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 (miles) National Cup Travel (miles) International Club Travel (miles) National Team Travel (miles) Total Career Travel (miles) Goals per
10k miles
Cards per
10k miles
Salary
per 1 mile
  Iker Casillas Spain 35 1998 FC Porto 328,838 40,310 129,069 66,163 564,380 0.00 0.51 166.48
  Xavi Hernández  Spain 37 1998 Al Sadd SC 333,429 24,341 114,653 81,941 554,363 1.70 0.97 298.18
  Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 32 2002 Real Madrid 317,718 38,947 124,705 63,925 545,294 10.64 1.80 525.67
  Lionel Messi Argentina 29 2004 FC Barcelona 311,615 22,749 107,152 76,580 518,096 10.58 1.10 362.17
  Francesco Totti Italy 40 1992 AS Roma 293,986 21,226 132,729 24,064 472,006 6.69 3.01 192.55
  Zlatan Ibrahimovic Sweden 35 1999 Manchester United 226,472 8,234 135,747 44,132 414,586 11.58 2.65 404.11
  Fernando Torres Spain 32 2001 Atletico de Madrid 228,209 33,441 79,907 44,633 386,190 7.28 2.41 433.82
  Carlos Tevez Argentina 33 2001 Shanghai Shenhua 250,145 2,476 60,234 71,694 384,549 7.46 1.61 1,339.69
  Karim Benzema France 29 2004 Real Madrid 173,508 9,647 106,631 22,939 312,720 8.60 0.38 326.47
  Wayne Rooney UK 31 2002 Manchester United 76,811 5,025 116,586 45,538 243,959 13.12 4.75 836.96
  Neymar Brazil 25 2009 FC Barcelona 132,412 5,433 93,859 8,424 240,128 11.79 3.54 436.06
  Robin van Persie Netherlands 33 2001 Fenerbahce 95,272 5,481 84,742 39,958 225,453 12.95 3.64 891.73
  Thomas Muller Germany 27 2008 FC Bayern Munich 80,933 20,971 76,027 29,575 207,506 9.30 1.25 294.32
  Luis Suarez Uruguay 30 2005 FC Barcelona 110,834 5,242 54,205 35,952 206,233 18.33 4.99 609.27
  Robert Lewandowski Poland 28 2006 FC Bayern Munich 57,855 10,319 63,323 19,923 151,422 21.13 2.84 525.83
Retired Players Player Facts Professional Career Travel Travel Correlated to Stats
# Player Name Country First Division
Debut - Retirement
League Travel (miles) National Cup Travel (miles) International Club Travel (miles) National Team Travel (miles) Total Career Travel (miles) Goals per
10k miles
Cards per
10k mile
  Raul Gonzalez  Spain 1994-2015 438,992 26,915 176,002 37,516 679,425 6.12 0.71
  Pavel Nedved Czech Republic 1991-2006 443,066 28,964 168,253 26,741 667,024 2.38 1.51
  Roberto Carlos Brazil 1991-2015 395,093 24,224 158,402 33,764 611,482 1.67 2.06
  Diego Armando Maradona Argentina 1976-1997 410,009 51,833 67,019 34,283 563,145 6.14 0.23
  Zinedine Zidane France 1989-2006 415,838 17,674 101,792 16,020 551,324 2.83 1.03
  David Beckham UK 1992-2013 341,706 13,907 99,137 26,693 481,442 3.03 3.20
  Pele Brazil 1956-1977 367,164 16,379 55,017 29,691 468,250 25.63 0.02
  Alessandro del Piero Italy 1991-2014 271,498 33,314 95,112 25,481 425,405 8.04 1.10
  Roger Milla Cameroon 1970-1996 230,151 24,734 55,014 50,744 360,644 11.23 0.14
  Hugo Sanchez Mexico 1976-1997 223,215 20,031 77,854 28,075 349,174 13.69 1.15
  George Weah Liberia 1985-2003 205,492 22,084 49,120 45,307 322,003 5.99 0.31
  Pedro Pauleta Portugal 1990-2011 217,511 11,366 37,142 25,311 291,331 10.26 1.92
  Franz Beckenbauer Germany 1964-1983 173,508 15,355 65,460 26,229 280,552 3.35 0.18
  Johan Cruyff Netherlands 1964-1984 160,061 11,559 71,295 11,910 254,825 15.78 0.24
  Peter Shilton UK 1966-1997 107,536 9,520 14,925 56,102 188,083 0.05 0.05

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