Who are the world's most travelled footballers?

Who are the world's most travelled footballers?

7th April 2017, Comments 0 comments

Winning football teams today travel more than double than half a century ago, totalling more than 200,000km in a season. Who is the world's most travelled footballer of all time?

With the football season in full swing, top players are not only travelling in their domestic leagues and cups, but internationally to engage in annual continental club competitions and official national team games. The Most Travelled Footballers report provides fascinating insight into the growing amount of travel top footballers have to endure.

The world’s most travelled footballers

A report by Kiwi.com reveals the distances famous footballers travel during their professional careers:

  • Raul is the most travelled footballer of all time and Iker Casillas is the most travelled active player.
  • David Beckham is the most carded retired player per 10,000km travelled, while Luis Suarez is the most carded active footballer.
  • Pele has the best goal to travel ratio, with an incredible 15.92 goals scored per 10,000km travelled
  • Carlos Tevez is the best paid player per kilometre travelled, coming in at EUR 956.83.


The study is composed of two rankings: active footballers and retired players. These present a number of interesting analyses, such as the number of goals a player scores, the number of red cards they receive per 10,000 km travelled, as well as their salary per km travelled. While other footballers could have made the list, the players here were chosen based on number of appearances with a focus mainly on strikers and scoring midfielders, with the exception of two goal keepers.

“We help thousands of fans each year to follow their teams, some of whom travel to every away game,” says Stephen Davis, CMO at Kiwi.com. “It’s interesting to see just how far players have to travel in order to compete at the highest level. On top of this are the millions of miles that fans clock up when they follow their teams across the globe.”

Results: Active Footballers

Iker Casillas is the most travelled active player. During his 19 year career, Casillas has travelled a grand total of 908,281.46km, giving him a salary of EUR 118.91 per kilometre travelled.

As it stands, Robert Lewandowski has the highest goals scored per kilometres travelled, with an impressive 13.13 goals per 10,000 km travelled. The world class Bayern striker is also the least travelled active footballer with 243,690.56km.

The study also revealed the following interesting findings about active footballers:

  • Luis Suarez is carded 3.1 times per 10,000 km travelled, the highest in this ranking, closely followed by Wayne Rooney (2.95 per 10,000 km) and Robin van Persie (2.26).
  • Carlos Tevez is paid the most per km at EUR 956.83, followed by Robin van Persie (EUR 636.89) and Wayne Rooney (EUR 597.77).
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has travelled 877,566.63km since his first division debut in 2002. He scores 6.61 goals and is carded 1.12 times per 10,000 km travelled and is paid EUR 375.44 per kilometre.


Results: Retired Footballers 

The most travelled footballers

The findings revealed that a high number of appearances on the field does not necessarily mean that the player is the most travelled. Retired goalie Peter Shilton illustrates this point. Shilton holds the all-time record for the most competitive appearances in world football, with a total of 1,249 appearances including friendly games. However, he ranks in last place in the Retired Footballers Ranking, with 302,690.30 km travelled, far behind Raul, who is the most travelled footballer of all time, with 1,093,428.60 km travelled.

  • David Beckham is the 6th most travelled player with 774,806 km travelled over his 21 year career from 1992-2013. Beckham averaged 1.88 goals and 1.99 cards per 10,000 km travelled, making him the most carded retired player per km.
  • The player with the most goals per 10,000 km travelled is Pele with 15.92. Pele travelled 753,575.73 km throughout his career, from 1956–1977.
  • Zinedine Zidane was the 5th most travelled player with 887,270.30 km travelled over the duration of his 21 year career, which lasted from 1989–2006.


Distances travelled of winning teams in the Champions League

Players and experts alike are concerned with the increasing amount of travel footballers have to endure in top tier levels of play, as it is becoming apparent the quality of the performance decreases with higher levels of travel. Figure 1 (below) shows that to win the Champions League in 2015, '14 and '13, the winning teams (largely made up of Real Madrid) travelled distances approximately double than in 1956, ‘57 and ‘58.

The most travelled footballers


Contributed by Kiwi.com

The full findings can be found on Kiwi.com’s results page here. The full results breakdown footballers travel into League Travel, National Cup Travel, International Club travel, and National Team Travel. The full methodology is also available on the results page.

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