Footballers often get accused of being detached from the ‘real world’ due to their levels of fame and wealth but that’s not always the case.
Like all sports, things can get passionate during a game and it’s no wonder fans end up bitterly hating players from rival teams.
But that being said, the following footballers all deserve massive credit for their charitable gestures away from the pitch.
It’s easy to be cynical about athletes who earn vast sums of money but the following men have all used their status and fame to help others…
The striker is no stranger to controversy but his charitable work goes largely unnoticed. The Craig Bellamy Foundation educates young people in Sierra Leone through their love of football.
A local development league also encourages children to attend school and undertake community projects in return for the chance to play football and develop their skills through coaching sessions.
McClean takes a lot of stick in the Premier League on a weekly basis, but that ignores his kindness off the field. Earlier this year, the West Brom winger spent £1500 to buy a hand cycle bike for a young girl with Spina Bifida after hearing about her disability on Facebook.
After helping Germany win the World Cup, Ozil reportedly used his bonus to pay for 23 Brazilian children to have life saving surgery. The German was given a Laureus Award after this remarkable gesture.
He might be renowned for his egotistical nature, but Zlatan has also shown he has a caring side. The PSG striker once donated €40,000 so that the Swedish disabled team could travel and play at their World Cup. It’s no wonder he’s adored back in his home country.
Despite travelling all over Europe during his career, Kuyt has also found time to set up a charity helping disabled children in the Netherlands and the developing world.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo he said: “We started to support disabled children, providing them with all different kinds of sports. We’ve been doing that for the past four years and it’s been going really well.
“There is not enough money for these children to do the things they like to do. We’re able to give them the chance they deserve to play sports.”
Ronaldo has been named the most charitable athlete in the world and it’s easy to see why.
Among many other kind gestures, the Real Madrid star donated £105,000 to fund a research centre at the hospital where his mother was treated for cancer, while he has also paid for operations to help sick children.
In his role as a UNICEF ambassador, Messi has helped raise awareness of the suffering in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and has worked on campaigns for HIV prevention, education, and the social inclusion of disabled children.
The Leo Messi Foundation also provides access to health care, education, and sport for children.
Universally acknowledged as one of the soundest people in football, Beckham is an enormous driving force when it comes to charity and social causes.
He has spent a decade as a UNICEF ambassador and is a patron of Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS and Elton John’s AIDS Foundation. He recently took part in seven football matches in seven continents to raise money and awareness for UNICEF, including the ‘Match for Children’ at Old Trafford.
In 2007, Zidane organised an exhibition match to take place in Thailand, raising money to build two schools and 16 three-bedroom houses. So successful was the event that he’s been doing it ever since.
We don’t blame you if you dislike the Chelsea icon for his ‘theatrics’ on the pitch but Drogba is a saint when he’s away from the field.
Aside form his remarkable charity work, the striker played a vital role in bringing peace to the Ivory Coast after a bitter civil war.
This achievement saw him being listed in Time magazine’s top 100 most influential people in the world.