"Is the Nike advertising campaign cursed?" asks Rory Saunders.
Let's take a quick stroll through the advert. First to appear is Didier Drogba, weaving past Italian defenders before dinking the ball over a goalkeeper called Palermo (presumably the other unnamed defenders have names like Padova, Lecce and Chievo on the backs of their shirts). Drogba, of course, then broke an elbow in a warm-up game with the Ivory Coast meaning he could only make the bench for the Elephants' opening game against Portugal. A draw, a defeat and victory over North Korea later and Drogba and co were on their way home.
Next to appear, clearing Drogba's shot off the line (and sparking a future full of talk shows and dancing girls), is Fabio Cannavaro. The Azzurri's World Cup-winning captain was arguably culpable for Paraguay's goal in Italy's first game and caught napping for Slovakia's third in the final group fixture. Italy, below New Zealand and bottom of the group, were out.
Next up is Wayne Rooney, chesting the ball down and running at France defenders (called things like Rennes and Metz if Nike's Italian naming system runs true). It's pretty-much universally agreed that Rooney had a nightmare tournament.
And for the grand finale we see Ronaldo romping past Dutch defenders. He didn't romp past many Spanish defenders, though, and Portugal are heading home, leaving Nike's Spanish contingent the sole survivors of the Nike Curse. Roque Santa Cruz and co must fancy their chances.
Nike's ill-starred campaign is not the only one to have carried something of a curse. Marks & Spencer's advertising during the tournament featured Steven Gerrard, Matthew Upson, Emile Heskey and also the hapless Walcott, while the 'Curse of the Gillette Three' was a talking point last December. Within the space of a few days Thierry Henry transformed himself from likeable, if slightly smug, va-va-voomer to Biggest Cheat In The World Ever following his handball against Ireland, Tiger Woods' life unravelled following his 2am car crash.