The release of the Nike Phantom GT Scorpion got us all bleary eyed and nostalgic, remembering the golden age of football that was 2002. So we figured rather than reminisce on our own, crying into our beer and arguing about whether a team from then would beat a team from now (one for another time), we’d instead take you all with us for a dive into the wonderful world that was “The Secret Tournament”.

24 of the best players in the world. Eight teams. Three-a-side. On a ship. In a cage. First goal wins. Oh, and throw in a catchy tune that you never would’ve sung before it was remixed and featured in this ad, but now can’t stop singing, plus Eric Cantona off his nut hosting proceedings, and what have you got? The Secret Tournament, aka Scorpion K.O.; the crescendo of Nike’s TV ad campaigns. Often replicated, but never bettered. This was Nike at the peak of their powers, coming just eight years after their introduction into the game. Shout all you want about ‘Joga Bonito’, ‘Write the Future’, or any of the other ad campaigns to follow, but this has never been beaten, fact*. 18 years on and its impact is still being felt. Just look upon the new Phantom GT Scorpion and tell us you don’t get the urge to display your finest skillz. Yeah, we spelt it with a z.

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Arriving at a time when Nike were continuing in their attempts to topple the Three Stripes from their long-standing perch, this was a further mark of the Swoosh’s intent. Over the years the American powerhouse had mustered a roster easily capable of competing with adidas, and they gathered them together in a star-studded cross-over that the MCU would be proud of. Rarely do we ever see so much talent together in one place, let alone playing on the same side in some of the most dreamy of dream team ups (let’s ignore the fact that not all 24 players were in the same place at the same time, and some lookalikes were brought in for some of the scenes, yeah?). Yep, for all intents and purposes this was a collection of the best players in the world, showing off some of the most outrageous skills ever displayed.

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Following on from the airport shenanigans of the Brazilians in ’98 and the more outlandish outlook on the abilities of their star players for “The Mission” in 2000, the success of which provided the springboard for what was to come two years later, Nike began to tease their latest campaign as early as March 2002, with a spot that showed just a pair of boots and a scorpion. By now Nike’s pre-tournament advertorial campaigns had become as anticipated as the tournaments themselves, so that was all it took for the hype to begin. What was the scorpion all about? Who was going to star? Would this be another movie-esque showdown between good guys and bad guys? All would be revealed within a month.

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The Secret Tournament debuted with a who’s who of world-class stars ushered on to a gigantic tanker type ship. Within which was a specially constructed cage and… you know what, why are we describing the ad? If you haven’t watched it yet, what are you doing? Head back to the top of the page and then comeback when you’re done. Even if you have seen it before, watch it again. You know you want to. Done? Good. Whether it’s Roberto Carlos’s adapted rainbow flick goal, Cantona’s japery, or Ferdinand… pointing, before the controversial finish that saw Henry springboarding off Totti’s back to rise like a salmon and head home, inevitably resulting in a rematch. It’s packed full of memorable moments that it just begs for a rewatch, the pace so fast and furious that you notice new things even 18 years later.

And paramount to all the action was, of course, the ball. That silver/chrome beauty, reflecting Ronaldinho’s pre-Seaman-lob cheek. It was the epitome of the ad, and anyone who owned one at the time did so safe in the knowledge that they were the envy of their peers. Any who still owns one, know that you are the envy of the SoccerBible office.

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The unrelenting action was orchestrated under the watchful eye of none other than… um… Monty Python alum, Terry Gilliam, strangely enough. Weird choice for a £70milllion campaign, but it proved a masterstroke, with Gilliam trusting in the ability of the players, for the play wasn’t scripted and the stars were allowed to showboat to their hearts content, freely expressing their skills and adding to the natural look of the whole commercial.

Ultimately, the return of that Scorpion logo on the Phantom GT has got us thinking of whether Nike could pull off a Secret Tournament 2, and if so who would star from their current crop of stars. No more Neymar in the Swoosh’s ranks, but there’s still an abundance of absolute class on offer, and you know you’d watch it. Remake? Sequel? Who cares, just get it done.

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*Not an actual fact, more our unwavering opinion.

The Nike Phantom GT Scorpion will be available at from 2 November.