With ‘football fever’ gripping the nation in the Euros 2016 Tournament, we take a look at some of the world famous football stars who have found love with their 4-legged friends.
Harry Kane (Tottenham & England)
‘Brady’ & ‘Wilson’
After Tottenham’s unexpected title challenge was scuppered, at least Harry Kane can return home to the unconditional love of his two labradors. The Premier League’s top scorer owns black and white Labradors named Brady and Wilson – after a pair of star players from his favourite NFL team the New England Patriots, Tom Brady and Tavon Wilson (who now plays for Detroit Lions). Kane has shared a picture of the three of them wearing personalised Patriots gear – with Brady even daubed with the same facial war-paint as his namesake – to watch last year’s Superbowl, which was fortunately won by the Patriots. ‘If I need to relax, I take them both out for a walk, or I play a round of golf. I can’t remember the last time I went to a club,’ the Spurs striker told Esquire last year.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina)
Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi was gifted his adorable Mastiff puppy earlier this year by long-term partner Antonella Roccuzzo. The only Instagram picture of arguably the greatest player in the history of the game cradling the wrinkle-faced pup has collected almost two million likes and counting. Roccuzzo already owns two dogs herself, although there are still more Ballon d’Or trophies than canines in the Messi household after the Argentina ace collected his fourth award in 2015.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal & Germany)
World Cup winner Mesut Ozil has revealed he was once afraid of dogs before conquering his fears by getting himself a puppy, a pug named Balboa after the Rocky films – despite it not being a boxer. ‘I was frightened of dogs as a kid! I wanted to overcome my fear, so I decided the best way to do this would be to own a dog. I got it as a puppy, raised it and have overcome my fear. Now, I love dogs,’ he told Sport. The Arsenal playmaker often shares pictures of the pair of them taking part in inane activities, accompanied by captions such as: ‘My boy Balboa is assisting me in today’s car trip!’ Balbao is also, obviously, a Gooner and has been pictured wearing his own customised Arsenal shirt bearing his master’s No 11 on his back.
Chris Smalling (Manchester Utd & England)
Having their owner leave is probably the saddest moment in the day of any dog and one that was perfectly captured when Chris Smalling headed into training leaving ‘Miley’ watching in his wake. The sound of the Manchester United defender’s heart breaking can almost be heard as he takes one last look back towards the Cocker Spaniel-Jack Russell cross he shares with partner Sam Cooke. Miley has been branded football’s most pampered dog due to the luxury lifestyle provided by the England international and his glamour model girlfriend. Cooke often shares pictures of their pet enjoying the good life, even sharing one of her travelling first class on a train from London to Manchester.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Portugal)
It’s extremely likely that Cristiano Ronaldo’s dog Marosca was a love child from his time with Russian beauty Irina Shayk. After their breakup, however, the Real Madrid superstar won custody of the Labrador and it’s been said that they cruise around Spain picking up women together. CR7’s never had a better wingman.
Neymar (Barcelona & Brazil)
Neymar’s 11.5million Instagram followers will have watched his pet golden retriever grow from Andrex-sized puppy to adulthood since coming into the Brazil sensation’s life in 2014. ‘Poker’ has since been seen playing with his master at home near his kennel in one of many images in which the Barca star shows his affection for his pet.
Memphis Depay (Manchester Utd & Holland)
Memphis Depay’s choice of pet appears as eccentric as his taste in clothes and cars with the Manchester United winger opting for an unusual Chow Chow, which he named Simba. The name refers the dog’s supposed similarity to the feline star of Disney’s The Lion King (Chow Chow actually means ‘fluffy lion dog’ in Chinese), although an oversized teddy bear would be more accurate. The Holland international brought Simba with him from PSV Eindhoven to Old Trafford where he is regularly seen accompanying the 22-year-old on strolls through the woods. Asked how he would describe his pet, Depay said: ‘Just as loyal, sweet and pigheaded as his boss!’
Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray & Holland)
The Netherlands international might not be plying his trade at the level he used to, but he’s still putting up some good performances for Galatasaray in Turkey. He’s also a massive dog lover and although it looks like he’s trying to drown it, Sneijder’s just kicking back with his pal at the beach.
James Rodriguez (Real Madrid & Columbia)
Colombia forward James Rodriguez is an unadulterated animal lover who has been pictured on Instagram with an assortment of unnamed dogs. The Real Madrid star appears to be the proud owner of a golden retriever, cocker spaniel and French bulldog who he simply refers to as ‘my amigos’.
Hector Bellerin (Arsenal & Brazil)
Hector Bellerin has always been a player of pedigree, having arrived from Barcelona’s youth academy, and it’s only fitting that the Arsenal defender has fallen for a gun dog. The young Spaniard, who has been named in the PFA Team of the Year, brought a beautiful silver-haired Weimaraner puppy into the London home he shares with girlfriend Berta Requeno this season. Bellerin’s Instagram followers will have watched ‘Otto’ grow up from a young pup to become a full fledged member of the family – usually wedged between his owners while giving the sort of wild blue-eyed stare usually associated with David Moyes. And, he’s another Arsenal dog forced to suffer the indignity of being dressed up in his owner’s team strip.
Isco (Real Madrid & Spain)
What’s the ONE name that you wouldn’t expect a Real Madrid star to give his dog? That’s right, he called his pooch Messi and how did he explain it? By saying this: “I named my dog ‘Messi’ because Messi is the best in the world, and so is my dog.”
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid & Spain)
‘Icaro’ and ‘Urca’
Sergio Ramos has been the talk of the town in recent years thanks to the will-he-won’t-he transfer quagmire he go into with Manchester United. What’s really important, however, are his puppies Icaro and Urca, two of the cutest German Shepherds around.
Marcelo (Real Madrid & Brazil)
Marcelo seems to have answered the debate over whether pets take after their owners as the Real Madrid defender bears a striking resemblance to his Newfoundland Lola. The pair share the same approachable demeanour and, of course, swathes of unruly black hair. Although Lola is most commonly pictured alongside Marcelo, she is just one of several dogs that share the Brazilian’s Madrid home, including the two latest additions Kiara the French bulldog and Thiag, a British bulldog. According to Real Madrid team-mate Pepe, Marcelo was always waxing lyrical about his pets before convincing his team-mate to visit the house – believing he would find a pack of ferocious creatures only to be greeted by a miniature pinscher in a pink pearl necklace.
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal & Chile)
‘Atom’ & ‘Humber’
Arsenal’s fleet-footed forward Alexis Sanchez makes no bones about the affection he holds for his pair of golden retrievers, named Atom and Humber. The Chile international regularly shares all manner of heart warming pictures of his beloved pets on his Instagram account – even posting a bizarre video tribute of them enjoying a country walk together to the music of Phil Collins. And, if that wasn’t strange enough, the 27-year-old has also starred alongside his dogs in an advert for pet food that involves the three of them playing football in Sanchez’s back yard before ending the day curled up in bed… wearing sunglasses. According to Sanchez: ‘There is a beautiful legend that tells us that animals are voluntary souls, without the gift of words, who have come to show man the value of his actions, of solidarity, of acceptance, of freedom and the value of teamwork…. and the more important the love’.
Andy Carroll (West Ham & England)
While Marcelo may resemble his hirsute Newfoundland, West Ham talisman Andy Carroll is about as far removed from his two miniature pinschers as is physically possible. The 6ft 4in striker reportedly bought the handbag-sized dogs for partner and ‘TOWIE’ star Billy Mucklow and is sometimes pictured walking them along with his recently born son. Carroll recently launched an appeal to find a home for a Great Dane, a breed with far more in keeping with his own stature, named Buffy who he claimed ‘stole his heart’ on a visit to Battersea Dogs’ Home in February.