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Ranking the 10 Most Popular and Famous Footballers in the World (2024)

GIVEMESPORT looks at ten of the most recognisable names in world football right now.

Featured Image featuring Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham, Liverpool's Mohamed Salah and Al-Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo.

Football¬†is the most universally popular sport in the world and attracts more television viewers around the world than any other sport. With such a level of scrutiny in the world of football nowadays, it’s no wonder that some of its greatest players have become some of the most famous names in the entire world.

Today, there is so much money in the sport that some of the most elite players make even more money through their brand deals and sponsorships than they do from the gigantic weekly wages they receive from their respective clubs. The more their brand increases, the more famous they become.

David Beckham¬†was arguably the first footballer whose fame extended far beyond his footballing career, and he is still repeatedly in the limelight despite retiring over 10 years ago. There are numerous reasons for a footballer to become a genuine global superstar, and Beckham’s appealing looks, coupled with his heroics in an England shirt meant he ticked almost every box.

Ranking factors

This list looks at the ten most famous and well-known footballers playing right now. Factors considered when ranking this list include:

Players’ marketability
Ability of the player


Career achievements

10 Most Popular and Famous Footballers in the World

Rank
Player
Current club
Country
Age

1
Cristiano Ronaldo
Al-Nassr


Portugal
39

2
Lionel Messi
Inter Miami
Argentina
36

3
Neymar
Al Hilal
Brazil
32

4
Kylian Mbappe
PSG
France
25

5
Mohamed Salah
Liverpool
Egypt
31

6
Heung-min Son
Tottenham Hotspur
South Korea
31

7
Harry Kane
Bayern Munich
England
30

8
Erling Haaland
Manchester City
Norway
23

9
Luis Suarez
Inter Miami
Uruguay
37

10
Jude Bellingham
Real Madrid
England
20

10Jude Bellingham

Real Madrid and England

A smiling Jude Bellingham points to the Real Madrid supporters.

Despite the fact he is only 20 years old as of May 2024, there is no denying that¬†Jude Bellingham¬†is one of the hottest properties right now, and he will surely be even higher on this list in a few years’ time. The attacking midfielder burst onto the scene at the age of just 16 with his boyhood club, Birmingham City, who¬†retired his no.22 shirt¬†after he made a ¬£25m move to¬†Borussia Dortmund¬†in July 2020.

Bellingham made his senior¬†England¬†debut just a few months after leaving for Germany, and was arguably the Three Lions’ best player at the 2022¬†World Cup, when he was still only 19. His form earned him¬†a nine-figure move to Real Madrid¬†in the summer of 2023, and he has excelled in his first season in Spain, as well as becoming¬†the new face of the Adidas Predator, which has greatly boosted his brand exposure.

Jude Bellingham

Age
20

Current club
Real Madrid

Country
England

Career appearances
243

Career goals
53

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

9Luis Suarez

Inter Miami and Uruguay

Luis Suarez celebrates scoring for Barcelona.

While there is no question that¬†Luis Suarez’s stock has greatly fallen in the last few years, he is still unquestionably one of the most talked about footballers of the 21st century, and not always for the right reasons. In spite of a truly glorious career, which has included well over 500 senior goals, it is the Uruguay international’s scandals that make him stick in the mind so much.

Suarez disgraced himself at two consecutive World Cups, firstly denying Ghana the chance to become the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the competition after deliberately handling on the line in 2010, and then at the following tournament, biting Italy’s¬†Giorgio Chiellini, marking the third time he’d bitten a fellow player on the football pitch. He was also¬†accused of racism¬†by¬†Manchester United’s Patrice Evra in 2011, so while he may not be the most liked footballer of all time, he is certainly one of the most notorious.

Luis Suarez

Age
37

Current club
Inter Miami

Country
Uruguay

Career appearances
953

Career goals
569

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

8Erling Haaland

Manchester City and Norway

Erling Haaland taps the Manchester City badge on his chest.

It’s quite hard to believe that, as of May 2024,¬†Erling Haaland¬†is still only 23, given his formidable scoring record. The Norwegian forward started making headlines at the age of 19 with Red Bull Salzburg and was quickly snapped up by Borussia Dortmund, where he continued to shine, particularly in the¬†Champions League.

In the summer of 2022, Haaland signed with Premier League champions Manchester City, and in his first season, he helped them win their first-ever treble, scoring 52 goals in 53 matches, and breaking the Premier League record for most goals in a single season. He is arguably the best striker in the world right now, with 270 goals in 325 senior appearances, and also serves as one of the faces of Nike.

Erling Haaland

Age
23

Current club
Manchester City

Country
Norway

Career appearances
325

Career goals
270

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

7Harry Kane

Bayern Munich and England

Harry Kane celebrates scoring for England.

For a long time, Harry Kane was one of the biggest faces in the Premier League, consistently challenging for the Golden Boot at Tottenham Hotspur before leaving for Bayern Munich in the summer of 2023. After nine years in the English top flight, he scored 213 goals, which places him second behind Alan Shearer in the list of all-time top goalscorers in the competition.

However, it’s Kane’s performances for England which make him a household name in world football. He is the Three Lions’ all-time record goalscorer, after¬†surpassing Wayne Rooney¬†in March 2023, and has captained his country since 2018, scoring important goals at two World Cups and one¬†Euros.

Harry Kane

Age
30

Club
Bayern Munich

Country
England

Career appearances
633

Career goals
402

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

Bellingham, Kane and Mbappe with notes behind them

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6Heung-min Son

Tottenham Hotspur and South Korea

Heung-min Son celebrates scoring for South Korea.

For a long time, Harry Kane was part of a two-pronged attack at Tottenham alongside Heung-min Son, who has made waves in East Asia for his performances in the Premier League over the years. The forward moved from his native South Korea to Europe in 2010, playing for Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen in Germany before joining the Premier League with Spurs in 2015.

As of May 2024, Son has scored 120 goals in 303 Premier League appearances, and he became the first-ever Asian player to win the Golden Boot in the 2021/22 season. He is a national icon in South Korea, captaining his country since 2019 and earning over 125 caps, as well as receiving the Cheongnyong Medal, the highest order of merit for achievement in sports, in 2022.

Heung-min Son

Age
31

Current club
Tottenham Hotspur

Country
South Korea

Career appearances
702

Career goals
258

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

5Mohamed Salah

Liverpool and Egypt

Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring for Egypt.

While Son is revered in South Korea and East Asia,¬†Mohamed Salah¬†is truly idolised in Egypt and across all of Africa. The forward is widely considered to be¬†the best African footballer¬†of all time, and his dazzling performances as part of¬†Jurgen Klopp’s all-conquering¬†Liverpool¬†side have made him one of the most recognisable sportspeople on the globe.

After failing to make it at Chelsea early in his career, Salah returned to the Premier League with Liverpool in 2017 and won the Golden Boot in his first season, with 32 goals, a league record at the time. He has gone on to score 211 goals in well over 300 appearances for the Reds, and has helped them win both the Premier League and the Champions League.

Mohamed Salah

Age
31

Current club
Liverpool

Country
Egypt

Career appearances
697

Career goals
344

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

4Kylian Mbappe

PSG and France

kylian-mbappe-psg

Kylian Mbappe may well already be the best footballer on the planet and has already achieved so much at the age of 25. The Frenchman broke through at Monaco aged 16, helping them win the league in 2017, before making a big-money move to PSG, where he has scored 255 goals in 306 matches, as of May 2024.

Mbappe has also scored a total of five World Cup final goals, across just two tournaments, having netted twice to help them beat Croatia 4-2 in 2018, before becoming only the second player to bag a hat-trick in the final in 2022, although his France side lost to Argentina on penalties that time around. On top of that, the forward also has a mega deal with Nike and was ranked the third highest-paid athlete by Forbes in 2023.

Kylian Mbappe

Age
25

Current club
PSG

Country
France

Career appearances
455

Career goals
332

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

3Neymar

Al Hilal and Brazil

Neymar celebrates scoring for Brazil.

While the last few years have not been kind for¬†Neymar, he is still easily one of the most famous football players of the 21st century. In 2011, he was voted South American Footballer of the Year while still playing for Santos and spent four hugely successful years at¬†Barcelona¬†before becoming¬†the world’s most expensive footballer¬†when he signed for PSG for ¬£200m in 2017.

Neymar was appointed captain of the¬†Brazil¬†national football team in 2014 and became their all-time record goalscorer in September 2023. Injuries have prevented him from ever becoming the best footballer on the planet, but there is no denying the forward’s talent, and his reputation for flair and skills means he has always been an exceedingly marketable footballer.

Neymar

Age
32

Current club
Al Hilal

Country
Brazil

Career appearances
717

Career goals
439

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

2Lionel Messi

Inter Miami and Argentina

Argentina's Lionel Messi gazes lovingly at the World Cup trophy.

Lionel Messi¬†is possibly the greatest footballer to have ever lived and the sheer amount of talent the Argentinian has showcased for almost 20 years means his legacy in football will stand for all time. He spent 16 years at his beloved Barcelona, winning every accolade possible, and breaking numerous goalscoring records, followed by a short stint with PSG, before linking up with David Beckham’s Inter Miami, and becoming arguably the biggest sporting star in the US.

In December 2022, Messi finally got his hands on the trophy he desired the most, as he led Argentina to¬†their third-ever World Cup, winning the Best Player award having scored seven goals along the way, and his Instagram post following the match is¬†the most-liked photo¬†in the platform’s history, with 75 million likes. He has frequently been named the highest-paid athlete in the world, has served as the face of Adidas since 2006, and in 2020, he became only the second-ever footballer to¬†surpass $1 billion in earnings.

Lionel Messi

Age
36

Current club
Inter Miami

Country
Argentina

Career appearances
1,090

Career goals
854

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

GIVEMESPORT Key Statistic: Lionel Messi holds the record for the most goals (474), hat-tricks (36) and assists (192) in La Liga history and his 672 goals for Barcelona in all competitions is the most any footballer has ever scored for one single club.

3:05

greatest players-1

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1Cristiano Ronaldo

Al-Nassr and Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest goalscorer in football history and potentially the most marketable athlete to have ever lived. As of 2024, after more than 20 years in the professional game, the forward has made over 1,200 senior appearances and has scored a combined 890 goals for Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus and Al-Nassr as well as the Portuguese national team.

Ronaldo is the most followed person on Facebook and Instagram, and the most-followed athlete on X/Twitter and has earned over $1 billion in his career. The CR7 brand, made up of the Portuguese’s initials and shirt number, has lent itself to numerous things, including a museum and even¬†a galaxy, and after the superstar inspired Portugal to success at Euro 2016, the international airport in his birthplace of Madeira was¬†renamed the Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Age
39

Current club
Al-Nassr

Country
Portugal

Career appearances
1,222

Career goals
890

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

7Harry Kane

Bayern Munich and England

Harry Kane celebrates scoring for England.

For a long time, Harry Kane was one of the biggest faces in the Premier League, consistently challenging for the Golden Boot at Tottenham Hotspur before leaving for Bayern Munich in the summer of 2023. After nine years in the English top flight, he scored 213 goals, which places him second behind Alan Shearer in the list of all-time top goalscorers in the competition.

However, it’s Kane’s performances for England which make him a household name in world football. He is the Three Lions’ all-time record goalscorer, after¬†surpassing Wayne Rooney¬†in March 2023, and has captained his country since 2018, scoring important goals at two World Cups and one¬†Euros.

Harry Kane

Age
30

Club
Bayern Munich

Country
England

Career appearances
633

Career goals
402

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

6Heung-min Son

Tottenham Hotspur and South Korea

Heung-min Son celebrates scoring for South Korea.

For a long time, Harry Kane was part of a two-pronged attack at Tottenham alongside Heung-min Son, who has made waves in East Asia for his performances in the Premier League over the years. The forward moved from his native South Korea to Europe in 2010, playing for Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen in Germany before joining the Premier League with Spurs in 2015.

As of May 2024, Son has scored 120 goals in 303 Premier League appearances, and he became the first-ever Asian player to win the Golden Boot in the 2021/22 season. He is a national icon in South Korea, captaining his country since 2019 and earning over 125 caps, as well as receiving the Cheongnyong Medal, the highest order of merit for achievement in sports, in 2022.

Heung-min Son

Age
31

Current club
Tottenham Hotspur

Country
South Korea

Career appearances
702

Career goals
258

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

5Mohamed Salah

Liverpool and Egypt

Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring for Egypt.

While Son is revered in South Korea and East Asia,¬†Mohamed Salah¬†is truly idolised in Egypt and across all of Africa. The forward is widely considered to be¬†the best African footballer¬†of all time, and his dazzling performances as part of¬†Jurgen Klopp’s all-conquering¬†Liverpool¬†side have made him one of the most recognisable sportspeople on the globe.

After failing to make it at Chelsea early in his career, Salah returned to the Premier League with Liverpool in 2017 and won the Golden Boot in his first season, with 32 goals, a league record at the time. He has gone on to score 211 goals in well over 300 appearances for the Reds, and has helped them win both the Premier League and the Champions League.

Mohamed Salah

Age
31

Current club
Liverpool

Country
Egypt

Career appearances
697

Career goals
344

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

4Kylian Mbappe

PSG and France

kylian-mbappe-psg

Kylian Mbappe may well already be the best footballer on the planet and has already achieved so much at the age of 25. The Frenchman broke through at Monaco aged 16, helping them win the league in 2017, before making a big-money move to PSG, where he has scored 255 goals in 306 matches, as of May 2024.

Mbappe has also scored a total of five World Cup final goals, across just two tournaments, having netted twice to help them beat Croatia 4-2 in 2018, before becoming only the second player to bag a hat-trick in the final in 2022, although his France side lost to Argentina on penalties that time around. On top of that, the forward also has a mega deal with Nike and was ranked the third highest-paid athlete by Forbes in 2023.

Kylian Mbappe

Age
25

Current club
PSG

Country
France

Career appearances
455

Career goals
332

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

3Neymar

Al Hilal and Brazil

Neymar celebrates scoring for Brazil.

While the last few years have not been kind for¬†Neymar, he is still easily one of the most famous football players of the 21st century. In 2011, he was voted South American Footballer of the Year while still playing for Santos and spent four hugely successful years at¬†Barcelona¬†before becoming¬†the world’s most expensive footballer¬†when he signed for PSG for ¬£200m in 2017.

Neymar was appointed captain of the¬†Brazil¬†national football team in 2014 and became their all-time record goalscorer in September 2023. Injuries have prevented him from ever becoming the best footballer on the planet, but there is no denying the forward’s talent, and his reputation for flair and skills means he has always been an exceedingly marketable footballer.

Neymar

Age
32

Current club
Al Hilal

Country
Brazil

Career appearances
717

Career goals
439

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

2Lionel Messi

Inter Miami and Argentina

Argentina's Lionel Messi gazes lovingly at the World Cup trophy.

Lionel Messi¬†is possibly the greatest footballer to have ever lived and the sheer amount of talent the Argentinian has showcased for almost 20 years means his legacy in football will stand for all time. He spent 16 years at his beloved Barcelona, winning every accolade possible, and breaking numerous goalscoring records, followed by a short stint with PSG, before linking up with David Beckham’s Inter Miami, and becoming arguably the biggest sporting star in the US.

In December 2022, Messi finally got his hands on the trophy he desired the most, as he led Argentina to¬†their third-ever World Cup, winning the Best Player award having scored seven goals along the way, and his Instagram post following the match is¬†the most-liked photo¬†in the platform’s history, with 75 million likes. He has frequently been named the highest-paid athlete in the world, has served as the face of Adidas since 2006, and in 2020, he became only the second-ever footballer to¬†surpass $1 billion in earnings.

Lionel Messi

Age
36

Current club
Inter Miami

Country
Argentina

Career appearances
1,090

Career goals
854

Stats accurate as of 08/05/2024

1Cristiano Ronaldo

Al-Nassr and Portugal

 

Cristiano Ronaldo takes a selfie having just signed for Al-Nassr. Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo walks off the pitch with his back to the camera, displaying the iconic no.7 on his back. Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring for Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo takes a selfie having just signed for Al-Nassr. Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo walks off the pitch with his back to the camera, displaying the iconic no.7 on his back. Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring for Real Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest goalscorer in football history and potentially the most marketable athlete to have ever lived. As of 2024, after more than 20 years in the professional game, the forward has made over 1,200 senior appearances and has scored a combined 890 goals for Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus and Al-Nassr as well as the Portuguese national team.

Ronaldo is the most followed person on Facebook and Instagram, and the most-followed athlete on X/Twitter and has earned over $1 billion in his career. The CR7 brand, made up of the Portuguese’s initials and shirt number, has lent itself to numerous things, including a museum and even¬†a galaxy, and after the superstar inspired Portugal to success at Euro 2016, the international airport in his birthplace of Madeira was¬†renamed the Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Age
39

Current club
Al-Nassr

Country
Portugal

Career appearances
1,222

Career goals
890

 

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