From Cristiano Ronaldo to Diego Maradona and Neymar: 6 top footballers who went from rags to riches
Football is one of the most popular sports in the world, which also helps in earning quite some money, especially for the ones who are talented. Rich athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo and even Diego Maradona were not precisely rich until they gained popularity in the sport.
When it comes to one of the wealthiest sports in the world, football is indeed one of them. Although numerous top athletes play the sport, only a notable few go on to become the richest ones.
While some footballers are already rich when they start playing the sport before making even more bucks, some come from a humble background. Nonetheless, it is their heavenly football skills, which even makes the rags to go riches, as we take a look at some of these footballers, who earned fortunes, despite starting low.
Franck Ribery: The Frenchman has been a part of numerous successful campaign, especially at the club level, for Bayern Munich, having won 23 titles. It naturally proves that he must have earned millions for his outstanding success. Nonetheless, it wasn't the case when he grew up, as he belonged from a low-income family in Boulogne-sur-Mer. Before his first football stint with Brest in 2003, he reportedly worked as a construction worker, along with his father. However, his talent and skills were rewarded by a number of clubs, while Bayern was the club where he found utmost success, as he has a net worth of $70 million, as of now.
Diego Maradona: The Argentine legend is undoubtedly one of the richest in the sport, having dominated the football world for ages, courtesy of his sublime skills. As of now, he has a net worth of $100,000. However, it wasn't as luxurious before his career started, as he grew up in Villa Fiorito, a shantytown, sharing a room with seven siblings. He lacked education and even sophistication, while he remained shirtless and barefooted most of the day. Being a naturally-gifted footballer, he bagged his first professional contract at the age of 15 with Argentinos Juniors. It was then when he began to support his family financially, while Barcelona roped him in in 1982 for a then world-record fee of $7.6 million. Four years later, he helped Argentina lift the FIFA World Cup.
Dani Alves: The Brazilian defender and play-maker has been a part of numerous success stories for Barcelona, as well as the nation. He was born in a family which usually worked in the lands, in the countryside. "Daniel would have gone to work in the field, carrying a machete on his shoulders. A lot of people here work the land. When people think of the north-east, they just think of dry land and poverty," said a neighbour, Antonio Damiao Oliveira da Silva.
Nonetheless, it was football that came to his rescue, as his talents were rewarded, while Barcelona made him rich. He is one of the rare footballers from north-east Brazil to have found success, with the region being neglected for prejudice and under-investment. He has a net worth of $60 million, as of now.
Neymar: Another Brazilian in the list, as Neymar currently holds the record of being the most expensive transfer in club football history. Naturally, it has made him one of the richest in the world. But, he had to struggle to get here. He was raised in a small locality of Mogi das Cruzes, near to a dump. He grew up without electricity, in the candlelight. After earning his first professional contract at the age of 12, with Portuguesa Santista, his divine skills and talents were noteworthy, as Barcelona and Real Madrid, too, began to take a serious interest in him. It was then when he was roped in by Santos, where he made his senior debut in 2009, and the rest is history. Currently, he has a net worth of around $185 million.
Luka Modrić: The Croatian Ballon d'Or winner has an inspiring story to tell. He grew up during the Croatian War of Independence, as he had a rough childhood. Since his parents were poor, he was mostly raised by his grandparents. At the age of five, he began to work as a goat shepherd, before the Serbian rebels executed his grandfather, while his home was torched. As he moved to a different area, he began playing football and was noted to be naturally talented. While he started his career with Zadar, it was Dinamo Zagreb where he found success, before moving to Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid. As of now, he reportedly has a net worth of $7.5 million.
Cristiano Ronaldo: A shocking, yet fascinating name in the list, as one of the modern-day GOATs, Cristiano Ronaldo, too, had a troubled childhood. He was nearly aborted before birth by his mother, as he was born in San Antonio, Funchal, Madeira. His mother was a cook, while his father worked as a municipal gardener, as he shared a room with his twin sisters and mother. Being dropped out of the school at the age of 14 for harsh behaviour, he contemplated going for work, before his mother asked him to keep pursuing his dream of playing football. He had already begun his career with Andorinha at the age of eight, but it was not until 12 when he had gained some reputation at Sporting CP. When Manchester United came calling in 2003, it changed his life forever, as the rest is history. As of 2020, he has a net worth of around $460 million.