The FIFA World Cup 2014 may have kicked off in Brazil, but the real winners may not be the team lifting the trophy but the bank balances of the best performing players.
A striking World Cup can lift a football player’s earning potential to stratospheric heights – and a fact many fans do not realise is footballers are among the world’s highest paid expats.
Countless numbers relocate from their home countries to play in the world’s richest leagues in England, Spain and Italy.
Regardless of the England team’s performance on the pitch in Brazil, England has more players in the top 10 world soccer rich list than any other nation.
Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Chelsea’s soon to leave Frank Lampard all rank among the wealthiest world players, according to financial research firm Wealth-X.
England tops league
England is the only team with three players in the top 10, while only the Cote d’Ivoire has two – Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure.
Rooney scores as England’s richest player and world number three with an estimated £57 million in the bank.
But the two players with the true Midas touch are Portugal and Real Madrid hero Cristiano Ronaldo, who has amassed a massive £135.5 million fortune and Argentina and Barcelona wonder Lionel Messi with an impressive £106 million.
Between them, the top 10 best paid players have collected a cash mountain of almost £590 million for demonstrating their skills on the football pitch for club and country – but Ronaldo lays claim to almost 25% of the money.
Messi and Italy and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon are the only two top 10 players who have not graced the English Premiership at some time during their playing careers.
Beckham beats the lot
Despite giving up playing, England’s David Beckham is the only soccer star whose earning’s eclipse those of Ronaldo. Beckham has a fortune put at around £210 million.
All the wealthiest players except Buffon are strikers or midfielders – with wages for defenders making no showing on the list.
Not all the players’ income derives from playing – much also comes from image rights, advertising and sponsorship.
The World’s Wealthiest Footballers
- Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) £135.5 million
- Lionel Messi (Argentina) £106 million
- Wayne Rooney (England) £57 million
- Didier Drogba (Cote d’Ivoire) £53 million
- Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon) £44 million
- Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire) £41.25 million
- Frank Lampard (England) £35.3 million
- Steven Gerrard (England) £32.4 million
- Fernando Torres (Spain) £29.5 million
- Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) £29.5 million