12 July 2010

WATN? The 1994 Nike 'Soccer Wall' 7-a-side team

By Stephen Coutts - Sportswriter 
SPORTSWEAR giant Nike has a penchant for releasing quality television adverts to coincide with major footballing tournaments.

The three minute *Write your future advert was released for the South Africa 2010 World Cup and included a plethora of footballing stars deemed to make an impact on football's greatest stage.

Interestingly those who starred in the advert crashed out in the early stages while Ronaldinho Gaúcho did not make the A Seleção final cut – and viewers seen a fleeting glimpse of eventual winners Spain through Andrés Iniesta, Cesc Fàbregas and Gerard Piqué.

But out of the many footballing adverts which have been released there is one that stands alone and is still revered by the masses: the *1994 Nike Soccer Wall 7-a-side team.

Released to coincide with the USA '94 World Cup it was an all star cast that only the imaginings of a fevered schoolboy playing Sensible Soccer could conjure up.

In Soccer Wall the players are portrayed as moving poster artwork in their country's capitals/respective cities, intricately passing the ball until Jorge Campos saves Bebeto's finish - and breaks a neon Nike sign in the process.

16 years later and the stars of '94 may have retired and moved on but their legacy is forever encapsulated in celluloid history.

9 Jorge Campos [now 43] [Where are they now? Jorge Campos]
THE flamboyant custodian was short in stature but made up for it with his excellent athletic ability – and his star turns as a forward.
When not designing his own luminescent keeperwear or pursuing his interests in surfing and racehorses, he played for a host of clubs in the USA and Mexico, in turn earning 130 caps for El Tri.
In 1999 Campos suffered the indignity of having his father kidnapped, and he eventually hung up his gloves in 2004 aged 37.
These days he is involved with charity work to protect the environment and owns a fastfood franchise called Sportortas-Campos – he also does the occasional punditry for TV Azteca.

3 Paolo Maldini [now 42]  
AFTER nearly a quarter of a century with the Rossoneri the stopper recently retired in 2009, aged 40. 
Being a one club man, Maldini went on to be one of football's highly respected and most decorated players – which included lifting the European Cup on five occasions.
As a mark of respect Milan also retired the number three shirt but it will make a comeback if one of his sons make it to the first team [both play in the Milan youth sides].
Maldini won 126 caps during his international career and captained his country on 74 occasions.
It was rumoured that he turned down a backroom position at Chelsea offered by former gaffer Carlo Ancelotti last summer.

4 Michael Schulz [now 48]
CLYDE-built and standing 6ft 4'', the no-nonsense defender played for Kaiserslautern, Dortmund and Werder Bremen.
Despite being a top stopper and fans' favourite it was believed he was cursed - every club he played for won silverware after he left.
Schulz' fearsome footballing persona was once described by Panini as 'an anchor as header, strong in duels, feared for his wide throw-ins. The Charles Bronson type of guy overdoes toughness.'
He only won seven Germany caps due to the defensive combination of Stefan Reuter and Jürgen Kohler. 
Schulz retired in 1997 aged 34 – he now spends his time as a player-agent and pundit.

11 Romário [now 44]
THE diminutive striker's career spanned over 20 years, 17 clubs and five continents.
He topped the scoring charts for Vasco da Gama in 2005 [aged 39] and is one of the few player's recognised with scoring 1,000 goals [it is still disputed as it includes friendlies and bounce matches].
A fearsome fox-in-the-box, Romário was a 1994 World Cup winner and has over 50 footballing accolades.
He decided to retire in April 2008, but made an emotional comeback in a guest-appearance for Brazilian second division side América – the team his late father supported and who he is General Manager of.
And after the América match he finally retired, aged 43, with 70 caps and 55 international goals.
Although in an administrative role with Diabo, it is rumoured he has taken control of the side after sacking Bebeto, who had a mediocre two months in charge

7 Eric Cantona [now 44]
''KING ERIC'' as he became known in the red half of Manchester, retired early at the age of 30.
A tempestuous and talented player he had spells at his heroes Marseille, Leeds and Manchester United.
In the 90s he was instrumental in the Red Devils' phoenix-esque rise from the footballing ashes however, one major incident blighted his time at Old Trafford – in January 1995 he Kung fu kicked a Crystal Palace fan who had been verbally abusing him.
And after receiving his punishment, which turned into a four month suspension, delivered his famous seagulls quote.
He retired, some say prematurely, with a plethora of silverware and 45 France caps at the end of the 1996-97 season.
Cantona still dabbles in beach football and took up acting which has lead to appearances in numerous films including Looking for Eric - he can now be seen as the face of L'Oreal Men Expert.

8 Ian Wright MBE [now 46]
STARTED in professional football with Crystal Palace in 1985 at the relatively late age of 22 and hit the ground running.
He was transferred to Arsenal in September 1991 for £2.5m and went on to become a fans' favourite at Highbury - scoring a total of 185 goals for the club.
His form was never replicated on the international scene leading to only nine goals in 33 appearances.
In the twilight stages of his career he bounced from West Ham to Nottingham Forest (on loan) to Celtic and finally called it a day at Burnley aged 36 – shortly afterwards he was awarded an MBE for his services to charity.
After football he became the face of Ladbrokes bookmakers and is a regular pundit on television and radio.

10 Bebeto [now 46]
FAMOUS for his partnership with Romário and his rocking baby celebration, the striker was a prolific goalscorer wherever he played.
Bebeto's career spanned nearly 20 years, 14 clubs and was also part of the 1994 World Cup winning side.
Aged 37 in 2001, and near the curtain-call of his career, Scottish side St Mirren refused to sign him as he believed he should not need a physical – his name alone should seal the deal.
After the rejection Bebeto signed for Vasco de Gama, before one final fling in 2002 with Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad - he then retired aged 38, with 75 caps and 39 international goals.
Management came calling and on 16 December 2009 he was named as gaffer of América – but he was relieved of his duties on 13 February 2010 by friend and Diabo General Manager Romário after just eight matches.

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