World Cup 2014: Who Are the Biggest Stars for Each Country?
Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney are household names, but all 32 countries competing in the tournament have their own homegrown stars, many of whom have multimillion-dollar salaries and endorsement deals.
Some of the highest-paid and most marketable athletes from around the globe are currently gathered in Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
While even non-soccer fans are familiar with the names Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, many dedicated followers aren't quite as knowledgeable on the best players in Iran, Algeria or Honduras.
Already one of the stars of the World Cup after he scored two goals in the opening match against Croatia, Brazil's Neymar has endorsement deals with Nike, Volkswagen and Panasonic, and is featured in the latest Beats by Dre short titled, "The Game Before the Game."
Shown getting into the zone before a match by listening to his favorite music, the 22-year-old, who was ranked the sixth-best player in the world by The Guardian, told Red Bull's Red Bulletin magazine that dancing helps his skills on the pitch. "I think every Brazilian likes to dance a little. Put on some music that gets you in the mood, and a Brazilian might be sitting down, but he’ll always dance a little," he said. "It even got into my goal celebrations at Santos: that‘s how we’d have fun, scoring and doing dances in tribute to a singer friend or to the song."
Check out a photo from his shoot for the July issue below.
Elsewhere around the world, Croatia's Luka Modric helped Real Madrid to its record 10th Champions League title this year, and the Croatian Player of the Year recently scored a lucrative endorsement deal with Nike.
Mexican star Oribe Peralta signed a deal to be an ambassador for the 5-Hour Energy brand in March. Despite a slow start to his professional career, Peralta scored two goals during the 2012 Olympic match against Brazil to help Mexico win its first Olympic gold medal.
Famous for his free kicks and dribbling skills, 27-year-old Keisuke Honda is a hero in Japan and is easy to spot on the pitch thanks to his distinctive bleached-blond hair.
Among his many endorsements, Germany's Mesut Ozil is the face of Adidas' Predator cleats, part of a 7-year, $35 million deal with the German sportswear giant. The midfielder, whom Arsenal shelled out a (for the club) record $65 million to pick up from Real Madrid, has 19.9 Facebook fans — more than top German clubs Bayern Munich, Shalke and Borussia Dortmund combined.