9 Players That Rose From Nothing to Champions

Monday September 4th, 2017

Footballers don't make it to the very top of the game without working hard, but some have have to work harder than others to make it all the way.

Whether that be as a result of a difficult journey up the footballing ladder, or from even more humble beginnings growing up in poverty, they deserve incredible respect.

With the upcoming release of Destiny 2 and the rise of new legends, here are nine current superstars who have risen from nothing to become champions...


Jamie Vardy

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There were countless individuals who rose from very modest football beginnings to help Leicester City win the Premier League title in 2016, but Jamie Vardy's story was the most romantic and widely told of the lot.

The striker had started his senior career with Stocksbridge Park Steels in the depths of non-league football and was 25-years-old before playing in the Football League for the first time.

His Premier League winning season was only his second ever in the top flight, and he marked it by scoring 24 goals and breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy's record for goals in consecutive games, netting in 11 back-to-back matches during the first half of the campaign.


Carlos Tevez

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Carlos Tevez hails from the notorious Fuerte Apache barrio in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires and rose from childhood poverty to so far win eight league titles for five different clubs, in four countries, on two separate continents during his illustrious career.

The forward, who was adopted by his aunt as a child, later established the Carlos Tevez Foundation in his home-town and has made it his mission to help youngsters like him.

"I wouldn't change my childhood in Fuerte Apache for anything," he said in 2015. "It made me who I am today. I always carry that with me in the present. It's a period in my life that I will never forget."


Luka Modric

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Recently named 2016/17 UEFA Best Midfielder for his role in Real Madrid's second successive Champions League win, Luka Modric saw his early life disrupted by the Croatian War of Independence as the country tried to free itself from Yugoslavia.

The youngster's grandfather was among a group of civilians murdered by rebels and Modric spent seven years as a refugee, living in hotels, as his football career was taking off.

He joined Dinamo Zagreb at the age of 16, and from there went on to play for the Croatian national team at the age of 21, before moving to Tottenham in England and then Real Madrid.


Franck Ribery

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Not only did Franck Ribery have to overcome the horror of a childhood car accident, the injuries from which required 100 stitches and left him with the facial scars he has carried nearly all his life, his football career also took time to get off the ground.

Ribery was released by Lille as a 16-year-old and was forced to work his way up the ladder after an early journeyman existence that took in Boulogne, Ales, Brest, Metz and Galatasaray.

It was only after his short spell in Turkey and a return to France with Marseille in 2005 that things clicked into place. Ribery shone at the 2006 World Cup and joined Bayern Munich a year later, coming third in the Ballon d'Or standings in 2013 after a stunning treble with his club.


Luis Suarez

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Barcelona striker Luis Suarez went through a very difficult period in his early life after his family was forced to move from his home-town of Salto, where he would play barefoot on grass, to the capital city of Montevideo, where his parents could find jobs to support the family.

"They were tough times," Suarez told The Guardian in 2013.

"My parents had split up and there was all the problem of us being a family that never had the possibility of choosing anything. I was never able to tell my mother or father, 'I want these trainers', and have them buy me those trainers. It was the pure reality."


Alexis Sanchez

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The desert city of Tocopilla in the north of Chile was Alexis Sanchez's home growing up and he retains a deep connection to the place to this day, returning when he can to hand out gifts to local children. There is also now a statue of him in the city.

The forward left his humble beginnings behind when he moved to Santiago to sign with Colo Colo, moving on to Europe with Udinese via a loan in Argentina.

He has won league titles in Chile, Argentina and Spain, but Sanchez's crowning successes are arguably the back-to-back Copa America tiles he won with Chile in 2015 and 2016 - the country's first ever major trophies at international level.


Neymar

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Now the most expensive player in history at €222m, things were very different for Neymar in his early life - as a baby he survived a serious car accident that left his father severely injured and unable to work, or even walk, for a number of months.

Neymar Sr. was a professional footballer himself, but at that time it was not a career that guaranteed the riches it does today and so the family shared a small room in a family member's house until a time when the youngster's father could afford to build a house of their own.

The Brazilian superstar's humble early life is detailed in the 2013 autobiography that he co-authored with his father and is an eye opening window into his down to earth character.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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Born to a Yugolsav immigrant family, Zlatan Ibrahimovic grew up in Malmo's notorious Rosengard district and would regularly steal bikes as a youngster - "it was more for the kicks than the bikes", the player recalled in his autobiography.

Ibrahimovic had a hard childhood, also noting, "There was no adult around who helped with your homework or asked you about your problems. You had to deal with things yourself, and there was no whining if someone had been nasty to you. You had to grit your teeth."

He made his senior debut for Malmo in 1999 and has enjoyed a remarkable career with near unrivalled levels of success - after moving to Ajax in 2001, Ibrahimovic won 13 league titles in four different countries over the next 15 years.


Cristiano Ronaldo

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From simple beginnings where he wasn't afforded many luxuries to one of the greatest players of all time and one of the richest athletes on the planet, things have changed dramatically for Cristiano Ronaldo since he was a young boy growing up on the island of Madeira.

Ronaldo's father, a municipal gardener and kit-man at a local football club, was a heavy drinker - it would later result in his early death and is the reason Ronaldo doesn't drink. His mother was a cook and even admitted to considering an abortion when she was pregnant with her son.

The player himself had a heart condition that saw him undergo surgery at the age of 15 to save his football career, and struggled with anger in his teenage years. But he overcame all of the adversity life threw at him to break record after record and become a legend while still playing.


This article is brought to you by Destiny 2, releasing on the 6th September. 

Pre-order your copy here.


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