Athleticism has always been impressive, even to non-sports fans. Who hasn’t heard of Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi at least once in their lives?
I know I did, even though I’m as far from a football fan as North Korea is from democracy.
In this article, I’ll give you a short list of the 20 most popular athletes on Instagram, in terms of followers, as of April 2023.
I won’t be commenting too much because, again, I’m not a sports guy (at all).
1. Cristiano Ronaldo – 559 Million Followers
Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo will be first on this list. Aside from Instagram account, the Portuguese football player has the second-most followers on the platform – 559 million in total.
What else can I say other than the fact that he’s hailed as one of the best and most legendary footballers of all time?
2. Leo Messi – 440 Million Followers
Messi is the second most popular athlete on Instagram, with 440 million followers at the time of writing this article. He’s also a legendary football player who’s been on a constant collision path with Ronaldo for many years.
He’s an astounding football player, the way I hear it, and that’s probably putting it mildly.
3. Virat Kohli – 240 Million Followers
If you’re a true sports fan (unlike me), you’ve probably heard of Virat Kohly, Instagram’s up-and-coming famous cricketer. Yeah, you hear me right – cricket.
He currently holds the record for scoring the most runs in the T20 internationals in the IPL, and he was also named the male cricketer of the decade by the International Cricket Council in 2020. He’s a big shot, in other words.
He also has around 240 million followers on Instagram!
4. Neymar – 206 Million Followers
You don’t need to be a true sports fan to have heard of Neymar, also known as The Batman or the Lord of the Night.
He’s among the world’s most expensive footballers, according to my research, and a damn good player at that.
Renowned for being one of the most prolific scorers in Brazil’s history, Neymar is a top world athlete and has 206 million followers on Instagram.
5. LeBron James – 148 Million Followers
Just as you have Ronaldo and Messi for football, you have LeBron James for basketball. He’s the only player in the NBA’s history to be ranked in the top 100s for points, blocks, rebounds, assists, steals, and three-pointers.
Words are not enough to describe just how legendary LeBron James is for basketball, and his 148 million followers on Instagram agree.
He’s still the all-time leading scorer in all of NBA history, even today. Yep, I guess I’m more partial to basketball than football.
6. Kylian Mbappe – 100 Million Followers
To be honest, I hadn’t heard about this guy, but apparently, he’s hailed as one of the fastest football players in the world. As an attacker, he’s said to dominate the European club competition.
Back in 2022, he became the first player in all of football history to score four career goals in the World Cup finals. Yep, not even Ronaldo or Messi topped that.
Other than that, there’s nothing more to say. Great footballer!
7. David Beckham – 78 Million Followers
During his heyday, David Beckham was named the best midfielder and the Most Valuable Player on the field, and he definitely counts among the sport’s finest players, even today.
A world-renowned football player is also a family man, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and all-around icon for his 78 million followers.
What more can I say other than he’s a great guy and football player? I know, anti-climactic 😀
8. Ronaldinho – 72.1 Million Followers
For a long time, I’d thought Ronaldo and Ronaldinho were one and the same. I was wrong, so give me a break, alright?
He’s a world-renowned Brazilian soccer player and played for several teams (Paris Saint Germaine, Barcelona, and Inter-Milan). He helped the latter qualify for the 2009-2010 Italian Champion League.
With over 72.1 million followers on Instagram, the retired football player still enjoys a lot of attention from sports fans around the world.
9. Marcelo Vieira – 62.3 Million Followers
Another great footballer I didn’t know about, Marcelo Vieira, is hailed as one of the best left-backs of all time. Left-back is a defensive position in football, or so I’m told.
He’s won a club record of 25 trophies – 6 La Liga titles, 5 Copas del Rey, 5 Spanish Supercopas, 3 UEFA Super Cups, and 4 Club World Cups. All of that in 16 years.
His more than 62 million followers on Instagram regard him as one of the best footballers of all time, largely due to his offensive capabilities, technical skills, and trickery. He’s also the most decorated player in the Real Madrid club.
10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 58.4 Million Followers
World-renowned football strikers, Zlatan has over 570 career goals and still holds the record for the most goals scored for the Sweden National team at 62 strikes.
He’s also won 34 trophies during his professional football career and was awarded the Player of the Year award 3 times. Zlatan still hasn’t retired from football, though, and he may yet win more prizes for his collection.
11. Mohamed Salah – 57.6 Million Followers
Known as one of the world’s most prolific forwards in football and widely acclaimed for his speed and dribbling skills, Mohamed Salah has over 57.6 million followers on Instagram as of right now.
Ever since joining Liverpool, he won a UEFA Champions League and a Premier League title while also helping the club win its first domestic crown in 30 years and its sixth European Cup. Big achievements, from what I’m told.
12. Sergio Ramos – 57.2 Million Followers
Apparently, Sergio Ramos is widely-known as one of the best defenders of all time, and he’s also the most-capped footballer of all time, having earned 180 caps in his professional career.
His team also won the UEFA European Championship twice and the FIFA World Cup once.
Throughout his career, he saved his team from defeat too many times to count, which is where his renown as a legendary defender comes from.
He also has 57.2 million followers on Instagram!
13. Paulo Dybala – 55 Million Followers
Paulo Dybala (never heard of him myself) is said to be one of the most talented players in the history of Italian football, even though he’s Argentinian himself. He’s an impeccable forward who plays with elegance and class.
Ever since joining the Argentinian team at 21, he has earned more than 30 caps and appeared in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, 2019 Copa America, and the 2022 World Cup. He also won the latter.
His budding talent is what first attracted people to him, but it was his consistent quality plays that kept people fascinated by his persona.
14. Gareth Bale – 50.5 Million Followers
One of the most famous Welsh football players in the world, Gareth Bale, is now retired, but he still remains one of the most decorated in the game.
With five Champions League titles under his belt, there’s no disputing his legendary status.
Widely known for his speed and accuracy, Bale played as a left-footer for the Wales National and Read Madrid teams, being one of the most successful club players of the latter.
15. Luis Suarez – 46.7 Million Followers
Football again! Luis Suarez is, once again, seen as one of the best football players in the world and a top-tier striker.
He has won an Eredivisie Golden Boot, two European Golden Shoes, the Pichichi Trophy, and the Premier League Golden Boot.
He’s a famous goal-getter and a very consistent one at that, too. What more can I say about him? Top-tier football material!
16. Conor McGregor – 46.1 Million Followers
This is more up my alley. Conor McGregor is definitely one of the most highly-acclaimed MMA fighters in the world for two reasons – his top-tier trash-talking and charisma, as well as his undisputable fighting skills.
He’s the former UFC featherweight and lightweight double-champion, which says a lot. You may have heard of him from the famous Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather fight, where the former took quite the beating.
17. Andrés Iniesta – 41.4 Million Followers
You must have heard about Andrés Iniesta if you’re a sports fan. He served as captain of the Barcelona team for most of his professional career and scored a total of 16 goals throughout four World Cup tournaments.
Many consider him the most complete player in the game and a superb midfielder. With excellent passing skills, ungodly physical resilience, and elegant playmaking, Iniesta is surely one of football’s legends.
18. M S Dhoni – 40.8 Million Followers
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is perceived by many as a legend of cricket because he won all the ICC trophies during his career as a captain for the Indian national team.
A very “dynamic” and yet calm captain who faced off impossible odds with eerie resoluteness and coolness, M S Dhoni left behind a legend in the sport of cricket.
19. Sachin Tendulkar – 39.1 Million Followers
The “Master Blaster” or the “God of Cricket” as Sachin Tendulkar is nick-named, was quite literally one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket. He broke all the cricket records during his professional career and consistently won games for his national team.
He had not only crisp timing but also an impeccable selection of shots and masterful strikes, making him an exceptional player on the field.
20. Antoine Griezmann – 39 Million Followers
Throughout his professional career, Antoine Griezmann won 117 caps and was ranked as France’s sixth-most capped player.
With more than 40 goals scored, he’s also the third-highest all-time top goal-getter in the country.
Many have named him the leading striker of Atletico Madrid in his prime, and he was also a team player who cooperated wonderfully with his teammates.
And that’s all with this article. Stay tuned for more interesting guides about social media!