Footballers often get a hard press. And sometimes they deserve it.
Luis Suarez biting people, John Terry being an alleged racist and Ryan Giggs shagging his brother’s wife for years all spring to mind, but sometimes they prove that they’re not always bellends.
There’s been some great gestures by footballers in recent years and we thought we’d compile a list of the nicest acts that go a long way to salvaging players’ reputations.
Here it is:
It’s safe to say that the world’s best player (don’t lynch us, Ronaldo’s good too) was never in danger of being remembered as a bellend rather than one of the best ever, but he’s still made headlines off the pitch in a positive way.
We’re sure you remember the story that we’re talking about, when the picture of the young Afghan boy wearing a blue and white striped carrier bag went viral and nearly blew up the internet.
Messi proved he wasn’t untouchable by organising a meeting with the young fan, and presented him with an authentic shirt of his, as well as a memory that will stay with him forever.
The Argentina star has also been a charity supporter in the past. Last year, he donated £315,000 to UNICEF and a signed football which sold for £45,000 was given to the same charity.
Anything Messi can do, Cristiano can do better.
Back in 2014, Ronaldo was approached by the parents of a child who needed a brain operation, and the Portugal star offered to pay for the surgery himself, as well as a series of follow up operations.
In 2012, Ronaldo dedicated a goal for Real Madrid to a young cancer patient he had met previously, and has also mentioned a group of leukemia sufferers in his Ballon d’Or acceptance speech.
He is also the global ambassador of the children’s charity Save the Children, a set up which has raised millions for underprivileged kids around the world.
What a guy.
Despite having a reputation as an arrogant maverick, Zlatan has another side.
In 2014, Sweden’s national team for the intellectually disabled were left short by the powers that be. They had rightfully qualified for the World Cup in Brazil, but couldn’t afford to travel there.
They approached a number of famous Swedish sports stars for help and asked Ibra for a signed shirt, only for the PSG striker to donate the entire £35,000 for the whole team to travel.
Ibrahimovic was rightfully disgusted that the team couldn’t afford to travel, and had no hesitation putting in the cash needed so his team could go and compete on the world stage.
Daniele De Rossi
Roma midfielder De Rossi makes it into this collection through last week’s headlines.
On the pitch, the one club legend has a reputation as a hard man, but showed his softer side recently.
The 32-year-old left his World Cup winners medal in the coffin of Pietro Lombardi, who was the Italian national team kit man when the Azzurri lifted the trophy in 2006.
Lombardi had the nickname ‘the toothbrush’ thanks to his ability to clean boots brilliantly, and De Rossi became such close friends that he put his winners medal in the 92-year-old’s coffin.
We’ve saved the best till last.
Didier Drogba is so influential in the Ivory Coast, he made it onto Time magazine’s top 100 most influential people in 2010.
He’s done so much charity work in his homeland that he has basically changed the entire country’s fortunes, as he strives to improve the conditions of his people.
Drogba has done wonders for Ivory Coast’s healthcare and education, inspired by the fact that he had nothing growing up, and was lucky to make it to a position where he can help so many others.
What a legend.