Most Travelled Football Superstars 2016

Like countless people around the world, here at Kiwi.com we’re huge football fans. As well as the thrill of the beautiful game, we’re often amazed by the players’ extravagant lives. But few take note of the huge amount of travel involved as part of the sport. With the season in full swing, we wondered: how much might a player travel throughout their careers? Which stars are paid the most per mile? And who is the most carded player per mile travelled?

We decided to have a bit of fun with the data and looked at the miles travelled by a selection of footballers over their professional career.

The amount of travel top footballers have to endure throughout their careers is surprising, even for us at Kiwi.com! It would seem that players in the past travelled less, whilst some players who are currently active are well on their way to becoming the most travelled football stars of all time.

You can select each factor to order the table based on that criterion.

Active Players Player Facts Professional Career Travel Travel Correlated to Pay & Stats
# Player Name Country Age First Division Debut Current Team League Travel (km) National Cup Travel (km) International Club Travel (km) National Team Travel (km) Total Career Travel (km) Goals per
10k km
Cards per
10k km
Salary
per 1 km
  Iker Casillas Spain 35 1998 FC Porto 529,214 64,872 207,717 106,478 908,281 0.00 0.32 118.91
  Xavi Hernández Spain 37 1998 Al Sadd SC 536,601 39,173 184,55 131,871 892,161 1.05 0.61 212.97
  Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 32 2002 Real Madrid 511,318 62,678 200,693 102,878 877,567 6.61 1.12 375.44
  Lionel Messi Argentina 29 2004 FC Barcelona 501,497 36,610 172,444 123,244 833,795 6.57 0.68 258.67
  Francesco Totti Italy 40 1992 AS Roma 473,125 34,161 213,606 38,728 759,620 4.16 1.87 137.52
  Zlatan Ibrahimovic Sweden 35 1999 Manchester United 364,472 13,251 218,464 71,024 667,211 7.19 1.65 288.62
  Fernando Torres Spain 32 2001 Atletico de Madrid 367,266 53,818 128,598 71,830 621,513 4.52 1.50 309.84
  Carlos Tevez Argentina 33 2001 Shanghai Shenhua 402,570 3,985 96,937 115,380 618,871 4.64 1.00 956.83
  Karim Benzema France 29 2004 Real Madrid 279,234 15,518 171,606 36,917 503,275 5.34 0.24 233.17
  Wayne Rooney UK 31 2002 Manchester United 123,616 8,086 187,627 73,286 392,615 8.15 2.95 597.77
  Neymar  Brazil 25 2009 FC Barcelona 213,097 8,743 151,052 13,556 386,448 7.32 2.20 311.44
  Robin van Persie Netherlands 33 2001 Fenerbahce 153,325 8,821 136,379 64,307 362,832 8.05 2.26 636.89
  Thomas Muller Germany 27 2008 FC Bayern Munich 130,245 33,750 122,354 47,597 333,949 5.78 0.78 210.21
  Luis Suarez Uruguay 30 2005 FC Barcelona 178,370 8,436 87,235 57,859 331,901 11.39 3.10 435.15
  Robert Lewandowski Poland 28 2006 FC Bayern Munich 93,108 16,607 101,909 32,067 243,691 13.13 1.76 375.56
Retired Players Player Facts Professional Career Travel Travel Correlated to Stats
# Player Name Country First Division
Debut - Retirement
League Travel (km) National Cup Travel (km) International Club Travel (km) National Team Travel (km) Total Career Travel (km) Goals per
10k km
Cards per
10k km
  Raul Gonzalez  Spain 1994-2015 706,489 43,316 283,248 60,376 1,093,429 3.80 0.44
  Pavel Nedved Czech Republic 1991-2006 713,046 46,613 270,776 43,035 1,073,471 1.48 0.94
  Roberto Carlos Brazil 1991-2015 635,840 38,984 254,923 54,338 984,086 1.04 1.28
  Diego Maradona Argentina 1976-1997 659,846 83,418 107,857 55,174 906,293 3.82 0.14
  Zinedine Zidane France 1989-2006 669,226 28,443 163,819 25,782 887,270 1.76 0.64
  David Beckham UK 1992-2013 549,922 22,381 159,545 42,958 774,806 1.88 1.99
  Pelé Brazil 1956-1977 590,893 26,359 88,541 47,783 753,576 15.92 0.01
  Alessandro del Piero Italy 1991-2014 436,934 53,613 153,068 41,008 684,623 5.00 0.69
  Roger Milla Cameroon 1970-1996 370,393 39,806 88,537 81,665 580,400 6.98 0.09
  Hugo Sanchez Mexico 1976-1997 359,230 32,236 125,294 45,182 561,942 8.51 0.71
  George Weah Liberia 1985-2003 330,708 35,541 79,050 72,915 518,214 3.72 0.19
  Pedro Pauleta Portugal 1990-2011 350,051 18,292 59,775 40,734 468,852 6.38 1.19
  Franz Beckenbauer Germany 1964-1983 279,234 24,711 105,348 42,211 451,504 2.08 0.11
  Johan Cruyff Netherlands 1964-1984 257,593 18,603 114,739 19,167 410,102 9.80 0.15
  Peter Shilton UK 1966-1997 173,062 15,321 24,020 90,288 302,690 0.03 0.03

Methodology

Other footballers could have made the list, however the players here were chosen based on number of appearances and career success with a focus mainly on strikers and scoring midfielders, with the exception of two goalkeepers – one of whom has the most professional appearances, and the second who is the most-travelled currently active player.

In order to create the Most Travelled Football Superstars, the air miles between each city in which games took place was measured. If a return flight was necessary, this number was doubled. We focussed on tier 1 competitions: the Champions League, the highest domestic cups such as the FA Cup, domestic league matches, as well as national team fixtures (excluding friendly matches). Players’ time off, because of suspension or injuries, was also excluded when making the final calculations.

  • National team competition: This includes all tournaments and official games played by the national team
  • Domestic cup competition: This refers to the most important cup from each country, such as the FA Cup in England, the DFB Cup in Germany, the Copa del Rey in Spain, the Coppa Italia in Italy and so on
  • League: This refers only to league matches in each country
  • International club competition: This refers to international club competitions. We took the most important ones, such as the Copa Libertadores de America, the Champions League and the Europa League
  • Goals per mile/km: The number of goals the player scores for every 10,000 miles. All goals scored by an individual player were totalled. The average amount of time needed to score was then calculated
  • Salary per mile/km: This is the sum that the player gets for each mile they travel. To arrive at this figure, the player’s weekly salary was divided by the distance travelled per week over the course of their active years
  • Playing Time: We used the transfermarkt.com database to determine the dates of a footballer’s debut and retirement
  • Explanation of Yellow/Red Cards: While the sending-off of a player for committing a foul was introduced in 1877 by the English FA, yellow and red cards were only introduced in 1970. The yellow-red card has existed since 1991.
    The 1970 World Cup in Mexico was therefore the first World Cup – and the European Championship in Belgium was the first European Championship – in which there were yellow cards. This column was calculated by averaging the number of yellow, second yellow followed by a red, or straight red cards per 10,000 miles
  • Total: The total number of all 4 columns. This is the number of miles the player has travelled in his career for official games

Notes:

  • The geographical coordinates of each city were obtained using Google Maps API
  • Given the geographical coordinates, the distance between cities is calculated using the haversine formula
  • Each distance has an approximate average error of 0.65 per cent. This value corresponds to the distance between the city centre and the location of the stadium
  • Information gathered from the database is correct up to 22 January