40 Most Successful Athletes of the 21st Century

Source: Michael Regan / Getty Images

6. Cristiano Ronaldo
> Sport: Soccer
> Championships: 5x UEFA Champions league, 7x domestic league
> Team or country: Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus
> Career length: 2002-present
> Other accomplishments: 5x Ballon d’Or

Cristiano Ronaldo will certainly go down as one of the most prolific goal scorers in soccer history. The Portuguese striker has led Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus to numerous national and continental championships. Ronaldo also led Portugal to victory at the 2016 UEFA Euros and the 2019 UEFA Nations League.

Source: Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

7. David Ortiz
> Sport: Baseball
> Championships: 3x World Series
> Team or country: Boston Red Sox
> Career length: 1997-2016
> Other accomplishments: 10x All-Star

David Ortiz helped break an 86-year-old curse on the Boston Red Sox and established himself as one of the most beloved athletes in Boston sports history. The powerful slugger won World Series with the Sox in 2004, 2007, and 2013. “Big Papi” was elected as the sole member of the 2022 class of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Source: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

8. Derek Fisher
> Sport: Basketball
> Championships: 5x NBA Championship
> Team or country: Los Angeles Lakers
> Career length: 1996-2014
> Other accomplishments: n/a

Derek Fisher was a significant contributor to all five Los Angeles Lakers championships in the 21st century. He played point guard for the Lakers in 13 of his 18 NBA seasons.

Source: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

9. Dwyane Wade
> Sport: Basketball
> Championships: 3x NBA Championship, 1x Olympic gold medal
> Team or country: Miami Heat
> Career length: 2003-2019
> Other accomplishments: 13x All-Star, 2x All-NBA

Dwyane Wade has cemented his legacy as the greatest player in Miami Heat history by helping the franchise win three championships. Wade is also the Heat’s all-time leader in scoring, minutes played, steals, and assists.

Source: Christian Petersen / Getty Images


10. Evgeni Malkin
> Sport: Hockey
> Championships: 3x Stanley Cup
> Team or country: Pittsburgh Penguins
> Career length: 2006-present
> Other accomplishments: 3x All-Star, 1x Hart Trophy, 2x Ross Trophy

Though Sidney Crosby gets most of the attention on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Evgeni Malkin is an outstanding player in his own right. Malkin helped the Pens win three Stanley Cups, and he picked up a Hart Trophy in 2012 as the most valuable player in the NHL. He has also scored over 100 points in three different seasons, winning the Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer twice.

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