Rosicky retirement marks end of an era for Nike cage crew

The retirement of Tomas Rosicky this week has signaled the end of an era for football fans with the Czech midfielder the last of the 24 stars of Nike's iconic 2002 Secret Tournament commercial to hang up their boots.

Nike

Source: Nike

It has been 15 years since Nike's spectacular cage tournament commercial first wowed football fans the world over, and became a viral sensation before the internet age of viral videos and social media truly took hold.

Headlined by a bevy of the greatest players from the late 1990's and early 2000's, such as Thierry Henry, Ronaldo, Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos, and featuring the hit Junkie XL remix of Elvis Presley's 'A Little Less Conversation', The Secret Tournament featured a series of commercial's showing a cage match tournament held in the hull of cargo ship. 

With world football stars showing off all their best tricks and flicks, Eric Cantona as referee and an eye-catching chrome ball, the ad, directed by Monty Python's Terry Gillingham, was the perfect lead in to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea for sportswear behemoth Nike.

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This week Rosicky, 37, called an end to his playing days and in the process became the last remaining active player to retire. 

The 24 stars who featured in the Secret Tournament teams

TRIPLE ESPRESSO

Thierry Henry - Retired in 2014 after a guiding Arsenal to Premier League and FA Cup glory.

Francesco Totti - Retired in 2017 after playing 25 seasons with Roma in Serie A.

Hidetoshi Nakata - Helped Parma to Coppa Italia success in 2002 before hanging up the boots in 2006. 

THE ONETOUCHABLES

Patrick Vieira - Captained the Arsenal's incredible invincibles to Premier League success before retiring in 2011

Ruud van Nistelrooy - Called an end to his career in 2012 after scoring goals with ease at Manchester United, Real Madrid and PSV.

Paul Scholes - Manchester United legend won it all with the Red Devils as a member of their famed Class of '92 before retiring for a second time in 2013.

TOROS LOCOS

Freddie Ljungberg - Swedish winger was a star at Arsenal during their invincibles era before retiring in 2014

Javier Saviola - The Argentina striker shot through to prominence at 19 to go on and play for Barcelona and Real Madrid as well as at two World Cups. Retried in 2016 

Luis Enrique -Storied Barcelona midfielder who retired in 2004 before going on to coach the Blaugrana.

CERBERUS

Edgar Davids - Won three Serie A titles with Juventus before retiring in 2014  

Lillian Thuram - World Cup and European Cup winner with France in 1998, Thuram retired in 2008.

Sylvain Wiltord - France striker who played in Les Bleus 2000 Euro success. Retired in 2012

OS TORNADOS

Luis Figo - Portugese legend who was a star of Real Madrid's Galacticos after making the controversial move from Barcelona. Figo retired in 2009

Roberto Carlos - All time Brazil great who has won Champions League and La Liga titles with Real Madrid before winning the World Cup in 2002. He retired in 2015 to begin a career in management.

Ronaldo - Legendary Brazil striker who won the World Cup in 2002 and was named FIFA World Player of the Year three times. Retired in 2011.

FUNK SEOUL BROTHERS

Denilson - A member of Brazil's 2002 World Cup winning squad after Real Betis paid a record $A37 million to sign him from Sao Paulo. Retired in 2010 

Ronaldinho - Wildly regarded as the most entertaining player of his generation. One of Brazil's greatest ever players. Retired in 2017

Seol Ki-Hyeon - One of the heroes of the South Korea team which finished fourth at the 2002 World Cup. Retired in 2014.

TUTTO BENE

Fabio Cannavaro - Captained Italy to World Cup success in 2006 before being crowned Ballon D'or winner. Retired in 2011

Tomas Rosicky - Retired in 2017 after a career spent at Dortmund, Arsenal and Sparta Prague.

Rio Ferdinand - England great starred for Manchester United winning Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League titles. Retired in 2017

EQUIPO DEL FUEGO

Claudio Lopez - Reached the Champions League final with Valencia in 2000 before representing Argentina at the 2002 World Cup. Retired in 2010.

Gaizka Mendieta - Spanish midfielder who starred for Valenicia, Lazio and Barcelona before retiring in 2008.

Hernan Crespo - Prolific Argentine striker who found success at Inter, Chelsea, Parma, Milan and Lazio. Retired in 2012.


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4 min read
Published 22 December 2017 at 4:10pm
By Nick Houghton