Some indisputably good-looking gentlemen have played professional soccer. In fact, some of the high-cheekboned men who bring new meaning to the phrase “the beautiful game” could quite easily have made their fortune being photographed instead of doing all that running around. Some of them did just that, supplementing their soccer paycheck by modeling for various high-end fashion companies. Here are nine men who posed for the camera between matches, and one who turned down multiple offers to do so.
How could we not start with Becks? You might not see him in the top 10 or even 20 players of all time in terms of skill, but his fame and glory far surpass his athletic abilities. David Beckham slipped comfortably into a second career as an underwear model, first for Emporio Armani and then for an eponymous collection sold through the retailer H&M.
Becks’ celebrity has transcended soccer and he’s amassed an incredible fortune thanks to his multimillion-dollar contracts with and commercials for brands such as Adidas, Brylcreem, Coty, H&M, Sainsbury’s and Samsung.
Freddie is another famous soccer player who did some moonlighting as a model when he became the face of Calvin Klein underwear in 2003, which was reportedly one of the brand’s most successful campaigns ever. He remained a model for Calvin Klein until 2007, but also represented Nike, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Puma, ESPN and Pepsi. Not bad for a 5’9” player from Sweden, right?
Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the best, most famous, and one of the highest-earning soccer players in the world, and he’s got the looks and amazing body to go with. Furthermore, he’s dating with one of the hottest and most beautiful women on earth, Irina Shayk. So what more could a man ask from life? The answer, in this case, is his own underwear line. See, Cristiano followed in Beckham’s footsteps when he signed a contract to be an Emporio Armani underwear model. However, the Portuguese superstar wasn’t happy with just being a model and in 2013 he got his own line of underwear named—what else?—CR7.
This man, ladies and gents, is the one who started the whole soccer player/male model thing. You probably don’t know him and you definitely won’t see him on any lists of the greatest soccer players ever, but back in the early ‘90s he was soccer’s answer to Jennifer Aniston. He played with panache for Paris Saint-Germain, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and more, dribbling down wings with his famous flowing locks trailing behind him in the wind, and made numerous commercials for Cerruti, Morgan, Braun razors, Carte Noire coffee, Renault cars and—of course—L’Oréal hair products.
Paolo Maldini is arguably one of the greatest defenders in the history of the sport and one of the most decorated footballers since he won pretty much every major club trophy there is with Milan, including five Champions League trophies, as well as seven Italian Serie A titles. Known for his piercing blue eyes, perfectly timed interceptions and being a total gentleman, Paolo Maldini became not only the fans’ favorite player … he was plenty popular for many non-soccer-related reasons, but refused to cash in. Even though Maldini received numerous proposals from top Italian fashion designers, such as Armani and Versace, to promote their clothes, he always kindly refused by reminding them that his place was on the soccer field and not the catwalk.
Stefano Bettarini might not be widely known outside Italy, but inside the borders of the motherland of style and fashion he was considered one of the hottest athletes of the ‘90s. As a player he made just one appearance for the Italian national team in a friendly warm-up match before the start of Euro 2004. However, he gained a lot of attention from the Italian media during the mid-to-late 90s when he started dating and later married famous Italian television show host Simona Ventura. After that he started appearing more and more in various TV series and fashion shows and playing soccer became a nice little hobby really.
They call him the “Greek George Clooney,” and when you get a chance to look at his photos you totally understand why. The handsome Greek goalie had an illustrious career that lasted nearly 25 years; played for Panathinaikos and Olympiakos, won a total of 23 club titles, and was part of the Greek team that shocked the world by winning Euro 2004. In the meantime he made a name for himself off the soccer field by acting in many commercials for Greek TV, and he was always the first player the foreign media looked for every time the Greek national team or his club played an international game, because who wouldn’t want to interview the “Greek George Clooney?”
Batigol was one of the greatest attackers in the history of the sport … and a ladies’ favorite as well. He never showed any particular interest in a fashion career, but his handsome, rock-star looks fascinated and excited his female fans around the globe, who dedicated one fan page after another on the Web to him. Eventually, he gave in to the constant demands for his attention and loaned a small piece of himself to the fashion industry when he briefly advertised Sting glasses in the ‘90s.
At 27, Gerard Pique has achieved more than most players would achieve in two lifetimes. He has won three Champions League trophies and two FIFA Club World Cups with Barcelona—the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the 2012 European Championship with Spain. While doing this he also captured Shakira’s heart, appeared in music videos, and, of course, worked occasionally as a model thanks to his bright smile and beautiful eyes. Shakira has no problem with her hubby working as a model every now and then, but has apparently banned him from working with other sexy ladies.
The young Frenchman has recently become Cristiano Ronaldo’s biggest threat, both in terms of being lusted after and, subsequently, the title of the highest-earning footballer. According to People With Money magazine, Gourcuff has conquered the title of the richest soccer player in the world for 2014 with an estimated $46 million in combined earnings, and a suspected total net worth of $145 million. How? Smart stock investments, substantial property holdings, and lucrative endorsement deals with CoverGirl cosmetics. He also owns a few restaurants in Paris, has launched his own brand of Vodka (Pure Wondergourcuff – France), is “legally to blame” for top-selling perfume With Love from Yoann, and has a fashion line called Yoann Gourcuff Seduction. He’s got the looks, the smarts and the skills: Can you think of a more efficient, profitable combination?