Thanks to money from endorsements, England’s David Beckham pulled ahead of Argentine phenom Lionel Messi to become the world’s highest-earning soccer player in 2012, according to the annual list compiled by France Football magazine.
The 38-year-old Beckham, who recently signed with Paris Saint-Germain, has topped the list on four other occasions.
Long a brand in his own right, the former Manchester United star and English international earned 36 million euros ($46.6 million) last year, compared with 35 million euros for FC Barcelona’s Messi and 30 million for Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Real Madrid.
Messi had held the No. 1 spot on the list since 2010.
The record 36 million euros Beckham brought in last year was more than twice the 15-million-euro income that gave him the top berth on the France Football list for the first time in 2003.
Beckham’s salary with the MLS L.A. Galaxy accounted for only 9 percent of his total income in 2012.