Soccer players (footballers) are one of most influential sports personalities in the world in this present world. Countries and clubs have global fan following which could easily overpower any other sport in the world. With such exposure for the sport and the players in this generation of social media, looking up to footballers to be role models for them or for kids to idolize these stars is not really a rare occurrence.
As kids and even as adults grow older, there is always that one individual or a group of individuals who we look up to for inspiration, for guidance or basically to play role models for us, helping us in our growth as a person or in our professional perseverance. And Footballers are no different. Infact, the probability of a young fan looking upto a professional footballer is much higher in today’s world of blitz and glam than ever before.
Right from how the players behave on the field, pre and post-match interviews, from the cars that they drive, to the type of clothes that they flaunt in public appearances or on social media, each and every move they make is being monitored by the fans. That is not to say that every footballer could be looked up as a role model. In fact, it is quite the opposite as there are only a handful of players who maintain good enough standards to be considered as role models.
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20 Carlos Bacca
For those wondering why a 29-year-old striker from Colombia makes the list along with the other legends, the answer is simple –his story. Yes, many footballers have great background stories but Carlos Becca is one of the most recent and probably one of the most remarkable stories out there.
At 20 years of age, Carlos Becca was living in his village, Puerto Colombia, working as a bus driver's assistant and then as a ticket collector. It was only after the age of 23 that he played professional football and today he leads the attack for one of the most decorated European clubs in the history of game, AC Milan. If there is one story you could look to take inspiration from then, this is it.
19 Bastian Schweinsteiger
Bastian Schweinsteiger, ‘Der Kommandant von Kolbermoor’ – (The Commander from Kolbermoor) arguably, has the best name in football right now. Just the sound of the name Bastian Schweinsteiger has a nice feel to it.
Having lost the finals of Euro ’08, the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup, as well as Euro ’12 semis with Germany, coupled with the fact that he lost the 2012 Champions League final with Bayern Munich, seemed to personify Bastian as an unlucky hero.
But tides turned around, he won the Champions League with Bayern Munich in 2013 and followed that up with a World Cup win in 2014 capping off the fighting spirit of the German warrior with deserved accolades.
18 Alessandro Del Piero
One of the nicest and most talented strikers that Italian football has ever seen, Alessandro Del Piero is the one you look at and appreciate the sheer ability to stay calm and poised, sporting a relaxed demeanor while giving your 100% on the field during the game. The perfect example of a professional, Del Piero could easily be a role model for millions out there.
17 Dennis Bergkamp
If smooth and velvety were two words to be used to describe a footballer then it’d be for the Dutchman, Dennis Bergkamp. Hundreds of footballers coming from Netherlands today look upto Dennis Bergkamp as a national hero and would love to emulate half of what he could do on the pitch. As silky as they come, Dennis was a well-mannered team player who could produce magic like nobody else on the pitch could, leaving thousands watching him in awe.
16 Gary Neville
Gary Neville, might just be one of the least naturally gifted footballers ever to make it in the legendary elite class of footballers. Gary himself accepts the fact that his own brother Phil and some of the players Gary played alongside were naturally more gifted than him but it was his hard work, discipline and perseverance that made him one of the best right-backs ever and it is no secret that hard work is a top trait to embrace to achieve success in life.
15 Tony Adams
Being nicknamed ‘Mr. Arsenal’ probably best describes this fiery Englishman. Tony Adams could be remembered for various reasons like being sent to prison for ‘drinking and drive’ or for the infamous incident of when he broke a teammate's arm during a celebration but what will greatly stand out are his achievements with the club and his loyalty towards Arsenal. He is the youngest club captain ever, captaining Arsenal at the age of just 21 years and 82 days, eventually winning nine major trophies ranging in three different decades.
14 Matt Le Tissier
In a time when money trumps loyalty in football, Matt Le Tissier would be a role model for every individual who puts loyalty as a priority in life. Cementing his position as Southampton’s greatest ever, Matt Le Tissier even rejected his dream club Tottenham Hotspur in 1996 to stay with his current club stating that he loved to be a big fish in a medium sized pond. With loyalty going out of the window in today’s time, Matt Le Tissier could really well be a standard to match.
13 Didier Drogba
Ivory Coast’s most successful footballer ever, King Drogba is widely renowned for the great amount of charity he does, especially through the Didier Drogba Foundation. The foundation contributes financial and material support in education and health including school bags for the school children, as well as a medical clinic in his hometown of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Drogba was also awarded the ‘Barclays Spirit of the Game’ trophy earlier this year for his remarkable work for the society and deservedly so.
12 Andres Iniesta
The 2010 World Cup winning goal-scorer from Spain, Andres Iniesta personifies a genius on the football pitch. His range of passing, his ability to look for runs by teammates, his link up way, almost everything that Iniesta touches turns to gold. Having won everything there is to win for a footballer, Iniesta and his magician like traits are just a treat to watch for each and every football fan.
11 Andrea Pirlo
If there was ever a movie made on football, Andreas Pirlo’s character would probably be the coolest one. There is a sense of calm blended with brilliance and swagger when Pirlo is on the ball. Be it his magical passing or his dead-ball miracles, Pirlo is and will probably remain a role model to an entire generation of central midfielders for many years to come. You'd be hard pressed to ever find Pirlo embarrassing himself.
10 Iker Casillas
Nicknamed ‘Saint Iker’, Casillas was probably the closest thing to a King or the Pope in Madrid. The fans loved him, the players adored him and even the media respected him. Regardless, of what happened in his finals playing days at Real Madrid, the manner in which Iker handled the whole situation was remarkable and professional to say the least. The great Italian keeper, Gianluigi Buffon called Iker his role model and there could possibly be no greater testimony to the greatness of Casillas than that.
9 Ricardo Kaka
Ricardo Kaka displayed his ‘I Belong to Jesus’ shirt after winning the 2007 UEFA Champions League as he went down on his knees. If there is one moment that could capture the personality and the humility of this Brazilian then it was probably that one. A hugely religious person, Kaka personified class when he was on the field and also off it. The epitome of patience and gentlemanly behavior, Kaka embraced success with uttermost humbleness.
8 Paul Scholes
Paul Scholes was a short ginger head who stayed away from media until it was unavoidable. The Manchester United legend got onto the training ground, practiced hard, put in great performances year after year and followed the no non-sense approach in life. Paul Scholes did what most footballers today fail to do which is to not let the money and fame get to their head.
Paul Scholes believed in ‘get up, go to work, play the game, get showered, get home’ and that is exactly what brought him the abundance of success.
7 Javier Zanetti
It took a total of 548 Serie A Matches until the world could see Javier Zanetti get a red card in his career. Playing as a defender for a majority part of his career, with such a record is an achievement in itself and something every defender could learn from. One of the most versatile and charismatic characters in Seria A, the Argentine was a leader and one who was respected by teammates as well as his opponents.
6 Francesco Totti
‘The Eternal Man from the Eternal City of Rome’, Francesco Totti is a ‘once in a lifetime’ type of player. Keeping the romance alive in football, Totti’s love story started way back when his mother refused a contract from the invincible Milan side during the Rossoneri revolution of the early 90s.
AS Roma is the only club Totti has ever represented and is an epitome of the tag one club man. Though Totti had a sense of unpredictability on the pitch with few controversies in his long illustrious career, but his sense of loyalty, passion and love for the club is unparalleled and something worth admiring.
5 Gianluigi Buffon
One of the greatest goalkeepers in the game, Buffon has various traits other than his goal-keeping skills which qualify him as a role model. The darkest time in Serie A history was after the Calciopoli scandal which saw Juventus being relegated from Serie A to Serie B. Many stars left the club and went out to other European giants but not Buffon. Buffon stayed with Juventus, showed great character, earned them immediate promotion and brought back the glory days at Juventus winning the Seria A title for the past four seasons.
The fact that Buffon toughed it out along with the club and stayed put when everyone abandoned the ship teaches you a lot more than probably any institution ever could.
4 Lionel Messi
One falls short of superlatives when they speak about this Argentine Magician. Lionel Messi is, arguably, the greatest footballer ever to grace this sport. Such natural ability coupled with the grit and determination to fight through after being diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency which was stopping his normal growth rate at a tender age of 11, Lionel Messi has proven to the world that size does not matter when your brilliance is on a different level from the rest of the world.
Having already won everything there is to win at Club level and also winning the Best player of 2014 World Cup award, there is hardly anything that Messi has not managed to do overcoming all odds.
3 Cristiano Ronaldo
From a very poor though big family in Portugal, sometimes sleeping with a half-filled stomach, no blankets to cover himself, losing his father at an early age, a mother who worked as a maid in houses to feed the family, using thrown away shoes by others to play football since he had no proper shoes and being diagnosed with a racing heart when he was 15, Cristiano Ronaldo managed to fight through all this and is today one of the greatest footballers ever.
Ronaldo has also used his stardom to fight and raise awareness about various social causes like childhood hunger, obesity and biodiversity. Recently, Ronaldo was also awarded the inaugural title of “Most Charitable Athlete” honoring him as the most charitable sports celebrity of the year.
2 Paolo Maldini
What can you say; 25 full seasons at AC Milan, 647 appearances, seven Serie A titles, five European Cup/Champions League titles and list of achievements which would probably put a team of players to shame. Paolo Maldini is everything that you expect from a player. Sincerity, loyalty, respectful, determination, successful, talented, a leader - you name it, he had the skill.
Staying away from controversies, Maldini had a career made of dreams. He is an idol for every Italian, every defender and will be looked upon as one of the greatest defenders ever to have graced his planet for generations to come.
1 David Beckham
Girls over different generations have a crush on him and rightly so, David Beckham would probably top the list of the hottest and the most stylish footballers ever. Men try to emulate David Beckham. Be it in terms of fashion or his free kicks, David Beckham is THE name to imitate.
David Beckham is the ultimate role model for almost everyone related to football. Great looks, brilliant career, big money, a pop-star wife, a life right out of a Hollywood movie – is there anything you could possibly not want similar to David Beckham? David Beckham wins this battle of being the ultimate Role model for one and all.
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