Footballers have long been used to flog any old tat, but some endorsements are more surprising than others – as former Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid players can attest.
The mix of massive celebrity and the compulsive need to maximise earnings during their relatively short careers means that we’ve been treated to some bizarre advertising cameos down the years.
We’ve identified 11 of the most surprising endorsements given by footballers in the glorious history of marketing…
Harry Kane – Skechers
The England captain? Wearing Skechers? It feels both unfathomable and entirely predictable.
Harry Kane leaves Nike for Skechers and signs a lifetime contract with them.
— Pro Form Football (@ProFormFootball) August 7, 2023
Manchester United – Japanese tomato juice
Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa slurping down thick glasses of a Japanese tomato juice known as Kagome. What more could you ask for in life?
Lionel Messi – Japanese face cream
Dropped in 2014, Messi appears with a face covered in face cream and reveals himself to be a person that’s never used the product in his entire existence.
He then drops his head before a splash of water appears and, hey presto, his face looks like it has been kissed by the Gods themselves. If this doesn’t make you immediately want to go out and buy this product, then you are clearly impervious to advertising.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Japanese smile improver
In this ad, Ronaldo briefly messes with the Pao Facial Fitness device, but the Japanese firm clearly didn’t pay him enough to put the goofy contraption in his mouth.
The logic-defying clip shows users popping the device in their mouths before rhythmically bobbing their heads up and down in a bid to tone their faces. Bizarre.
Michael Owen – Visit Dubai
Scientists have worked for years to cure insomnia, only to be gazumped by Michael Owen ‘showcasing’ Dubai from a helicopter.
Michael Owen's Dubai Tourist Board video best thing you'll see all day 😂 pic.twitter.com/RlhOVdjmyZ
— Deals Deals Deals (@giftidea01) March 17, 2017
Fernando Torres – Banco Gallego dog training
A left-field discovery, this ad features a young, well-groomed Torres endorsing what appears to be a Spanish dog training school called Banco Gallego. Go figure.
The ad opens with an adorable fawn pug looking confused, before shooting to another slightly more smug black pug. Plenty more dogs follow, each of whom seems happy if a little bemused by the presence of the former Liverpool striker.
Kevin Keegan – Sugar Puffs
This couldn’t be more 90s – Keegan sending on the Honey Monster to win the cup for Newcastle soundtracked by Jonathan Pearce at his Robot Wars peak. Inject it into our veins.
Wonder if Kevin Keegan is having some sugar puffs for his birthday? #Keepit90s
— The 90s Football Podcast (@AK90s) February 14, 2023
Peter Schmeichel – Danish bacon
How Peter Schmeichel ever faced his Manchester United team-mates again after this is anyone’s guess. It’s one of history’s great regrets that Roy Keane’s internal monologue wasn’t available when he first saw this.
TELLY GOLD: Peter Schmeichel singing about Danish bacon, wearing an apron and playing the accordion.
The 90s. What times we had…pic.twitter.com/9raDvoZhEg
— A Funny Old Game (@sid_lambert) August 22, 2022
Blackburn Rovers – Venkys chicken
Don’t mind us, we’re just watching David Dunn tackle a drumstick for the rest of the day…
Former UCL winner Michel Salgado definitely retired a season after joining Blackburn because of this advert the squad did for Venky’s chicken.
The finger lick by Ryan Nelsen at the end is only surpassed by David Dunn hamming it up. (4/10) pic.twitter.com/TwLISnOhTj
— Football Ramble (@FootballRamble) October 18, 2022
Gareth Southgate – Bull Boys Shoes
Everyone remembers Southgate’s Pizza Hut cameo, fewer will remember the current England manager bigging up the kind of shoes your fashion-illiterate parent would ‘treat’ you with.
Morten Gamst Pedersen and John Arne Riise – Norweigan fruit
Beginning with former Portsmouth and Birmingham man Erik Huseklepp minding his own business at a pick n’ mix stand, things soon take a turn for the worse when odd couple Riise and Pedersen turn up.
Some autotuned singing, bizarre words and moves that leave you cowering behind the sofa later and we’re contacting our nearest therapist.