While the name Ramon Vega may not initially resonate as a household one, the former Tottenham Hotspur and Celtic defender is an interesting figure within the sport of football.
Largely, that’s because of the money he’s made outside of the sport. But that’s only half of the story.
Born to Spanish immigrants in the small town of Olten, around 66km west of Zurich in June 1971, Vega studied at degree level in banking and finance at the Zürich Business School after spending his formative years at school in Trimbach.
Still, despite clearly being an academic, it was his athletic ability that would take precedence during his early life. Making his way through the youth ranks with Grasshopper Club Zürich, Vega became a first-team regular, as well as a frequent member of the Swiss international side under Roy Hodgson by the age 22.
Beginning his professional club career back in 1989, it was in his second season with Grasshoppers that he became a lynchpin in their backline. Winning three titles with the club, he played 67 league games in the 1994-95 and 1995-96 campaigns as GC made it consecutive title wins.
After impressing enough to earn a move to Caligari in 1997, Vega spent just seven months in Sardinia before Tottenham brought him over to London. While he largely operated as a backup in north London, it’s fair to say he rarely wholly convinced for Spurs.
Signed by Gerry Francis off the back of an impressive outing for Switzerland against England at Euro 1996, the former White Hart Lane chief went as far as to suggest he ‘could be our Tony Adams’ upon his arrival on Hotspur Way. Despite helping the club to a League Cup win in 1999, he failed to truly recover from a stress fracture in his ankle that season, although he did make a last-ditch tackle to prevent Emile Heskey from scoring in Wembley’s showpiece against Leicester City.
As a result of some rather calamitous performances, Vega was loaned to Celtic in 2000 for the latter half of the first campaign of the millennium, where he’d help Martin O’Neill’s side win the treble, making 26 appearances for the Bhoys.
After a short spell in Glasgow, fondly remembered for two goals against Aberdeen on his debut in a 6-0 drubbing of the Dons, he became Gianluca Vialli’s big signing in the ultimately doomed Watford revolution, before a short spell in France with minnows US Créteil, where he retired aged 33.
Still, it’s life after football that has proved so fruitful. Vega has openly revealed to the Daily Mail the most he ever earned in football was £15k-per-week with Spurs and, while that’s more money most people could only dream of, his earnings upon retirement would dwarf that.
‘The risks in business are bigger than in football, and the rewards can be likewise.’ My second career has definitely been more risky. As a footballer you’re an employee. You play. You get paid’
In the final year of his playing career over in France, he co-founded an asset management company with friends from his studies, later selling his stake in the Duet Group for multi-millions after just a few years.
‘People might have had some doubts about me because I was a footballer’, he told the Daily Mail in a 2015 interview, though his success off the pitch speaks for itself.
Now, he has various different interests in companies all around the world, including Vega Swiss Asset Management, a venture that was reported to have roughly $1 billion of investor funds under management. A highly intellectual businessman, Vega is one of the shining examples of just how clever footballers can be with their money, despite the relatively short career.
So, for all the down on their luck footballers out there, Vega is a wonderful example of the fact that there are many more millions out there to be earned. It’s not all bad, guys.