Footballers are some of the highest-earning athletes in the world; these players have massive paychecks and lucrative endorsement deals, and some even have their own clothing lines and liquor brands. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars, private jets, and a lifestyle most of us can only dream about.
In this article, we’ll go through the top 5 richest footballers in 2023 and just how much they’re worth. From Ronaldo to Messi to David Beckham, these football legends are living the high life. Do you think your favorite player made the cut? Read on to find out.
How Do Footballers Make Money?
Footballers make money in several ways, including:
Top players sign multi-million dollar contracts with football clubs that pay very high weekly wages. Christiano Ronaldo, for example, earns over €30m annually from his Juventus contract.
Footballers also earn a lot from sponsorship contracts with major brands like Nike, Adidas, and Pepsi. Lionel Messi has a lifetime sponsorship deal with Adidas, which is reported to be worth $1bn.
Many footballers have their own branded merchandise like t-shirts, shoes, fragrances, and video games that generate millions in revenue. Neymar’s line of t-shirts and fragrances brings in over $10 million each year.
Footballers with millions of social media followers can earn money through paid posts, stories, and live streams. David Beckham earns over $50 million a year from paid Instagram posts and Facebook lives.
Wealthy footballers invest their money in real estate, tech startups, and other businesses to generate additional income and build their wealth. Cristiano Ronaldo owns luxury hotels, a fragrance line, and tech startups, which contribute over $40 million annually to his net worth.
With multiple streams of income open to them, it’s no wonder the world’s top footballers are among the highest-paid athletes. Their talents, influence, and business savvy have allowed them to kick their way to truly astronomical wealth.
Top 5 Richest Footballers in the World
Some of the richest footballers in the world earn more money in a week than most people do in a lifetime. These mega-rich soccer superstars have amassed huge fortunes through massive salaries, endorsement deals, and business investments.
Here are the Top 5 Richest Footballer in the world in 2023:
Faiq Bolkiah – $20 Billion Net Worth
Born into the Brunei royal family, Faiq Bolkiah comes from oil money, and he is worth an estimated $20 billion. He is the son of Jefri Bolkiah, the Prince of Brunei, and the nephew of the current Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. Faiq ibni Jefri Bolkiah was born on May 9, 1998, in Los Angeles, California, America.
Faiq Bolkiah plays as a winger for Thailand’s Chonburi F.C. and the Brunei national team. Bolkiah is the world’s richest footballer, with an estimated net worth of $20 billion. He has been a member of the Brunei national team since 2014 and has served as captain since 2018.
His royal status and family’s billions have caused controversy, with opponents accusing him of buying his way into football. Despite the controversy, Faiq Bolkiah’s $20 billion net worth cements his place as the richest footballer in the world. At just 25 years old, his path to unimaginable wealth was set from the moment he was born.
Lionel Messi – $600 Million Net Worth
Lionel Andrés Messi, commonly known as the G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time), is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward and captains both the Argentina national team and Major League Soccer club Inter Miami. He was born in Rosario, Santa Fe, on the 24th of June, 1987.
Messi relocated to Spain to join Barcelona at age 13, for whom he made his competitive debut aged 17 in October 2004. He established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years, finishing his breakthrough season in 2007–08 with 14 goals in 26 league matches. Until leaving the club in 2021, Lionel Messi has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won a club-record 38 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, a record six European Golden Shoes, four UEFA Champions League titles, seven Copa del Rey titles, and a record seven Ballon d’Or awards. In 2020, he was named to the Ballon d’Or Dream Team. He also won the 2021 Copa América and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Messi holds the record for most goals in La Liga history (474), the UEFA championship league (8), most hat-trick in La Liga (36), most assists in La Liga (192), the Copa America (17), and the most International goals by a South American Male (104). Lionel Messi has scored over 800 senior career goals for club and country; he also has the most goals by a player for a single club (672).
Messi is known for his finishing, positioning, ball control, dribbling skills, vision, and for being able to beat defenders with speed and precision. His net worth is estimated at $600 million, making him one of the richest footballers in the world. Most of his income comes from his salary and winnings with Barcelona, as well as many major endorsement deals with companies like Adidas, Pepsi, and Turkish Airlines. His assets include luxury homes, yachts, and a private jet.
Cristiano Ronaldo – $500 Million Net Worth
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time. At 38 years old, the Portuguese footballer currently plays as a forward for and captains both the Saudi Pro League club Al Nassr and the Portugal national team. He was born on the 5th of February 1985 in Hospital Dr. Nélio Mendonça, Funchal, Portugal.
Ronaldo’s $500 million net worth comes primarily from his salary and endorsement deals. Major sponsors like Nike, Herbalife, and EA Sports pay Ronaldo over $40 million annually to endorse their products. Through the years, Ronaldo has built an impressive real estate portfolio, including a $7.2 million mansion in Madrid and an $18.5 million apartment in Trump Tower in New York City. His car collection is worth over $10 million and includes Bugattis, Lamborghinis, and Ferraris.
Ronaldo began his senior career at Sporting CP before joining Manchester United in 2003, where he won the FA Cup in his first season. He went on to win three straight Premier League titles, the Champions League, and the FIFA Club World Cup; at the age of 23, he earned his first Ballon d’Or.
Ronaldo was the subject of the then-most expensive association football transfer when he signed for Real Madrid in 2009 for €94 million (£80 million). He became a vital player and created an attacking three with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, who was instrumental in the team winning four Champions League titles from 2014 to 2018, including La Décima. During this time, he won back-to-back Ballons d’Or in 2013 and 2014 and again in 2016 and 2017, finishing three times second to Lionel Messi, his perceived career rival.
Ronaldo is known for his work ethic and competitive nature. His rigorous training regime and strict diet have allowed him to continue performing at the highest levels even as he approaches 40. Ronaldo credits his success to “dedication, hard work, and belief.” His motivation seems to be breaking records and winning trophies, both for his clubs and country. Ronaldo’s impact on football has been immense. He has won five Ballon d’Or medals, a UEFA Best Player in Europe record three times, and four European Golden Shoes, the most by a European player.
In his career, he has won 33 trophies, including seven league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues, the UEFA European Championship, and the UEFA Nations League. Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record for most Champions League appearances (183), goals (140), and assists (42), goals in the European Championship (14), international goals (123), and international appearances (200). He is one of only a few players to have appeared in over 1,100 professional career games and has scored over 800 official senior career goals for club and country, making him the highest of all time.
His flashy style of play and good looks have made him one of the most famous athletes on the planet. Ronaldo’s massive social media following of over 500 million across platforms has also significantly contributed to his wealth through sponsorships and endorsements.
Though now in the twilight of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo has cemented his status as an all-time great. His dedication, talent, and drive for success have made him one of the richest and most accomplished footballers ever.
David Beckham – $450 Million Net Worth
David Robert Joseph Beckham is one of the richest footballers in the world, with an estimated net worth of $450 million. Beckham earned his fortune through an illustrious 20-year football career and many lucrative endorsement deals. He was born on the 2nd of May 1975 in Whipps Cross University Hospital, London, United Kingdom.
David Beckham is a Former English professional footballer; he currently serves as president of Inter Miami and is a co-owner of Salford City. Beckham has been praised as one of the greatest and most recognizable midfielders of his generation, as well as one of the best set-piece specialists of all time. He is known for his variety of passing, crossing skills, and bending free-kicks as a right winger.
Beckham is praised as one of the greatest Manchester United players of all time and one of the best English players in the history of the game due to his talent and accomplishments for both club and country. He is the first English player to have won league championships in four different countries: France, England, Spain, and the United States.
Beckham began his career at Manchester United in 1992 at just 17 years old. He won the Premier League six times with United, the FA Cup twice, and the UEFA Champions League in 1999. He then spent four seasons with Real Madrid, where he won the La Liga title in his final season. Beckham signed a five-year contract with Major League Soccer club LA Galaxy in July 2007. During his time with the Galaxy, he had two loan spells in Italy with AC Milan in 2009 and 2010. He was the first British player to appear in 100 UEFA Champions League matches.
He announced his retirement in May 2013 following a 20-year career in which he won 19 major trophies. Beckham made his international debut for England on September 1, 1996, at the age of 21. He was captain for six years. During his career, he earned 58 caps. He appeared in three FIFA World Cup events in 1998, 2002, and 2006, as well as two UEFA European Championship tournaments in 2000 and 2004. Until 2016, he held the England outfield appearance record.
Beckham is a British cultural icon and a global ambassador for football. He was a runner-up for the Ballon d’Or in 1999, a runner-up for FIFA World Player of the Year twice (1999 and 2001), and was nominated to Pelé’s FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players in 2004. In 2008, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame, and in 2021, he was inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame. His good looks and charisma made him a star, earning the nickname “Posh Spice” after marrying Victoria Adams of the Spice Girls in 1999. Beckham played for Manchester United for 10 seasons.
Beckham’s success on the pitch led to numerous endorsement deals and sponsorships off the pitch worth hundreds of millions. He has endorsement deals with brands like Adidas, Samsung, and Haig Club whiskey. Beckham continues to be one of the highest-paid retired athletes thanks to these deals.
Between his football career and endorsements, Beckham has built an empire and established himself as an A-list celebrity and businessman. Though he retired in 2013, Beckham’s fame and fortune live on through his many business ventures and brands like Haig Club whiskey and Inter Miami CF, the MLS club he helped launch.
David Whelan – $210 Million Net Worth
David Whelan is an English businessman and former footballer who was born on November 24, 1936, in Bradford. He played for Blackburn Rovers and Crewe Alexandra during his football career. Whelan was the former owner and chairman of Wigan Athletic for twenty years until he passed the role on to his grandson, David Sharpe, who finally sold the club to International Entertainment Corporation.
David Whelan began his career playing in the English Football League from 1956 to 1966. Whelan played 78 times as a left-back for Blackburn Rovers, scoring three times. He was also a member of the club’s 1960 FA Cup Final team, which lost 3-0 to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Whelan himself did not finish the game; a furious challenge from Whelan on Norman Deeley resulted in the Blackburn man being pulled before halftime due to a broken leg. Whelan’s accident was one of numerous major injuries sustained by players during the 1950-60 era, which became known as the Wembley hoodoo. Following his leg break, Whelan was sold to Crewe Alexandra, where he made his debut on 23 February 1963 in a 4-0 first-round League Cup defeat at Port Vale and went on to make 115 appearances until April 1966. He then retired.
During his long football career, David Whelan amassed an estimated net worth of $210 million. The bulk of his wealth came from owning Wigan Athletic Football Club, which he purchased for just £1 million in 1995 and owned until 2018, when he sold it for £22 million. He also owns several commercial properties in the UK, as well as luxury vacation homes.
At the peak of his playing career, David Whelan’s salary was approximately $1.5 million per year. Though modest by today’s standards, it was a sizable income during the 1980s and 1990s. Careful investments and business ventures allowed Whelan to become very wealthy after retiring from football.
David Whelan is a prime example of using one’s talent and passion to achieve financial success and stability in life after retirement from an athletic career. Through hard work, he was able to leverage his football fame into lucrative business opportunities and make a sizable fortune to last well into his later years.
How can I Become a Rich Footballer?
To become a rich footballer, you need to:
- Develop exceptional football skills from an early age.
- Get signed by a major football club. The bigger the club, the higher the pay.
- Perform consistently at a world-class level to increase your value.
- Gain global fame and popularity to attract big endorsement deals.
- Make smart investments and business deals to build your wealth off the pitch.
- Stay dedicated and work hard; becoming a rich footballer takes an incredible amount of skill, luck, and perseverance.
You’ve read about the mega-rich athletes at the top of the football world. These players have amassed incredible wealth through massive contracts, endorsement deals, and business ventures. While their talent and skill on the pitch are truly unmatched, their financial success off the field is equally impressive.
The next time you’re watching one of these football legends work their magic, just remember they’re not just playing for the trophy or the win; they’re also playing for another zero at the end of their bank balance. The rest of us will have to settle for watching in amazement and living vicariously through these superstar footballers. At least we can still dream about what we’d do with that kind of money and fame.