10 Most Famous Spanish Athletes

More than half of the ten most famous Spanish athletes of all time are soccer players, almost all of whom were on the 2010 World Cup winning team. It’s no wonder so many of these guys are on here: They won the top prize in the world’s most popular sport, and are being hailed as the golden generation of Spanish soccer. Despite this clear domination, tennis and NBA players also make multiple appearance on this list.  

  1. Andrés Iniesta – Andrés Iniesta became the most famous Spanish athlete of all time in an instant when he scored the winning goal for La Roja in the World Cup 2010 final against the Dutch, and won the country its first ever world championship. He subsequently tore his shirt off, was booked for a yellow card for doing so, and was unable to prevent male pattern baldness, despite being written into the history books of sport.
  2. Raúl – One of Spain’s most famous athletes, Raúl played at renowned Spanish team Real Madrid alongside the likes of Zidane and Beckham. While many of the most famous players in the world simply pass through Real Madrid for the wealth and fame, Raúl stayed on the length of his career and fought hard for the team, becoming a hero for the Real's faithful. When Raúl retired from the team in 2010, it was heralded by some as the end of an era.
  3. Pau Gasol – Pau Gasol plies his humble trade alongside similarly understated teammate Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, decked out in a blindingly bright yellow jersey, standing seven feet tall. Gasol is a two-time NBA champion, and possibly, the tallest Spaniard ever.
  4. David Villa – David Villa’s faux-hawked mug was everywhere during the 2010 World Cup, on account of his near-constant presence at the forward end of Spain’s attack. The national team’s most potent striker, Villa made the move to the enormously successful Barcelona in 2010, upping his visibility and fame.
  5. Rafael Nadal – Rafael Nadal became the top ranked men’s singles tennis player in the world in 2010. Nadal’s visibility, and therefore his fame, are increased exponentially by corporate sponsorship from Nike, Kia and Spanish banking giant, Banesto.
  6. Fernando Torres – Fenando Torres, one of Spain’s great football players, is one of the country’s most famous athletes for a number of reasons. He plays in the world’s most high profile sports league (that would be the British Premier League), for one of it’s most high profile teams (that would be Liverpool), is very pleasant to look at and is a hell of an athlete.
  7. Marc Gasol – Marc Gasol, Pau’s baby brother, is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the NBA. One of the most famous Spanish athletes of all time, Marc isn’t merely trading on Pau’s legacy; he’s building on it. Though both Gasol’s are NBA all-stars, Marc has the higher scoring percentage.
  8. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario – Though she is the lone female on this list, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario will always be one of Spain’s most famous athletes for being the Iberian nation’s first ever number 1 ranked tennis player in the world, male or female, a feat she achieved in 1995.
  9. Iker Casillas – Casillas is, you guessed it, yet another player from Spain’s World Cup winning team. It might get tiresome, but, well, if you compiled a list of the most famous American athletes of all time, you’d get Michael, Magic, Shaq, Kobe, Dr. J….you catch the drift. Casillas was the goalie that allowed so few goals, and captained the team to victory during the 2010 World Cup.
  10. Xavi – Xavi Hernades is captain of Barcelona, one of the most high profile soccer teams in the world. He also played an important role as the central midfielder for the Spanish World Cup team that won the nations’s first ever WC championship.
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