Nike, a multinational corporation based in the United States, is the world’s largest supplier of sporting goods. Nike, which was founded in 1964, has sponsored many of the world’s top athletes in an attempt to connect with the public and grow into a multibillion-dollar corporation. They also have close relationships with many world-class football stars, as one would expect.
Today, we’ll look at some of their most important clients over the years. Here are the 5 best players Nike has ever sponsored.
Number 5: Ian Rush
Nike was initially hesitant to go all-in on European footballers. However, in 1982, Liverpool legend Ian Rush changed all of that.
Rush, sporting his majestic facial hair, graced the covers of major sports magazines, paving the way for Nike’s global dominance.
Rush, a true Reds legend, spent 15 seasons with the club, scoring 346 goals in 660 appearances.
Number 4: Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta, regarded as one of the best midfielders in history, was with Nike for 16 years, from 2002 to 2018, before switching to Asics.
Because Iniesta was never a flashy footballer, Nike chose him to front the understated CTR360 Maestri.
He famously wore the CTR360 while scoring the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final. Later, Iniesta shifted to the Magista, which he launched in Barcelona in 2014.
Number 3: Ronaldinho
Nike signed a record-breaking £100 million contract with the Brazilian Football Confederation in 1996, giving birth to the famous phrase “Joga Bonito.”
Ronaldinho, Brazil’s rising star, quickly became one of Nike’s favorites. The youngster was full of skill, tricks, and goals, making him ideal for Nike’s youth campaign.
In 2005, Nike chose Ronaldinho for its Tiempo Legend YouTube commercial, in which he was asked to hit the crossbar four times without the ball touching the ground. The video quickly went viral, becoming the first video on YouTube to receive one million views.
Nike even designed a signature boot for Ronaldinho, the Nike Tiempo Ronaldinho R10, making him the first footballer to have a signature product.
Nike Tiempo Ronaldinho Dois was later released, paying homage to Ronaldinho’s flamboyant gameplay. The Dois is one of the most famous pairs of football boots in history.
Number 2: Ronaldo Nazario
Nike has sponsored numerous footballers over the years, none more so than the legendary Ronaldo Nazario.
Ronaldo’s brilliance so enthralled Nike that it designed the first Mercurial (1998) with him in mind. He scored four goals while wearing the iconic boot to lead Brazil to the 1998 World Cup final.
He returned from a potentially career-ending injury four years later, wearing a dazzling pair of Mercurial Vapor. His record-breaking eight goals aided Brazil’s fifth World Cup victory.
Ronaldo wore the legendary Mercurial Vapor III during the 2006 World Cup, which inspired millions of footballers, including Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
Number 1: Cristiano Ronaldo
Whether you like him or not, you can’t deny that Cristiano Ronaldo is the most accomplished player to have been sponsored by Nike.
According to CBS Sports, Ronaldo has a lifetime contract with Nike that pays him approximately $20 million per year.
Cristiano Ronaldo signed with Nike in 2003 before making the life-changing move to Manchester United. Nike backed the young Portuguese to break the world’s records, and the legendary #7 has returned the favor by remaining with the company for all these years.
Even at 36, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is still going strong and is Nike’s most famous endorser.