The most popular sport on the planet, soccer stars are often world superstars or at least national stars, and as such it is not unusual for them to have things named after them. The most common things for footballers to have named after them are stadiums, techniques/skill moves and streets/roads. Such recognition is intended to honour players who have made great contributions to the sport or local area and to give them a legacy.
As such, most of the players who have something major named after them have achieved great things. For example, this list includes World Cup, Champions League and Ballon d'Or winners, with only a few of the players not being international superstars. As well as the more usual things to be named after footballers, this list also includes wines, asteroids, condoms, burgers and more.
The list is in no particular order, other than perhaps the level of interest and how well-known they are. There are hundreds of streets and roads named after players that miss out and several stadiums, as such only particularly notable roads, streets and stadia make the list. Here are the top 25 soccer players with things named after them:
25 Estadio Diego Armando Maradona
Arguably the greatest footballer of all time, it is only right that Diego Maradona has something named after him. Maradona began his career with Argentinos Juniors, spending six years at the club, the joint longest he played for any team, and he only played more games for Napoli. A World Cup and joint FIFA Player of the Twentieth Century winner, Maradona scored 116 goals in 166 games for Argentinos, and in 2004 when the club refurbished their 24,000 capacity stadium in celebration of their centenary year, they renamed it the 'Estadio Diego Armando Maradona'.
24 Raich Carter Sports Centre
From one legend of the game to another, Raich Carter may not be as well-known as Diego Maradona but like the Argentine he was considered one of the greatest players of his generation. An Englishman, Carter played for Sunderland, Derby and Hull, and is the only player to win an FA Cup before and after the Second World War. Three things are named after the former England international, most notably the Raich Carter Sports Centre in Sunderland. The others are a road in Hull and Hull City's first game at the KC Stadium which was played against Sunderland for the 'Raich Carter Trophy'.
23 Park Ji-Sung Road
Retired South Korean midfielder Park Ji-Sung is the most decorated Asian footballer of all-time, having won 19 trophies as a player and 100 caps for his country. The former Manchester United man was one of South Korea's stars at the 2002 World Cup, jointly held by South Korea and Japan. Park Ji-Sung scored the winner against Portugal to advance South Korea into the knockout stages, and once the tournament came to an end, the industrious midfielder was honored with a road being named after him, 'Park Ji-Sung Road' in Suwon.
22 Georgi Asparuhov Stadium
Less-known but no less talented than his compatriot Hristo Stoichkov, Georgi Asparuhov beat the Ballon d'Or winner to be named Bulgaria's Player of the Twentieth Century. Asparuhov spent his entire career in Bulgaria, with Levski Sofia and Botev Plovdiv, as well as winning 50 caps for the national team. A short but remarkable career came to an end at the age of 28 with Asparuhov's dying in a car crash. He still managed to win three league titles, four domestic cup titles and be nominated for the 1965 Ballon d'Or. A legend and hero at Levski Sofia, the club renamed their 19,000 capacity stadium after Asparuhov in 1990, as well as erecting a statue of him outside the ground.
21 Leo Wine
Of course Lionel Messi had to make an appearance on this list; still only 28 years of age and still smashing records as his career goes on, there's plenty of time for Leo Messi to win more accolades and have things named after him. In 2012 an Argentine vineyard began producing 'LEO' wine, in homage to the nation's great footballing talent. Messi gave his support to the production and sale of the wine as the profits go to help vulnerable children and adolescents.
20 The Matt Le Tissier (Aircraft)
One of only five midfielders to score 100 Premier League goals, Matt Le Tissier is a Premier League legend and a cult hero at Southampton, where he spent his entire career, despite numerous offers from more illustrious teams. In 2007, then-Southampton sponsors 'Flybe' named an aircraft after the former England international. The aircraft, a Q400, was named 'The Matt Le Tissier', and its first flight was from Guernsey (Le Tissier's original home), to Southampton (his "spiritual" home).
19 Ferenc Puskas Stadium
Widely regarded as one of the greatest Hungarians to have ever lived, it is no surprise that Ferenc Puskas is honoured in his own country. The talisman of the great Hungary team of the early 1950s, Puskas scored 616 goals in 620 games at club level and 84 goals in 85 caps for the national team. When he died, he was given a state funeral, in which literally millions of people lined the streets to say their goodbyes.
As well as having a street and metro station named after him, Puskas also had the Ferenc Puskas Stadium named after him, which has a record attendance of 104,000. The stadium is scheduled to be replaced by the 'New Ferenc Puskas Stadium' in 2018.
18 CR7 (Galaxy)
There's no way Cristiano Ronaldo could go a list of this ilk without being mentioned, and sure enough he isn't. The Portugal and Real Madrid star is not known for being a particularly humble character, and its perhaps fitting that what is named after him - among other things - is an entire galaxy. The three-time Ballon d'Or winner has had a 13 billion year old galaxy which was recently discovered by astronomers named after him, or rather his brand, 'CR7'.
17 Billy Wright Tram
A little more modest perhaps is that of Billy Wright, the first footballer to ever win 100 caps for his country, when he achieved the feat with England, winning a total of 105 caps. Wright also holds the record for the most consecutive international games played in and the most England games captained, with 90. A one-club man, Wright spent his entire career with Wolves, where he is quite rightly regarded as a club legend.
A three time league champion and one time FA Cup winner, Wright had a tram named after him in 2008. The 'Billy Wright Tram' runs along the Midland Metro.
Mexico and Club America legend Cuauhtémoc Blanco recently appeared on our list of top 20 showboaters for exactly this trick, the Cuauhteminha. Quite clearly named after Blanco himself, the skill involves trapping the ball with both feet before jumping with the ball, sending it up and past your opponent before running past them. Comical yet strangely effective at times, the technique became a trademark of Blanco's, who won 120 caps for Mexico and 9 trophies for his club and country across his 23 year career.
15 Emmanuel Emenike Street
Whilst streets and roads being named after players is far from unusual, there is something oddly charming about 'Emmanuel Emenike Street'. The 28-year-old striker who plays for the Super Eagles and Al Ain in Abu Dhabi, on-loan from Fenerbahce, had the street named after him having spent in excess of $2.5 million on property in the local area. Eminike began building up his property portfolio in his early 20s, largely in the Chevy View Estate, in Lekki, Lagos, where the street is located.
14 Josef Bican (Asteroid)
One of the most prolific goal scorers in the history of the game, Josef Bican scored an incredible 607 goals in 406 games at club level, as well as representing Austria, Czechoslovakia and Bohemia & Moravia on the international stage. Bican had incredible pace, and was capable of running the 100 meters in just 10.8 seconds, as quick as some Olympic sprinters of that time, as well as being ruthless in front of goal. Nicknamed 'Pepi', Bican had an asteroid named after him in 1998, which was named 'Pepibican'.
13 Zidane/Maradona Turn
Two of the greatest players of all time, Zinedine Zidane and Diego Maradona have both had their names put to a skill both were known to use on the pitch. The 'Zidane Turn' or 'Maradona Turn' has a number of other names, such as; the Marseille Turn, the 360, the Roulette and the double drag-back. While Maradona of course executed the skill before Zidane, many people considered the Frenchman to be the one who perfected the technique and used it more regularly.
12 Tim Cahill Expressway
Widely considered one of Australia's greatest ever footballers, current Shanghai Shenhua attacking midfielder Tim Cahill is a hero in his native Australia. Cahill made a name for himself over a 14 year spell in England with Millwall and Everton, in which he scored 124 goals and reached two FA Cup finals. Originally named after John Joseph Cahill, the 'Cahill Expressway' was briefly named the 'Tim Cahill Expressway', in June 2013, in honour of the then N.Y. Red Bulls player who scored the goal which saw the Socceroos qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
11 George Best Belfast City Airport
One of the finest footballers of all time and by far Northern Ireland's greatest contribution to the world of football, George Best is unsurprisingly honored in his home country. The dazzling forward, known for his technique, pace and shooting abilities, spent an incredible decade at Manchester United winning league titles, the European Cup and the Ballon d'Or.
Sadly, Best's career was hampered by his alcoholism, effectively ending at the age of 27 when he left Old Trafford. Belfast City Airport was renamed George Best Belfast City Airport in 2006, a year after the star's death at the age of 59.
10 David Beckham Condoms
The most recognizable and marketable footballer of all time, David Beckham has put his name to numerous things, most notably fragrances and clothing lines. Less well-known, perhaps, are David Beckham condoms. The first time in which this happened Beckham had no official ties to the project. A struggling Chinese condom manufacturer changed their name to 'Becoham' before becoming the biggest selling condom manufacturer in China. Beckham, who was the first Englishman to win league titles in four different countries, found himself associated with male contraceptives again in 2009, this time on bespoke condom packets sold in a Madrid museum.
9 Le Zlatan (Burger)
Quite incredibly already PSG's all-time record goal scorer, despite being in only his fourth season at the club, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the greatest players of his generation, and has graced a number of Europe's elite teams, including Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and now PSG. The big Swede is known for his power, technique and bold personality. He has scored 354 goals in 635 games and become a cult hero at current club PSG, so much so that one Parisian restaurant has honoured the marksman by naming a 600g burger 'Le Zlatan'. Le Zlatan contains beef, onions, bacon and three different types of cheese. Like Zlatan, the burger isn't cheap, and will set you back €29.
8 The Makelele Role
A little more traditional than having a burger named after you, World Cup finalist Claude Makelele had a role/position/style of play named after him. The Frenchman who played for the likes of Marseille, Real Madrid, Chelsea and PSG had a superb career, winning 15 trophies over 20 years. The Makelele role, modelled on Makelele himself of course has become fairly common parlance within the game, and is used to mean a certain type of holding midfielder. A midfielder who loves to defend and play simple passes.
One of the only players in history to have an actual role named after him, no player has quite mastered the role since Makelele's retirement in 2011.
7 Steven Gerrard Tower
In 2008, current MLS star Steven Gerrard had a $225 million Dubai apartment block named after him, specifically, the 'Steven Gerrard Tower'. As part of the deal, the Liverpool legend also got a $1.8 million apartment thrown into the deal. Gerrard wasn't the only sportsman to be honoured in Dubai, as sporting legends Michael Schumacher and Boris Becker also had similar structures named after them. An FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League, UEFA Cup, Super Cup and Community Shield winner with 114 caps to his name, Gerrard now turns out for L.A. Galaxy in the MLS.
6 Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
While stadiums being named after players is far from rare, the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium deserves to be well-placed on this list, given its enormity and renown. One of the world's great football stadiums, the stadium has been the home of Real Madrid since 1947. With a current capacity of 85,454 and a record attendance of 124,000, the stadium is one of the most prestigious in world football. The Bernabeu is named after Santiago Bernabeu de Yeste, who spent 67 years at Real Madrid as player and president, transforming them from the second most successful team in Madrid to the most successful in Europe.
5 Panenka Penalty
The 'Panenka' has become the accepted term for a penalty in which the player dinks the ball rather than striking it in the traditional fashion, in order to deceive the goalkeeper. It is named thusly because of former Czechoslovakia star Antonin Panenka, who is considered the first player to use the technique, and certainly the first to do it in a very high profile match.
It was the final of the 1976 European Championships, between Czechoslovakia and West Germany, when Panenka calmly stepped up in the most high-profile and tense moment to introduce the 'Panenka' penalty to the world and win his country the European Championships in the process.
4 Drogba Beer
Recently voted Chelsea's greatest player of all time by supporters, Didier Drogba is one of the most important players of the Premier League era. Big, powerful and ruthless, the Ivorian forward was unplayable on his day, and spent nine highly successful years at Chelsea in two spells, winning the Premier League and Champions League among other achievements.
In the Ivory Coast, where Drogba was born, he is a hero, not only for his sporting accomplishments but also for his charitable work. Who better to name your finest bock after then; you can order 'a Drogba' in Ivory Coast and be handed a strong, dark beer.
3 Bosman (Transfer)
Football fans will be well-acquainted with the phrase 'on a Bosman', meaning on a free transfer. Jean-Marc Bosman, who had a fairly unremarkable playing career, had a very remarkable court case, which he eventually won in 1995. The landmark decision made by the European Court of Justice named the 'Bosman Ruling' completely altered the way in which footballers' contracts and transfers worked, and hence the phrase 'Bosman' came into being. Bosman himself never felt the fruits of his labour, aged 31 by the time he won the case, and was recently sentenced to a year in prison for assault.
2 Jackie Milburn Locomotive
Arguably the greatest player in Newcastle United history, Jackie Milburn was one of the earlier post-war greats of the English game, and spent the vast majority of his career at Newcastle, before ending his career with spells at Linfield and Yiewsley. Milburn scored a total of 201 goals in 399 goals for Newcastle, making him the clubs all-time top scorer when he left in 1957, a record he would hold until being surpassed by Alan Shearer in 2006.
Milburn has a vast legacy and there is much named after him in the city of Newcastle, but none finer than the Jackie Milburn Locomotive which was named after him in 1991 before being restored in 2011. As well as his feats for Newcastle, where he is known as 'Wor Jackie', the three-time FA Cup winner also scored 10 goals in 13 caps for England.
1 Cruyff Turn (& Asteroid)
One of the greatest players of all time, Johan Cruyff quite possibly has more things named after him than any other player in history. The Johan Cruyff Shield is the inaugural game of every Dutch season, a Super Cup between the winner of the league and the winner of the cup. The Johan Cruyff Award is the name of the Dutch Footballer of the Year award, and has been since 1984. 14282 Cruijff is an asteroid/minor planet named after Cruyff which was ratified by the IAU in 2010. Other things named after Cruyff include the Johan Cruyff Institute, the Johan Cruyff Foundation, Cruyff Courts, Johan Cruyff University and Johan Cruyff College.
The most famous of all though is the 'Cruyff Turn', named after the move that the Dutch legend used on a regular basis. Considered a basic skill today, it was revolutionary when Cruyff executed it to perfection in the 1974 World Cup against Sweden as the world watched on in awe. It immediately became 'the' skill to know, and from schoolboys to professionals the footballing world set about learning it. Cruyff won 23 trophies over his career with Ajax, Barcelona and Feyenoord, as well wining the Ballon d'Or three times and being named in the World Team of the Twentieth Century.