This may come as a shock to those of us in the United States, but Football isn’t the most popular sport in the world. Actually, that’s not true, it is, just not our version of it. The “real” football, what we call Soccer, is by far the most popular game in the world. Every country on Earth plays it to some degree and they all have national teams playing in regional tournaments, not to mention the World Cup.
It’s a multi-billion, possibly multi-trillion dollar sport where spending a few million on a new stadium is absolutely nothing. That goes for its players as well and it’s no surprise to see soccer players make upwards of $30, $40, or even $70 million dollars a year from their perspective clubs alone. Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the greatest player in the world, rakes in $80 million a year.
People with a lot of money tend to like spending that money, mostly on themselves, sometimes their family and closest friends, but mostly themselves. We’ve all read stories of Mike Tyson buying tigers, Curt Schilling buying a videogame company before going broke, and Eli Manning spending @2.5 million on a children’s hospital. What a weirdo. But that’s all just a drop in the bucket compared to what some footballers are willing to blow their massive fortunes on.
You won’t believe some of the crazy thing these soccer players have spent their money on. So enjoy reading about the Top 20 Soccer Players Who Wasted Huge Amounts of Money while you’re stressing out over your bills or wondering if you can afford to have dinner tonight.
20 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedish soccer star who plays for the Swedish National team as well as PSG, recently bought a massive 4 story church in Stockholm. At a price of 4.7 million krona (570,000 USD), Ibrahimovic then spent an undisclosed amount of money on builders to turn the building into an apartment complex. Ibrahimovic is hoping to flip the building and make a nice profit. Apparently he also wants his own HGTV show here in America.
He also has a massive car collect, that as of 2013 had at least five cars, many of which costing well over $200k, with his rare custom Ferrari Enzo coming in at over $1.2 million. Though, those purchases seem less ridiculous when paired with the church.
19 Keith Gillespie
Gillespie is one of the names on this list that isn’t funny so much as it is sad. He developed a crippling alcohol and gambling addiction while playing for Newcastle United and Manchester United, sometimes placing bets on his own teams. In 2013 he admitted to betting more than $150,000 a day on race horses, usually losing it all.
He says he got started at a young age, working as an apprentice for a British football club making 46 pounds a week, usually spending it all at the bookies.
Eventually he blew through most of his money, 7 million pounds (over $10 million). He says it wasn’t all blown on gambling, but also property investment and even a “film scheme a lot of footballers did,” whatever that means.
18 Lee Hendrie
Lee Hendrie was never really able to stay in one place for too long. He traveled to several clubs over a relatively small period of time, but always made a lot of money where he went. He also spent a lot of money everywhere he went as well. Like any other footballer, he had a penchant for luxury sports cars and wasn’t afraid of buying one just for the thrill of spending money.
But Hendrie was also another case of an athlete thinking he’d make a good real estate agent. He purchased a lot of property throughout England and when the housing economy collapsed, he was left with worthless land. He filed for bankruptcy, losing over $15 million dollars.
17 Carl Cort
Feel free to stop reading if you’ve heard this one before: a rich soccer star acquires a lot of money, doesn’t know what to do with it, buys a lot of crap, and invests in things he doesn’t understand but does so anyway become some accountant tells him to. Well, that’s essentially what this article is about.
Carl Cort is one of those athletes. Apparently he too invested large amounts of money in the UK film industry because of the tax breaks and other lucrative loopholes. Bu the UK film industry didn’t take off like it was expected and Cort ending up losing millions of dollars.
Cort went bankrupt and we don’t know how much money he lost exactly. What we do know is that at the height of his career, he earned plenty a year with Newcastle and now at 34 years old he plays for the second division Tampa Bay Rowdies.
16 Sulley Muntari
Let’s take a break from all these sad stories of financial ruin and get back to making fun of dumb purchases, shall we?
Take Sulley Muntari for example. Playing for AC Milan, he made over $3.3 million per year. Given footballer’s love of anything with four wheels, it should come as no surprise that they’re willing to drop six figures on a car, which is what Muntari did, spending over $900,000 on his new ride.
The ridiculous thing is what kind of car he bought. It’s a Mercedes Brabus G63 AMG 6×6, yes, with six wheels. Given how small European roads are, his plan seems to be to just run over any car that gets in his way.
15 Celestine Babayaro
Celestial Babayaro, as his friends (don’t) call him, declared bankruptcy in 2011, despite once making $45k a week playing for Newcastle United and Chelsea. He’s denied that he’s broke shortly after the filing, so either he filed a fraudulent bankruptcy filing or he’s lying.
Considering some of the things he’s bought, it wouldn’t be hard to see how he could be broke. When he got to England from his homeland of Nigeria, he bought a home for his family near his own house. He’s also spent millions on mansions and luxury cars, because he’s a soccer player and that’s kind of what they do.
Before filing for bankruptcy, creditors put ads in newspaper trying to track him down and get him to pay. He couldn’t of course, and filed not long after.
14 Brad Friedel
Brad Friedel was American’s greatest player for a while, well before soccer started catching on in the country. Being an Americam, he wanted to show the world how great he, and by extension, his country is. He didn’t buy any mansions or luxury cars, no sir! Instead, he set up Brad Friedel’s Premier Soccer Academy, a soccer school for young players.
Unfortunately, it just kind of failed. Starting out humbling enough, Friedel set up a few training camps throughout Ohio, his home state. Eventually, the small building and handful of camps turned into a massive 11,000-square foot building complete with top notch coaches and year round training available to anyone who wanted to enroll their kids.
What cost Friedel was that it was totally free. Anyone could enter the camp for free. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for the academy to start losing money. He set it up in 2003 for $10 million, and by the time it was closed down in 2011 he lost another $8 million. The academy was foreclosed and Friedel was forced to declare bankruptcy himself.
Friedel only just retired this year, at the ripe old age of 43. You have to figure his financial situation held him back from retiring earlier.
13 Eric Djemba-Djemba
Eric Djemba-Djemba was 22 years old when he took the field for Manchester United, making a reported $27,000 a week. Cars and houses occurred, because of course they did. He always made headlines for his bad behavior and loose grasp on his money, but it wasn’t until 2014 when his former agent, Christophe Mongay, spoke about him.
“"Eric is on a different planet. He simply has no notion of money. At one point, he had 30 different bank accounts.”
Mongay alleges that Djemba-Djemba at one point owned 10 4x4 cars. Obviously, Eric Djemba-Djemba would eventually file for bankruptcy, losing millions of dollars repaying loans and credit cards.
12 Didier Drogba
They say soccer players are gold diggers, that their WAGs are gold diggers and that none of them care about anything but money. Quite a lot of them go out and buy gold plated cars (more on that later) or gold teeth or golden toilet paper. But how many of them actually go out and buy an entire gold mine?
Didier Drogba purchased 5% stake in a gold mine in the Ivory Coast, his home country, not long after a massive economic collapse in the country. The country has started to come back from it, thanks in large part to its cocoa and gold mines. The one Drogba purchased has produced 800,000 ounces of gold since 1991, that’s worth over $1 billion in today’s money.
It sounds like a great deal, but if you do the math, according to these numbers, before any taxes are taken, he’s only making an average of $1,666.65 a year from the mine. That also assumes the mine keeps getting the same amount of gold each year and that none of the gold is stolen or anything. Drogba spent $74 million on that 5% stake, and at that rate it would take… a long time to start making a profit. Maybe it’ll be something the grandkids can use...
11 El Hadji Diouf
El Hadji Diouf, the Senegalese star who played for Liverpool and Blackburn, likes his cars. He likes his cars more than almost any other footballer, which really says something. It might be boring to talk about footballers and their cars, but footballers are apparently really boring people.
Except El Hadji Diouf, or so he probably thinks, with his gold plated Cadillac Escalade and silver plated Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. The Escalade itself is worth $81k alone, who knows how much the gold plating cost, possibly not even El Hadji Diouf himself before handing it off to some shop and saying “yeah, whatever, just get it done.” The SLR McLaren was even more expensive, over $640k alone, again before the silver plating.
Those are great cars that now look ridiculous. Huge waste.
10 Djibril Cisse
Some guys really like history and are willing to put down a lot of money buying insane, old artifacts. I’m not sure if that’s the case with Cisee, but he certainly did put down a lot of money for one ancient historical building.
In 2005, the former Liverpool striker purchased a $3 million mansion in England that gave him the right to call himself a Lord, because that’s how houses work in England apparently. Specifically, his official title is “Lord of the Manor of Frodsham,” which is one hell of a way to introduce yourself at parties at the very least.
The mansion has been traced back to the year 1086 to the “Domesday Book,” which is basically an old census conducted by William the Conqueror. For all that historical value, the $3 million price tag is almost a bargain. Almost.
9 Obafemi Martins
Fast sports cars, luxury dining, penthouse suites, and women everywhere, easily something a great footballer like Obafemi Martins can afford, especially on X a week, right? No, as a matter of fact. Martin made about $115,000 a week at Newcastle United and its reported that he blew through all of that in just a couple of days, every weekend. He would got out and party hard, spending all of it in a matter of days.
Among his purchases is a $130,000 Porsche Cayenne, a “multi-million dollar” home in England, renting an expensive apartment in Newcastle, and going to fancy (and expensive) restaurants every week.
But his finances couldn’t keep up and after taking help from a financial company, he soon lost everything.
8 Chad Ochocinco
Chad Johnson, once Ochocinco, briefly played for Sporting Kansas City during the 2011 NFL Lockout. He played as a back-up in a reserve game, so he totally counts as a soccer player.
Chad Johnson has spent most of his money on his luxury Florida mansion, which he purchased in 2005 for $1.4 million. Since then, he’s fitted it with two massive aquariums. Once is placed at the headboard of his bed, the other lining the wall of his massive TV room.
But he can’t truly be considered a soccer player until he drops a couple Gs on a car. So in 2012, long after his retirement from the NFL (and in debt because of that massive Florida mansion), he purchased a Lamborghini Aventador for a cool $376,000.
As a final piece de la resistance, Ochocinco, now back to calling himself Johnson, tweeted out a photo of him tipping a waiter over $300. Stay classy, Chad, stay classy.
7 Stephen Ireland
He’s got an expensive Range Rover, an Audi R8 with custom Manchester United colors, and he spent nearly $400,000 on a Bentley for his girlfriend. Best to lead with the car stuff first, it can really drive you crazy, you know?
Stephen Ireland, the midfielder formerly of Manchester United and Aston Villa, famously once said that wealth is “wrecking” Manchester City. Ireland never did buy a sense of irony, but he has spent a lot of his estimated $6 million net worth on some pretty crazy stuff. And cars.
For starters, he purchased himself an $8 million mansion in England and tricked it out with all the necessities. Like, for example, a room that’s entirely painted gold, a $150,000 fish tank complete with tropical fish, a spa, massive indoor pool, and a cinema and pool table room. There’s even a room that’s pink from the bottom to the top for his daughter.
6 Wayne Rooney
The English Tom Brady, Wayne Rooney is famous for his attitude, gorgeous WAGs, and his inability to win when it matters most. Maybe he’s more like Peyton Manning in that regard. But the man who once made over $12 million a year does do one thing really well and that’s spending money.
Rooney has a penchant for racehorses, having bought his third in 2014. He doesn’t have much of a talent for picking good ones however, as one of the horses he bought only ever won two races and that was before he bought it. He also hired a horse whisperer, an “equine therapist” to treat another horse for its anger management.
After signing a huge contract in 2010 with Manchester United, he and his wife flew to Dubai and spent time at a $3,000 a night hotel, enjoying $80 a glass bottles of wine, his wife enjoying her new $500 bikini, and the two settling in one afternoon for a $3,655 lunch. This came instead of celebrating at his $7 million mansion by throwing a $135,000 party, which he had to cancel because of people protesting outside his home. Ah, it’s so hard being rich.
5 John Terry
Everyone’s favorite sleep-with-a-teammates-wife-laugher-at-Americans-days-after-911 John Terry likes to spend his money, mostly because it keeps him awake at night by whispering to him about all the terrible things he’s done.
Last year, he bought two new cars, including a Rolls-Royce estimated at over $570,000 total. That didn’t stop him from buying an Ferrari 275 this year worth over $2 million, which might as well be change down the back of the couch for Terry.
Needing somewhere to house these cars, he purchased a $7 million dollar mansion from pro golfer Colin Montgomerie. Being the careful man he is, not wanting to get his hair everywhere, old Johnny gets himself regular $220k haircuts.
4 David Beckham
For a long time, David Beckham was the only soccer player anyone in the United States could name, thanks in large part to that terrible movie, Bend it Like Beckham. When he came to the US, he was held up as the savior for American soccer, getting paid a record $250 million by the LA Galaxy.
He was rich before that though, as evidenced by his 1999 wedding gift to himself and his wife. He bought two golden thrones and even hired a former royal service staff to take care of he and his new wife. In fact, the wedding itself cost an estimated $800,000, including a diamond crown for his wife. The couple then sold photos of the wedding to OK! Magazine for $2 million dollars, which they then spend on a massive $11 million mansion.
However, that mansion was a bit too small they decided, so a few years later they sold it and purchased an $80 million mansion instead, complete with staffed massage rooms, a movie theater, and an underground car garage.
3 Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli has spent a lot of money on a collection nobody can actually see. He spent $250,000 on a Bentley with a camouflage pattern, as well as a dirt bike with the same stealth technology. Balotelli eventually got so tired of not being able to find his car in a parking lot, he gave it to a teammate for free.
In 2011, he was still having problems finding his car in the parking lot, so he started parking wherever he felt like. That year alone, he racked up over $15k worth of parking tickets and had his car impounded 27 times. This was the same car in which he was pulled over in when he had over $35,000 in cash in the front seat “because I can,” he said.
It’s also alleged that last year, he faked an injury in a game so he could hurry out and buy an iPhone 6, because naturally a star like him would have trouble getting his hands on one otherwise.
Neymar is one of the hottest young players in the world and many argue if he didn’t get injured in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil would have won. Whether or not that’s true, Neymar has earned himself a pretty penny already and he’s only 23 years old. He’s currently making $15 million a year for Barcelona and $16 million in endorsement deals.
This has led the young man to spending like crazy. He’s got three cars to his name, including a Porsche Panamera Turbo worth around $400,000 to $550,000. There’s also his $2 million dollar mansion and $750,000 apartment home in Brazil, plus his rental property in Barcelona.
But surprisingly, Neymar also purchased an $8 million yacht that costs $120,000 per year to maintain. He also spent $1 million dollars on a villa for his former partner and spends $15,000 a month on child support for his young son. There are also the little things that we don’t know how much he’s spent on, like his massive collectible toy car collection or his diamond earrings.
There’s speculation that he’s potentially going to end up like Pele, broke by the end of his career because of wild spending. At this pace, it’s hard to argue otherwise, even with his massive paycheck.
1 Cristiano Ronaldo
One of the most, if not the most, recognizable names in all of sports, Cristiano Ronaldo makes $40 million a year in endorsement deals alone. That kind of earning power naturally increases his spending power, which he isn’t afraid to exercise liberally.
Ronaldo loves buying clothes, so much so that he spends $12k a week on new clothes from around the world, mostly on shoes. He buys his friends $1,500 hundred dollars of champagne, bought his mother a $615,000 house in Portugal, takes himself and his friends on $20,000 vacations to Miami, and collects crucifixion necklaces everywhere he goes.
His car collection is a sight to behold as well, featuring several luxury and sports cars. In 2011 he purchased a Ferrari 599 Fiorano worth over $1 million and a Mercedes McLaren SLR for over $925,000. According to a Ronaldo fan site, the star footballer has 17 cars in his collection worth nearly $5 million dollars.
Earlier this year, he dropped $18.5 million on an apartment in Trump Tower. Its apparently a getaway spot from his $6 million dollar mansion in England and his $7.2 million dollar home in Madrid. A guy’s gotta have somewhere to relax, you know?