Football is one of the most loved games around the world. In Europe, football leagues across the continent pay top dollar for the world's most talented athletes. While many of these players take the money, buy large houses, and invest in new business ventures, they also donate large chunks of their salary to charity. From David Beckham's Charitable Trust to Lionel Messi's partnership with UNICEF, you'll be surprised to find out just how much money the best footballers in the world give to charity!
David Beckham Is More Than Just A Fashion Icon
One of the greatest English footballers to ever play on the pitch, David Beckham is also one of the most charitable players off it. Not only does he work with UNICEF and Help For Heroes, he also found Malaria No More and the Victoria and David Beckham Charitable Trust.
The trust works to raise money to provide needed services for children, other charities in need, and disabled persons. In his career, Beckham has given away countless millions to help try and make the world a better place.
Jermain Defoe Takes Causes To Heart
While we don't know how much money Jermain Defoe has donated to charity, we do know this; when he finds a cause he truly cares for, he takes it personally. Take Bradley Lowery, for example.
When Defoe heard about the young Sunderland fan who was battling cancer, he went out of his way to meet Lowery and make him the team's unofficial mascot. When Lowery lost his battle, Defoe had his name tattooed on his right arm and said, "God has you in his arms and I will always carry you in my heart. Sleep tight little one. My best friend."
Lionel Messi Loves UNICEF
Considered arguably the best football player in the world (we'll get to Ronaldo later), Lionel Messi is one of the worldwide ambassadors for UNICEF. Working with the organization, the star player has helped improve the education systems in Indonesia, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
On top of his work with UNICEF, Messie also contributes money to community projects in Argentina. And if that weren't enough, he paid to have a much-needed hospital fully restored in his hometown.
Nwankwo Kanu Gets Kids The Surgery They Need
Nwankwo made a name for himself in the United Kingdom as a striker for Arsenal and Portsmouth. When it came to where he wanted to make a difference, though, he chose his homeland of Nigeria.
In Nigeria, Kanu set up the Kanu Heart Foundation to make sure children suffering with cardiac ailments received the treatments they needed. Since the foundation was founded in 2000, more than 500 children have been given life or death open heart surgeries.
Mesut Ozil Gave Away All His Money
After winning the 2014 World Cup with Brazil, Mesut Ozil did the unthinkable. He gave away his entire tournament winnings to charity. Specifically, the German-born football star, gave all 237,000 pounds back to Brazil.
Brazil used the money to pay for children's medical costs for life-saving procedures. In 2017, Ozil again gave back, working with My Shining Star to provide children fighting cancer the ability to make their dreams come true. He even invited one child to be his guest at a football match with Sunderland.
Cristiano Ronaldo Is A Money Giving Machine
Few athletes have given away as much money to charity as Cristiano Ronaldo. The man is worth an estimated $108 million, but his heart is worth even more. In 2012, Ronaldo auctioned off his Golden Boot award, raising 1.5 million euros to build a school on the Gaza Strip.
Ronaldo is also involved with Save the Children, a foundation dedicated to raising money for desperately needed earthquake relief in Nepal. The country was crushed by a major quake in 2015.
Michael Essien Donates His Money To Ghana
Michael Essien made a name for himself as a player who left it all on the field for Chelsea. Off the field, the football mad man is just as passionate, and works tirelessly to bring much-needed aid to Ghana and its surrounding areas.
Through the Michael Essien Foundation, he has been able to build new libraries in his home country and provide public health care facilities. Most importantly, Essien has provided Ghana with access to clean drinking water.
Didier Drogba Ended A Civil War
How many people can put "ended a civil war" on their resume? Didier Drogba can, thanks to his efforts to unite his home country during the 2006 World Cup. He pleaded with the Ivory Coast to stop fighting and unite to support the national team, and they did!
Drogba also founded the Didier Drogba Foundation in 2007 to help fight healthcare and education problems in Africa. Not many people have done as much off the pitch for their homeland's as Didier Drogba.
Neymar Gave Brazil Clean Water
Neymar is the third highest paid football player in the history of the sport. And with so much cash burning a hole in his pocket, the stud player decided to do that noble thing; donate to charity.
Not only does Neymar give away millions, he also runs his own organization, Waves for Water. The passion project helps raise money to provide Brazil with access to clean drinking water. If that wasn't enough, Neymar also hosts charity events and games which raise millions of euros for good causes.
Mario Balotelli Wants You To Have His Money
You're probably surprised to see Mario Balotelli on this list. Known for his bad attitude and even worse temper on the pitch, he transforms into a teddy bear off it. The surprisingly caring star donates 50 percent of his salary to children in Africa.
We guess what they about not judging books by their covers in this true. In this case, Balotelli is fine with opponents being scared of him during a match, but in reality, he wouldn't hurt a fly.
Hector Bellerin Learned To Give At A Young Age
Hector Bellerin has a very bright future as a football star, so it's a great thing he's learning to be giving at a young age. While the Spaniard was playing in the Under-21 European Championship, he pledged to donate 50 pounds for every minute he played.
When the tournament was over, Bellerin had logged 381 minutes. He then followed through on his pledge, and donated 19,050 pounds to the British Red Cross. Amazingly, Bellerin later reached out to his fans asking what other charities he should help support.
Dirk Kuyt Wants To Keep Sports Alive
Dirk Kuyt started out his professional football career as a striker, but made a name for himself switching positions to winger. In the '90s and early aughts, he was the star of the Netherlands National Team. Since retiring, he has made it his goal to teach the sport he loves to the youth.
Through his foundation Fun for Everyone, Kuyt is able to organize games and events that disable children can participate in. He believes that giving these kids the gift of sports is essential for their social life.
Frederic Kanoute Opened A School
Frederic Kanoute began his EPL career in 2000 with West Ham United. In 2003, he moved to the Tottenham Hotspurs, who eventually sold him to Sevilla. Soon after leaving Tottenham, Kanoute founded the Kanoute Foundation in Mali.
Originally from Mali, Kanoute wanted to spread goodwill back to his home country and used the foundation as a way to do it. He was able to establish a "Children's Village" there called Sakina, which would act as a city for orphaned children. Within the village limits, the kids have access to healthcare and athletic facilities.
Rafa Marquez Created Soccer Clinics In Underprivileged Neighborhoods
Rafa Marquez only had a brief career playing soccer in Europe, making most of his impact in the United States and Mexico. Still, with everything he's done to improve the lives of the less fortunate, he deserves to be on this list.
In 2005, Marquez started founded several Rafa Marquez Soccer Clinics in his home country of Mexico. He centralised the clinics in areas where youths were marginalised and fell into trouble with the law. He also worked to created nutrition and education programs to give these young people the tools they would need to be successful in life.
Samuel Eto'o Is Tackling Poverty Problems In Africa
Samuel Eto'o has spent over 20 years as a professional footballer. Making his debut with Real Madrid in 1997, he currently wears the kit for Qatar SC. His world-spanning football career has made Eto'o deeply aware of just how impoverished some parts of the globe are.
Like many others on this list, Eto'o has focused his efforts on his home country; Cameroon. Through his foundation, the charitable athlete has been able to provide orphans with an education, nutrition, toys, and clothes.
Jack Wilshere Stayed By Jack Marshall's Side
Like Jermain Defoe earlier on this list, Jack Wilshere took his charitable responsibilities personally after meeting Jack Marshall. He was 22-years-old when the four-year-old cancer patient was introduced to him. Overcome with emotion, Wilshere became a close friend with Jack and his family until the sad end.
After his experiences with Marshall, Wilshere continued to stay in contact with the family. He even intervened when he found out Jack's brother was being bullied at school, playing football with him in the park while his stalkers watched.
Iker Casillas Is A Goodwill Ambassador
Considered one of the best goalies in the world, Iker Casillas is also one of the most charitable athletes. In 2011, he was named the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme's Millennium Development Goals.
Casillas works with the program to fight for the rights of children worldwide while also campaigning to end childhood poverty. On top of his work with the program, Casillas also donates money to Spanish families in need who have been devastated by crises.
Mo Salah Is Building Hospitals
Mo Salah is one of the biggest football players in the world, but has never forgotten his roots. Born in Egypt, the incredibly wealthy and talented star is giving back everything he can to his home by helping to build schools and hospitals.
As humble as they come, Salah has donated thousands of dollars to charities to help retired footballers who are going through rough patched. One close friend said, "Salah is a refined person who, despite his popularity, has never forgotten about his town."
Kylian Mbappe Didn't Want His World Cup Paycheck
Kylian Mbappe was 19-years-old in 2018 when he won the World Cup with France. At that age, being handed a check for 265,000 pounds is a dream come true. Mbappe wasn't interested in the dream, though, and have it all to charity.
Mbappe gave all the money to a charity he started working with in 2017 that focuses on disability awareness. One of the workers at the foundation praised Mbappe, "he always finds the right [words] to encourage them. I sometimes even feel that [he] takes more pleasure to play with the kids than the kids themselves."
Juan Mata Is Leading The Charge
Juan Mata knows that the football world is overflowing with cash, and he wants to do something about it. In a daring move, the Manchester United midfielder is challenging his brothers to donate one percent of the their salaries to charity.
In a statement, he said, "Football players have so much reach, influence and cultural significance that when they do things, people take notice. The pledge is important financially, but also about the setting an example really for all the fans of the game to follow."