The Footballers Looking to Level Up through Esports

Liverpool rock Virgil van Dijk has joined many of his peers in the esports and gaming space

Reading time: 3 minutes

Virgil van Dijk has become the latest footballing superstar to join the esports space, with the Liverpool centre back becoming an ambassador and shareholder at Tundra Esports. 

London-based org Tundra has Europe’s no.1 ranked Dota 2 team, the reigning Fortnite Champion Series winners, and a current FIFA ePremier League champion. 

Van Dijk is far from alone in footballers looking to get a slice of some esports action, with the Dutch defender just the latest in a long line of stars wanting a slice of the action. 

Mesut Özil

One of the footballing pioneers in the esports space, former Arsenal and Real Madrid man Mesut Ozil owns M10 Esports. 

The German, who now plays for Turkish outfit Istanbul Basaksehir, set up M10 in 2018, with the organisation not just fussed about the top-end of the esports and gaming space. 

M10, who compete in both Fortnite and FIFA, wants to help young talent both on and off the virtual pitch, as well as celebrating diversity in the gaming space. 

Big hitters such as Fatih "FIFAÜstun" Üstun and Pedro "Resende" Henrique Soares have represented M10 in FIFA, with the org reaching the last eight of the FIFA eWorld Cup in 2019.

Gareth Bale

Having just left Europe for the glamour of Los Angeles, Gareth Bale’s Ellevens Esports is establishing itself in esports. 

With teams over the years competing in FIFA and Rocket League, as well as utilising a network of streamers, Bale treats this space seriously – and it will be interesting to see if his move Stateside will have any effect on the business. 

Most recently, Ellevens duo Marc “MarcMarleyyy” Marley and Jayden “Jayden” Groden represented Brighton during the FIFA 22 ePremier League. 

The org hit its peak bac on FIFA 20, with top eight performances in two Summer Cups; let's hope they bounce back on FIFA 23.

Ruud Gullit

Given Ruud Gullit finished playing in 1998, it’s quite incredible that the Dutch legend runs his own FIFA esports team. 

Team Gullit has lifted many trophies in the esports space, including two European Championships and two FUT Champions Cups. 

The brand also offers FIFA coaching for those who wish to improve at the game, and has a host of brand partners including Samsung Galaxy, Red Bull and BenQ. 

Their best performance came in the FIFA eWorld Cup 2022, where Emre "EmreYilmazz" Yilmaz reaxhed the semi-finals.

Sergio Aguero

Despite being forced into early retirement last year, Sergio Aguero has certainly found his new calling. 

The Man City legend set up KRÜ Esports in 2020, which compete in Valorant, FIFA and League of Legends, as well as having a streamer network. 

Streaming is where Aguero has really made a name for himself post football, playing a range of games on Twitch and amassing 4 million followers on the platform.

Still in their FIFA infancy, the org is growing, with an appearance in the FIFA eClub WorldCup in 2022, having finished second in the South American Playoffs.

Antoine Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann was one of the pioneers of merging football and gaming cultures. 

The World Cup winner regularly uses Fortnite dances as his goal celebrations, has over 200,000 subscribers on Twitch and is a massive Football Manager fan

Griezmann does also own an esports team in Grizi eSport, which have competed in Fortnite, FIFA and Rainbow 6 Siege, but the team was “temporarily closed down” in October 2021. 

The Fortnite side was successful in the UEFA Euro 2020 Cup, with Jeremy "4zr" Dang claiming the title.

It remains to be seen whether they will return, but it would be a surprise to see the Atletico Madrid forward to fully walk away from the space. 

Christian Fuchs

Part of Leicester’s famous Premier League victory in 2016, Christian Fuchs set up the aptly named NoFuchsGiven in 2018. 

The team regularly compete at the top of FIFA esports, reaching the last 16 of the FIFA eClub World Cup in 2019, and added a Fortnite content creator to the roster this summer. 

The Austrian has also made the move to the States, signing for Charlotte FC last year, so it will be interesting to see how the esports team will evolve moving forward. 

Clothing and fashion - still under the NoFuchsGiven name seems to the most prominent now, with a line of alcohol spirits also under the brand.

Jesse Lingard

Only set up 12 months ago, new Nottingham Forest signing Jesse Lingard’s JLINGZ esports has shaken up the esports scene this year. 

The former Man Utd star acquired Audacity Esports last year and renamed the franchise. 

Lingard said: “Esports has everything for me: it’s fast-paced and competitive, the community is amazing and it’s been great to have Ubisoft’s support on this journey too. Watch this space, JLINGZ esports is going all the way!” 

The org reached the semi-finals of the Halo Championship Series earlier this summer, with rosters also in FIFA and Rainbow Six Siege. 

Diogo Jota

During the pandemic, a FIFA tournament took place between Premier League footballers, with then Wolves player Diogo Jota defeating his future Liverpool teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold in the final. 

Jota has since set up his own esports team, Diogo Jota Esports, who were victorious earlier this summer in the FPF Grande Final. 

Their most prominent result to date came in the FIFA 22 Global Series European qualifiers where Joao "Jafonsogv" Vasconcelos reached the last eight.

The Portuguese international’s ability in FIFA is well renowned, going 30-0 in FUT Champions last year, playing in – and leaving early – from a FIFA 22 tournament to go and play in a Premier League match – in which he scored and performed a “gamer” celebration. 

Wendell Lira

Wendell Lira’s story is incredible. The Brazilian won the FIFA Puskas Award in 2015 for goal of the year, joining the likes of James Rodriguez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo as a winner of the award.

After a string of injuries, however, he retired from professional football in 2016, just four months after winning one of the most famous trophies in football

He took up gaming whilst he was side-lined, and became Brazil’s top FIFA player in November 2015, and in 2019 signed with Sporting Lisbon esports. 

After some minor league successes in FIFA 20, he got to the last 16 on FIFA 21's Global Series South American qualifier.

We’d love to see him face off against Diogo Jota to see which footballer is the king of FIFA esports. 

This might interest you

SPORTFIVE facilitated official regional partnership between DeRucci and the Royal Belgian Football Association

Blåkläder Workwear becomes new Official Partner of IHF World Championship

SPORTFIVE secures MNC Group as Media Rights Partner of AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup

FC Augsburg and SPORTFIVE continue partnership

build a rocket acquires creator marketing platform TwoReach

Digital support for fan experience: How artificial intelligence can help the sports industry

Join the Newsletter

Explore SPORTFIVE