10 footballers who grew up rich: Balotelli, Lampard and more

Footballers earn an average of $3.9 million, annually — setting them at the highest rung of society. More interestingly, star players like Messi, Neymar & Mbappe, etc, earn over ten times that amount.
Faiq Bolkiah is the richest footballer on the planet

Faiq Bolkiah is the richest footballer on the planet

by   Alex Weaver

While passion for the sport also plays a role, the lucrativeness of this profession is one major reason why many venture into it. Football is replete with grass-to-grace stories; some of which include the life histories of stars like Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo. Driven solely by the desire to escape poverty, some footballers have made enormous sacrifices to realise their dream of becoming great at the game and accumulate money. However, there are also some footballers who were rich before football. For these ones, football was a means to achieve something else — fame, escape, fun — or just something they were genuinely passionate about.

In this article, we will discuss 10 popular footballers who grew up rich and totally did not need the financial support of the game.

Patrick Bamford

Born 5 September 1993 to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Bamford, Patrick grew up in the small Nottinghamshire village of Norwell, together with his two younger sisters. Bamford’s father is in fact an architect and not a billionaire as commonly claimed. Also, the striker has denied being related to Joseph Bamford, author of JCB.

In spite of all these, it is crystal clear that Patrick Bamford came from a privileged background. The footballer attended the pricey Nottingham High School, had a record five A*s at GCSE and went ahead to study Biology, History and French at A Levels. The 29-year old can play the violin to grade 7 and there are speculations that he is also adept at playing the piano. His strong educational background afforded him a scholarship offer from the prestigious Harvard University, which he politely turned down, to pursue a career in football.

The former Chelsea striker has made mention of some unfair treatments that have been met out to him from other players of humble beginnings by virtue of his being from good stock. However, he seems to have handled them well and insists that most of the rumours surrounding his background have been exaggerated. The Englishman currently plays as a striker for Leeds United and has scored 45 goals since joining the team in 2018.

Mario Balotelli

Balotelli’s story is quite spectacular. The striker is not among the footballers who were born rich; nonetheless, at a point in his life, he grew into a life of comfort and wealth. Born 12 August 1990 to Ghanaian immigrants — Rose and Thomas Barwuah — the football genius was diagnosed with a chronic intestine complication after birth. His poor parents could not afford the hospital bills needed for his treatment and were faced with no choice but to offer him up for adoption at age three.

Consequently, Balotelli was brought up by foster parents Francesco and Silvia Balotelli from childhood. His foster parents were wealthy and lived in Concesio, an affluent part of Brescia. Thanks to the financial and moral support from his foster parents, Mario began playing football at a very young age, quickly rising through the ranks to become one of the youngest prodigies in the sport.

The Italian international has played for several clubs, including Inter, Milan, Manchester City and Liverpool. He presently plays as a striker for Swiss club, Sion, and has scored three goals in five appearances for the team.

Gerard Pique

Pique is one of the most popular footballers who were rich before football. The Spaniard was born and raised in a wealthy Catalan family. His father, Joan, is a very successful attorney and business executive. His mother, Montserrat, directs a prestigious Barcelonian hospital. And then, his grandfather, Amador Bernabeu, is a former Barcelona director.

Growing up, the Spanish international had quite an easy life, even going on to study in one of the best secondary schools in faraway England — Ashton on Mersey School. The 35-year old is a tactically versatile player and is said to be one of the best defenders of his generation.

Pique plays as a centre-back for Spanish powerhouse, Barcelona. He has scored a total of 60 goals in his senior career, both at club and national levels.

Hugo Lloris

Named after Victor Hugo, famed author of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Hugo Lloris was born into upper-class wealth. His mother, Marie, was a successful attorney. While his father, Luc, is a prosperous investment banker of Spanish descent. Lloris’ affluent background provided him with the opportunity to attend Lycee Thierry Malunier, one of the best high schools in Nice, France.

Also, the Frenchman had daily tennis lessons and might have given Rafael Nadal a run for his money, but for a sudden detour he made at the age of 13 to abandon the racket in pursuit of a professional football career.

22 years down the line and the former Nice goalie is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in football. He has won the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year award a record three times. He plays as a goalkeeper for Tottenham Hotspur and this season alone, he has made 26 saves for the team in 10 matches played.

Will Hughes

Born 17 April 1995, Williams James Hughes is often considered to be a son to Leslie Mark Hughes, Welsh former football player and Southampton manager. However, this is a false assumption. Little is known about the Englishman’s parenting and upbringing as it seems he prefers to keep things a little private.

However, one thing is for sure — Hughes is not used to slumming things out. The former Watford player was educated at the super-posh Repton School in Derbyshire. Famous for its richness in literary history, unrivalled sports coaching and outstanding academic tuition, the school has also produced exceptional minds such as Basil Rathbone, Roald Dahl and Jeremy Clarkson. The institution is known to accept tens of thousands of pounds per academic term.

Hughes currently plays as a central midfielder for Crystal Palace, where he has scored one goal in 27 matches, since joining the team in August 2021.

Mario Gotze

When everybody in your family is an overachiever, being anything short of exceptional becomes a taboo. Such is the case of 30-year old Mario Gotze. Born to the family of Astrid Gotze (his housewife mother) and Jurgen Gotze, Mario’s story is undoubtedly one of riches to riches. His father is a renowned German professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology at the Dortmund University of Technology. In his younger years, the senior Gotze held a research position in the Computer Science department of the well-respected Yale University.

Young Mario was just six years old when his father got transferred to Ruhr Valley, leaving behind the place of his birth. However, his parents enrolled him at SC Ronsberg so he could receive the same training quality Bayern would have afforded him. From there, the German’s exceptional skills with the ball have made him a formidable player.

He has played for a number of German teams including Borussia Dortmund and Bundesliga champions, Bayern Munich. He is presently signed as an attacking midfielder for Eintracht Frankfurt. Since joining the team in July 2022, he has scored two goals in 15 appearances. While the sacrifice and talent that the midfielder possesses cannot be overlooked, there are suggestions that his father’s influence and money had a role in his progression at Borussia Dortmund.

Faiq Bolkiah

Hailing from one of the wealthiest families in the world, Bolkiah most deserves to be mentioned in discussions about footballers who grew up rich. The likes of Neymar, Ronaldo and Messi may be high-earners but they do not hold a candle to Faiq Bolkiah. Commonly regarded as the richest footballer on the planet, the 24-year old is the son of Jefri Bolkiah, Prince of Brunei, and has an estimated net worth of £16.9 billion. His uncle, Hassanal, is the Sultan (monarch) of the country.

The former Maritimo midfielder was born in California, USA and was educated at Bradfield College, Britain. He holds dual citizenships from both America and Brunei. However, he plays for the Bruneian national team and has even served as the captain, in the past.

Upon finding it impossible to make a name for himself in the senior squad of Premier League outfits — where he spent his formative years — the young prince Portuguese club, Maritimo, in 2020. He is currently a midfielder for Thai powerhouse, Chonburi FC.

Al-Saadi Gaddafi

Not every player had a dictator for a father. Nonetheless, it is a reputation capable of aiding most achieve their life-long ambitions, at least within their countries. His experiment with the sport started around 2000, when he was a player at Al Ahly Tripoli. His club members were rewarded in forms of cars and kind for passing the ball to the young Gaddafi. A legislation forbade the mention of the name of any other footballer but his. Also, match and referee decisions were arranged to favour Al-Saadi’s club and security forces were put in place to silence the voices of protesters.

At every practice and match, the dictator’s third son had his security staff comb the surrounding perimeters. He is said to have booked the whole top floor of the Brufani Palace Hotel, a prestigious, five-star hotel in Perugia. During his active days, he once employed Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson as his personal trainer and Diego Maradona as his technical consultant.

The Libyan was undoubtedly truly passionate about football and went ahead to also play in Al-Ittihad Tripoli, Perugia, Udinese and Sampdoria. Thanks to his father’s influence, he was also the captain of the Libyan national team. However, he was of such modest ability that his senior career was doomed. Fortunately, he was able to accomplish his life-long ambition of being a professional footballer before facing countless murder charges in 2014, which despite being cleared of, marked the end of his career.

Robin van Persie

Robin van Persie, born 6 August 1983, is a former Dutch footballer who played as a striker. Having played for Premier League powerhouses, Arsenal and Manchester United, he is regarded as one of the top strikers of his time. He has also made a record as the highest goalscorer for the Netherland national men’s team.

Van Persie’s parents provided him a very comfortable life, growing up in Rotterdam. His father, Bob, is a renowned and successful sculptor. Meanwhile, Jose Ras, his mother, is a jewellery designer and painter. Given his parents fortunes, he received all the moral and economic support he needed to pursue a career as a professional footballer.

Given his estimated net worth of about $50 million, the former Gunner seems to be providing the same opportunity he had to his 15-year old son, Shaqueel van Persie. Shaqueel presently plays in the U17 squad of Feyenoord as a left winger.

Frank Lampard

Born 20 June 1978, Frank J Lampard is a former professional footballer and present English professional football manager. In his earlier years, he played as a midfielder for several teams including West Ham United, Manchester City and Chelsea. He is widely regarded as one of greatest players who have ever played for the Blues.

Lampard is not from humble beginnings as his father, Frank Lampard Snr. and his uncle, Harry Redknapp were also former footballers. His silver spoon afforded him a place in the high-classed Brentwood School in Essex. He was a straight-As student and if not for his passion for footballing, he would have been an accountant.

He has served as a coach for Derby County and also managed the Chelsea team between 2019 and 2021. As of now, he is the coach of English Premier League outfit, Everton. He has an estimated net worth of $90 million.

Top features