Age no hindrance to Brand Beckham

HE may not be going to the World Cup, but it’s not all doom and gloom for David Beckham. The veteran England midfielder, who will miss this summer’s tournament through injury, is still rated the highest earning player in the world.

Despite being in the autumn of his career, the 34-year-old raked in more than his younger peers last year, with a total of £24m in 2009.

That was £6m more than Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, the next best earner, and £9m more than his team-mate Kaka, according to American magazine Forbes.

Chelsea and England star Frank Lampard pocketed more than anyone else in the Premier League, with £10m, while colleague John Terry was not far behind.

But, despite being arguably the country’s best player, Wayne Rooney did not even make the top 10, based on estimated salaries, bonuses and sponsorship deals.

More than three quarters of Beckham’s earnings – around £20m – came from his array of lucrative endorsements. The former Manchester United player has deals with sportswear brand Adidas, fashion house Giorgio Armani and mobile phone maker Motorola. He also collected a lucrative salary from LA Galaxy, despite falling out with fans and spending time on loan at AC Milan.

Beckham’s time at the top may not last much longer, however. Although he has two years left on his Galaxy contract, he has the option to break it this year, while his international career looks to be all but over.

His status as the world’s most marketable footballer is also being gradually assumed by Ronaldo, the man who took his No7 shirt at United.

The Portugal star, who joined Real for a world record £80m last summer, trousered £18m last year and, with annual increases written into his contract, that figure is only likely to increase in 2010.