Football star in anti-drug ad

Japan's most famous footballer, Hidetoshi Nakata, has offered his services to the United Nations for an anti-drugs ad campaign in the run-up to the World Cup his country will co-host.

The campaign will be spearheaded by a commercial shot in the UK by a British director and scheduled to run on TV and in cinemas in Europe, the US and Japan.

Nakata's management in Japan and Italy has partly funded the film. It follows an approach by the UN, which is persuading broadcasters to give free airtime.

Nakata, who also features in Nike's World Cup ads, flew to the UK last month to make the film, the first directed by Jake Knight since his move from Bullett to Manifesto.

The 30-second ad juxtaposes shots of Nakata talking about his lifelong desire to play football with footage of him playing for Japan and enjoying a game of table soccer.

A voiceover says: "If you experiment with drugs, you destroy your ability to be the best."

Nakata, for whom Parma paid £20 million in 2001, earns an estimated £1.5 million a year, plus £1.75 million from sponsorship deals.

Knight is one of a stable of new directorial talent hired by Mark Andrews since forming Manifesto with San Takashima, the founder of Nexus. The others, Bruno Rolland, Reto Salimbeni and Ubbe Haavind, worked with Knight at the recently defunct Tsunami.