When it comes to measuring the greatest players in the world’s most beautiful game, the focus inevitably turns to a pair of rivals with household names and exclusive claims to being the only team-sport athletes to earn $1 billion during their careers. It may be time to make room for a third.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus
Total Earnings: $117 million
Salary: $70 million | Endorsements: $47 million
Ronaldo is the most popular athlete on the planet with 457 million social media followers. He’s also the most engaged, per Hookit, regularly displaying his 0% body fat and poster-boy good looks for his CR7 lifestyle branded wear, health and wellness sponsors like Herbalife and Clear shampoo, and his lifetime sponsor Nike. In July, he posted a video of himself narrating an encouraging letter he wrote to 10-year-old Brazilian soccer prodigy Julia Rosado and her tearful delight as she received it, along with the Swoosh’s latest Flight Ball. He is only the second man in history, after Iran’s Ali Daei, to have scored more than 100 international goals, recently passing the mark in Portugal’s UEFA Nations League match against Sweden.