The Real Madrid forward just held off Barcelona rival Lionel Messi in the Goal Rich List 2014 with an estimated wealth of €148m (R2.2bn).
Ronaldo has enjoyed a remarkable 12 months in which his value to club and country has been never been more evident.
He scored all four goals as Portugal beat Sweden in the Soccer World Cup playoffs, landed the 2013 Ballon d’Or and signed a record-breaking new five-year deal with Real Madrid.
Messi, who lost his Ballon d’Or crown to Ronaldo in January, came in second after inspiring Barcelona to the Spanish title and signing up for a range of lucrative endorsements.
The Goal Rich List is collated by a team of analysts and takes into account all streams of revenue for active footballers over the course of their careers.
Ronaldo succeeds David Beckham who led the way in the 2013 Goal Rich List but called time on his playing career in May 2013.
Only current professionals are eligible with the earnings of more than 200 contenders assessed before Goal’s experts finalised on their selection.
Wayne Rooney makes the top four on the list following Manchester United’s decision to offer him the biggest contract in British football history, worth €365 000 a week.
Neymar’s controversial transfer to Barcelona sees him rise sharply in the standings to sixth, with his parents’ €40m ‘compensation’ payment included Goal’s figures due to its game-changing significance. The rest of the list is made up of global superstars, who have accrued huge wealth over significant spells at the top of the professional game.
Chelsea’s Samuel Eto’o is at number three, ahead of Rooney, thanks largely to the millions he earned at Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, with Kaka, Ronaldinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gianluigi Buffon and Thierry Henry completing the Top 10.
Goal Rich List 2014 – Top 10:
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid – €148m (R2.2bn)
2. Lionel Messi, Barcelona – €146m
3. Samuel Eto’o, Chelsea – €85m
4. Wayne Rooney, Manchester United – €84m
5. Kaka, AC Milan – €82m
6. Neymar family, Barcelona – €80m
7. Ronaldinho, Atletico Mineiro – €78m
8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris St-Germain – €69m
9. Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus – €63m
10. Thierry Henry, New York Red Bulls – €57m