Footballers are renowned for the hefty amounts of money they earn, but it’s not all fast cars and expensive watches for those at the top of the game.
In fact, many footballers – whether publicly or privately – donate huge amounts of money and time to various charitable organisations.
After Crystal Palace star Wilfried Zaha won an award for his ongoing philanthropic gestures, we decided to take a look at some of the world’s most charitable footballers…
After Wilfried Zaha won an award for his philanthropy, we have decided to look deeper…
Let’s start with the man of the moment. Zaha has been in the news a lot over the last few months, but not always for good reasons during his will he, won’t he transfer saga. This week, though, the Ivory Coast winger hit the headlines in a far more positive light.
The 26-year-old picked up the Best of Africa Award for Philanthropic Endeavour in the Best of Africa Awards 2019 on Monday night, partly for his incredible gesture of giving 10 per cent of his monthly wages to charities in his home country.
This is an ongoing decision that he has made for a long time, stretching right back to the start of his football career. Speaking about the award, he said: ‘I’ve given 10 per cent of my wages, from my first wage, back home to anyone that doesn’t have anything, anyone less fortunate, the others who are just by themselves.
‘I help my sister’s orphanage, called Tamara’s Hope, so I take care of it basically. So all these kids that have nothing, it takes care of them and it brings me joy knowing that I do that, I help those people in life day-to-day.’
Zaha donates to a series of charities back home in the Ivory Coast and has done for years
The Eagles winger poses for a photo during some work with the Palace for Life Foundation
Perhaps the most high-profile case in recent years, Juan Mata went one better than just donating some of his own money… he has tried to get as many of his fellow professionals as possible to join him.
Mata started the charity ‘Common Goal’ alongside Jurgen Griesbeck and Thomas Preiss in 2017, and the group have so far recruited 122 players and managers, who all donate 1 per cent of their monthly wage to charity.
Common Goal then sends the money to various non-government organisations around the world, such as the likes of SportForLifeUK, the Cameroon Football Development Program and the One World Play Project.
Aside from Common Goal, at both Chelsea and Manchester United, the midfielder has been spotted out and about helping various local charities.
Juan Mata created Common Goal, which has so far recruited 122 players and managers
The Manchester United midfielder donates a percentage of his monthly wage to charity too
The Arsenal defender, a Londoner at heart after eight years in the capital, hit the headlines in June 2017 when he made a hugely generous donation to those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.
Seventy-two people died in the fire just seven miles from Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, and Bellerin was among the first in the football community to donate.
Writing on Twitter at the time, the Spaniard pledged to donate £50 for every minute he played at the upcoming U21 European Championships. He then went on to feature in 381, therefore giving a huge £19,050 to charity. Raheem Sterling also made a ‘significant’ donation to help those affected.
Later that year Bellerin again took to social media to enquire about a charity he could donate lots of pairs of Puma football boots to, later helping Reach Out UK following a message from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Hector Bellerin’s pledge ensured he donated £19,050 to help Grenfell Tower victims
The Arsenal midfielder has lived in London for nine years and feels at home in the capital
Defoe’s charity work has been so impressive over the last few years that he was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list last year.
He began the Jermain Defoe Foundation in 2013, helping to support vulnerable children in the Caribbean, before really catching the public’s hearts during his friendship with the late Bradley Lowery.
While at Sunderland, Defoe met the young boy, who was suffering from a rare form of cancer called Neuroblastoma. He led Lowery out onto the pitch as a mascot both with Sunderland and England, attended his birthday party, and visited the family on several occasions before Bradley’s tragic death in July 2017.
When collecting his OBE, Defoe dedicated it to both Lowery and those involved with the Jermain Defoe Foundation.
Jermain Defoe struck up a beautiful friendship with Bradley Lowery while at Sunderland
Defoe has his own foundation and was recently awarded an OBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours
Recently, Ozil has been getting plenty of stick from Arsenal fans for his £350,000 a week pay packet while not even making the squad. In the past, though, he hasn’t spent it all on himself and has an impressive track record when it comes to charity.
One of the highlights of Ozil’s career came in Brazil when he won the 2014 World Cup with Germany, beating the hosts 7-1 on their way to the final. Before the tournament, he pledged to help 11 sick Brazilian children by paying for their life-saving hospital treatment… but after the tournament he upped it to 23.
That meant donating a massive £237,000 in medical bills, his entire bonus for winning the tournament, and was a huge gesture from the midfielder.
Mesut Ozil donated a massive £237,000 in medical bills following Germany’s World Cup win
Ozil gets his fair share of stick on social media but has regularly donated money to charity
Much like Wilfried Zaha, Salah’s charity donations are not a one-off but more of a regular pledge. In fact, the Liverpool man has done a little bit of both over the last few years.
In his home village of Basyoun, report the BBC, the Mohamed Salah Charity Foundation helps 450 families financially by giving them a monthly allowance, while a few years ago the footballer gave more than £23,000 to help former footballers in his home country.
He also donated £234,000 from his own pocket to the Egyptian government in 2017, when their economy was failing, and reportedly gave £2.5m this summer to the National Cancer Institute of Egypt following a terrorist attack in Cairo.
It isn’t just money, either… he fronted a drug addiction campaign two years ago, and the Ministry of Social Solidarity’s hotline received a 400 per cent increase in calls. The videos with him in were watched more than eight million times in just three days.
‘Salah has never forgotten his roots – unlike other players who often forget their families and villages when they become wealthy,’ Inas Mazhar, who worked as the Egypt national team’s media officer between 2016 and June 2018, told the BBC.
‘It is well known that Salah dedicates a lot of money for those in need in his village. Everything goes through his father, who knows what to do.’
Mohamed Salah has given vast amounts of money to help charities back in his home country
Salah donated £234,000 to the Egyptian government when their economy was failing in 2017
Arguably the most famous sportsman on the planet, Ronaldo is also one of the most generous and has previously given away vast sums of money to charity.
In fact, he was named the most charitable sportsperson of 2015, after donating a series of big cash sums. In 2013, he was named in the UEFA Team of the Year, winning an £89,000 bonus – but he donated it straight to the Red Cross.
A year later, Real Madrid won the Champions League but rather than taking his £450,000 bonus for himself he donated it straight to charity.
In 2005, he watched footage of a small child wearing his Portugal 7 shirt stranded after an earthquake hit Indonesia. Rather than just giving money he went one better and headed to the country himself.
He is an ambassador for three major charities, Save the Children, Unicef and World Vision, and has thrown his weight behind many more in the past.
Cristiano Ronaldo has also donated vast sums of money to various charities around the world
Ronaldo, now at Juventus, is an ambassador for three major charities, including UNICEF