As an Italian football writer it’s been impossible in recent weeks to open up any calcio related journal and not see the imperial figure of Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, lying on a bed of white balls showing off his six-pack (and his pants), as he launches his new range of underwear for Yamamay.
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) October 31, 2018
Whilst it’s common these days for players to earn extortionate amounts of money from product endorsements, it’s not always been like this. Indeed, many former pro’s will look back on their careers and cringe when they see some of the stuff they got up to trying to earn a few extra quid.
Here are five examples of footballers who probably now wished they had, like Zammo in Grange Hill, just said no.
Pat Jennings – Unipart (Sometime in the 1970’s)
When you mention the name Pat Jennings OBE, most people won’t remember that he made a record 119 appearances for Northern Ireland and played over 800 times during spells at both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Some people may reply with, “Is that the guy who had the same hairstyle for over 30 years,” or “Oh you mean the fella who saved loads of shots with his feet.”
Big Pat’s most memorable moment however, was when he went in goal dressed as an oil filter on behalf of car manufacturing suppliers Unipart. The Irish legend must have salivated at the prospect of doing some work to promote the motor industry, believing that a new Mini Clubman may be about to appear on his driveway at any moment.
Instead he got an unlimited supply of spare parts from Unipart and must have had the cleanest engine in North London
Phil Parkes – Cossack Hairspray (Also sometimes in the 1970’s)
Following on from Jennings, goalkeepers were all the rage in the mid 1970’s so if you wanted your products to get noticed, approaching one of English football’s top custodians seemed the ideal thing to do. Parkes was a regular between the sticks at Loftus Road for Queens Park Rangers when Cossack decided to offer him the chance to front up their campaign to sell more hairspray.
Now remember, football in the 1970’s was a chauvinistic environment, a place where men were men so Phil took a huge gamble allowing the marketing men to coiffure his bonnet which made him look like a poor man’s Burt Reynolds. Needless to say that Parkes had the last laugh, receiving this spanking new kit bag to keep all his new hair products in.
— Scottish Footy Cards (@ScotsFootyCards) November 29, 2013
Kerry Dixon – Clarks Shoes (Circa 1985)
Kerry Dixon scored over 150 goals during an 11-year career with Chelsea. This feat (no pun intended) was all the more amazing when it was discovered that the man from Luton had actually got exceptionally wide feet and insteps which left his trotters in tatters after every game.
On hearing this, Clarks Shoes seized their moment and got Dixon to promote their men’s range in the mid 1980’s. Wearing a pair of quality shoes like these off the field, would improve his form on it, so it’s no coincidence that shortly after taking delivery of over 100 pairs, Dixon was finally called up to the England squad by Bobby Robson.
John Barnes – Lucozade Sport (1990)
Following on from their success at Italia 90, England players were top of most marketing executive’s lists to advertise a whole range of different products. Fresh from his now legendary rapping sequence on World in Motion, Liverpool star John Barnes became the face of Lucozade Sport as the company looked to break away from its stereotypical image of only being served to recovering patients in hospitals.
“After 90 minutes of sheer hell,” as the great man put it, Barnes is seen attempting to vandalise a vending machine in order to get his daily fix of energy, which was then copied by young herbert’s all over Britain, before planting the empties straight into the bin courtesy of that wand of a left foot of his.
Barnes also saw the Lucozade ad as a way of trying to get people to stop associating his entire England career with that goal in the Maracana in 1984.
Gordon Banks – Athur Treacher’s Fish & Chips (1977)
We’re back were we started, between the sticks with England’s most famous goalkeeper Gordon Banks. In 1977, Banks was coming to the end of his illustrious career and when he was offered the chance to play in the newly formed North American Soccer League, one of the heroes from 66 naturally jumped at the chance.
The opportunity to go Stateside would surely bring its own trappings; glamorous locations, photo-shoots with skimpily clad ladies etc etc. So imagine the look on Banksey’s face when, after joining Fort Lauderdale, he was asked to promote Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips with some of the other exiles who’d gone out there for one final pay-day. Here he is pictured with big Bob Hazell, an uncompromising centre-half in his day who would never shirk the challenge of American sized