Even the most glassy-eyed whelp of a football fan will know that – even through the beautiful game is a team sport – some players are bonafide stars.
They’re the ones who fans queue up for hours to meet before a game or at the airport, with their name and number across their backs and their boots on their feet.
But which football players are the ones that get the fans most engaged and excited? The list may surprise you, so read on…
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo
Okay, so no surprise here. The Madrid star has it all: talent, style, tricks and an iconic free-kick stance.
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of those football players who everyone who kicks a ball would love to emulate, and that is priceless to marketers.
#2 Leo Messi
Argentine superstar Leo Messi is one of the greatest players of this generation, and despite being so young is already on the list of all-time greats.
His persona on the pitch is one of unmitigated skill and talent, and off the pitch he’s shy and reserved – making it easy for marketers as they need never worry about his image being anything other that well-managed.
#3 Gerard Pique
Probably one of the biggest talking points of the list is Pique ranking so highly.
Centre-back is often regarded as one of the less-glamourous jobs on the pitch, but Pique’s success with club and country as well as pop-megastar wife Shakira (Shakira) make him the prototypical superstar footballer.
#4 Fernando Torres
His fortunes may have faded in the past few years, but Torres still has a penchant for digging out success even when he’s in ‘poor form’.
The Chelsea man’s good looks and approachable, family-oriented off-field persona also make him a valuable marketing asset.
#5 Wayne Rooney
Contrasting Torres is a man who has been in fine fettle for club and country but comes with a ‘handle with care’ label.
The Manchester United star’s aggressive, all-action style of play and spectacular goals make him exactly what England fans want to see from their stars, so it’s no surprise he’s ranking highly in terms of marketability.
#6 Andres Iniesta
Scoring the winner in a World Cup final gives players an eternal marketability – multiply that by Iniesta’s appeal as a playmaker and one-club-man status (something all fans can respect) and you’ve got marketing gold.
#7 Neymar Jr.
Barcelona new-boy Neymar’s incredible footwork on the pitch is complemented perfectly by his playful, socially-friendly one off it.
The Brazil star will be in high demand this summer, but fans know that they’ll always be able to get updates on what he and the rest of the Selecao are up to via Neymar’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook which are all heavily followed.
#8 Iker Casillas
‘San Iker’ has been at the top of his game for what feels like the entirety of the last two decades, picking up countless awards and honours with both Real Madrid and Spain.
Not only that, the goalkeeper has lifted the European Championships, World Cup and UEFA Champions League as captain – something that practically writes press releases on their own.
#9 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Going from cult-favourite to bonafide superstar, Ibra’s eccentric personality off the field and mercurial genius on it makes him one of the first names on the list for someone who wants to push a product and doesn’t mind a little bit of risk.
Famous for his goals, writing style, love of self defence and referring to himself in the third-person, it cannot be discounted that whatever club Zlatan has graced with his magisterial presence has won trophies.
#10 Thierry Henry
A legend at his former clubs and a trail-blazer in the States, Thierry Henry is coolness personified.
Having tasted glory at club and international level, the French star also redefined what should be expected by footballers in adverts; from finding the entire Manchester United team in his cupboard with Nike to ingraining ‘Va-Va-Voom’ into the global lexicon with Renault, Henry combines success, talent and charisma like few others.