Late Italian football icon Gianluca Vialli grew up in a stunning 60-room castle thanks to his father’s millions – but he is far from the only footballer to have come from lavish beginnings.
Chelsea legend Gianluca Vialli sadly passed away at the age of 58 on Friday morning.
The Italian died after a five-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He will go down as a true great best known for his stints at Sampdoria, Juventus and Chelsea – where he became a player-manager and then manager.
While many will know of the prolific striker’s on-pitch prowess, some may be unaware of his fascinating background, growing up in a lavish 14th century castle. Zululion brings you seven footballers who were super rich before they ever kicked a ball, including the legendary Vialli.
Who better to start with than the man himself? Long before netting 40 goals in 88 appearances for the Blues, Vialli was living the high life in a 60-room castle.
He lived with his parents and four siblings in Castello Di Belgioioso, Cremona, thanks to his dad’s huge wealth. The forward went on to use the castle as an occasional holiday home in his later years.
His mother, Maria Teresa, is once claimed to have said: “We are bourgeois, that’s what we are.”
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Joining Vialli on the list of mega-rich stars is compatriot Andrea Pirlo – another ex-Italy and Juventus star that oozed class.
The dapper midfielder-turned-manager grew up extremely wealthy due to his dad’s successful steel company. Along with the millions made as a result of playing football at an elite level for well over a decade, Pirlo is said to still have a stake in the family business.
These days, the 43-year-old epitomises opulence by owning his personal vineyard.
Recently-retired Gerard Pique became as well known for his business ventures off the field as his performances on it in the latter part of his career.
But the Barcelona legend was certainly no stranger to money growing up. Pique grew up with his dad being a top lawyer and businessman, while his mum was the director of a hospital.
And even more stunningly, his grandfather Amador Bernabeu, was once a Barcelona director – the same club where the centre-back went on to make over 600 appearances.
Arguably the richest footballer to have ever played the game is little known former Chelsea prospect Faiq Bolkiah. Bolkiah grew up being the nephew of the Sultan of Brunei – worth a reported £16billion. No pressure then.
The 24-year-old Los Angeles-born star looked set for big things after spending his teenage years at Southampton, Chelsea and Leicester City. Bolkiah’s career has since tailed off and he now plays for Thai club Chonburi.
Ah, well. As the heir to the Sultan’s fortune, it’s not as if he needs the money anyway.
Premier League fans may remember the original ‘Egyptian King’ Mido. The striker enjoyed a brilliant season on loan for Tottenham in 2005/06, scoring 11 goals before signing a permanent deal.
But Mido was already accustomed to the limelight, growing up as the son of Hossam Wasfi – a professional footballer for Zamalek. His dad later set up his own successful travel agency.
World Cup final goal-scorer and winner Mario Gotze is the son of a renowned professor. Jurgen Gotze held a research position in the computer science department of America’s prestigious Yale University in the 1990s.
Contrary to popular belief, Patrick Bamford is not the heir to construction equipment manufacturer JCB. He is, however, a distant relative of Joseph Bamford, founder of the multinational company.
And he is from good stock. Former Chelsea striker Bamford, now at Leeds, went to private school and plays the violin. He had an opportunity to go to Harvard University in the US before deciding on a career in football.