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6 of football's crassest money statements: Balo's brag, CR7's island and a champagne war

By now you'll have probably seen BT Sport’s Champions League ad campaign (the Ox riding rodeo and Savage playing Fifa anyone?); a grotesque party where multi-millionaire footballers strut around in fancy suits, party with beautiful women and head balls into what look like champagne buckets.

Apparently it's just real life for some of this lot, though... 

1) Ashley becomes ‘Cashley’

It’s hard to think of a more vulgar admission made by a footballer in an autobiography (and god knows there've been a few). When Ashley Cole was offered a £55,000-a-week salary at Arsenal in 2006, he dismissed the mind-boggling sum as a joke in his book, My Defence. By all accounts, the Gunners’ offer was so wide of the mark it nearly caused poor Ash to crash his car, as evidenced by this extract:

“'Ash! Are you listening?' said a virtually hyperventilating Jonathan [Barnett, Cole’s agent]. ‘I’m here in the office and [Arsenal chairman] David Dein is saying they aren’t going to give you £60k a week. They’ve agreed £55k and this is their best and final offer. Are you happy with that?’

“When I heard Jonathan repeat the figure of £55k, I nearly swerved off the road. ‘He is taking the piss, Jonathan!’ I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard.”

Neither could Cole’s potential readership, who unsurprisingly decided to give his book the swerve. Ash joined Chelsea that summer, where he scooped £90k. Fair enough?  

2) Balotelli’s loose change

There’s a lot to like about the Italian striker’s childlike demeanour. His indifference to authority can be endearing (he once claimed Jose Mourinho needed to “learn manners and respect”), as are those occasional delusions of grandeur. When Balotelli said, “There is only one that is a little stronger than me: Messi,” after winning the Golden Boy in 2010 – a trophy given to the most impressive young player in Europe – it was hard not to admire his self-belief.

“Why have you got all this money?” asked an officer. “Because I’m rich,” Balotelli responded

The excess does border on the gaudy, however. In 2010, having signed for Manchester City, he crashed his not-so-cheap Audi R8 (they start at a cool £119,000, by the way) while driving to the club’s Carrington training ground. Police officers arriving at the scene decided to search him afterwards and discovered five grand stuffed into his back pocket.

“Why have you got all this money?” asked an officer. “Because I’m rich,” responded the Italian.

Well, yes, we suppose that makes sense.

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3) CR7 buys up Greece

In times of European austerity, a growing migrant crisis and overcrowded food banks, it’s nice to know that Real Madrid’s fleet-footed multi-millionaire can buck the trend. Because that’s exactly what Cristiano Ronaldo did this month when he bought an entire Greek island as his wedding gift to ‘super agent’ Jorge Mendes. Quite what the locals in Athens thought about that particular European settlement – queuing to draw upon their life savings amid their country’s grim-looking financial future – is unknown.

The estimated price of a Greek rock ranges from £2m to £35m, which probably represents something of a fire sale given the current uncertainty regarding the contents of the country’s piggy bank. Meanwhile, Mendes has been involved in over a billion quid’s worth of transfer deals during his career and is hardly short of a bob or two himself. Who says the rich aren’t getting richer? (Nobody, probably.)

4) Chuck’s Trump Towers cattery

Imagine being so wealthy you could buy a designated living space for your pet – an outhouse for Fido, perhaps; a little cattery for Korky. Then picture this humble little shelter as an apartment. Well, that'd be pretty over-the-top, right? But what if that property was situated in Trump Towers, an opulent residential block overlooking Central Park in Manhattan, where only multi-millionaires and (possibly) Carrie Bradshaw can afford a parking spot? You must have more money than... er, Jorge Mendes. 

Or you’re Chuck Blazer, the Mr Creosote of football, who guzzled so much free chow and booze during his executive money-grabbing visits on behalf of FIFA that he was confined to a mobility scooter. Blazer also ‘earned’ enough cash under Sepp Blatter to rent an £11,700-a-month property in the New York building, plus a separate £3,900-a-month gaff just for his feline friends. Think about that the next time you wince at the price of pet food.

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5) Gazza’s betting binge

Then there’s Paul Gascoigne, whose personal demons have sadly led to the sort of excess others can barely imagine. In 2006, the tabloids had a field day when he embarked on a “binge” – a night out in a Mayfair casino, where he “downed” glasses of Cristal champagne, “bet” £4,000 hands at the blackjack table and “chain-smoked” 100 cigarettes. Luckily for the tabloid head honchos, an eyewitness (there’s always one) was on hand to retell the tale in grizzly detail.

“People would recognise him,” he or she said. “But he just mumbled. He was in a terrible state, his eyes were lifeless – and he looked like he’d pressed the self-destruct button.”

Thankfully, the gods were kind to Gazza that night. “Paul does not have a gambling problem,” said his spokesperson Jane Morgan. “He was out on a previous night as well and won a considerable amount that time. He’s up overall.”

Well, that’s alright then.

6) The Secret Footballer’s champagne war

Shame is an emotion not experienced by some footballers. When a gang of unnamed Premier League players embarked upon a champagne war in a Vegas casino, The Secret Footballer was in attendance to recall the glitzy details.

“The idea is to send over a bottle of champagne; the other table is then meant to reciprocate, and on it goes until the bill gets too big for one side to pay. If a table keeps playing but cannot afford to pay, they are forced into the ultimate loss of face – they are marched out of the club by security to heckles and wolf whistles. The final bill? Just short of $130,000, excluding tip.”

The moral of the story? Never do rounds with footballers.

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