The most popular footballers on social media at the World Cup.
bwin’s Most Followed XI
Social media has forever changed the face of football – with players and clubs’ ability to connect with the fans like never before, and all the complications and fun which arises from it. Just as Twitter is the first port of call for savvy players to announce good news or hype up for the next game, other more prolific players may wish to skip it in the aftermath of a loss or a personal mistake that may cause them some online grief.
With the World Cup providing the opportunity to be seen on the international stage, some players will make the most use of their Twitter accounts this summer to greet their new followers. With that in mind bwin have looked into which players would make a Most Followed XI.
Goalkeeper – Victor Valdes
The most-followed goalkeeper in the world has had two gloved hands in three Champions League wins and five La Liga titles for Barcelona, but sadly has not established himself on the international stage due to Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina both being ahead of him in the queue. With more than three million Twitter followers, he’s a shoo-in for our list.
RB: Sergio Ramos
Ramos was Castrol Performance Index’ Player of the Tournament at the 2010 World Cup, where he lifted the trophy following Spain’s fiery 1-0 win over the Netherlands. It’s that fire which has also earned the Real Madrid defender a club record amount of red cards – but his 3.32 million followers won’t mind too much.
CB: Gerard Piqué
Another World Cup winner for Spain, Piqué started each and every one of their games during the 2010 campaign, making the central defence his own and also featuring in UEFA’s Team of the Tournament for Euro 2012. With over eight million followers, the Barca defender often shares updates on the family he is raising with singer Shakira.
CB: Carles Puyol
Puyol’s trademark locks lend him a Samson-like strength in defence, where he played a part in Spain’s march to the World Cup final, by scoring the only goal in the 2010 semi-final against Germany. The player with the second highest number of league appearances of all time for Barcelona, has recently announced he’ll be leaving the club – to the dismay of his 6.3 million Twitter followers.
LB: Ashley Cole
The Chelsea left-back has proved his value to the national side with more than 100 caps for England – as well as a record seven FA Cups for both Chelsea and Arsenal. With successive victories in the two European club competitions these past two seasons, Cole has a loyal 1.46 million Twitter follower base. Cole is now fighting to keep his role for both club and country, having experienced much of the nation’s footballing highs and lows for England during the past decade.
Although injury has seen the Manchester United winger struggle to get back into the side which is itself currently underperforming, Nani has made some crucial contributions in recent years including a well-taken penalty in United’s 2008 Champions League final against Chelsea. Things haven’t been the same for the Portuguese winger since his dismissal for a high challenge against Real Madrid last season, but with more than three million Twitter fans he’s still held in high regard.
CM: Andrés Iniesta
The 2010 World Cup Final Man of the Match capped an amazing tournament with the only goal of the game against the Netherlands, but the Barcelona legend has also made a phenomenal contribution to his club, helping them to six league titles and three Champions League wins during his 12 years of service to the club. With over eight million followers, he’s well-loved on Twitter like many of his fellow Barca players in this side.
The Brazilian playmaker was the first footballer in the world to gain ten million followers on Twitter – at the time of writing, the World Cup winner has almost doubled that with over 18 million followers. With more than 100 goals for AC Milan during his two spells at the club, Kaka has amassed a rabid fanbase, keen to see him return to the style of old; a stay at Real Madrid proved difficult for his growth as a player, but now firmly back in the red and black, Kaka has a lot more left to offer.
LM: Cristiano Ronaldo
With twenty-five million Twitter followers keen to read what the Real Madrid star has to say, Cristiano Ronaldo was one of Manchester United’s best-loved players before his sale to Real Madrid in 2009. Portugal’s all-time leading scorer is also the youngest player to reach 100 caps for them, and in scoring all four goals during their qualification play-offs against Sweden, is expected to have a massive impact on this summer’s World Cup tournament.
After four Brazilian league titles and an Olympic silver medal, the signs were good as Barcelona purchased the 22-year old for just under £50 million. He duly obliged by scoring one and setting up the second of Barca’s goals in an El Clasico victory, followed by his first Champion League hat-trick. Neymar has ten million Twitter followers and is currently ranked the seventh richest footballer in the world; both these figures are sure to shoot up as his talent develops over the coming years.
ST: Wayne Rooney
Now among the top three Manchester United goal-scorers of all time, Wayne Rooney’s career has had all the highs and lows you’d expect of any English star. Rooney’s hard-headed determination mixed with an eye for a skilful display, is what landed him a new five-and-a-half year contract earlier in the year, something he celebrated with his 8.3 million followers. With United’s downturn in fortunes recently, it’s up to the likes of Rooney to get them back to the upper echelons of the European elite – and to perform at the World Cup for England later this year.
There are clearly several footballers worldwide who have recognised the power of social media and the need to promote themselves off the pitch as well as on it. As the current Ballon d’Or winner and the most followed star on Twitter, Ronaldo has clearly found the perfect way to balance both skills.