With the city soon to explode in World Cup fervor — it kicks off June 11 — the Star's Debra Black has put together a list of the sport’s hottest players.
With apologies to those who think it is sexist to judge a man by the shape of his abs, we scanned through hundreds of pictures of players to come up with our Top 15. (Sigh, what a difficult task it was!)
After hours of gazing and deliberating we have picked our favourites, some of whom just happened to be in Nike’s “Write the Future” commercial. And let’s be clear: these guys are not only hot off the field, but also on the field.
And so here is our list of the Top 15 World Cup Hotties, with photos and biographical information (with information and quotes from ESPN’s Soccernet.com)
It’s a totally arbitrary list, so feel free to weigh in with your thoughts by sending us then names of your favourites at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Soccer.”
1) Didier Drogba
Born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Drogba is considered to have “aerial prowess and power” and few can surpass his strength. The 32-year-old’s physical assets were enough to rile Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who is said to be annoyed that he had to share June’s Vanity Fair cover with this Ivory Coast wonder boy. At 1.88 metres and 83.8 kilograms, Drogba, who plays for Chelsea when he’s not supporting his country in the World Cup, is considered one of the best centre forwards in the world. His play is often theatrical and temperamental.
His real name is Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite but he’s known around the world as Kaka, a common nickname for those named Ricardo and something his younger brother Rodrigo, also a soccer player, calls him. The 28-year-old midfielder, who is 1.85 metres and weighs 73 kilograms, is playing for Brazil in the World Cup. The Real Madrid player is not only handsome but has been described as a “highly skillful player, a great shot, superb vision for a pass.” He is considered “one of the best footballers of the past few years” and, according to soccer legend Pele, Kaka ‘is the best player in the world because he is the most complete player.”
3) Cristiano Ronaldo
The 25-year-old Portugal midfielder — next to David Beckham, who sadly is not playing in the World Cup — is said to be the best known player on the planet. Known for his pace and mesmerizing footwork, Ronaldo, named for his father’s favourite actor, Ronald Reagan, was the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2008. Many believe it’s time for him to live up to his billing on the world stage. At 1.85 metres and 75 kilograms, his physical attributes can be seen both on and off the field.
4) Yoann Gourcuff
The 23-year-old forward on the French team will be setting hearts aflutter both on and off the soccer field. Gourcuff, who plays for Bordeaux, is considered a “very creative and technical playmaker” with an “outrageous array of tricks and dribble moves and artistic vision.” Some have dubbed him the man who will succeed France’s Zinedine Zidane. Gourcuff, 1.85 metres and 79 kilograms, is considered by soccer aficionados and casual observers alike as perhaps “the next big thing.” And for the purposes of our list, that’s both on and off the soccer fields of the world.
5) Marco Borriello
Italy’s 27-year-old handsome heartthrob and striker for AC Milan has captured as much media attention for his affairs of the heart as for his work on the soccer field. He has been described as a “a strong, physical target striker known for his rocket left leg, commanding aerial presence, ability to track back on defence and his penchant for scoring spectacular volleys.”
6) Carlos Bocanegra
The United States captain has been described as having great strength and deceptive speed with a powerful aerial presence. He is adept at both heading away attacks and finishing off set pieces on the opposite end of the field. Bocanegra, 33, is also very pleasing to the eye and will be sure to win over many female fans. He plays with Rennes in France’s top flight as either a left back or in the centre.
7) Iker Casillas
Spain’s 29-year-old goalkeeper is said to have a “strong claim to the title of the finest goalkeeper of his generation.” A player for Real Madrid, he was nicknamed San Iker or Saint Iker. Casillas says he believes that the Spanish team has “the perfect group going into this World Cup and the truth is we will fear no one.” His talents as a goalkeeper are strong and he is said to have “impressive reflexes, superb agility and innate ability to pull off a spectacular save.” He is also extremely superstitious — every time Real Madrid scores a goal he has to touch his own crossbar, reports ESPN soccernet. He could also however be a very hot star of his own telenovel.
8) Guillermo Ochoa
This hunky 24-year-old goalkeeper for Mexico is considered a “promising young player.” At 1.83 metres and 72 kilograms, Ochoa has a “long reach and is good on crosses.” However, his popularity has distracted him from giving it his all, critics say. He is said to “command his box calmly, but has sharp reflexes that enable him to reach balls seemingly destined for the back of the net.” What else would you need?
9) Samuel Eto’o
Cameroon’s 29-year-old forward is seen as one of the top strikers in the world. His physicality on the field has brought him many honours, including African Player of the Year three consecutive times and an Olympic gold medal with Cameroon. His last name is pronounced “eh-toe.” Eto’o plays for Inter Milan in Italy’s Serie A. At 1.79 metres and 75 kilograms, Eto’o’s face was part of a promotional poster for the 2010 World Cup. His face and neck were superimposed on the map of Africa, instantly making him a hottie.
10) Steven Pienaar
South Africa’s 29-year-old midfielder may be slight but he’s all muscle and speed. Known as the “Little Peanut,” Pienaar, who plays for Everton, is the host country’s “main man,” according to sports critics. The 1.75 metre, 57.8 kilogram player is described as “hard-running” with “limitless energy and indomitable spirit.” Born in Johannesburg, Pienaar is not only handsome and agile but a bit of a philosopher — a surefire hit with many who like their athletes brainy. “Everything my country has worked for in soccer comes down to this moment, the World Cup in our own country,” he says. “For a few weeks, at least, I think people will forget their problems, forget their troubles of the past and have a smile on their face.”
11) Fabio Cannavaro
The 36-year-old captain of Italy’s team may be a little older than others on the list, but he’s just as hot. He’s described as a “great reader of the game with exquisite positional sense.” He may, however, be a little short for a centre back or central defender. His career high was winning the World Cup for Italy in 2006. Cannavaro, who is 1.75 metres, 75 kilograms, is said to have a strong presence as a leader and is tough and cool-headed. Don’t count him or his team out. He has vast appeal, especially among more mature women. Sigh.
12) Theo Walcott
England’s 21-year-old midfielder is short and compact and 100 per cent muscle. He has been heralded as the “great hope” for British soccer. A back injury in the 2009-2010 season sidelined him for the start of the season with Arsenal. He is said to have lightening speed, “superb finishing” and a brain for soccer. Still relatively young, much is expected of Walcott at the World Cup and beyond. This hottie will undoubtedly make everyone’s list of hunks.
13) Landon Donovan
The 28-year-old forward for the United States is known for his “pace, ability to put the ball in the back of the net and tenacity on the pitch.” Born in Ontario, Calif., this hunky player is considered the key to the American team’s success at the World Cup in South Africa. What’s not to love?
14) Sulley Muntari
Ghana’s 25-year-old midfielder is prone to picking up yellow and red cards. He has had clashes with Ghanian authorities and was sent home from the Athens Olympics for disciplinary reasons. However, he’s a “top-class central midfielder or left-winger who has skill and cunning” with a “gritty side.” Gritty or not, his well-toned body has many dreaming of him. And his portrait in Vanity Fair, hiding his face with one hand as if to cover a giggle, has made many aware of the cultural sights to be found in Ghana.
15) Fernando Torres
Spain’s 26-year-old forward plays for Liverpool. At 1.85 metres and 78.7 kilograms, Torres is as hot as a sultry night in Madrid. In the last World Cup he scored three goals. His nickname is El Nino or The Kid. He is known as a goal scorer who is quick, strong and impressive. He is cool and calm in front of the goal. His style is described as “clinical, classy, deadly.” He is even considered a possibility as a contender for winning the Golden Boot, awarded to the top scorer, in the World Cup.
Special mentions: To two hot guys who didn’t make it to the World Cup:
Cole, a striker for West Ham, is described as a “strong, athletic, hard-working, a real team player.” Anyone who saw his picture in Vanity Fair has seen some of his assets. The 26-year-old, who was born in Surrey, is 1.91 metres tall and weighs in at 77.0 kilgrams of muscle. Observers say he is “capable of the spectacular.”
Andriy, who hails from the Ukraine and is considered one of the best forwards in the game. He sadly is not in the World Cup either. But his abs and tattoo alone made an editor or two swoon.