Being on a regular name on the betting slip and making it to the top of your sport is no mean feat. We mere mortals can only dream of the fame and fortune that is accrued by some of the world’s sporting legends. However, there are some who, for one reason or another, have a star quality that make them more than icons and sure bets – some of them become icons of their eras and of their sports. Here we take a look at four of the most iconic athletes from the history and world of sport and consider their star qualities.

Lionel Messi

Few active athletes are as iconic in their own time as Messi. His ability in football matches is beyond comparison in the world of football and it doesn’t look like that will be changing anytime soon. Perhaps one of the most attractive things about Messi, and the reason that he has become so iconic, is the ease with which he plays the game he clearly loves. You can never go wrong putting a bet on him to score a goal because even when it seems like the chips are stacked against him or there is no support for him from his teammates or Barca are on a bad run (yes it does happen from time to time) he just seems to create chances out of nothing. He scores from impossible angles with defenders breathing down his neck. He truly is the world’s greatest player at this moment in time and will continue to be an icon of the game long after he has retired from the professional stage.

Muhammad Ali

They don’t come more iconic than the sport’s most recognisable (and quoted) man. Ali is an icon of athleticism, boxing and humankind. With skill and athleticism that has never been matched by any other fighter, and a spirit that is rarely seen in the world of sport, Ali has cemented himself as one of the sporting world’s greats. He is an inspirational icon who stood up for his beliefs and gave of himself to the sport that he loved.

Roger Federer

No one can dispute this man’s status as an icon in the world of sport. He has certainly been a good punt at the bookies when it comes to securing all that there is to win in the world of tennis. What is more, he does so with an inspiring humility and finesse. He makes playing against top players look like an art form rather than a gruelling physical battle, and when he is interviewed he is always quick to heap praise and kindness upon his opponent. With twenty grand slam wins to his name, you might think that he is entitled to a certain level of arrogance – you may be right, but you won’t find a jot in this top athlete.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Love him or loathe him, there is no denying that the Portuguese is an icon in world football. His time on the pitch has offered football everything – fashion, luxury, amateur dramatics and a lot of inspired football. For some, his attitude is a little too arrogant and entitled, but for others he has every reason to be pleased with himself – there aren’t many in the world who can take a free kick like he can (although players around the world spent years trying). However you feel about Ronaldo, there is no denying his winning qualities and his iconic status