7. Thierry Henry
One of the greatest strikers the game has ever seen, it is a bit surprising that Thierry Henry was not particularly interested in becoming a footballer at an early age and it was due to his father’s insistence that the Frenchman continued playing the ‘Beautiful Game’. Henry’s talent was spotted at an early age and he earned a move to Monaco in 1992 after impressing with local side ES Viry-Chatillon.
6. Frank Lampard
One of the greatest midfielders to have played the game, Frank Lampard followed in the footsteps of his father Frank Sr. and started off his career at West Ham United. Showing prodigious talent at an early age, Lampard earned a move to Chelsea and claimed 13 major honours during his decade long stay with the Blues.
The great Ronaldinho had humble beginnings in Brazil and he picked up football to cope with the loss of his father at the age of just 8. Ronaldinho started showing real promise at a young age and even scored all the goals in his local sides’ 23-0 victory, earning attention from the media. The Brazilian star honed his skills at Gremio and since achieved unprecedented success in the sport playing for the likes of PSG, Barcelona and AC Milan.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
One of the greatest footballers of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo endured a difficult childhood. Ronaldo was born into poverty and had to deal with difficulties such as the loss of his father as well as being expelled from school at a young age. At 14, Ronaldo started concentrating on football and his path to greatness began after signing for Portuguese giants Sporting CP in 1997.
3. Lionel Messi
Superstar Lionel Messi fell in love with football at the age of 5 and displayed real promise, being snapped up by Newell’s Old Boys. At the age of 11, Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency and the treatment cost $900 a month. Born to a poor family, Messi’s parents could not afford the treatment while Newell’s were not ready to cover the medical expenses. However, Spanish side Barcelona proved to be the guardian angel for Messi after offering to covering his medical bills on the condition that he moved to Spain and the deal was arguably one of the best business conducted by the Catalans.
2. David Beckham
David Beckham is arguably the most recognizable face in world football but he certainly had to work really hard to achieve such a worldwide status. Born in London, Beckham inherited his love for Manchester United from his parents and managed to sign for the club of his dreams at the age of 14 in 1991. Beckham since made a mark in the United first team and went on to play for Real Madrid, AC Milan, LA Galaxy as well as amass over 100 caps for the England national team.
1. Zinedine Zidane
Regarded by many as the best midfielder of the modern era, Zinedine Zidane did not enjoy the most lavish of childhoods. Born to Algerian immigrants – Zidane grew up in a Marseille neighborhood notorious for crime. However, Zidane chose to pick up football and quickly started to show his talent while playing with neighborhood children. The future Real Madrid star was signed by Cannes at the age of 14 and he went on to achieve great things in the sport, notably starring in France’s World Cup victory in 1998.