It’s hard to stay humble when you’re adored by millions of people. And yet, despite the success, a staggering salary and this idol status, these players leave with their simplicity.
1. Kalidou Koulibaly – Centre-back
The Senegalese rock may ride on the best attackers in Serie A, the latter does not forget where he comes from and the hardships that African immigrants go through, especially in Italy where racist abuse is not limited only to the stadiums of football.
In January 2021, a Napoli fan witnessed it in a district of Naples and recounted it in the columns of the Goal: “From afar, I see a known size, it’s our defensive rock Out of curiosity, I stop and notice that he offers Naples jackets and food to his fellow citizens to protect them from the cold.”
2. Virgil van Dijk – Centre-back
Although he may be the best in the world at his post, the Dutchman remains unmoved, never speaking one word above the other: “We must continue to work and remain humble”, he repeats constantly.
3. Simon Kjaer – Centre-back
The football planet stopped turning on June 12, 2021. As Denmark welcome Finland for their first match of Euro 2020, captain Christian Eriksen collapses. And without the intervention of Simon Kjaer, the consequences could have been more dramatic.
A modern-day hero, even if the humble Dane refuses to admit it: “I’m not a hero. I just did what I had to do, without thinking, like everyone else did.”
4. N’Golo Kanté – Holding midfielder
No need to dwell on the N’Golo Kanté case. Humanity agrees that he is probably the most humble footballer in this world.
5. Andrés Iniesta – Central midfield
The metronome of one of the greatest teams in history. Iniesta is an ode to the purity and simplicity of football. And it’s Pep Guardiola who says it best:
“Iniesta doesn’t dye his hair, he doesn’t wear earrings and he doesn’t have tattoos. Maybe that makes him unappealing to the media, but he’s the best.”
6. Luka Modric – Central midfielder
The winners of the Ballon d’Or 2018 are dizzying. Returning to his prime last season with Real Madrid, Luka Modric is a blessing to football. Idol of an entire country, the Croatian has always remained true to himself.
7. Heung-min Son – Attacking Midfielder
Often cited as one of the most underrated players in world football, Co-top scorer in the Premier League last season (23 goals), Heung-min Son continues to live by his principles and always with his family:
8. Sadio Mané – Left winger
“Why would I want ten Ferraris, 20 diamond watches or two airplanes? What are these items going to do for me and for the world?” The simplicity of Sadio Mané clashes in an environment where success quickly goes to your head.
The Senegalese has never forgotten his roots and there are plenty of anecdotes testifying to the generosity of the new Bayern Munich player.
9. Juan Mata Right Winger
When you say humble, you can only imagine a bunch of footballers from this generation. Former Manchester United’s Juan Mata has to be one of them. The Spaniard has always been calm and collected in nature. Mata is loved and respected by his teammates, coaches and also fans. His gentle and amicable nature makes him a favourite among the players.
Mata also has different interests beyond football. He is a well-educated scholar and has two bachelor’s degrees in sports science and marketing. He enjoys his simple life and after his career as a player, we may very well see him dive into coaching.
10. Marcus Rashford – Centre-forward
Call him Sir Marcus Rashford. One does not become a knight of the crown without being an exceptional individual. Beyond embodying the future of English football, the Manchester united player uses his aura to help others.
His main achievement will remain his fight and his platform in The Guardian against food insecurity which affects one in five children in the United Kingdom.