In today’s celebrity-obsessed culture, sports stars often achieve similar levels of fame to their A-list counterparts in the worlds of film, music and TV. The elevation of sports stars’ profiles, driven by the global nature of modern sport and the rise of new media technologies, has provided the most famous amongst them opportunities to rub shoulders with some truly high-profile stars.
This has resulted in some rather surprising and unlikely friendships. Take for example former England and Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand, who was personally contacted by none other than Michael Jackson to issue a backstage invite to one of his London gigs. Rio took the call in the middle of the launch party for his new magazine ‘Number 5’, an example of how stars pursuing interests outside of their sport has brought them into contact with celebs. As Ferdinand’s agent Chris Nathaniel, of NVA Sports Agency, has suggested, “Rio is so open to doing lots of different things; that’s one of the reasons we’ve had him working with the American music stars.” Rio hitting it off with the King of Pop may seem unlikely, but sports star-celeb friendships are surprisingly common, as you can see from the examples below.
- Floyd Mayweather and Justin Bieber – The Canadian pop star and teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber doesn’t look like the boxing type, but it turns out he is such a big fan of Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather that he has even had personal boxing lessons from the former world Champ.
- Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-Un – Whilst the definition of A-list celeb doesn’t quite fit the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, he is still undoubtedly a high-profile figure and his friendship with former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman could well claim the prize for most surprising partnership on this list.
- Tom Cruise and David Beckham – A friendship initiated predominantly by location after the Beckhams moved to LA, Tom and Dave were inseparable during the blossoming of their relationship, with Tom frequently appearing in Beckham’s box during LA Galaxy games and even welcoming the couple to the neighbourhood by buying them a Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln navigator and a Bentley Continental!
- Pele and Mick Hucknall – The final pairing on this list comprises perhaps the greatest footballer ever to play the game, Brazilian legend Pele, and his long-term friend Mick Hucknall, of Simply Red fame. Apparently the two have been best mates since the 1980s and Hucknall is even reportedly the Godfather of one of Pele’s children!