The game of football has evolved tactically, psychologically and strategically over the course of several decades. With this evolution, many of the world’s brightest personalities flock to the game to make an imprint and showcase their talents.
Football today is a representation of the times, as many use the game and the spotlight to get in touch with the trends and express themselves.
One trend footballers partake in is tattoos, as an explosion in popularity has people inking themselves across the world. Tattoos are personal and can symbolize emotional connotations, making each individual’s work of art unique and timeless.
While the older generation of players and fans may view tattoos a bit negatively, it is undeniable the influence body art has on the current youth. This is a trend that does not appear to be diminishing and the status of tattoos is personified by players on football teams all over.
Here I have compiled a list of the top 10 tattooed footballers, ranking not only based on skills and achievements, but on the intricacy of one’s tattoos.
With so many good players enthralled in the tattoo frenzy, it is difficult to compile this list without leaving a few big names out. Here are some honorable mentions:
Djibril Cisse – The French striker is currently playing for Lazio, and when it comes to tattoos Cisse is someone fond of the work and has several pieces. Cisse has seen success domestically and internationally, amassing 40 appearances with the French national team and scoring plenty of goals in his colorful career.
Craig Bellamy – Never one to steer far from controversy, the volatile Wales striker is a big fan of body art and showcases his national pride with his tattoos. After recently signing for Liverpool, Bellamy should fit right in with his teammates at Anfield, as a few of them appear later on in this list.
Philippe Mexes – Currently plying his trade with Scudetto-holders AC Milan, Mexes is another Frenchman who has succumbed to the tattoo craze. An experienced and tested defender, Mexes will bring grit to Milan’s backline, along with a lot of body art.
Fernando Torres – El Nino is certainly hard pressed for luck at the moment, but this season he is looking to start fresh and get back to performing at a top level. Torres has had tattoos since his earlier days at Atletico Madrid, and often gets ink done to honor personal accomplishments he has garnered during his successful career.
Natasha Kai – While she is the only female to crack the list, the Hawaii native might be the most inked up player named. Boasting over 55 tattoos, many are representative of her distinct heritage and cover her entire body, making her a recognizable figure in female athletics.
As an international icon, David Beckham’s persona off the pitch is quite possibly more recognizable than his career honors. Beckham has been patrolling the midfield for almost 20 years, and has acquired an array of success along the way.
His career, and tattoo collection, has grown immensely over the years and he uses body art to show dedication to his family and spirituality. With a baby girl recently joining the Beckham clan, the proud Englishman is quickly running out of room for new ink on his body.
The Liverpool and Slovakian defender is a brute force on the pitch, utilizing his size and strength to bully the opposition. Intimidation is a big part to being a successful defender, and Skrtel certainly adds to that ideology by boasting numerous tattoos across his body.
With two full sleeves and other elaborate body art, Skrtel appears menacing on the pitch. He hopes to be a key figure in Liverpool’s defensive plans this season, hoping to form a solid partnership with another tattooed defender in Merseyside…
If Martin Skrtel is the “yin” to a threatening Liverpool defense, Daniel Agger is most certainly the “yang”. The lanky Dane has seen mixed results during his career at Liverpool, mostly due to coaching changes and a lack of confidence.
Agger also has numerous tattoos and is a known admirer of body ink: he even went as far as becoming a licensed tattoo artist. If Agger and his teammate Skrtel can link up successfully in the heart of LFC’s defense, opposing teams would be dealing with two frighteningly strong (and frighteningly scary looking) defenders.
It is not very often that two national teams lobby so strongly for a player’s commitment, but that was just the case for Kevin-Prince Boateng. The AC Milan midfielder pledged his allegiance to Ghana over Germany, who his half-brother Jerome Boateng chose to represent.
Boateng has an intense infatuation with tattoos, and currently has 26 all over his body. When AC Milan permanently signed him, he attributed the Rossoneri’s faith in him by promising to ink the club’s crest on his body…talk about loyalty!
The diminutive Argentine has seen his career skyrocket recently thanks to some impressive performances for Napoli. Lavezzi has linked up well with his South American compatriot Edinson Cavani and has become a relevant player with his international squad.
The striker has an impressive collection of tattoos, with the most noticeable being a portrait of his hero Diego Maradona. The Napoli striker is looking to replicate the success of his idol, a fitting tribute that would be more significant than the ink on his body.
Just like his Napoli colleague Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marek Hamsik has also seen his popularity rise due to his club form. The Slovakian midfielder was pivotal to the success of last campaign, leading his club to automatic qualification to the Champions League.
With tattoos covering his neck, arms and legs, the spiky-haired dynamo typifies his colorful playing style through his tattoos. As he looks forward to a new club season and captaining his country, the Neapolitan outfit will look to retain the midfielder’s services for years to come.
Liverpool might regret letting the Portugal international leave for rivals Chelsea, as his influence in the midfield was evident throughout the entirety of last season. Yet another trait that was quite noticeable in Meireles was his unique body art.
Easily having the largest collection of tattoos on this list, Meireles draws attention to himself with his ink but is able to play well enough to validate that attention. With his career at Stamford already off to a flyer, perhaps a couple more tattoos are in the works?
Loved by many and hated by more, Sergio Ramos has established himself as a world-class defender all while being the most controversial player in Spain. While he performs duly for his club and country, Ramos is very open when discussing his love for Real Madrid, and his hatred for Barcelona.
Nonetheless, the eccentric defender carries as much body ink as he does passion for the game. Tattoos on his arms, wrists and torso accurately parallel the player’s fervor for the spotlight.
As the most promising young talent England has to offer, Jack Wilshere was a revelation last season. The 19-year-old transitioned from fringe player to automatic starter to world-class superstar in such a short span, seamlessly adjusting to new roles and demands from his club and national team coaches.
An avid fan of twitter, Wilshere uses the social media website to connect with his fans, and also tweet about his love for his tattoos. After recently revealing a glimpse of his new ink, fans of the Arsenal youngster are hoping to get him out the tattoo parlor and onto the pitch as soon as he recovers from injury.
After sealing a move to Manchester City from Atletico Madrid, expectations for “Kun” were set at unprecedented levels; luckily for the City faithful, Aguero took those expectations and shattered them the second he stepped into the City of Manchester stadium.
Expectations off the pitch have increased for the Argentine as well, as he is a father to a boy named Benjamin. With numerous tattoos dedicating his love for his son across his arms, expect the striker to play with added confidence ahead of this campaign.