Born in Funchal, Madeira Cristiano Ronaldo started his footballing career with Portuguese giants sporting Lisbon and broke through the ranks at the club to make it to the first team at an early age of 17. Signed by Manchester united in 2003 for 12.24 million pounds made him the most expensive teenager in British footballing history. He was handed the iconic number seven shirt previously worn by the likes of George Best, Eric Cantona and David Beckham, this was the start of the soon to be the world’s best player in the world. The number seven added to Cristiano’s identity and brand as Beckham previously took the number seven shirts branding and identity to an all new level who during his time at Manchester United was popular off the pitch as well, Ronaldo took full advantage of the famous shirt to propel his identity in the world. Moving to Real Madrid in 2009 for a transfer fee of 90 million euros Ronaldo became the most expensive player in the world, it was here where Ronaldo decided to take his brand CR7 to an all new level by extending his brand’s avenues by opening an underwear, shoe line, CR7 hotels and a museum.  It was no surprise the brands and sponsors came calling in numbers.


Cristiano Ronaldo’s social media numbers are mind boggling, he is the top most followed sportsman and the third most followed person in this universe. Which provides him a unique opportunity to directly communicate with his fans and followers. This is one of the reasons that the increasing number of brands are using Cristiano Ronaldo to endorse their products and brands.    With an average following of 135 k a day and the first athlete to cross the 100 million barrier on Facebook in 2014 Cristiano Ronaldo is greater than all MLS players combined , greater than 99% of all NFL players combined and greater than Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant , Lebron James , Kevin Durant and Steph Curry combined. With average google monthly searches of 7.8 million and 4 million via mobile Ronaldo’s following is the highest in the USA (13.5%), followed by France (7.4%), Brazil (6.4%), Mexico (6.2%) and U.K (5%). No doubt his on field exploits and consistent performance will continue to result in addition to his followers and increase in fan base. When social media is emerging as one of the best mediums for direct connect with target consumer base then Ronaldo has a definite advantage to have a head start in any business venture. His fan base and his followers can be the primary target for any business or product for him and the reach is phenomenal.


With one of the most recognisable faces and torsos in the world Ronaldo is by no doubt a marketing titan. He fronts major campaigns for Tag Heuer, Nike, Motorola, Herbal life, Clear (Shampoo), Armani, Konami, Toyota, Banco Espirito Santo and Sacoor Brothers (Fashion) His lucrative endorsement deals put his Real Madrid salary to shame. He currently has a fourth most lucrative endorsement deal in the world of sports with Nike, where he gets paid around $27.1 million a year. His huge list of international and domestic brands endorsement deal with major brands bags him another $10 million combined.  His very own branded CR7 clothing, underwear, and shoes line which is popular in Portugal, Spain, UAE and parts of Asia nets him another 6 to 10 million dollars a year.

Ronaldo’s current net worth is around $480 million and by the time he will retire from football he might join the billion dollar bracket in terms of total net worth.

According to Forbes study Cristiano Ronaldo is the only footballer with the most number of endorsements and the biggest athlete brand in the world and the only footballer in the top 10. Any product Ronaldo endorses, or his own brand or any ventures will always have a high probability of success in a competitive market place because he can directly engage with each of his consumers and communicate directly where his consumer will feel that connect and fulfilment to be part of his product or brand. For him to take full advantage of this exceptional situation he should be extra careful in dealing with all matters whether it is on field or off the field. His behaviour should be exemplary and not be part of any controversy.  Looking at his net worth, brand value and potential he can surely hit the billion-dollar bracket in 3-5 years. What is essential for him to do is that he should plan a strategy and business plan for the next 7-10 years considering the potential he’s got. Brands and products will continue to come after him for endorsement deals and he has a tremendous potential to increase his product lines significantly. The other major advantage for him is that any product or brand he is associated with or for that matter  his own can reach the global market within no time and thus his own product lines if marketed properly then can make a significant growth within a short period of time.


Cristiano is second in terms of shirt sales after Messi. However, there was a jump of 108% in sales of his shirt in 2015-16 season. Which is of great value for his club Real Madrid. Real Madrid sold third most-highest shirts in 2015-16 season after Manchester United and Barcelona.


No doubt he will retire from football in 5-7 years and looking into his personality and interest one can safely say that he will be more involved in business than in future managerial or coaching positions in football. He can create his own high end brands and be very successful in the business world. For him to attract investors and capital won’t be an issue. He can provide stiff competition to already established brands but for all that to be a reality he will have to work with a vision and strategy. His core team or advisors have to make him realise his valuation numbers and potential. Another advantage for him is that he makes a style statement and in this regard he is like David Beckham who built himself as a successful brand. Cristiano does have a huge potential to go few steps ahead of Beckham and the three time FIFA World Player of the year can definitely exploit his image to the fullest post retirement as well. He can surely put his football experience into creating successful business ventures but he should be building a team at the same time to have a smooth transition from a highly successful on-field exploits to a highly successful businessman or brand builder.

By Shaji Prabhakaran

Football Consultant| Sports Expert| President Football Delhi (FA)| Author| Ex-FIFA/AIFF| Consultant AFC, FIFA, ICC| CIES| Development| Management|

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