Football is a multi-billion dollar industry and has one of the largest fan bases in the world. The beautiful game has been around for more than 100 years and grown into one of the biggest sports industries. Millions of people around the world fill up stadiums to watch the local, regional and international leagues. In 2001, a survey published by FIFA mentions that over 240 million people from more than 200 countries play football around the world. The industry goes beyond just players and supporters and is interwoven with other industries such as advertising, stadium developments and betting. In fact, football betting sites have increased in popularity and reach over the past decade showcasing the results of the most well-known names in popular culture. We look at these players more in-depth to gain a true understanding of their popularity below.
- Lionel Messi
The Argentinean forward plays for the national team as well as the Spanish club FC Barcelona. Messi is the only player to have won five FIFA Ballon d’Or awards with four wins on a consecutive basis. He has also received three European Golden Shoes for his successful efforts. As part of Barcelona, Messi received a total of 29 trophies, holding the record and setting the way forward for many local hopefuls.
- Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid and is the captain of the Portuguese national team. He is well-rounded with outstanding performance as a forward and winger. Ronaldo won the FIFA World Player of the Year award as well as the FIFA Ballon d’Or. At current, he is the all-time top-scorer in European Leagues.
- Neymar da Silva Santos Jr.
Neymar is a young Brazilian football player and plays for Barcelona. He started his career at the tender age of 17. He’s won the South American Footballer of the Year award on two occasions and helped lead Barcelona to victory in the La Liga, Copa del Rey as well as the UEFA Champions League. Neymar was third place for the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2015.
- Zlatan Ibrahimović
Ibrahimović plays for England’s Manchester United and the Swedish national team. He’s known for being a great goal scorer and won 33 trophies during his career. As of 2017, he is the second most decorated active footballer. Ibrahimović is one of ten players to have made more than 100 appearances for Sweden and is their leading goal scorer with 62 goals in total. He won a Guldbollen 11 times and ten consecutive times, between 2007 to 2016.
- Luis Suarez
This Uruguayan striker plays for Barcelona. Suarez is has one of the highest net worth’s and was named the third best player in the world by the Guardian. He scored more than 300 career goals for his club and national team.
- Manuel Neuer
Neuer is a German national player and plays for Bayern Munich, as goalkeeper and vice- captain. He won the world cup with Germany as well as a golden glove. Neuer was also nominated to win the FIFA Ballon D’or and came 3rd to Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
- Marco Reus
Reus plays for Germany and German club Borussia Dortmund as midfielder, winger or striker. He won a DFL-Supercup in 2013 and is the cover athlete for EA’s FIFA 17 videogame.
- Eden Hazard
Hazard plays for Belgium and the English club, Chelsea FC. He’s known for being a great passer and was the first non-French player to win the Young Player of the Year award for UNFP( National Union of Professional Footballers).
- Thomas Muller
The German footballer scored 23 goals in the 2012-13 season of the Champions League and helped his club Bayern win a historic treble- Premium league, FA Cup and Champions League. He plays for Germany as an attacking midfielder, second striker and centre forward.
- Paul Pogba
Pogba won four consecutive titles for Juventus before moving to Manchester United. He was named tops as part of the 2015 UEFA Team of the Year as well as the 2015 FIFA FIFPro World XI. Pogba was awarded the Golden Boy award in 2013, followed by the Bravo Award in 2014.