an appearance?
Yes! He’s just hanging out on a plane, reading a magazine. Even though this is an ad about the Brazilian soccer team, and the ad is supposed to take place in Brazil, a French soccer star who played professionally in England still made the final cut. Naturally.

(It’s also worth noting that Nike made an almost identical version of this ad in the mid-2000s with Portugal and Brazil. Surprise, surprise: It also featured an Eric Cantona cameo.)

Does Kobe Bryant show up for no apparent reason?
No!

Will this ad make you want to go play soccer RIGHT NOW?
Yes, because you’re going to see that Roberto Carlos howler (at :45), and you will want to learn how to do that immediately.

8. “Own The Game” (Adidas, 2003)

Why is it so good?
This ad is the one you should play before every single training session. That mantra? It’ll make you run through walls.

But it’s also a bit strange to watch now. That ad first appeared in 2003. The next summer, David Beckham — seen here standing over a PK — missed a huge penalty as Portugal advanced over England in Euro 2004. Really bad timing.

Is there a GIF-able moment involving a Ronaldo or Ronaldinho?
No! But you do get some angry Zinedine Zidane!

Does Eric Cantona make an appearance?
No!

Does Kobe Bryant show up for no apparent reason?
No!

Will this ad make you want to go play soccer RIGHT NOW?
Absolutely! There’s no way you’ll hear the words “I’m your first love / Your last chance / The reason you’ll be remembered / Or lost” and not want to go outside right this minute and start taking free kicks. This ad is all the motivation you’ll ever need.

7. “Joga Bonito: Honor” (Nike, 2006)

Why is it so good?
It’s 60 seconds of Thierry Henry showing up at a local street game and making everyone look silly. Which is fantastic.

Is there a GIF-able moment involving a Ronaldo or Ronaldinho?
No! (Ronaldinho appeared in almost every “Joga Bonito” ad, but not this one.) Here’s Henry dribbling in reverse instead.

Does Eric Cantona make an appearance?
Yes! He even plays in the game!

Does Kobe Bryant show up for no apparent reason?
No! (Seriously, Kobe, where were you during the “Joga Bonito” years? How’d you miss out on this?)

Will this ad make you want to go play soccer RIGHT NOW?
Yes! If this ad doesn’t inspire you to run outside and attempt the Henry backheel goal (at :52), you may have to reconsider your priorities in life.

6. “Joga Bonito: Skill” (Nike, 2006)

Why is it so good?
The “Joga Bonito” campaign was so amazing, one ad wasn’t enough for this list. Here, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimović go head to head in a skills competition. Watching these two juggle and pull off trick shots is absolute madness.

Is there a GIF-able moment involving a Ronaldo or Ronaldinho?
Yes! But the most GIF-able moment of all is this moment of Zlatan. (You’re welcome.)

Does Eric Cantona make an appearance?
Yes! He appears while holding a portable DVD player to remind you that this ad was filmed pre-iPhone, pre-iPad — and even before Ronaldo discovered hair gel.

Does Kobe Bryant show up for no apparent reason?
No!

Will this ad make you want to go play soccer RIGHT NOW?
Yes! You’ll attempt the Ronaldo trap-a-ball-between-your-thighs thing (at :34) a thousand times, and after a thousand failed attempts, you will remember why he is Ronaldo and you are not.

5. “Winner Stays” (Nike, 2014)

Why is it so good?
It’s everything that’s great about a Nike soccer ad: Big stars, an awesome soundtrack, Zlatan talking in the first person — and Tim Howard as The Hulk. (Hey, the U.S. National Team finally got more than a spot cameo in an international soccer ad! We did it! U-S-A! U-S-A!)

Is there a GIF-able moment involving a Ronaldo or Ronaldinho?
Yes! Ronaldo’s there. And yet, the best hair in this clearly belongs to David Luiz. Here’s your proof.

Does Eric Cantona make an appearance?
No!

Does Kobe Bryant show up for no apparent reason?
Yes! Good to see you there, Kobe!

Will this ad make you want to go play soccer RIGHT NOW?
Yes, just as long as you’re not trying to imitate Iniesto. Get the names right, man.

4. “Impossible Team” (Adidas, 2006)

Why is it so good?
This is the soccer version of “Field of Dreams.” (Seriously, Franz Beckenbauer plays in this one. Franz Beckenbauer!) It’s absolutely perfect — until José’s mom tells him he has to come home.

Is there a GIF-able moment involving a Ronaldo or Ronaldinho?
No! Here instead is Jermain Defoe being told to play goalie by a 12-year-old, and then everyone laughing at him. Poor Defoe.

Does Eric Cantona make an appearance?
No, but pre-headbutt Zidane is here! Allez les Bleus!

Does Kobe Bryant show up for no apparent reason?
No!

Will this ad make you want to go play soccer RIGHT NOW?
Yes! Go out and attempt that Cissé kick (at 1:10) and see if you can do it without falling down. (You can’t, but it’s worth trying anyway.)

3. “Secret Tournament” (Nike, 2002)

Why is it so good?
Because you’d watch 24 of the best players in the world — including Totti and Henry and Figo and Roberto Carlos — play in a three-on-three, first-goal-wins tournament inside a steel cage. Right? RIGHT???

Is there a GIF-able moment involving a Ronaldo or Ronaldinho?
Amazingly, yes AND yes! Here’s Ronaldo holding a soccer ball for Ronaldinho.

Does Eric Cantona make an appearance?
Yes! He referees all the matches, a job that mostly involves dancing on top of the cage while everyone else plays. The lesson here: Everyone should have an agent as good as Eric Cantona’s, because that agent got him into EVERY single Nike ad for more than a decade. Impressive.

Does Kobe Bryant show up for no apparent reason?
No!

Will this ad make you want to go play soccer RIGHT NOW?
Yes! And you’ll definitely want to play while wearing Edgar Davids-style sunglasses, which should really still be a thing.

2. Write The Future (Nike, 2010)

Why is it so good?
It’s an epic ad all about “What if?” The cameos are impressive. The music is great. Also: if this ad was just Wayne Rooney’s dream meltdown, it would STILL be one of the two greatest soccer ads of all time.

Is there a GIF-able moment involving a Ronaldo or Ronaldinho?
Yes! Even though Ronaldinho didn’t even make the Brazil World Cup squad in 2010, the Samba-robics hotline is always open.

Does Eric Cantona make an appearance?
No! But you do get a heavy dose of Franck Ribery, so France is well represented.

Does Kobe Bryant show up for no apparent reason?
Yes!

Will this ad make you want to go play soccer RIGHT NOW?
Yes! It’ll also make you wonder whether or not you’ll achieve the ultimate goal in life: getting a Eurovision song dedicated in your honor, Fabio Cannavaro-style.

1. “Take It To The Next Level” (Nike, 2008)

Why is it so good?
Oh, it’s just a first-person ad about signing with Arsenal, getting the girl, dominating the Champions League, and then getting a call-up to the Dutch national team, where you score the game winning free kick. Also, you are Dutch. And you’re driving a sports car. And you’re friends with Cesc Fàbregas.

Basically, YOU are awesome at soccer and life, which must be nice.

Is there a GIF-able moment involving a Ronaldo or Ronaldinho?
Yes! Most definitely yes.

Does Eric Cantona make an appearance?
No! You’ll have to settle for fellow Frenchman Arsène Wenger.

Does Kobe Bryant show up for no apparent reason?
No!

Will this ad make you want to go play soccer RIGHT NOW?
Yes, you will want to play right this minute, ideally also while listening to Eagles of Death Metal. You can do anything while listening to that band. You could lift a Volkswagen over your head while listening to them.

This ad is amazing in so many ways — the stars, the insane first-person views — but it’s the soundtrack that makes it the best soccer ad of all time.

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