Top 20: The most famous athletes of all time
The most famous athletes have always inspired people. They have not gone down in history for nothing. Their names are among the best known of their respective creative years. It is therefore not an easy task to compile a list of the most famous athletes and athletes in modern history.
The answer to the following question is particularly difficult: How is a person’s popularity measured? Do you measure this by the number of people who have heard of this person? And if so, how do you measure them again? Perhaps the frequency of television or radio appearances or media mentions is crucial? How about the number of posters and covers with his or her face on it?
We focus here purely on the level of awareness of the listed sport icons. We do not attach any importance to the sporting achievements for this list, even if these are of course mostly the main reason for the popularity. See some other lists such as the “best footballers of all time” or “best tennis players of all time”. This top 20 list is based solely on the popularity of sports personalities, so there may be a few surprises here.
Our list is based on three factors, and modern technology helps us choose. On the one hand, it’s about sponsorship money. How much companies are willing to invest in athletes and pay for advertising is a factor that can be measured objectively and also provides a direct comparison between athletes across sports.
Another factor that can be viewed directly is the number of followers on social media. It is an excellent indicator of the popularity of a public figure today. However, this factor is only meaningful to a limited extent, since some of the people listed here have long ceased to be active and / or became known before the time of Facebook and Instagram.
Another indicator is the number of Google searches for a person. It gives us a clear picture of how well known or “asked” the individual athlete is. Taken together, these three factors form the basis of this list of the most famous athletes of all time.
When it comes to the most famous athletes, some names automatically come to mind. But as I said, it’s not about performance, it’s popularity.
For starters, we all know that famous male athletes like Lebron James, Cristiano Ronaldo and Roger Federer will be high on the list. Then of course we also have top athletes such as Serena Williams and Steffi Graf who appear in this discussion, although you have to realize that this list almost exclusively includes male sports stars.
Place 20: Floyd Mayweather – boxes
Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr. is an American former professional boxer. His career ranged from his 1996 professional debut to 2015, and he made a comeback in a fight against MMA star Conor McGregor in 2017. During his career, he held several world championships in five weight classes and the linear championship in four weight classes (twice in welterweight) and resigned with an undefeated professional streak.
As an amateur, Mayweather won a bronze featherweight medal at the 1996 Olympic Games, three U.S. championships (light flyweight, flyweight and featherweight), and the U.S. featherweight championship.
Mayweather is a two-time winner of the Ring Magazine’s Fighter of the Year award (1998 and 2007), a three-time Fighter of the Year award from the American Association of Boxing Authors (2007, 2013 and 2015) and a six-time Best Fighter ESPY Award winner (2007-2010, 2012-2014). In 2016, Mayweather was ranked by ESPN as the largest boxer of the past 25 years, regardless of weight category. He last fought in August 2017 and defeated UFC fighter Conor McGregor in the 10th round of their boxing match, in a fight that many analysts and experts have called a “farce.”
He is often referred to as the best defensive boxer in history and the most accurate puncher in the history of electronic statistics, with the highest plus-minus value in recorded boxing history. Mayweather has won 26 consecutive world championships, 10 of them by knockout, 23 wins (9 by knockout) in direct title fights, 24 wins (7 by knockout) against previous or current world champions and 12 wins (3 by knockout) against previous or current linear Champions.
Mayweather is one of the highest paid athletes ever. He topped the Forbes and Sports Illustrated list of the 50 highest paid athletes in 2012 and 2013 and again the Forbes list in 2014 and 2015. In 2006, he founded his own boxing promotion, Mayweather Promotions, after leaving Bob Arum’s Top Rank. Mayweather has generated approximately $ 24 million in broadcast revenue and $ 1.67 billion in revenue over the course of his career, surpassing previous top earners like Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao.
The charismatic boxer, who likes to show off his wealth on his Instagram profile, definitely deserves a place on our list. He comes 20th among the most famous athletes of all time.
19th place: Michael Phelps – swimming
Michael Phelps is the most successful Olympian ever. So it’s no surprise that his name is in the top 20 most famous athletes of all time.
Michael Phelps is an American former competitive swimmer and, with 28 medals, the most distinguished Olympic athlete of all time. Phelps also holds the record for Olympic gold medals (23), Olympic gold medals in individual competitions (13) and Olympic medals in individual competitions (16). When he won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, Phelps broke another record by American swimmer Mark Spitz in 1972 with seven gold medals at individual Olympics.
At the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Phelps had already broken the record of eight overall medals in one Olympic event with six gold and two bronze medals. Phelps won four gold and two silver medals at the London 2012 Summer Olympics and five gold and one silver medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. This made him the most successful athlete in the games after his fourth consecutive participation in the Olympic Games.
Phelps is the long-distance world record holder in men’s 400-meter singles and the previous long-distance world record holder in 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter butterfly and 200-meter individual. He has won 82 medals at major international endurance competitions, including 65 gold, 14 silver and 3 bronze medals at the Olympic Games, World Championships and Pan Pacific Championships.
Phelps’ international titles and record achievements earned him the World Swimmer of the Year Award eight times and the American Swimmer of the Year Award eleven times, as well as the FINA Swimmer of the Year Award in 2012 and 2016, and he also received the Athlete of the Year award his unprecedented Olympic success at the 2008 games.
Phelps retired after the 2012 Olympics, but made a comeback in April 2014. At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, his fifth Olympiad, he was selected by his team as the flag bearer of the United States in the Parade of Nations at the 2016 Summer Olympics. He announced his final retirement on August 12, 2016, and in his long career has won more medals than collected 161 countries. He is often considered the greatest swimmer ever.
Phelps ’size was evident early on when he qualified for the US team at the age of 15 in 2000 and finished fifth in the 200-meter butterfly final. His Olympic career spanned five games from 2000 to 2016, where he dominated in butterfly, backstroke and freestyle swimming.
Placing himself as a swimmer on this list is another impressive achievement of the now 34-year-old American, but Michael Phelps undoubtedly deserves 19th place in the list of the most famous sports stars in history as a record Olympic champion and advertising icon and role model for millions.
18th place: Usain Bolt – athletics
9.58 seconds. What do you think you could do in 9.58 seconds? You would hardly get to read this single section about Usain Bolt, for sure. Nevertheless, 9.58 seconds is the record time in which Usain Bolt ran the 100 meters at the 2009 World Cup in Berlin. Bolt first became world famous for the 100 meters at the Beijing Olympics, where he ate some chicken nuggets, went to sleep for a few hours, ate a few more chicken nuggets, and then went on the track. This proved to be a formula for success, and in Beijing he also won the 200-meter and the 4 × 100-meter relay and set world records in both cases. Four years later, Bolt again won gold at the Olympic Games in London and set another world record there in the 4 × 100 meter relay.
The performance of the Jamaican sprinter at the Beijing Games in 2008 was one of the most remarkable in all of sports history. There he set the Olympic and world record at the time with 9.69 seconds for the 100 meters (although he had slowed down before the finish to celebrate), won the 200 meters with another record of 19.30 seconds and bet with his team also the world record for the men’s 4 × 100 relay.
Bolt was the first man to win all three events at a single Olympiad since Carl Lewis in 1984, and the first man in history to set three world records at a single Olympiad. The fact that he apparently managed this without great effort makes his performance all the more impressive.
The now retired sprinter from Jamaica is still the world record holder of the 100-meter sprint, 200-meter sprint and the 4 × 100-meter relay. Because of his performance and dominance in the sprint competition, he is widely regarded as the greatest sprinter of all time.
As the eight-time Olympic gold medalist, Bolt is the only sprinter to win 100m and 200m Olympic titles in three consecutive Olympic Games (2008, 2012 and 2016). He also won two 4 × 100 relay gold medals. He achieved worldwide fame through his double sprint victory in world record times at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. He was the first to hold both records since the time was taken fully automatically.
His success as a sprinter earned him the media nickname “Lightning Bolt”. Bolt resigned after the 2017 World Cup, where he finished third in his last 100m individual race, withdrew from the 200m run and started in the 4 × 100m relay, but broke off his run injured had to.
As a 100-meter world record holder, the title of “King of Athletics” and his countless fans, as well as the high-value advertising contracts and media appearances, earned him this 18th place in our list of the most famous sports personalities.
17th: Novak Djokovic – tennis
Novak Djokovic is one of the best tennis players of all time. He is currently number 2 in the men’s ATP rankings. In his long career, the Serb has 16 individual Grand Slam titles, five ATP final titles, 34 ATP Tour Masters 1000 titles and 13 ATP Tour 500 titles and was number 1 in the ATP ranking for 275 weeks. He holds the record of seven Australian Open titles, plus five Wimbledon titles, three US Open titles and one French Open title. Winning the French Open 2016, he was the eighth player in history to win the Career Grand Slam and the third to win all four major titles in one year, the first since Rod Laver in 1969 and the first to win did this on three different surfaces. He is the only male player to have won all nine Masters 1000 tournaments. Djokovic was also a member of the Serbian Davis Cup winning team in 2010.
Djokovic is a six-time ITF world champion and a five-time ATP number. 1 player at the end of the year. Djokovic has received numerous awards, including the Laureus World Sports Award for the Athlete of the Year (four times) and the BBC Overseas Sports Personality Award of the Year 2011.
Novak Djokovic is an active professional tennis player, generally considered one of the greatest tennis players in history and one of the top 5 players in the open era. He was trained by the former Slovak tennis player Marián Vajda and the former German tennis player and six-time Grand Slam winner Boris Becker.
At Grand Slams, Djokovic holds the record with seven Australian Open titles and three consecutive titles at this event from 2011 to 2013, being the first and only player to achieve this. He has also won five Wimbledon titles and three US Open titles, and in 2016 he also won the French Open, beating Andy Murray in the finals and being able to rise to the illustrious company of those who do every Grand Slam could win at least once. He is without a doubt one of the greatest tennis players of all time and even if the reserved Serb doesn’t like to talk to the media, he is still a fan favorite and media star.
Djokovic may no longer be at the absolute pinnacle of his work, but he still has a huge following on social media, is a UNICEF ambassador and has created a foundation that supports educational projects for children.
He ranks 17th on our list of the most famous athletes in history, and it remains interesting to see how the Serbian career develops.
16th: Conor McGregor – UFC
Irishman Conor McGregor is a former UFC world champion in featherweight and lightweight. The most famous UFC fighter by far is well known outside the MMA fan community, even if the Irishman has only fought twice in the past three years – once in a boxing ring and not in the UFC octagon. He also lost both fights, first losing to another athlete on our list in August 2017, the undefeated Floyd Mayweather, after which he denied his long-awaited return to the octagon, where he was met by another undefeated fighter, the UFC lightweight champion ‘Khabib Nurmagomedov was defeated in the fourth round.
McGregor’s defeat against Floyd Mayweather was a defeat, but it made him $ 100 million richer and brought his name to the attention of the world, an MMA fighter never before had such a presence in the media. After more than a year of UFC hiatus following his defeat against Nurmagomedov in October 2018, McGregor is now expected to return to the UFC on January 18, 2020, and record attendance is expected again when he hits another UFC crowd favorite in Donald “Cowboy ”Cerrone takes off.
McGregor began his career in the MMA world as a Cage Warriors featherweight and lightweight champion. His career peaked in 2015 when he defeated the then champion Jose Aldo at UFC 194 and secured the UFC featherweight title with Knockout in just 13 seconds of the first round, the fastest win in the history of UFC title fights . When McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, winning the UFC lightweight belt, he was the first fighter in UFC history to hold titles in two weight categories at the same time.
With his charisma and his absolute star power, he brought the MMA sport to new heights and he also tried outside the octagon, in his debut boxing match he was defeated by the legendary Floyd Mayweather Jr. He is the biggest earner and crowd puller in MMA history, he was in the main fight in five of the six best-selling UFC pay-per-view events. His headline-fighting fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 sparked 2.4 million PPV purchases, most of which were ever counted for an MMA event. His boxing match with Mayweather generated 4.3 million PPV purchases in North America, the second highest result in boxing history.
The young sport MMA has so far only produced one real international media star, and this is undoubtedly Irishman Conor McGregor. His huge following and media presence, which doesn’t seem to be really affected by long breaks, guarantees him a place on our list of the most famous athletes in the world. He ranks 16th here, even ahead of Floyd Mayweather.
15th place: Virat Kohli – cricket
Virat Kohli is an Indian cricketer who is currently leading the Indian national team as captain. Kohli is one of the best batsmen in the world, he plays for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and has been captain of this team since 2013. He has been the best-placed ODI batsman in the world since October 2017 and currently ranks first in the test rating with 928 points. Kohli has the best test rating (937 points), ODI rating (911 points) and T20I rating (897 points) among the Indian batsmen.
All of this will probably not say anything to most of the European sports fans, especially on the continent, cricket is a sport that is listed under “also ran” if at all and of which not many sports fans in this country know the rules. In India, where well over a billion people are known to live, however, it is the number 1 sport and therefore it is not surprising if the most famous cricket player also has social stars and advertising revenue with the big stars such as basketball, tennis or Soccer can measure.
Kohli started his international career as captain of the Indian U-19 national team and won with her in 2008 at the U-19 World Cup in Malaysia. A few months later, at the age of 19, he made his ODI debut for India against Sri Lanka. After initially playing as a reserve batsman in the Indian team, he soon established himself as a regular player in the ODI and was part of the squad that won the 2011 World Cup. Kohli took first place in the ICC ranking list for ODI batsmen in 2013 and was also successful in the Twenty20 format. He won the tournament’s Most Important Man Award twice at ICC World Twenty20 (2014 and 2016).
Kohli was named vice captain of the ODI team in 2012, and became the captain in early 2017 after Mahendra Singh Dhoni resigned. Kohli holds the world record as the fastest batsman who achieved 10,000 and 11,000 runs in ODI cricket, he set these records in 205 and 222 innings.
Kohli has won numerous awards, including ICC test player of the year 2018, ICC ODI player of the year 2012, 2017 and 2018 and leading cricket player in the world in 2016, 2017 and 2018. In 2018 he received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the highest sports award in India. Kohli is ranked by the sports broadcaster ESPN as one of the most famous athletes in the world and by Forbes as one of the most valuable brands in sports. In 2018, Time Magazine named Kohli one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
14th place: Neymar – football
Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, commonly known as Neymar Jr. or simply Neymar, is a Brazilian football professional who plays as a striker for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazilian national team. He is widely regarded as one of the best players in the world. Brazilian soccer player Neymar is not only one of the most talented soccer players in the world, Neymar also became the most expensive player in the world when he moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 for 222 million euros. He has won numerous national titles in France and Barcelona.
The PSG striker has already scored 61 goals for his national team, placing him third on the all-time top scorer list for Brazil. According to sources, Neymar earned 81.5 million euros in the calendar year 2018 in the form of combined income from salaries, bonuses and sponsorship funds.
Neymar became known at a young age at the traditional club Santos, where he made his professional debut at the age of 17. He helped the club win two consecutive Campeonato Paulista championships, a Copa do Brasil and the Copa Libertadores 2011, the latter for Santos for the first time since 1963. Neymar was named South American Footballer of the Year twice in 2011 and 2012 and soon moved to Europe to join Barcelona.
As part of Barca’s attacking trio with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, he won the continental triple of the championship, the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League and finished third in 2015 at the FIFA Ballon d’Or. In 2017, Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for the transfer of an incredible 222 million euros, making him the most expensive player ever. In France he won two championship titles as well as the Coupe de France and the French League Cup, in his debut season PSG made the national triple with striker Neymar. Neymar’s second season at PSG was marked by injuries and controversy.
With 61 goals in 101 games for Brazil since his debut at the age of 18, Neymar is the third best scorer in his national team, behind Pelé and Ronaldo.
Even outside the field, Neymar is one of the most famous athletes in the world. In 2017 Neymar was listed by Time Magazine as one of the most influential people in the world and in 2019 he was named the third highest paid athlete in the world by Forbes (after Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo).
In football, which is brimming with stars and legends, Neymar has already earned a place among the very big, and in the age of modern media he is one of the most famous athletes worldwide. He is without a doubt also on this list, he placed 14th.
13th place: Serena Williams – tennis
The 37-year-old tennis player is a 23-time Grand Slam winner and is currently number 10 in the WTA world rankings. Even if it now seems to be the end of her career and she no longer appears at the dominant level, as she was used to for years, she has definitely earned a place in tennis Olympus and is one of the most famous sports personalities of our time .
The American tennis player had taken a break from sports before and after the birth of her daughter in September 2017 to focus on her pregnancy. Despite her absence, she remained the most visible female tennis player, graced numerous magazine covers, wrote an article on the gender pay gap for Fortune magazine, and married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Following her loss to Naomi Osaka at the 2018 US Open, Williams was fined $ 17,000 by the World Tennis Association for three violations of the code.
Her career record is unprecedented, she won 23 individual titles in Grand Slams, plus fourteen more in doubles. Serena Williams was born for one reason, to win tennis tournaments.
Serena Williams has dominated women’s tennis for more than a decade. At the beginning of her career, Serena was still the second best player behind her sister Venus, but she has mostly dominated the competition throughout her career. She won Wimbledon and the Australian Open seven times, six times the US Open and three times the French Open.
Her incredible success on the WTA tour was so great that experts often speculated about how well she would do on the men’s tour. However, due to some old-fashioned views, this comparison is usually unfavorable for many experts, including John McEnroe.
As a result, Williams has campaigned against sexism in tennis on countless occasions and has fought for the performance of female athletes to be recognized as much as that of men.
As the only woman to make it onto the list, it seems clear that she is addressing a sore point here, and it must be acknowledged all the more that she has made it into the top 20 most famous athletes in history.
12th place: Michael Schumacher – Formula 1
Although he may lack the charisma and charm of his predecessor and idol Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher made up for it with a truly remarkable track record. In Schumacher’s 16-year career, he became the most statistically successful driver in F1 history. He won 7 world championships and collected 91 Grand Prix victories. During this time, Schumacher established himself as the best driver in the world and won five titles in a row between 2000 and 2004.
In 2010 he returned four years after retiring from sports. However, this second time in Formula 1 was less successful and only earned him one podium in three years. Although Michael Schumacher did not achieve a fairytale return to Formula 1, his sheer dominance in the 90s and 2000s in sports made him a starting point for a place among the top 10 best athletes of all time.
Michael Schumacher spent most of his career in the Ferrari team, then drove for Mercedes after his return to sport. Schumacher is considered the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time, Schumacher is the only driver in history to have won seven Formula 1 World Championships, of which he won five in a row. As the most successful driver in the history of sport, Schumacher holds the records for most world championship titles (7), most Grand Prix victories (91), most fastest lap times (77) and most races that were won in one season ( 13) and, according to the official Formula 1 website, Schumacher was “statistically the greatest driver the sport has ever seen” when he left the sport.
After successes in karting as a child and further victories in racing, Formula König, Formula Ford and Formula 3, he was hired by Benetton for his Formula 1 debut for the rest of the season in 1991. He finished third in 1992 and fourth in 1993 before becoming the first German driver to become world champion in 1994 with a point ahead of Damon Hill in controversial circumstances. In 1995 he repeated the success, this time at a greater distance. In 1996, Schumacher switched to the Ferrari team that last won the drivers’ championship in 1979 and helped them transform into the most successful team in Formula 1 history.
Schumacher won five driver titles in a row from 2000 to 2004, winning an unprecedented sixth and seventh title after his 1994 and 1995 titles. In 2002 Schumacher won the title in six remaining races and was on the podium in every race this season, both other records. In 2004, Schumacher won twelve of the first thirteen races and broke his own record when he won his seventh and final title.
Before his skiing accident on December 29, 2013, Schumacher was an ambassador for UNESCO and was involved in numerous charitable organizations, even though he is still cared for at home and, according to reports, he can neither walk nor speak, he is still one of the best-known sports personalities in the world and lands on our list at number 12.
11th place: Tom Brady – American Football
Tom Brady is an American football quarterback for the New England Patriots in the National Football League (NFL). Brady has played in nine Super Bowls and won six of them, most titles from all players in NFL history. Due to his numerous successes, records and awards, he is regarded by many sports analysts as the greatest quarterback of all time.
After playing college football for the University of Michigan, Brady was signed by the Patriots in round six of the 2000 NFL draft and became the team’s regular quarterback in his second season after a two-week injury to Drew Bledsoe. Because of his late selection, Brady is considered the biggest “surprise” in the history of the NFL draft. Brady has been with the Patriots for 20 seasons, the NFL record for seasons played as a quarterback for one team. In Brady’s 18 starter seasons, he has played nine Super Bowls with the Patriots and is one of only two quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl in their first season as a starter (the other was Kurt Warner, which Brady curiously did in his first Super Bowl has defeated).
Brady has also won four Super Bowl MVP awards (Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, XLIX and LI), most of which have ever been won by a player, as well as three NFL MVP awards (2007, 2010, 2017). He is the oldest player to receive one of the two awards. Brady has led his team to more division titles (16) than any other quarterback in NFL history.
As the only quarterback with 200 wins in the regular season, Brady is the most successful quarterback in NFL history. Brady has led the Patriots to an NFL record of eight consecutive AFC championship games since 2011 (and a total of 13) and has never lost a starting quarterback season.
Because of his alleged involvement in the “deflategate” manipulation scandal, Brady was banned for the first four games of the 2016 season, and last season was not going so well for the Patriots, for the first time since 2010 they divorced in the first game of the post-season when they lost to the Tennessee Titans. Without a doubt, Tom Brady is one of the world’s most famous sports personalities, on our list he is only just outside the top 10, and he comes 11th in our ranking.
Rank 10: Tiger Woods – golf
Tiger Woods doesn’t want to retire yet. The legendary golfer Woods recently won his 82nd PGA Tour title and is now back at the top of the international golf scene, 23 years after his professional debut in 1996. He is considered one of the best golfers of all time.
Tiger Woods was the most dominant golfer in the world in its heyday. From 1999 to 2009, Woods routinely won almost anything there was to win. From late 1999 to mid-2008, he won 13 out of 35 majors while no other golfer won more than three. he won five or more tournaments in a row three times – the last man to win five in a row was Ben Hogan in 1953. Of the 45 tournaments in which he was in the finals, Woods won 43 – a completion rate of 95.6 percent .
Long before he started earning millions as a professional golfer, Tiger Woods was a child prodigy. In 1981 a 5 year old Eldrick “Tiger” Woods appeared on the “Today Show” and chatted shyly with Bryant Gumbel, in between clips of his amazing skills were shown on the golf course. At the age of 20, he signed a $ 40 million contract with Nike and started winning tournaments, including an impressive win at the Masters in 1997, where he became the youngest ever winner and also the first African American to do so Tournament won.
Only half of his story is written, yet his performance so far justifies his place in the top 10 on this list. Tiger Woods saved golf from the predicted decline and signed very lucrative advertising contracts with Nike and EA Sports that can absolutely keep up with those of the most famous footballers.
His Nike product line has been one of the company’s best-selling products in the past ten years. EA Sports’ video game series “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” is a guaranteed top seller every year. He is undoubtedly a sports icon.
Woods is also one of the richest athletes in the world. It is estimated that in its record year of 2007, it raised over $ 122 million in profits and sponsorship. He was the highest paid athlete of the year. From 1996 to 2007 he is said to have grossed an estimated $ 769 million. Meanwhile, his career earnings amount to an incredible $ 1.5 billion, placing him among the top paid athletes of all time.
Woods finished second in the major golf championships with 15 major wins and shares the record for most wins in history at PGA Tour events with 82 wins with Sam Snead, but is expected to be likely to win that record will break this year.
He is still young and there are still many titles that he can win (again). When his career ends, he could possibly be the greatest sports star of all time. He is already one of the most famous sports stars of our time and thus deserves tenth place in our list of the most famous sports personalities in history.
9th place: Stephen Curry – basketball
NBA superstar Steph Curry plays as a point guard for the Golden State Warriors. Wardell Stephen “Steph” Curry II is an American basketball player for the Golden State Warriors in the National Basketball Association (NBA). As a six-time NBA all-star, Curry was twice named NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) and won three NBA Championships with the Warriors. Many players and analysts have described him as the best launcher in NBA history. He is also credited with revolutionizing basketball in the past decade by inspiring (or forcing) all teams to use the three-point throw more regularly. His ability to sink 3-point throws from far outside the triple line even leads to regular discussions about rule changes or moving the three-point line.
As the son of the former NBA player Dell Curry and the older brother of the current NBA player Seth Curry, he started his career like almost all NBA stars with college basketball. There he played for the Davidson Wildcats. Here he was named Southern Conference Player of the Year twice and set the all-time points record for both Davidson and the Southern Conference. During his second year, Curry also set the single-season NCAA record for three-pointers, and was then selected by the Warriors as seventh in the 2009 overall NBA draft.
In the 2014-15 season, Curry won his first MVP title and led the Warriors to their first championship since 1975. The following season, he was the first player in NBA history to be elected MVP with a unanimous vote, leading the league as top scorer. That same year, the Warriors broke the record for most wins in an NBA season on the way to the 2016 NBA final, which they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Curry helped the Warriors return to the NBA final in 2017, 2018 and 2019, winning two consecutive titles in 2017 and 2018.
In the 2012/13 season, Curry set the NBA record for three-point goals in a regular season with 272 goals. He surpassed his own record in 2015 with 286 and set the brand to an unbelievable 402 in 2016. Curry is currently the third best three-point shooter in the history of the NBA and together with teammate Klay Thompson the two have nicknamed “Splash Brothers ”earned.
According to ESPN, Steph Curry, the point guard of the Golden State Warriors, is “the most popular player in the NBA”. His largest social media channel has a fan base of 19.4 million and he became even more famous when he said he didn’t want to go to the White House to celebrate last season’s championship. President Donald Trump then unloaded him and the Warriors. Stephen Curry is one of the really great sports icons of recent years and his popularity and brand value secure him 9th place on our list of the most famous modern athletes.
Place 8: Rafael Nadal – tennis
The current ATP world number one Rafael Nadal had an unforgettable year in 2019 and won two major titles and two Masters 1000 trophies, with which he was able to catch up in the eternal competition with Roger Federer and currently appears to be in excellent shape. The Spaniard became the oldest player since the leaderboard started in 1973 and was number 1 at the end of the year. He won at least one ATP title for the sixteenth season in a row, another record, and he underscored his absolute dominance in the ash field at Roland Garros, where he won an unprecedented 12th title in June.
Although Rafael Nadal’s career was affected by injuries, the Spaniard has been fighting for decades with the Swiss Roger Federer and the Serbian Novak Djokovic for the title of the greatest tennis player in the world. Since the three meet at the same time at their career highlights, one can rightly speak of the golden age of men’s tennis, and Nadal has good prospects of being the greatest tennis player of all time. He has had and won great matches with Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and many others in the past. Nadal has won an amazing 12 times at his favorite tournament, the French Open.
The Spanish tennis professional Rafael Nadal has experienced a renaissance of his career in recent years. He finished 2017 and 2019 as the ATP world rankings first and continues to compete against arch-rival Roger Federer, with Djokovic currently second in the ATP rankings, much closer to “Rafa”.
Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal has a huge fan base that follows him to tournaments around the world. Nadal has won 19 individual Grand Slam titles, just one less than Federer at 20, who is number 1 in history, he also holds the record of 35 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, and further successes are wins in 20 ATP World Tour 500 tournaments and the Olympic gold medal 2008 in single.
With the resurgence of his career and the apparent weakness of Federer, who is five years older, it currently looks very much as if the Spaniard would soon set or even break the eternal competitor’s Grand Slam record; at 33, he is still a bit from the end of his career removed and he just seems to be at the athletic climax of his long and illustrious career.
Rafael Nadal is already a legend and sports icon outside the tennis scene, his social media followers and media presence as well as advertising revenue make him one of the most famous athletes in history and with a career that does not seem to be over, he has Chance to go down in history as the greatest sports star of all time. In the eyes of his fans, he is already today, he currently ranks 8th on our list, only a few athletes have achieved a higher level of awareness than the Mallorcan.
7th place: LeBron James – basketball
LeBron James is widely regarded as one of the best basketball players in sports history.
James is an American basketball professional currently playing for the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is often compared to Michael Jordan and both compete for the title of the greatest basketball player of all time. His career successes include three NBA championships, four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, three NBA Finals MVP Awards and two Olympic gold medals. James has participated in fifteen NBA All-Star Games and has been named NBA All-Star MVP three times. He won the award for the record holder in 2008, is fourth in the overall career points and ninth overall in the assists. He was elected to the All-NBA First Team twelve times and the All-Defensive First Team five times.
James played basketball for St. Vincent – St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where he was already touted as a future NBA superstar by the national media. As a so-called “prep-to-pro”, he skipped college basketball and immediately went from high school to the NBA, he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 as the first draft pick. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year in the 2003-2004 season and soon established himself as one of the best players in the league. In 2009 and 2010 he won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. After failing to win a championship with Cleveland, James left the team in 2010 to sign with Miami Heat as a free agent. This move was announced in an ESPN special titled “The Decision” and is one of the most controversial decisions in American sports history.
However, this decision should pay off, James won his first two NBA championships when he played for the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013. In these two years, he also earned the MVP title in the league and in the finals. After his fourth season at the Miami Heat in 2014, James terminated his contract to sign a new contract with his former team, the Cavaliers. In 2016, he led the Cavaliers to victory over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA final, winning the franchise’s first championship and ending Cleveland’s 52-year drought in the NBA. His teams competed in eight consecutive seasons (from 2011 to 2018) in the NBA final. In 2018, James canceled his contract with the Cavaliers to sign with the Lakers.
In addition to the basketball court, James has gathered a large fortune and a large fan base through numerous advertising contracts and social commitment, especially in Cleveland he will remain a legend despite his move to the Lakers and has made himself immortal with the fans there.
LeBron is currently the best NBA player and one of the best players of all time in the eyes of most experts, and just like another current NBA star on this list, Stephen Curry, he has his open criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump Awareness increased outside of sports.
His career isn’t over yet, and James continues to do his best to win more NBA titles and be the greatest basketball player of all time in the history books, giving him the opportunity to continue to advance on this list. He is currently ranked 7th in our ranking of the most famous athletes in history.
6th place: Pelé – football
We are approaching the top 5 of this list and only two athletes who are no longer active are among the most famous sports personalities in the world. One of them is, in many eyes, the largest player in the world’s most popular sport, the Brazilian soccer player Pelé. As the three-time world record holder, Pelé is the leading scorer of the traditional Brazilian national team and holds the Guinness World Record for most career goals in football (astonishing 1283 goals in 1363 games).
Pelé spent most of his career with the Brazilian club Santos, but at the end of his career he played three seasons with the New York Cosmos club. Although football in the United States is still overshadowed by other sports, Pelé has also helped to make the sport known in America and to spread it to the general public.
Pelé, the creative force behind Brazil’s upswing on the way to becoming the largest team in international football, was an outstanding player at a young age, winning the World Cup with Brazil in 1958 at the age of just 17. As the youngest player of the tournament, he scored a hat-trick against France in the semi-finals, then two goals in a 5-2 win against Sweden in the final.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento, as his real name is, is a retired Brazilian professional footballer who has played on the striker position throughout his career. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. In 1999, he was voted World Soccer Player of the Century by the International Association for Soccer History and Statistics (IFFHS) and was one of the two winners of the FIFA Player of the Century award. In the same year, Pelé was voted athlete of the century by the International Olympic Committee. According to the IFFHS, Pelé is the top scorer in every national league with 650 goals in 694 league games and a total of 1283 goals in 1363 games, including unofficial friendly matches. Pelé was also the highest paid athlete in the world during his active years.
Pelé started playing for Santos when he was 15 and for the Brazilian national team when he was 16. During his international career, he was the only player to win three FIFA World Cups: 1958, 1962 and 1970. With 77 goals in 92 games, Pelé is the best scorer in the history of “Selecao”. At club level, he’s the record scorer for Santos, leading them to victory in the Copa Libertadores in 1962 and 1963. Pele’s “electrifying game” and his penchant for spectacular goals made him a star around the world, and his teams toured internationally for his popularity to take full advantage of.
In Brazil, he is venerated as a national hero for his achievements in football and for his social engagement. The striker became Brazilian sports minister in 1995, where he fought against corruption in domestic football. He was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 1994 and is also committed to environmental protection.
Pelé has dominated football for two decades. This Brazilian legend is the best ever scorer in the Brazilian national soccer team and has scored an average of goals in each of his games. He is still the only football player to have participated in three World Cup winning teams. Between 1956 and 1974, Pelé scored a total of 1220 goals. But not only what he achieved on the pitch makes him the greatest footballer of all time, but also what he did outside of the field.
It is probably only because his resignation has been over 40 years behind us, that he does not rank higher on this list, but in times of Facebook and Instagram, he has to rank behind other sports icons in terms of popularity. Nevertheless, he is undoubtedly number 6 in our list of the best-known sports personalities.
5th place: Roger Federer – tennis
Roger Federer is a Swiss tennis professional who is currently ranked 3rd in the world rankings by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). Many commentators and players consider Federer the greatest tennis player of all time. Federer became a professional in 1998 and has been in the top 10 continuously since October 2002. Federer holds several records of the open era: he was at the top of the world for 310 weeks (including 237 consecutive weeks), he was the only professional tennis player to have 20 Grand Slam victories, including at least five successes in each Grand Slam final, he achieved that Wimbledon finals an incredible twelve times.
He is, of course, one of the eight men (and five in the open era) to win a career grand slam. Federer also holds the Open Era record for most Wimbledon titles with eight wins there and shares the Open Era record with Jimmy Connors and Sampras at the US Open, where he won five (in a row!). Federer has achieved an unprecedented 31 men’s grand slam finals, including 10 in a row from the Wimbledon Championships in 2005 to the 2007 US Open, both records to date. He also appeared in 18 of 19 finals from 2005 in Wimbledon to the 2010 Australian Open.
He reached at least the semi-finals in 23 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, from the Wimbledon Championships in 2004 to the Australian Open in 2010, another statistic that underscores his dominance.
Federer’s ATP tournament records include winning six ATP World Tour Finals (another record) and winning the highest prize money of any player in history. He also won the Olympic gold medal in doubles with his compatriot Stan Wawrinka at the 2008 Summer Olympics and the Olympic silver medal in singles at the 2012 Summer Olympics, where he was beaten by Andy Murray in the final. He also represented Switzerland as part of the victorious Davis Cup team in 2014. He spent eight years (2003-2010) in the top 2 of the men’s rankings and ten years (2003-2012) in the top 3. Four years in a row, he was named Laureus World Sportsman of the Year (2005-2008).
Federer showed an amazing dominance in its heyday and even at the age of 38 it is still extremely strong. He won his 20th Grand Slam title at the 2018 Australian Open.
Towards the end of his career, Roger Federer also plays tennis at a level that most professionals can only dream of. Federer is widely regarded as the greatest tennis player of all time and has been continuously ranked in the top 10 of the ATP world rankings since October 2002. The list of records that Federer holds is almost endless. The highlights are undoubtedly winning 20 Grand Slam titles that include every Grand Slam title, with the exception of the French Open, he won every five or more times.
It is often said that we are currently in a golden era of men’s tennis, in which Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are consistently driving the sport to new heights. The fact that Federer is so successful in competition with three of the best tennis players of all time shows his special status as an athlete.
4th place: Muhammad Ali – Boxing
Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.) was an American boxer, civil rights activist and undoubtedly one of the most famous athletes of the modern age. With the nickname “The Greatest” he is considered one of the most important and famous sports figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest boxers of all time.
Ali was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. At the age of twelve he began training as an amateur boxer, at just 18 he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics and later became a professional in the same year. He converted to Islam and became a Muslim after 1961 and eventually adopted the name Muhammad Ali. He won the heavyweight world championship by defeating the then champion Sonny Liston in a huge surprise win at the age of 22 in 1964. In 1966, Ali refused to join the military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. He was arrested, found guilty of desertion and deprived of his world championship title. He appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which awarded him justice in 1971, but by then he had spent almost four years on the sidelines at the height of his career.
His acts of conscientious objection made him an icon for the anti-Vietnam War movement and he was also a leader in the African American civil rights movement. As a Muslim, Ali was initially associated with Elijah Mohammed’s radical Nation of Islam (NOI). He later rejected the NOI, adhered to Sunni Islam and supported racial integration, as did his former mentor Malcolm X.
Ali was a leading heavyweight boxer of the 20th century and he remains the only three-time linear champion in this weight class. His records of beating 21 boxers in world heavyweight title battles and winning 14 title unification bouts remained for 35 years until finally broken by Vladimir Klitschko. Ali is the only boxer who has been named “Fighter of the Year” six times by the famous “Ring” magazine. He was voted the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time and the greatest athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated, the sports personality of the century by the BBC and the third largest athlete of the 20th century by ESPN SportsCentury.
He has been involved in several historical boxing matches and feuds, particularly his struggles with Joe Frazier, such as the “Thrilla in Manila”, and his struggle with George Foreman, known as the “Rumble in the Jungle”, which is arguably the greatest sporting event to date In the world, the fight was seen by an estimated television audience of 1 billion viewers worldwide. His rivalry with Frazier also has a place on our list of “the greatest sports rivalries in history”.
Ali was in the spotlight at a time when many fighters let their managers do the talking, and he was always provocative and entertaining. He was known for his trash talking and often combined it with rhymes and winged words, well known for example his statement that he “hovers like a butterfly and sting like a bee” or the insult to Frazier when he said Frazier was so ugly at His tears would cry and run down the back of his head instead.
Ali retired from professional boxing in 1981 and focused on religion and his charitable work. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease became known in 1984, which some doctors attribute to injuries in the course of his boxing career, although he and his specialists always deny this. He remained an active figure in public life, but increasingly withdrew from the public in later years as his condition worsened and his family took care of him. Ali passed away on June 3rd, 2016 at the age of 74.
There has never been a more charismatic sports figure in history. Muhammad Ali considered himself the greatest, said this out loud and finally confirmed it. He was a three-time heavyweight champion and the only fighter to dethrone the reigning champion three times.
Ali is not only the greatest boxer who has ever lived, he is also considered one of the greatest athletes of all time – in 1999 he was named “Sportsperson of the Century” by Sports Illustrated magazine. The boxer defeated almost every top heavyweight of his time and also excelled outside the ring. Then as now, there are few people in the world who do not know the name Muhammad Ali. He is also at the top of our list of the most famous sports stars, he is ranked fourth in this list, which is all the more surprising when you consider that his last big fights were almost 50 years ago.
Honorable mention – other famous athletes
Before we get to the top 3 most famous athletes in the world, we would like to mention a few personalities who unfortunately did not make it onto our list – although they might have deserved it.
Dirk Nowitzki – The Würzburg man who set out to conquer the NBA is perhaps the most recognizable German athlete and one of the best German athletes ever. He played for the Dallas Mavericks for 21 years and was the first European to be voted the most valuable player in the league. Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki has resigned as a player.
Robby Naish – The surfing legend par excellence. Naish won his first world championship at the age of 13 in 1976. Today he holds 24 world titles and is a member of the PWA Hall of Fame, the National Sailing Hall of Fame and the Hawaii Waterman Hall of Fame.
Valentino Rossi – The slender Italian is considered “GOAT” (Greatest of all Time) in the motorcycle sport industry. The “Doctor” racing driver won the 125cc World Championship in 1997 and then the 250cc class in 1999. He has been racing in the MotoGP premier class since 2000 and became world champion seven times.
Lance Armstrong – Famous does not mean popular, and whoever wins the Tour de France seven times in a row and then gets all the successes denied because of doping, creates a high level of awareness. Unfortunately, other achievements and his dramatic life story fade behind it.
Hermann Maier – The ski racer called “Herminator” due to his toughness won the World Cup in Downhill, Super-G and Giant Slalom as well as the Overall World Cup and Olympic Gold. He got his nickname because he got up after the “horror crash” in Nagano and because a far more dangerous motorcycle accident almost cost him a leg. In sports terms, Maier has now been surpassed by Marcel Hirscher.
Nikola Karabatic – The French handball professional with Serbo-Croatian roots won 16 championships, 25 national cups, three times the Champions League and two times the IHF Super Globe with French, German and Spanish teams, as well as two Olympics with the national team, three times Europe – and four times the World Cup. Then he was arrested for moving game results. Nikola Karabatic is a good example that some people never get enough.
Wayne Gretzky – The best hockey player of all time is the Canadian Way “The Great One” Gretzky. In his 20 years with the NHL, he broke 61 records and scored 894 goals. A bronze statue stands in his honor at Edmonton.
Phil Taylor – “The Power” is the greatest darts player ever. The former craftsman won the World Cup 16 times, including 14 at the PDC. The second best player in this statistic is today’s No. 1 Michael van Gerwen with three titles. In 1996-2003, Phil Taylor remained undefeated for 45 World Cup games. Phil Taylor was also instrumental in founding the PDC.
But the greatest athletes of all time are not always the best known. Our best known are still among the best athletes of all time.
3rd place: Michael Jordan – basketball
The name ‘Michael’ seems to be a kind of guarantee for sporting success. After Messrs. Schumacher and Phelps, which we have already introduced, Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, completes the Michaels trio on this Top20 list. Although basketball is not the number 1 sport outside the United States, the name Michael “Air” Jordan is known to people around the world. In 1999 Jordan was named the greatest athlete of the 20th century by ESPN. He achieved most of his success when he played for the Chicago Bulls. Jordan is a 6-time NBA champion and a 5-time NBA Most Valuable Player with a number of other awards on his behalf. Jordan is known worldwide for his successful basketball career long after his retirement and is a worthy member of our top 20 most famous athletes of all time.
In fact, there could never be any doubt that his name would appear high on this list. Michael Jordan brought his sport up and to new heights next to the field. On the court, Michael was the most competitive, sensational, confident, fascinating and impressive athlete the world has ever seen. He was so good that he led his team to run three NBA titles in a row, retired for a few years, then came back in their thirties and won another three titles in a row.
Jordan was the best player who ever laced up the basketball shoes. However, it was his marketability that really made him the greatest. He has appeared in commercials for Nike, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, McDonalds and many others. His “Air Jordan” shoes from Nike caused such enthusiasm that the shops were robbed at gunpoint when a new version came out.
He also starred with Bugs Bunny in the film Space Jam, an absolute success at the box office. This film was a huge hit in the 90s and inspired numerous kids and teenagers to try basketball.
Overall, Michael Jordan was arguably the greatest player on the pitch and the greatest leader in any team sport, and he is, without a doubt, the most successful player outside of the pitch. He regularly showed his best appearances in the decisive moments and turned games in the last seconds, the nerve strength and his work under pressure are incomparable in any sport.
Michael Jordan is a six-time NBA champion and MVP in the NBA final, five times the most valuable player of the season and two-time Olympic gold medalist. Long after his (third) retirement from basketball, he remains one of the best-known personalities in world sports.
Once described by Larry Bird as “God disguised as Michael Jordan”, Jordan was an incredibly well-rounded player, famous for his throwing skills and highlight reel dunks, but also one of the best defenders in the league.
He retired from basketball three times, but his return to the 1995 NBA not only saved the Chicago Bulls franchise, but also caused an incredible surge in NBA TV ratings in the United States.
The undisputed best basketball player of all time dominated the sport in the 80s and 90s and took the time to try to become a professional baseball player. It didn’t work, so he returned to the Bulls and led them to another three championships. In his second time with the Bulls, Chicago repeated the feat from 1991-1993 (in which Jordan played a central role) and won the NBA Championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
Forbes magazine ranked Jordan 20th of the richest celebrities in the world in 2010 and he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States, by Barack Obama in 2016. Even though his career is long over, he is still one of the most famous athletes in the world. “His Airness” is number 3 on our list, only two sports personalities have achieved a higher level of awareness than he.
2nd place: Lionel Messi – football
Messi is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time. Since his debut in Barcelona in 2004, he has won nine La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies. Argentina’s repeated failed attempts to win the World Cup remain Messi’s only failure in an otherwise extremely successful career.
FC Barcelona striker has a social media channel followed by 88.1 million fans – but that’s still over 30 million fewer than Ronaldo. However, Messi’s name is more commonly searched for by Google users. Messi, the greatest footballer of all time for many fans, has been one of the most famous sports personalities in the world for over a decade.
The Argentine broke many records on his way to becoming one of the greatest of all time. Messi holds the record for the most goals and assists in the Spanish league. He has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won an incredible 34 trophies, including ten La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles and six Copa del Rey trophies. Messi has won six Ballon d’Or awards, four of which he won in a row, and six UEFA Golden Shoes.
Messi was born and raised in central Argentina and was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child. At the age of 13, he moved to Spain to join FC Barcelona, which agreed to pay for its medical treatment. After a rapid rise through Barcelona’s youth academy, Messi made his professional debut in October 2004 at the age of 17. Although he was prone to injury in his early career, he established himself as an integral player for the club within the next three years and finished in 2007 as a finalist in the selection for both the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year which he repeated the following year.
His first uninterrupted season was the 2008/09 season, in which he helped Barcelona to their first triple in Spanish football. At the age of 22, Messi won the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award with a record number of votes. Three successful seasons followed, in which Messi won three more FIFA Ballons d’Or in a row, another record. His best personal season so far was the 2011/12 season, in which he set the La Liga and European record for most goals scored in a single season and in March 2012 established himself as Barcelona’s best goal scorer of all time in official competitions.
Messi struggled with injuries again in the following two seasons and was twice second in the Ballon d’Or behind Cristiano Ronaldo, his eternal rival in the discussion about the greatest footballer of our time. Messi regained his best form in the 2014/15 season and broke the goalscorer records in both the La Liga and the Champions League in November 2014, leading Barcelona to a historic second triple victory.
As a national player, Messi represented his country in six major tournaments. He won the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship as a teenager and finished the tournament as the best player and top scorer. He also won the Olympic gold medal with Argentina at the 2008 Summer Olympics. His style of play as a small, elegant left-footed dribbler drew comparisons with his compatriot Diego Maradona, who already declared Messi his successor as a teenager. He has been captain of the national team since August 2011 and led Argentina to the finals of the 2014 World Cup and Copa America 2015. Both times he was chosen as the player of the tournament.
As one of the most famous players in history in the greatest sport in the world, it is hardly surprising that Lionel Messi is also at the top of this list, he only just has to surrender to a direct competitor and is number 2 among the most famous sports stars of our time.
1st place: Cristiano Ronaldo – football
The eternal debate among football fans about who the best player of our times ends regularly with two names: Ronaldo or Messi. Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos is a Portuguese football professional who plays as a striker for Serie A club Juventus Turin and leads the Portuguese national team. Ronaldo is generally considered one of the best players ever. He has won five Ballons d’Or and four UEFA Golden Shoes. Both are records for European players. He has won 29 trophies in his career, including six championship titles, five UEFA Champions League titles, one UEFA European Championship and one UEFA Nations League. Ronaldo is the most successful scorer in the UEFA Champions League, where he holds the record for the most goals scored (128). He also shares the record in the UEFA European Championship with Michel Platini with nine goals. He has scored over 700 career goals for clubs and national teams.
Born and raised on the island of Madeira, Ronaldo started his career at Sporting CP before moving to Manchester United in 2003 at the age of 18. After winning the FA Cup in his first season, he helped United win the UEFA Champions League three times in a row. At 23, he won his first Ballon d’Or. In 2009 Ronaldo was committed to Real Madrid’s most expensive club football transfer at the time for a transfer value of 94 million euros. There, Ronaldo won 15 trophies, including two La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey and four UEFA Champions League titles, and became the best scorer in club history.
After moving to Madrid, Ronaldo finished second three times at the Ballon d’Or, behind Lionel Messi – his indirect eternal rival in his career – before receiving two consecutive Ballon d’Or awards from 2013 to 2014 and from 2016 to 2017 won. After the third consecutive title in the Champions League in 2018, Ronaldo became the first player to win the cup five times. In 2018, he signed a contract with Juventus, initially worth EUR 100 million. This is the highest price an Italian club has ever paid for a player and the highest transfer amount for a player over 30 years old. With Juventus, he achieved the title win in Serie A in the first season, making him the first football player in history to win the title in England, Spain and Italy in his career.
Ronaldo was named the best Portuguese player of all time by the Portuguese Football Association in 2015. He made his senior debut in 2003 at the age of 18 and has since played in over 160 international matches, including ten major tournaments. At the 2004 European Championship, he scored his first international goal and helped Portugal to reach the final. He took over the full captaincy in July 2008 and led Portugal to the first triumph in a major tournament by winning the Euro 2016.
As one of the most marketable athletes in the world, Ronaldo was named the highest paid athlete in the world by Forbes magazine in 2016 and 2017 and ESPN the most famous athlete in the world from 2016 to 2019. Time magazine included him on her list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2014. Ronaldos has also been the most searched Instagram account since September 2019, and his largest social media platform has 121.7 million followers.
This makes it clear who is the best-known athlete of our time: First place on this list goes to Portuguese international and Champions League goal scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.