A former tennis star who earned just £200,000 as a player is now a billionaire worth more than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi combined.
The Romanian was active on the tennis circuit from 1958 until 1979, winning the 1970 French Open in the men’s doubles as his biggest notable achievement in the sport – defeating a partnership that included Arthur Ashe.
He also reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in the doubles and picked up 22 titles in pairs, plus 34 titles as a singles player. Unlike players like Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, his earnings on the court were modest, and it’s his achievements since hanging up his racquet that have transformed his life.
Ion Tiriac is now 84 and has a net worth of around £1.6billion ($2bn), according to Forbes – having started a huge investment company that deals in real estate, financial services, airlines and many other businesses.
His work with the Tiriac Group has seen him become Romania’s first ever billionaire in 2007 and amass a huge collection of luxury cars of more than 400 models – including a Rolls-Royce Phantom IV.
Ex-Romanian tennis player Ion Tiriac is now a billionaire after starting his own investment firm
His fortune of £1.6bn is more than that of Cristiano Ronaldo (L) and Lionel Messi (R) combined
On the company’s website, a mission statement reads: ‘Created at the initiative of Mr. Ion Tiriac, the Group currently brings together more than 40 local private companies, operating in the following main sectors: automotive, real estate, financial services (insurance), air transportation and energy.
Tiriac Group constantly aims at the highest standards in excellence of services with the intention of becoming a leading model both for local and international entrepreneurs.
‘Tiriac Group continuously develops an operational portfolio covering a large area of services offered to its customers with the support of a team of qualified specialists and a visionary and perfectionist Romanian entrepreneur – Mr. Ion Tiriac.’
Tiriac’s huge fortune means he boasts far more than many current athletes and also former sportsmen who have retired and gone into business.
Tiriac – now 84 – owns a firm that deals in real estate, financial services and other businesses
Cristiano Ronaldo is known as one of the richest athletes in the world with a reported net worth of around £500million ($631m), but even his vast fortune and array of sponsorship deals doesn’t get him anywhere close to Tiriac.
Ronaldo is said to earn around £107m ($136m) per year, including his lucrative contract at Saudi club Al Nassr, plus his off the pitch endorsements.
The former Man United, Real Madrid and Juventus superstar is one of the most recognisable faces in sport and has raked in millions from his personal CR7 brand, plus sponsorship deals with Armani, Nike and Herbalife.
Meanwhile, Messi is understood to have a net worth of around £464m ($586m), with Forbes claiming he collects around £102m a year from his salary at Inter Miami and off the field partnerships.
His colour life and career has also seen him work as a tennis coach, agent and even as an ice hockey player in his early days
Ronaldo and Messi are two of the richest athletes on earth boasting lucrative sponsorships – but their earnings still don’t come close to Tiriac
For the Argentine World Cup champion and eight-time Ballon d’Or winner, that includes his lucrative deal with Adidas, plus drinks brand Pepsi, Mastercard and the Saudi tourism board.
Tiriac’s wealth also puts him at a higher net worth than basketball star LeBron James, who is said to be valued at £791m ($1bn).
Nicknamed as ‘the Brasov Bulldozer’ after his birthplace, Tiriac stretched himself thin across his career and after retiring from tennis in 1979 he briefly became a coach for a number of tennis stars – such as Marat Safin, Goran Ivanisevic and Ilie Nastase.
Later he even acted as a sports agent for Boris Becker from 1984 to 1993.
And earlier in his career he took up ice hockey – representing Romania at the 1964 Winter Olympics.