Top 10 Nigeria Football Foreign Legions

Football is a universal sport, and Nigeria remains the biggest exporter of talented footballers Worldwide. A bulk of these foreign legions however ends up playing for their adopted countries in place of their country of birth or origin.

The list is endless, as countless numbers of Nigerian born footballers are daily seeking greener pastures or opportunities to showcase their potential in the color of their adopted countries. Nigeria ultimately becomes the biggest loser, as it is denied of quality players through this football drain.

Muri Ogunbiyi

Muri Ogunbiyi is an attacking midfielder who once played for the famous Enyimba football club of Aba. He presently plays for the squirrels of Benin Republic.

Carlton Cole

Carlton Cole was born of a Nigerian father and a Sierra Leone mother, but presently plays for England senior National football team. He is a top striker with English Premiership club- West Ham United.

Onyewu Oguchi

Onyewu is a regular central defender in the United States of America senior National soccer team, with Nigerian root.

Gabriel Agbonlahor

Gabby as he is fondly called turned down several invitations to play for Nigeria, and opted instead to honor a call up to play for England. He has a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father. He is a key member of Aston Villa F.C in the English Premier League.

Toto Tamuz

Toto Tamuz is a son of former Nigerian international footballer Clement Temile. He presently stars for the Israeli National footballer team. His mother is an Israeli. Like his father, Toto Tamuz plays in the attacking positing for the Israeli national senior team.

Dennis Aogo

Dennis is an experienced defender with the German U-19 national team. He has a Nigerian Father and presently plays for Hamburg SV in the German Bundesliga.

Rubin Rafael Okotie

Rubin is an Austrian U-21 international striker with Nigerian father and Austrian mother. His father hails from Delta State in Southern Nigeria.

Emmanuel Adebayor

The former Togolese national team captain was born to Nigerian parents in Lome, but currently playing for the Togolese National football team and Manchester City of England.

Paul Mc Grath

Paul Mc Grath is an Irish international who holds the distinct record of being the first Nigerian-born footballer to play for an adopted country, born to a Nigerian father and an Irish Mother.

Emmanuel Olisadebe

Emmanuel Olisadebe was in sensational form during the FIFA 2002 World Cup co-hosted by Korea-Japan. He is a Nigerian footballer who switched allegiance to his adopted country-Poland.

?? #MerryChristmas from everyone at Celtic Football Club! ?



??? #Christmas wishes from our Bhoys & Ghirls to all the #CelticFC family around the world! ?

Watch exclusive player and manager interviews, full-match replays and go behind the scenes of Celtic FC ONLY on Celtic TV. Subscribe today!

Top Five Nigerian Football Players That Caught Headlines for the Wrong Reasons

In Nigeria, the game of football is followed with a lot of passion considering the fact that the country remains the biggest exporter of footballers in major leagues of the world. The game is not however devoid of players who get famous for the wrong reasons. Below are the top five Nigerian players who though talented, were always at the receiving end of the media. Some are no longer active, while others are still actively involved in both club and country.

Etim Esin

Etim Esin was born in Oron in Akwa Ibom State, Southern Nigeria in the year 1960. He emerged as one of the most talented stars in the local scene when he helped Nigeria qualify for the 1987 FIFA World Youth Championship in Chile. His urge potential however suffered serious dent due to lack of discipline and arrogance. In the height of his escapade, Etim Esin was shot by armed robbers in 1987 prior to the Junior World Cup. The nail in his coffin came while he was playing for AK Ghent of Belgium in the early 1990’s, as he was convicted of raping a Belgian girl and subsequently deported back to Nigeria by Belgian Immigration authorities.

Tarila Okorowanta

Tarila Okorowanta was a creative midfielder who became a local folk hero while playing for Shooting Stars football clubs of Ibadan in the 1980’s. His career was however engulfed in controversy due to lack of discipline and frequent breaking of camp rules. Tarila Okorowanta made the wrong headlines when he defected to Italy while Shooting Stars of Ibadan were returning back from an African Champions Cup match in Tunisia. That rash action led to the eventual fall of his wonderful but short career.

Gbolahan Salami

Gbolahan Salami is a striker with the Shooting Stars football club of Ibadan. A bulky and exceptionally gifted player, Gbolahan gained fame when he starred for Nigeria at the U-20 World Cup held in Egypt in 2009. The rising profile of the bully striker however suffered some knocks last year when he was slammed with a two match-ban for verbally assaulting his former coach at Sunshine football club- Gbenga Ogunbote. To compound his woes, he got a one year ban recently when Shooting stars were forced to a 1-1 draw by visiting Crown F.C of Ogbomosho in a Premier League fixture played on Sunday 30th January 2011. He allegedly attempted to attack the match referee- Michael Oshei for awarding a late penalty against his club-side.

Junior Osagie

Junior Osagie is a former Enyimba and Super Eagles of Nigeria invitee who was fond of breaking camp rules. The highly talented striker could not fulfill his goal of play professional football abroad due partly to his erratic conduct and the negative influence surrounding his career.

Akpan Bassey

Akpan Bassey is the only goalkeeper in the Nigeria Premier League to be given a one year ban since the inception of the league. He was a member of the Ladan Bosso-led U-20 team that participated at the 2007 FIFA World Cup held in Canada. Though lacking in height, he remains one of the best goalkeeper in the Nigeria Premier League till date. His superlative performance has even earned him invitations to the Super Eagles of Nigeria on several occasions. The Heartland F.C of Owerri shot-stopper had earlier been handed down a $650 fine and a one match ban on the 20th of January 2011 for shoving a referee during a Premier league match against Sunshine F.C of Akure.

One sad trend that can be observed from each of these players, is that they are all gifted and talented, but failure to abide by the rules of the game adversely affected their career. It is a lesson which other aspiring footballers must learn from.

FC Barcelona Players – Alexander Hleb

Alexander Hleb is, of course, well-known amongst UK football followers because of his time at Arsenal, during which time Sky pundit Andy Gray described him as one of the Premier league’s ‘most skillful players’. Born in Minsk in Belarus in 1981, Hleb, whose brother is also an international footballer, initially made his name in the Bundesliga with FC Stuttgart, whom he joined from his first club, FC Bate Borisov, at the age of nineteen, with whom he had just won the Belarus national league. Arsenal were signing a player who had already made 172 first team appearances for Stuttgart, scoring 19 goals in total.

By the time Hleb joined Arsenal in 2005 he had already been voted Belarusian player of the year three times – he has added two more awards since then – and he became respected at Arsenal because of his versatility, energy and ability to fit into the team’s smooth passing style of play. In his first season in North London, Hleb started 40 league games and scored 3 goals – figures that he repeated the following season.

It was during season 2007/08 that rumours started to link Hleb with a move to Barcelona; stories that gathered momentum after a particularly impressive performance against AC Milan in the Champions’ League. The ‘will he, won’t he’ saga kept the press occupied until July when the player signed for Barca in a deal reported to be worth about £11.8 million. During his time at Arsenal, Hleb made a total of 130 appearances, scoring 11 goals.

Alexander Hleb hardly made the most promising start to his career with his new club – picking up a series of injuries during pre-season which disrupted his progress considerably. Towards the end of the year, however, he was beginning to become a regular in the squad and to show signs of being able to integrate with the nimble, quick passing midfielders already at the club.

Internationally, Hleb made his debut appearance as a substitute in a defeat against Wales in 2001. His full debut followed, along with his first international goal, against Hungary the following April and he has been a regular in the team since then – captaining the side since August, 2007.

It is easy to see why Barcelona signed Alexander Hleb; he fits into their mould of being skillful, adaptable and pacy – with the ability to chip in with the occasional goal and, overall, an acute positional sense and an awareness of the runs of forward players. He should make a valuable addition to the squad – and his wife certainly should make an impact on the local media; in August, 2008 Alexander married Anastasia, a Topless singer. To be precise, Anastasia Kosenkova was a member of the Belarusian girl band, Topless.

Highlights – NorthEast United FC vs ATK Mohun Bagan – Match 37 | Hero ISL 2021-22



A game that could have gone either way, but the Mariners came out stronger to grab all 3 points tonight! ??

All the best highlights from an entertaining #NEUATKMB encounter!

#NEUATKMB #HeroISL #LetsFootball

Follow all the match highlights & updates on our official YouTube channel. Like, Comment and Subscribe and make sure to click on the bell icon.

To subscribe, click –

For all the latest news & updates on Hero ISL, visit –

Follow us on Instagram –

Follow us on Twitter –

Like us on Facebook –

Chijioke Ejiogu: Complete Profile of Arugo Monkey

Goalkeeper Chijioke Ejiogu is the number one goal tender for Double CAF Champions league winners- Enyimba Football club of Aba. He is one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Nigeria Premier league. His dexterity between the goalpost while playing for amateur side- Arugo F.C in the late 1990’s during the F.A Cup Competition have earned him the nickname- Arugo Monkey.

Monkeys are one of the most acrobatic animals in the jungle, and they have the ability to jump from one tree to the other with so much ease and skill. These were the exact qualities that Chijioke Ejiogu displayed during the F.A Cup competition more than 15 years ago while starring for Arugo F.C.

He was quickly snapped up by Julius Berger F.C of Lagos immediately after his F.A Cup heroics, and helped the Bridge Boys to the final of the CAF Confederation Cup. His agility behind the post was soon noticed by the management of Enyimba F.C and he soon put pen to paper for the peoples Elephant in the 2008-2009 season.

The confidence he displays in organizing his defence line is quite amazing, considering the fact that football has become so competitive and tactical. One of the qualities that distinguish a good goalkeeper from a bad one is the ability to anticipate and deal with aerial balls and this is one of the strong points of Chijioke Ejiogu.

He has been invited to the national senior team on several occasions during the reign of Coach Christian Chukwu as Chief Coach of the Super Eagles, but on each occasion, luck has not been on his side. The desire to excel in the local league to enhance future call-ups has always been his main motivation, and this has seen him emerging as one of the stars in the star-studded Enyimba Football club.

Arugo Monkey has become a veteran of sort in the Nigeria Premier league and with each passing season, he has shown more maturity and better composure between the posts to the admiration of his fans all over the country. His acrobatic saves and daring maneuvers in front of strikers have earned him a place among the best Local league players.

It is hoped that the coming years will witness a change in the fortune of this charismatic goalkeeper who has paid his dues in the Nigeria Premier league in the past 10 years. His chances of putting on the green white green colors of the Super Eagles have been made a lot easier with the appointment of an indigenous Coach for National senior team in the person of Coach Samson Siasia in December 2010.

HIGHLIGHTS | Leeds vs Arsenal (1-4) | Premier League | Martinelli, Saka, Smith Rowe



A thoroughly dominant first-half performance laid the platform for an excellent away win at Leeds.

Gabriel Martinelli netted twice and Bukayo Saka was also on target in a mesmerising opening 45 minutes, in which we mustered 11 shots on target – the most in a single half of Premier League football since 2003/04.

Leeds rallied briefly in the second half, scoring from the penalty spot, but Emile Smith Rowe came off the bench to net his seventh Premier League goal of the season late on to seal the three points.

There were signs of what was to come from the very first whistle. We had three very good chances within moments of kick off.

Martin Odegaard found Alexandre Lacazette with a fantastic throughball, but the Leeds keeper Illan Meslier was down well to deny him when one on one. The rebound was prodded wide by Saka and with our next attack Thomas Partey saw his shot turned away at the near post.

It was a bright start full of intent and ambition, with Kieran Tierney next to test the keeper with a right-footed strike.

That was all in the first five minutes, and the game settled down until Martinelli lashed us into the lead.

The Leeds defence hesitated, appealing for a foul by Lacazette, but referee Andre Marriner waved play on, and crucially Martinelli remained alert, to smash the ball home. VAR also saw nothing untoward with the strike.

The goal brought up a milestone for the Gunners – it was our 7,000th scored in the top-flight of English football, becoming the third side to the landmark, after Everton and Liverpool. Our first came some 117 years ago.

Leeds, severely depleted with injury and missing nine players, were still full of running, and nearly brought themselves level when Raphinha wriggled past Tierney and shot just wide with Aaron Ramsdale wrong-footed.

We continued to make chances though, and soon doubled our lead. This time Granit Xhaka released Martinelli through the middle, and the 20-year-old forward kept his composure, bore down on goal, and lifted a wonderful finish over Meslier.

It was no more than we deserved after an excellent start.

We were swarming around the Leeds defence, and Lacazette was next to go close, forcing another save from Meslier after great build up play involving Saka and Odegaard.

Saka increased the lead just before half-time, his shot was deflected in past the keeper, after just about beating the offside trap.

The only surprise is that we weren’t leading by more at the interval.

Leeds were in no mood to lay down though, and cheered on by the Elland Road faithful, came out fired up for the second half.

A clumsy challenge from Ben White inside the area gave them a route back into the game when Raphinha fired home the resulting penalty. More than a quarter of an hour remaining and all of a sudden it was game on again.

The hosts’ tails were up, but a thumping finish from substitute Smith Rowe restored our three-goal advantage.

Odegaard pounced on a loose ball and weighted his pass into the advancing Smith Rowe, and the England man made no mistake with his first-time finish.

It sealed an excellent away win – our first since beating Leicester in October – and consolidated our place in the top four going in to Christmas.

#arsenal #martinelli #saka

Enjoy match highlights, training and behind the scenes to get closer to the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Vivianne Miedema, Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, Leah Williamson, Bernd Leno, Emile Smith Rowe, Nikita Parris, Tobin Heath, Mana Iwabuchi, Jordan Nobbs, Bukayo Saka, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Kim Little, Gabriel Martinelli, Aaron Ramsdale, Beth Mead, Ben White, Thomas Partey and more.

Subscribe to the Official Arsenal YouTube Channel:
Follow us on Facebook:
Follow us on Twitter:
Follow us on Instagram:
Follow us on TikTok:

This is the Official YouTube channel for Arsenal Football Club.

For more match action, highlights and training videos, make sure you become a digital member and sign up to Arsenal Player. It’s FREE and is the Home of the Game:

Arsenal Football Club were formed in 1886 and amassed 13 League titles, 14 FA Cups. Some of their greatest players include: Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Ian Wright, Robert Pires, Liam Brady, Patrick Vieira, Cliff Bastin and Charlie George.

10 Reasons Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Are Not the Greatest of All Time [GOAT] in Football

For the best part of the last decade, two names have dominated world football (soccer) more than any others; Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. These great rivals have broken countless football records, scored insane number of goals and pushed each other all the way to greatness despite the fact that they are two very different football players, playing two very different styles in two very different roles for two different clubs. The only thing that really connects the two is the ocean of ability that separates them from the rest of the players in the world. There can be no question as to whether the duo belongs in the pantheon of football all-time greats anymore. Although any effort to determine the greatest footballer of all time is subject to generational bias, it should be noted that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are not individually or collectively the greatest football player[s] of all time due to the following reasons;

Cristiano is not the best ‘Ronaldo’ to play the game: Despite his unparalleled achievement in and off the field of play, Cristiano Ronaldo is still not considered the best Ronaldo to have played the game. Ronaldo de Assisi (also known as Ronaldinho) and Ronaldo de Lima (the phenomenon) are the other ‘Ronaldos’ whose legendary attacking prowess is often compared to Cristiano Ronaldo’s. Ronaldo de Lima was a more explosive and complete striker who would have probably been the ‘World’s Best Striker Ever’ if he had stayed injury-free in his footballing career, while Ronaldinho was the entertainer who, at his peak, constantly wowed the footballing world. Cristiano Ronaldo is better than other ‘Ronaldos’ in terms of constituency over the years, phenomenal goal-scoring rates, overall fitness and prolonged career (due to low rate of injuries) but for sheer skill, explosiveness, superior technical ability, and the ‘wow’ factor, the two ‘Ronaldos’ are better than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lionel Messi is not the best ever Argentine player: It is a well-known fact that for a footballer to be the best ever in the world, he has to be the best ever footballer in his country and sadly, Lionel Messi isn’t both. Lionel Messi is not the best football player Argentina has produced. That honor goes to Diego Armando Maradona. Maradona (widely regarded as one of the best football players ever) is a footballing legend that inspired Argentina to a world cup victory and S.S.C. Napoli (in the Italian Football League) to its first and second League title [Scudetti] in its history. He is the scorer of the world’s most dubious goal (the ‘Hand of God’ goal) and the FIFA Goal of the Century. There is virtually a cult around the player in Argentina. Diego Maradona (and Pele) is the benchmark for the illustrious South American nation when a new star comes on to the block. So, while Messi has dazzled on the European stage, passing milestone after milestone and picking up loads of awards, his countrymen regard him as the country’s second best football player ever.

Both players have never won the World Cup: Although the latter rounds of the modern-day UEFA Champions League would rival the FIFA World Cup in terms of quality, with talents from around the globe increasingly concentrated in the hands of an elite few, the World Cup still retains substantial symbolic value as a quadrennial competition which pit the best of one nation against the best of another. It is no secret Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have never won (or inspired their respective countries to win) the FIFA World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo has won an European Cup (The Euros) with his home country, Portugal but has never been to the semi-finals or the finals of the World Cup while Lionel Messi was underwhelming in the 2014 world cup semi-final and final with his home country Argentina eventually losing to Germany. The World (and Messi) was shocked when he was named the best player and awarded the Golden Ball of the tournament. Lionel Messi is also a three-time runner-up in the Copa America competition with Argentina. Most football players such as Zinedine Zidane, Pele, Diego Maradonna, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo de Lima etc. often touted as the world’s best ever football player all played dominant roles in the World Cup tournament they eventually won. The same cannot be said presently of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

They are not Football’s best Goal-scorers ever: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are efficient, effective and phenomenal goal scorers boasting amazing goal per match ratio but they aren’t among the five best goal scorers in football history. Neither of them have scored up more than 700 goals in their respective careers so they cannot be in the company of great players such as Pele, Romario, Josef Bican, Ferenc Puskas (he has a FIFA goal-scoring award named after him), Gerd Muller. The rate of scoring of these legendary players is more impressive than that of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo given they ended their footballing careers with goal tallies well into the 800s. So if scoring goals are what makes footballers great, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, having better players boasting better goal tallies ahead of them, cannot be the greatest footballers of all time.

Both players have been accused of being criminals: They both have tax payment issues with the Spanish authorities (the country they reside and play in) and so have been accused of being criminals. After a lengthy trial that attracted so much publicity due to his status as a supremely gifted sportsman, Lionel Messi (and his father) was found guilty of not paying his taxes to the Spanish government, fined heavily and sentenced to two years in prison (he has since agreed to pay an increased fine rather than have a 21-month suspended prison sentence). His trial, guilty verdict, fine and (suspended) sentence damaged his credibility as a morally upright athlete who could do no wrong and that of his football club (FC Barcelona). Cristiano Ronaldo is also being investigated for tax evasion by the Spanish authorities, might be tried (or not), heavily fined and get a suspended prison sentence.

Their overall goal tallies are padded with too many penalties: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the greatest goal scorers of their generation. They score obscene number of goals in a football season but almost half of the total goals scored both players have come from the penalty spot. In football, penalties are the easiest way to score because it involves only the designated penalty-taker and a goal keeper to beat. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, being the designated penalty-takers of their respective club sides, always take every penalty kick awarded them or their teammates thereby increasing their goal tallies. In 2013/2014 Football season in England, Luis Suarez of Liverpool FC (before he moved to FC Barcelona to become a teammate of Lionel Messi) won the highest goal scorer award in the English Premier League and shared the European Golden Shoe award with Cristiano Ronaldo by scoring 32 goals in 33 games in open play without taking a single penalty. That is a record Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo do not yet hold.

They play for football’s most valuable clubs: Messi and Ronaldo play for super-clubs in Spain where the top sides score goals by the hatful. The second millennium’s new financial order unfortunately gave birth to the modern super team essentially creating a certain form of predictability in both domestic and continental leagues. Lionel Messi plays for FC Barcelona in Spain while Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid CF also in Spain. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF are extremely rich and dominant football clubs that can afford to buy and stockpile the best and most expensive football talent anywhere in the world and so Messi and Ronaldo are always surrounded and assisted by world-class players to aid in dominating continental club football thus raising their international profiles. Both clubs always have a slew of world-class players at their disposal which leads to utter domination in domestic (Spanish La Liga) and continental (UEFA Champions League) football competitions.

The benefit of playing in the Modern Era: It is almost impossible to compare players of different era in a game that has changed so much over the years. Great footballers like Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo di Stefano played in an era when the game was played at a tempo unrecognizably slower than in the modern era. That does not make them less great than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The game played presently has changed because of changes in rules governing the game and the quality of footballs produced and used. Players in the modern era are also fitter, faster, and stronger than they have ever been, but players (especially defenders) are technically weaker than they have ever been. The Champions League’s expansions of the nineties is also an advantage to the modern player: having a group stage allows a margin of error that simply did not exist in the knock out style pre-1995 tournament. It has never been easier for attackers – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo probably would never score 40-60 goals a season in the 1980s when the rules governing the game and footballs used didn’t benefits attackers (strikers), and defenders/defenses were littered with world-class talents.

They are a part of football’s rich history: We view the history of the game through our own national experiences, or at least we did until the modern era, where we can watch the Spanish league, Messi and Ronaldo every weekend. It is worth remembering that in the 1970s and even into the 1980s, most of Europe just watched the European Cup and UEFA Cup games of their own national teams. So, here is a little suggestion; the next time Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo score a breath-taking goal and someone on Twitter suggests the debate (on the greatest football player) is over, head to YouTube and spend ten minutes watching goals from Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Pele, Ferenc Puskas, Roberto Baggio, Eusebio, Alfredo di Stefano and so on. There have been plenty of geniuses in the game, and Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are part of that rich football history.

Generational and positional bias in football: The hunt for the greatest football player in history is like that of the Holy Grail. All footballers (sportsmen) are products of their time. Due to football’s developmental stagnation relative to other sport and because there are so many different positions, and so many roles within those positions, it is hard to have a worthwhile conversation about who the best football player of all time is. Since the main objective of the game is to score a goal, the best goal scorers such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will always be near the top of any list about the game’s best players.

Conclusion; Don’t kid yourself that there won’t be another player like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, no-one thought they would see another player like Diego Maradona.

Young Blues Shine As Chelsea March Into The Semi-Final! | Unseen Extra



Download Chelsea FC’s official mobile app:
-App Store
-Play Store

Subscribe:

To watch more EXCLUSIVE Chelsea content go to:

Welcome to the official home of Chelsea Football Club on YouTube. It’s the only channel where you’ll get an authentic look at life at this great club. Every week we’ll be uploading fresh content from the training ground, our famous stadium and much, much more. Nowhere else will you get closer to world-class stars like Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, N’Golo Kanté, Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby & Pernille Harder.

ABOUT CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB
Founded in 1905, Chelsea Football Club has a rich history, with its many successes including 5 Premier League titles, 8 FA Cups and 2 Champions Leagues, secured on memorable nights in Munich and Porto. Famous former Blues include Peter Osgood, Gianfranco Zola, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Didier Drogba & Eden Hazard.

Personal Life of Football Stars

Raúl González

Raúl grew up in a modest neighbourhood of Madrid, in the suburb Marconi de San Cristóbal de los Ángeles. His father, don Pedro, was a fan of Atlético Madrid, the club where he started playing after a short period in San Cristóbal’s team. Atletico Madrid coach didn’t notice anything special about him because he was very thin and weak. Raul later turned to Real Madrid’s C team and quickly made it to the first team in 1994/1995 season. Raúl possesses a distinctive celebration, with each goal acclaimed by a kiss of his wedding ring, an acknowledgement to his wife Mamen Sanz. They have four sons: Jorge (February 25, 2000), who is named after Jorge Valdano, Hugo (November 20, 2002) and twins Héctor and Mateo (November 17, 2005). He likes reading, especially the books of Arturo Pérez Reverte, and listening to all sorts of Spanish music. He also enjoys hunting and watching bullfighting.

Luís Nazário de Lima ‘Ronaldo’

Ronaldo was born in Bento Ribeiro, a neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Like many of his contemporaries, he began to play football in the streets of his neighbourhood.

In April 1999, Ronaldo married Milene Domingues. The marriage lasted four years and ended in divorce. The couple had a son, Ronald (born 2000). In 2005 he got engaged and married Brazilian model and MTV VJ Daniella Cicarelli, who became pregnant but suffered a miscarriage, their relationship lasted only 3 months. He is currently dating brazilian model Raica Oliveira. Besides being of interest to tabloid journalists, Ronaldo’s relationships with women apparently have a deep effect on his performances on the pitch. A soccernet.com article by Andrew Downie assessing Ronaldo’s fitness ahead of the 2006 World Cup pointed out a correlation between the striker’s form and the happiness of his love life, noting that his most prolific periods of goalscoring have coincided with the times when he was happily married In 2005 Ronaldo became co-owner of A1 Team Brazil, alongside Brazilian motorsports legend Emerson Fittipaldi. The team participates in the newly launched A1 Grand Prix series, with Nelson Piquet, Jr., Tony Kanaan and João Paulo Oliveira as drivers.

It is rumored that Ronaldo is considering leaving Real Madrid, expressing discomfort with their fans at the stadium. He has been linked with a return to former club F.C Internazionale, where he has often spoke of his desire to one day return. AC Milan could also show some interest in his name, especially after Andriy Shevchenko has left for Chelsea F.C.

Major League Soccer has also expressed interest in signing him. According to reports, Ronaldo turned down a ten-year, $120 million contract from the New York Red Bulls of MLS, saying

Right now I have a contract with Real Madrid and I’m only thinking about the World Cup, but without a doubt, the American market is one of my goals for the future.

(It was reported on ESPN during the broadcast of the Brazil-Croatia match on June 13 that the Red Bulls actually denied making Ronaldo an offer.)

Michael Ballack

Ballack is 6′ 2 ½» (189 cm) tall and weighs 179 lbs (80 kg). He and his girlfriend Simone have three children – Louis, Emilio and Jordi.

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira ‘Ronaldinho Gaúcho’

Ronaldinho was born on March 21, 1980 in Vila Nova, a poor suburb of Porto Alegre, Brazil. He was the youngest of three children. Ronaldinho’s mother Miguelina is a former salesperson who later studied to become a nurse. His father João was a shipyard worker and amateur footballer for Cruzeiro. The family moved to a more affluent district of Porto Alegre when Ronaldinho’s older brother Roberto signed to play professional football for Grêmio. João died when Ronaldinho was 8, after suffering a heart attack while swimming in the family’s pool. Injuries ended Roberto’s career prematurely, and he now manages Ronaldinho. Ronaldinho’s sister Deisi works as his press coordinator. Ronaldinho’s son, named João after his father, was born on 25 February, 2005. João’s mother is Janaína Nattielle Viana Mendes, a former dancer on the Brazilian television show Domingão do Faustão.

In his childhood, Ronaldinho’s skill in football began to blossom due to his particular interest in futsal and beach football, which later developed into a fondness for more standardised football. His first brush with the media came after a 23 goal flurry against a local team, at just 13 years of age. His reputation as a footballer was built up through his childhood, particularly since he was a prolific goalscorer in the Egypt 1997 under-17 world championship. His stylish play at the tournament also caught the eye of many. He is a huge fan of Brazilian music, and occasionally plays the drums and sings with friends in Barcelona.

David Beckham

In 1997, Beckham started dating the Spice Girl Victoria Adams and their relationship attracted a great deal of media interest.

He married Adams at Luttrellstown Castle, Ireland on 4 July 1999. The wedding attracted tremendous media coverage. Beckham’s teammate Gary Neville was the best man, and the couple’s son Brooklyn was the ring bearer. The media were kept away from the ceremony as the Beckhams had an exclusive deal with OK! Magazine, but newspapers were still able to obtain photographs showing them sitting on golden thrones. 437 staff were employed for the wedding reception, which was estimated to have cost £500,000.

The Beckhams have three sons: Brooklyn Joseph Beckham (born 4 March 1999), Romeo James Beckham (1 September 2002) and Cruz David Beckham (20 February 2005).

Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite ‘Kaká’

Kaká married Caroline Celico on 23 December 2005 in São Paulo, Brazil. The wedding was attended by fellow players from his national team, as well as other well known international players. Guests included Ronaldo, Adriano, Cafu, Dida, Júlio Baptista and Brazilian national coach Carlos Alberto Parreira. Kaká first met Celico in 2002, and they started dating soon after. The relationship survived Kaká’s move from São Paulo to Italy in 2003, while she was still at school. It is likely that Celico will stay in Brazil in the short-run, but the couple plan to live together in Italy soon. Against the stereotypical trend of football stars, Kaká is proud he was a virgin when he married. Celico’s mother, Rosangela Lyra, is the director of Dior in Brazil.

Zinedine Yazid Zidane

His wife, Veronique, is a former dancer and model of French-Spanish ancestry. They married in 1993 and have four sons named Enzo, Luca, Théo and Elyaz.