While the Brazilian is in the realms of hundreds of thousands a week, Sir Stanley Matthews’ first professional contract now up for auction in Derbyshire reveals his earning power, despite being a top player, was rather lower.
Back in 1932, the Stoke City legend signed his first professional contract with the club and earned £5 a week – dropping to £3 a week in the summer months.
Brazilian forward Neymar is expected to earn £775,477 a week when he completes his record-breaking move to PSG from Barcelona - £40.3 million a year, according to the BBC.
However, back in 1932 Matthews did get a £10 signing on fee ‘plus the usual bonus’. And in 1935 his wages rose to a mighty £7 a week - £8 if he made it into the first team. That equated to around £350 a year.
The details of Matthews’ wage packets have emerged because two of his original football contracts, including his first professional contract from 1932 and one from 1935, have been consigned to Hansons Auctioneers’ Sporting Memorabilia sale on August 22.
That 1932 contract states: “Stanley Matthews, of 89 Seymour Street, Hanley, will play in an efficient manner and do the best of his ability for the club. In consideration of the observance by the said player, the club shall pay to the said player the sum of £5 per week from Feb 1932 to May 1932, going down to £3-a-week in the summer months.”
Brothers David, 53, Andy, 56, and Graham Lockett, 61, who live in Stoke and support Stoke City, the club Matthews signed for on his 17th birthday in 1932, are parting with the rare contracts.
David said: “I think it’s important for people to know what top players earned back in the 1930s. Compared to what they earn today, it may seem ridiculous but at the time it would have been a lot of money. We’d love to see these contracts end up in the British Football Museum. They are a crucial part of the game’s history.”
The brothers, who run Edwards & Lockett, a firm making commemorative pottery, in Longton, Stoke, say the fact that they have the contracts is all down to their father, Les Lockett. He passed away eight years ago at the age of 88, leaving them the business – and a piece of Matthews’ history.
“We knew the contracts existed but they were lost for a while,” David said. “We found them when we were having a clear out.
“Dad took the contracts in lieu for a debt. That’s the way business was done back in the '60s. A bit like a pawn shop. The contracts have been gathering dust in a drawer for nearly 50 years.”
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, said: “Sir Stanley, who was born in 1915 and died in 2000, is the only player to have been knighted while still playing football, as well as being the first winner of both the European Footballer of the Year and the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year awards.
“He spent 19 years with Stoke, playing for the Potters from 1932 to 1947, and again from 1961 to 1965. Between his spells at Stoke he spent 14 years with Blackpool. He also won 54 England caps.
“We expect Sir Stanley’s first football contract to be bought by a museum or collector. Maybe even a footballer may wish to acquire it to signify his impact on the nation’s passion for football. Its guide price is set at £1000-2000. The 1935 contract has a guide price of £500-800.”