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Nike usurps Adidas as Europe's biggest football brand

LONDON - Nike's concerted effort to promote itself as a football brand appears to have paid off following claims that it has overtaken Adidas for the first time.

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Nike has now a 34% share of the football-related footwear market compared with Adidas, which has 30.2%, according to market research company NPD in the Financial Times.

The news will be particularly galling for Adidas, a European brand that uses football's brightest star, David Beckham, and the man voted the world's best footballer, Zinedine Zidane, in its advertising.

It is a phenomenal result for Nike, which was the seventh biggest football brand in Europe in 1994. In the past Nike has focused on promoting its basketball credentials, signing up a host of sportsmen best know in its home market of the US.

Since then it has clinched advertising deals with top footballers Thierry Henry, Luis Figo, Ronaldo and, more recently Wayne Rooney, and run numerous football campaigns through Wieden & Kennedy.

Adidas also has deals with Arsenal and Manchester United.

During the Euro 2004 championships Adidas ran television work featuring the Portuguese national side and Henry, who was shown playing against imaginary rivals in his own house.

Eunan McLaughlin, the head of Nike in Europe, told the FT: "Almost half the goals scored at the European Championships -- 38 out of 77, I think -- were scored in Nike boots."

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