….isn’t David Beckham. Nor is it the grandma-screwing Wayne Rooney. Rather, the United Kingdom’s most well compensated professional athlete who doesn’t tool around in a race car is none other than Chicago Bulls F Luol Deng, as the Independent’s Ian Whitell explains.
Some fifteen years removed from life in an Egyptian refugee camp, the Great Britain basketball international Luol Deng, 23, will today join the elite of British sport’s leading earners when he signs a six-year contract with the Chicago Bulls that could be worth as much as $80m (£40m).
(Deng, shown at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium moments before staff from the club shop presented him with an £1000.00 invoice for his personalized shirt. Apologies to Dave Chappelle for the stolen gag).
Last summer, as an indication of his potential, the historically frugal Bulls offered Deng a $57.5m (£28.75m) deal which the player rejected, a move which seemed risky as he and Chicago endured a disappointing season.
Team and personal incentives can add a further $9m (£4.5m) but a weekly salary of around £120,000-130,000 instantly catapults Deng into the company of top-end Premier League footballers such as Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand on the £6.5m-per-year mark. Lewis Hamilton, Britain’s highest paid sportsman, earns around £15m a year.
Deng’s story is all the more remarkable given his childhood. His father Aldo, a government minister, was forced to flee from the second Sudanese civil war in the late 1980s, taking his family of 16 children first to a holding camp in Egypt before seeking and gaining political asylum in Britain.
Once he became established in South Norwood, south London, from the age of nine, Deng’s basketball skills were developed at Brixton’s renowned junior programme, where contacts helped him move to the United States for high school and college from the age of 14.