The Pets of Famous Soccer Players

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A puppy lies asleep next to a soccer ball.
BetMGM Jun 19, 2023, 3:40 AM

Like many sports betting fans, most famous soccer players share their homes with a medley of weird and wonderful creatures. As you’d expect, most open their hearts to dogs and cats, but there are also many charitable soccer pros who prefer the companionship of exotic animals.

Aside from animal-themed online casino games, you’re not likely to find many of these critters mentioned on casino online betting sites. 

However, betting fans who like a well-rounded view of their favorite players may be interested in learning about the home menageries of some top sports stars. Here are a few famous soccer players and their beloved pets, ranging from hounds and house cats to chimpanzees and lions.

Lionel Messi

Argentinian legend Lionel Messi is well-known for his ability to dazzle defenders. With eight Ballon d’Or awards and multiple records, it’s no exaggeration to call him one of the giants of modern-day soccer. And his choice of pet certainly suits his larger-than-life status.

Messi owns a massive French mastiff named Hulk. As the name might suggest, Hulk is a 150-pound juggernaut who can take down an intruder in a heartbeat. But despite his bulk and muscular frame, he’s a gentle giant who loves spending time with his family.

Barcelona’s superstar also has two other dogs: a miniature poodle named Abu and a boxer called Facha. All three pooches are great with the kids and are considered happy additions to Messi’s growing family.

Cristiano Ronaldo

You don’t need to be an expert at soccer odds to know that Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most reliable soccer talents in the world. He’s also one of the most considerate sports celebrities, with countless examples of his charitable nature on social media.

Nowhere is that kindness more obvious than in the way he cares for his pets. Ronaldo and his girlfriend, Georgina Rodríguez, are the proud owners of three cuddly cuties. They’ve got two dogs named Marosca and Antonia and a hairless cat by the name of Pepe.

Marosca is a labrador, Antonia is a poodle and Pepe is a purebred Sphynx. Marosca has been Ronaldo’s loyal companion since 2015, while Antonia and Pepe both joined their picture-perfect family within the past three years.


Marcelo Vieira da Silva Júnior, known simply as Marcelo, is one of Real Madrid’s most talented athletes. He’s also highly active on social media, so his fans will no doubt be familiar with the six fluffy furballs he spends so much of his time with.

The most famous of them is easily Lola, a rare Newfoundland dog breed with thick black hair, just like her owner. Lola is a common sight on Marcelo’s Instagram feed; she seems to find herself at peace in nature.

The hero defender also has a labrador called Nalla and four smaller pooches known as Kiara, Ully, Thaig and Bella. Dogs clearly hold a special place in Marcelo’s heart — the constant affection he shows them is always a heartwarming sight. 

Mohamed Salah

There’s no doubt that Mohamed Salah is Liverpool’s greatest player right now. He scored the most goals in the English Premier League last season and is the only player to score more than 20 goals for Liverpool over the course of three consecutive seasons.

Salah isn’t just a prolific pro; he’s also a vocal animal rights activist and a self-confessed cat lover. He owns two Balinese cats at the moment — a long-haired breed with piercing blue eyes and a thick coat of fur.

Having owned a variety of pets in his life, Salah enjoys sharing the lessons he has learned with his followers. His media posts over the past few years have often featured personal statements about animal rights, along with plenty of pics of him together with his feline friends.

Arturo Vidal

Chilean star player Arturo Vidal is one of the world’s strongest and most aggressive midfielders. His fierce tackling and sheer tenacity on the field have earned him the nickname “The Piranha,” and his passion for adrenaline-filled competition is evident in every inch of his being.

Whether it’s tattoos and soccer betting or Ferraris and horse racing, Vidal lives life in the fast lane and seizes every opportunity that comes his way. In 2014, his love for racing led to him buying six horses and a stable in his home country. But he didn’t stop there.

Vidal now owns more than 60 horses, a handful of which race at a thoroughbred track in Chile’s capital, Santiago. When he’s not playing the beautiful game, Vidal often takes time off to care for his horses and ensure they get all the attention they deserve.

Karim Benzema

As one of Real Madrid’s highest goal-scorers, Karim Benzema is never content with mediocrity. His uncanny ability to find the back of the net makes him a threat to any defense, but his intense drive to pursue glory hasn’t always worked out in his favor.

Benzema has a habit of posing in photos alongside rare and endangered species, from chimpanzees to iguanas. As you can imagine, reactions to his social media posts are somewhat mixed, with many replies accusing him of irresponsible behavior.

To his credit, Real Madrid’s star striker has always stuck to the law when it comes to animals. When photos of his family playing with tiger cubs hit the web, he responded to naysayers by suggesting that the public had misinterpreted his love for rare species.

Some Exotic Pets Rumored To Be Owned by Soccer Players

Here are some crazy pets that former and current soccer players are rumored to have owned.

Lions and Tigers

The former Cameroonian international Samuel Eto’o is rumored to have owned a pet lion named “Ronnie” during his time at FC Barcelona. Similarly, Brazilian legend Ronaldinho is said to have owned a pair of pet lions named “Leo” and “Raj” in his home in Brazil.


Former German national team player Kevin-Prince Boateng apparently had a pet chimpanzee named “Anna” during his time playing for AC Milan. He often shared pictures and videos of his primate companion on social media. 

Exotic Birds

Brazilian superstar Neymar is said to have a penchant for exotic birds and reportedly owns several rare species, including parrots and macaws. He has shared pictures of himself with his vibrant feathered pets on various occasions.

Miniature Horses

Zlatan Ibrahimović, the Swedish striker, has been said to own a pair of miniature horses named “Vegas” and “Prince.” These tiny equines have become somewhat of a trademark for Ibrahimović, appearing in social media posts and even at his home matches.


In addition to his dogs, Cristiano Ronaldo may have also owned a pair of pythons named “Snake” and “Balrog” during his time at Manchester United. Apparently, he occasionally brought them to the training grounds, surprising his teammates.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.