To casual observers, footballers occupy the top rung of the masculinity ladder. To succeed, these athletes have had to overcome incredible adversity.
But for all their on-field aggression, these guys are just like us. In the morning, they put their pants on one leg at a time. They struggle to balance their personal and work lives. And when things get tough, sometimes they cry.
The only difference between them and us? We toil in anonymity while the unblinking eyes of the world are upon them. Constantly.
So, when footballers like Neymar cry, the media pounces. Other sports, like ice hockey and American football, appear far more “manly.” Put next to them, footballers seem like sport’s biggest blubbers.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with showing emotion. But some football players do it more than others.
So we here at Bonusfinder decided to conduct some research. First, we combed through countless articles, videos, and photos to find the most emotional footballers of all time. Then, we ranked them based on the crying incidents we found.
So, who is football’s biggest crybaby? In this post, we’ll list off this sport’s ten most emotional players:
10. Mario Balotelli
Football hooligans make for a tough crowd. But what they’ve put Italian footballer Mario Balotelli through was disgusting and inexcusable.
According to many accounts, Balotelli (who is of African descent) was the target of racial slurs during a match against Napoli. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time he’s been singled out by hostile spectators. But on this day, it got to him as he burst into tears after being subbed off.
Like most on this list, Mario has cried in times of triumph and defeat. But can you blame him for succumbing to overt displays of ignorance? We sure don’t.
Racism has no room in football.
9. Paul Gascoigne
Paul Gascoigne, an English and Premier League football legend, had overcome numerous obstacles that have humbled countless others.
Alcoholism. Bipolar disorder. Frequent injuries. Through them all, Paul had soldiered on, having a stellar career for Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur FC.
But it was on the biggest stage where Paul had his most heart-wrenching moment. In the World Cup 1990 semi-final, he was England’s best player. As the game went on, Gazza just got better.
And then, he fouled West Germany’s Thomas Berthold in extra time. The referee pulled out his yellow card, meaning that Paul would not be playing in the final had England won the match (they didn’t).
It was the call that broke the dam.
The British are famous for their “stiff upper lip.” But right then and there, Gazza collapsed, tears filling his eyes.
It was a fundamentally relatable moment. And to this day, he is still loved by Three Lions fans worldwide.
8. Sergio Aguero
The most challenging moment for any athlete is when the final whistle sounds. Not the full-time whistle, but the one that marks the end of a career.
Like many footballers, the game was all Sergio Aguero has ever known. Among his most notable achievements is being Manchester City’s all-time goalscorer and holding the Premier League record for hat tricks (12). Indeed, he was one of the greatest players ever to play.
But then, it all came to an abrupt end. After leaving a match with chest pains in 2021, subsequent medical examinations uncovered a life-threatening heart condition.
So, just like that, 33-year-old Sergio Aguero had to hang up his boots. But, during his retirement press conference, he couldn’t hold back. Being forced to leave the teammates and the game you love is a pain non-athletes will never understand.
So he wept. And when he did, we wept with him.
7. John Terry
Usually, it’s the strikers that get all the glory. But through the years, John Terry has made a career out of frustrating forwards.
From winning UEFA Club Defender of the Year three times to leading Chelsea to five Premier League titles (and one Champions League crown), the man has repeatedly shown what a football captain is.
But even a solid bloke like this is not immune to displays of emotion. His most infamous incident happened in 2014 when his team fell 3-1 to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals. The media had a field day with it, and opposing fans, who had watched Chelsea win two years earlier, revelled in Terry’s tears.
6. Lionel Messi
Wildly creative with the ball on his foot, Lionel Messi is one of the most dominant players of his generation. With seven Ballon d’Or to his credit and as the all-time top South American goalscorer, it’s difficult to dispute that.
But skill only partially explains Messi’s brilliance. Without emotion, it’s unclear whether the crafty playmaker would have reached the heights he has in his career.
His most incredible, disappointing, and heartbreaking moments have all been marked by crying. Most recently, his press conference announcing his departure from Barcelona was frequently interrupted by his vain attempts to stop the tears from flowing.
To the untrained eye, this might make Messi the biggest crybaby in football. But after 21 legendary years with FC Barcelona, we’d be crying too. He also cried when he team won the 2021 Copa America in Brazil.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo
Over his career, Cristiano Ronaldo’s teams have taken the top spot in Europe, winning the Champions League five times. And in 2016, he led Portugal to its first-ever UEFA European Championship.
But for all his success, CR7 has encountered heartbreak on the world football stage. In four World Cups, Ronaldo only made it to the semi-finals once. And in that match, he came close but failed to score against eventual champions, France. As the game ended, he wept bitterly.
Throughout his career, Cristiano Ronaldo has shed both tears of joy and tears of pain. But this doesn’t surprise us – as a genuinely emotional leader, he wears his heart on his sleeve for his team.
4. Mohamed Salah
Mohamed Salah has made his mark on the professional football world from Egypt to Liverpool. He is one of the best Muslim footballers of all time. But in victory and defeat, crying has inevitably followed.
In 2018, a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid was too difficult to take. And in February 2022, he watched as a Liverpool teammate gave Senegal a penalty kick victory over Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations.
After the game, the tears kept flowing as he made a passionate speech to his teammates in the dressing room. Mo’s eyes may spring a leak occasionally, but it’s simply a byproduct of the fire that burns within him.
3. David Beckham
Armed with a shot that vexed keepers for years, David Beckham is one of the best strikers to lace up a pair of cleats.
Throughout his illustrious career, he took the world by storm, becoming the first English player to win a championship in four different leagues.
But his time on the pitch didn’t come without emotion. In 1998, he lost his composure after getting red-carded in the World Cup round of 16. And when he retired as a member of PSG in 2018, he cried as the match ended.
Even in retirement, he’s cried in public, most recently delivering an emotional speech at his son’s wedding. For an Englishman, he sure gives Neymar a run for his money.
2. Luis Suarez
To be a successful athlete at any level, you’ve got to be hungry. But when Luis Suarez was playing youth football, perhaps his coaches should have been more… specific?
When the average football fan thinks of Suarez, his cannibalistic tendencies are usually the first thing that pops into their heads. Not once, not twice, but THREE times, he’s bitten opposing players.
But another character trait defines Luis – his propensity to turn on the waterworks.
Like many footballers, he’s cried tears of pain and joy following defeats and victories. But he also cried over a frustrating series of events in 2021, when he was subbed off the field in Atletico Madrid’s Champions League match against Porto.
He had suffered an injury on the play but felt he could continue. Fortunately, his teammates circled the wagons, holding on for a crucial draw.
It’s almost enough to crown Luis as football’s biggest crybaby. But there’s only one player that could outdo him…
1. Neymar da Silva Santos Jr.
The Brazilian superstar is no stranger to tears. He’s cried on the field after suffering injuries, he’s cried after losing important games (like back in 2020, when his team PSG fell 1-0 to Bayern Munich).
He even cried at a birthday party in 2019, as he gave a speech in the wake of a foot injury. He cries so much, we think it would be easier to tally the times he ISN’T crying.
And so, according to our research, Neymar is football’s biggest crybaby – but there’s nothing wrong with that. Now if only he could stop diving so much…
A Game So Beautiful, It Makes The Manliest Men Cry
Football is an emotional game. You don’t have to be Neymar to break down – from the highs of a last-minute winner to the lows of a crushing defeat, this game can make even the most stoic of men weep.
And if these icons of masculinity can show a little emotion, then certainly, there’s no shame in crying over the difficulties in our lives.