Twitter XI: World Cup players you need to follow

Twitter XI: World Cup players you need to follow

Watching one screen at a time is so 2010. Twitter is expecting to break records once the World Cup commences on Thursday: indeed, it already has, with more related tweets sent this year than during the entire 2010 tournament.

The social media platform is a useful tool for following games in real-time, drawing your attention to moments you might have missed and offering instant commentary. It's also a chance to interact with deities of the sport.

Football's Twitter king: Cristiano Ronaldo has over 26 million followers on Twitter.

Football's Twitter king: Cristiano Ronaldo has over 26 million followers on Twitter.

Photo: AFP

Tim Cahill (@Tim_Cahill) is Australia's most popular tweeter, with 591,000 followers, along with Ryan McGowan, Massimo Luongo, Mat Ryan, Tommy Oar and Dario Vidosic. McGowan's feed in particular contains a good mix of football excitement, plucky retweets and photographic humour. You can also follow the @Socceroos team, which is feverishly plugging the #GoSocceroos hashtag, as Australia navigates its way through the 'group of doom' against Spain, Chile and the Netherlands.

And if you’re not backing a national team, perhaps you can get behind the 'Twitter XI'.


Twitter named a team comprising of the most-mentioned players on the social network for each position. The side would be quite the fighting force both on and off the Twittersphere.

Cristiano Ronaldo, simply @Cristiano, leads the pack with more than 26.5 million followers. A recent picture of the Portugal forward with his son garnered 20,000 retweets. Don’t expect him to return the favour, though: Ronaldo follows only 89 people, including Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

A notable omission from the Twitter XI is Argentina captain Lionel Messi, widely considered one of the world's best players. Messi has a fair share of tribute Twitter accounts, including one purporting to be 'official' with more than a million followers, but none bear the 'blue tick' indicating an authenticated profile.

England forward Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) likes to offer thanks, congratulations and well-wishes on Twitter. He even posted a birthday message for his wife. He’s amassed 8.8 million followers and follows every member of One Direction.

Rounding out the forwards is Neymar Júnior, playing for Brazil (@neymarjr). Júnior is a prolific tweeter, posting more than 40,000 times since he joined in 2010. In doing so he’s earned 10.7 million followers, although you might need a translator. So beloved is he that even the cryptic dispatch “…” garnered almost 2000 retweets.

Midfielder Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) brings some German efficiency to his Twitter profile: he has racked up 5.8 million followers from only 416 tweets. Being followed by him is a privilege extended to only 15 people thus far. Özil, who plays for Arsenal in the Premier League, has only recently learned to use hashtags correctly, it would appear.

Juan Mata’s Twitter feed (@juanmata8) contains a lot of pictures of himself, for which we are grateful. His 3.6 million followers seem to lap it up, too. While most of the pics are from the field, you can occasionally see him in other environments, such as his home. The Spanish midfielder appears to be a fan of minimalist décor.

Andrés Iniesta (@andresiniesta8) kicked the goal that gave Spain the World Cup in 2010, with a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands. The central midfielder is a popular man on Twitter, with 8.7 million followers hanging on his every word. Iniesta has only ever favourited one tweet – his own, alas.

Follow Miguel Layun (@Miguel_layun). Although far more popular than most of us, he does trail others in the Twitter XI, with just 419,000 followers. The Mexican left back is a good sport online: he loves to retweet comments from fans, and has favourited a massive 6341 tweets.

Sergio Ramos (@SergioRamos) helpfully posts a lot of his tweets in both Spanish and English. His feed is a veritable treasure trove of photos showcasing his tattoos, fashion and rampant trophy-kissing. Ramos is typically a central defender, plays for Real Madrid and has more than 4.4 million followers. For those so inclined, you can also catch him on Google Plus.

While you should certainly follow David Luiz (@DavidLuiz_4) on Twitter, you might also want to join him on Instagram, where most of his spectacular selfies originate. The man with the fro will represent his native Brazil for the World Cup. Luiz regularly uses Twitter to express commiserations for international catastrophes, including the Turkish coalmine disaster and Serbian floods.

Brazilian right back Daniel Alves (@DaniAlvesD2) is another keen Instagrammer, which constitutes most of his tweets. You’ll need a pocket translator to understand the captions, though. Alves is an offensive right back and he’s clocked up 4.4 million followers, some of them perhaps intrigued by his strange cover photo, in which he appears semi-shirtless but blurred.

The chosen goalie for the Twitter XI is Iker Casillas (@CasillasWorld) of Spain. He’s more of a viewer than an active participant, following 1077 people but only tweeting 269 times. Casillas has 1.6 million followers, comparable to Kevin Rudd, though most of his selfies are in front of a football pitch rather than a bathroom mirror.

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