Football is the world’s most popular sport, there is no doubt about that. It’s no wonder the sport has produced athletes that have become legend, and rightfully so. Names such as Pele, Maradona, and Zidane are just but a few international football stars who we all adore. However, this is 2020, stardom and recognition aren’t bounded by newspapers or television sets. Today, football celebrities have a strong foothold in social media and the number of followers says a lot about their fame. Let’s look at the most famous footballers in 2019 based on the number of their social media followers but before we get to Top 10, let’s look at the runners-up.
20 To 30 Million Followers
- David De Gea
- David Villa
- Robin van Persie
- Cesc Fabregas
- Luka Modric
- Zinedine Zidane
- Isco Alarcon Suarez
- Robert Lewandowski
- Philippe Coutinho
- Raphaël Varane
- Bastian Schweinsteiger
- Manuel Neuer
- Mario Götze
- Juan Mata
- Alvaro Morata
- Thomas Müller
31 to 50 Million Followers
- Iker Casillas
- Dani Alves
- Antoine Griezmann
- Radamel Falcao
- Eden Hazard
- Toni Kroos
- Kylian Mbappé
- Paulo Dybala
- Sergio Agüero
- 20. David Luiz—52 Million followers
- 19. Paul Pogba—53 Million followers
- 18. Wayne Rooney—55.7 Million followers
- 17. Gerard Piqué—55.75 Million followers
- 16. Mohamed Salah—57 Million followers
- 15. Karim Benzema—63.9 Million followers
- 14. Luis Suárez—70 Million followers
- 13. Zlatan Ibrahimović—71 Million followers
- 12. Marcelo Vieira—74 Million followers
- 11. Sergio Ramos—76 Million followers
The world’s top 10 most famous football players command such a huge internet presence. Together, they form a following of almost 1.5 billion people. That’s more than the population of China, the world’s most populous country. Let’s see why.
10. Mesut Özil
Starting off our top 10 is German footballer Mesut Özil. As an attacking football midfielder and sometimes a sport winger, Özil plays for Premier League club Arsenal and is currently the most expensive German player of all time. In international football, he has played 92 matches for Germany, with 23 goals and 40 assists. He holds a record of five-time German Player of the Year awards, takes part in the Germany’s line-up for three FIFA World Cups—including the title in 2014, and two UEFA European Championships. His 76.1 million followers on social media is just 95,000-short of our top 9 on this list. However, considering how big football is in the countries in the top 10, competition transcends beyond the physical limitations of the football field and into the web arena.
Kaká debuted for the Brazil national team in 2002, and joined the squad who won the FIFA World Cup that year. He was also integral in the national team in the World Cup’s 2006 and 2010 editions. In 2006 and 2009, FIFA named him in the FIFA World XI and the UEFA Team of the Year three times. Along with Ronaldinho and Neymar, Kaká is one of the three Brazilian footballers on our top 10—the most of any country and it’s not surprising why. After all, football in Brazil is crazy huge and attracts millions and millions of following. Kaká alone has over 76.4 Million followers on social media—a whopping 36% of Brazil’s population.
8. Andrés Iniesta
Iniesta captained the Barcelona for three seasons and which made him one of the best players of his generation. His fame is undoubted with over 83 Million followers in social media. He scored the winning goal in Spain’s first ever win in the FIFA World Cup in 2010 in the title match against the Netherlands, was named the Man of the Match, and awarded a slot in the All-Star Team. Among his football sport awards are nine FIFA FIFPro World XI awards, two IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker, and a FIFA Ballod d’Or runner-up behind Lionel Messi in 2010.
7. Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale is Welsh footballer (winger) that plays for both the Real Madrid and the Wales national team. With 88 Million social media followers, he is one of the most famous footballers of all time and is often described by his peers as a footballer with exceptional physical abilities. His international debut in 2006 was considered the youngest in the history of Wales. PGA awarded him the PGA Player’s Player of the Year in 2011 and 2013. He was also the UEFA Young Player of the year, the FWA Footballer of the Year, and the Premier League Player of the Year in 2013. In addition, he was nominated to the PFA Team of the Year three years in a row from 2011 to 2013 and named for a record of six times the Welsh Footballer of the Year.
6. James Rodriguez
At 28 years old, James Rodriguez is the second youngest in the top 10, just a few months older than Neymar. Hailing from Colombia, James is considered as the successor to the Colombian footballer legend Carlos Valderrama. When he was 20, he was already called to play in the senior squad due to his impressive skills. In 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups, he won the Golden Boot as the goal scorer and was one of the Cup’s All-Star Team. Now, he is just 5 million followers-shy of having a hundred million followers on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Our top 5 all have more than 100 million football sport followers each and we start with Ronaldinho with over 102 million followers. If his followers were to form a country, it will be the 15th most populated country and will have more people than 180 countries.
Ronaldinho played 97 matches for Brazil’s national team and won the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He led the team as captain and won Brazil’s second Confederations Cup in 2005 and bagged the Man of the Match award. UEFA name him the UEFA footballer of the year in 2006 and South American Footballer of the Year in 2013.
4. David Beckham
David Beckham is a household name and it he deserves all the fame. He holds the record for the only English player to have won league titles in four countries; namely, England, United States, France, and Spain. In 2004, he was named one of the greatest living players and in 2013, Beckham was named as the highest-paid athlete in the whole world. But what made his social media rank even more impressive is that he does not have a Twitter account and all his 111 million followers are from Facebook and Instagram.
3. Lionel Messi
Just like David Beckham, Lionel Messi’s social media influence and rank stays the same regardless of the lack of twitter presence. Meaning, his social media followers of over 220 million are all from his official Instagram and Facebook pages. With six FIFA Ballon d’Or/Best FIFA Men’s Player Awards, and a record six European Golden Shoes, along with countless awards, Messi is often considered the greatest player of all time—a title he shares with rival Cristiano Ronaldo. In 2019, Messi is named as the highest-paid football sport athlete in the world.
Considering he is only outnumbered by a few million followers by our next player, Lionel Messi will rank number 2 if he creates an official Twitter account. We will then have a social media crossover of the craze that is Ronaldo vs Messi.
The most famous Brazilian footballer, Neymar da Silva Santos Junior ranks at number 2 with 233 million followers. For perspective, Neymar’s followers outnumber his country’s population by 20 million! Ranked in 2019 as the third highest paid athlete, behind Messi and Ronaldo, Neymar holds a strong social media presence and it’s no miracle. After all, he is the youngest in the top 10 and the third youngest in the top 20, only a few months younger than Mohammed Salah and Paul Pogba. He is a key player in Brazil’s national team where he captained and won an Olympic gold, along with a list of FIFA victories in Confederation Cups Copa America and the World Cup. Neymar holds the record for the most expensive transfer when he switched from Barcelona to Paris Saint-German for a whopping €222 Million in 2017.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
At the top of our list is Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo with 393 million sport social media followers! To put in perspective, Ronaldo has 40 million more followers than there are people in the United States of America. Along with Lionel Messi, depending on who you ask, Ronaldo is considered as the greatest football player of all time. In 2019, Ronaldo ranks second highest paid athlete in the world, only behind his closest rival Messi. His massive list of awards includes a back to back Ballon d’Or 2013 and 2014 after finishing as a runner up behind Messi for three times, a three consecutive Champions league, Seria A, the SUpercoppa Italiana, FIFA World Player of the Year:2008, EUFA Footballer of the Year, and many more!