The very notion or idea of 'coolness' is ambiguous from the off. Its first recorded use came in 1948, born out of the Jazz world, and it has become embedded in modern American English language. Generally used to describe a person's attitude, appearance and style, something deemed as 'cool' is given a sense of admiration, acceptance and awe by the Zeitgeist of the time.
Sportsmen and women, especially in recent years as public attention can be so fixated upon them, have inevitably picked up tags such as 'cool' or 'uncool'. Players who have their own very individual style of play can often be seen as cool, as well as those who simply play with an attitude, verve or swagger, often notably nonchalant and effortless. Particularly cool players should certainly never seem fazed by big occasions or lacking in confidence.
However, in an age where we cannot escape players' lives off the pitch, this list factors in both a players persona on and off the field. It doesn't matter how classy you are on the pitch, if you announce in public that Justin Bieber is your idol, you won't be making this list. Likewise, you might be the most fashionable man on the planet but if you can only make the bench for Grimsby reserves, don't expect to feature either.
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10 Dimitar Berbatov
Narrowly edging out Eric Cantona as the opener of this top 10 list is Dimitar Berbatov. His relaxed approach has earned him his fair share of critics over his career but it's also made the Bulgarian undeniably cool. He plays with all the nonchalance, calmness and composure required to make this list and still manages to be unplayable on his day.
Currently living in the pretty cool setting of Monaco, Berbatov played for CSKA Sofia, Bayer Lerkusen, Tottenham, Manchester United and Fulham before settling in the Cote d'Azur. Despite lacking the hard-working attributes that normally endear a player to their fans, Berbatov has been loved for his maverick style at every club he's been at. With a style of play based upon intelligence, technical ability and composure, Berbatov is as much of a threat to any defense in Europe today, aged 34, as he was in his younger years, and could quite easily play another half decade at the top level.
9 Jose Mourinho
There are a few cool managers; Pep Guardiola and Slaven Billic were considered, but Jose is the only coach to make this list. He has been a bit of a moaner this season but overall, he's usually great value for a memorable soundbite, stinging retort or at the very least, a good laugh. With his tailored suit and famous Armani overcoat, Mourinho is just as much a heartthrob now as a silver fox, as he was when he first introduced himself to the world with Porto and Chelsea as a 30-year-old. Mourinho's coolness is accentuated by his success, which is unrelenting wherever he goes. Still only 52, Mourinho has won multiple titles in Portugal, Spain, Italy and England, as well as having won the Champions League twice. Whilst other manages give interviews for FourFourTwo and ESPN, Jose can be seen providing content for the columns of GQ regarding style and fashion, and yes, he actually did that.
8 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
If coolness can be achieved in doing things your own way, then Zlatan is just about the coolest guy out there. Always great value for an outrageous quote, one thing the Swede doesn't lack is self-confidence, which almost always boils over into comical and deliberate arrogance. For the most part though, the PSG striker can back it up. He's played for six of Europe's top clubs, and been prolific with all of them, as well as for his country, with whom he has over a century of caps and is the all-time record goalscorer.
Ibra, as he is sometimes known, does not always keep a cool head though, and is occasionally both rash and petulant, having been sent off 11 times in his career. Having said that, his unpredictability and maverick approach only adds to his coolness to some, and under his current tag line of 'Dare to Zlatan' he has added to his reputation as a funny and entertaining guy.
7 David Beckham
Too obviously cool to come any higher in this list, no soccer player has been so involved in celebrity culture as David Beckham. His looks made him English football's pin-up boy from a young age and as he established himself as one of the best players in the world, that image spread worldwide. His voice may have detracted from his 'coolness' somewhat, but now retired, there's no doubting Becks' cool credentials, with even his squeaky voice having been trained out of him. The third most recognizable human on the planet, the biggest and coolest companies in the world look to Beckham for endorsements, as he is the most well-known image of style in the sport, and few can match him away from the game too.
Having retired in 2013, Beckham's media presence is overwhelming and he continuous to work in an ambassadorial role, both for the sport and with charities, and more recently he has been working on founding his own MLS expansion team in Miami. He was named one of GQ's 50 best dressed British men this year.
6 Roberto Baggio
The ponytail is a bold look, and one that can easily make you the butt of a few jokes, but Roberto Baggio had to miss a penalty in a World Cup final before anyone could mock him. A supremely talented player, Baggio played for a number of Italian heavyweights, including Fiorentina, Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan. He won the Ballon d'Or in 1993 and inspired Italy to a World Cup final a year later, only to blaze his spot-kick over the bar.
Often regarded as the finest Italian footballer of all time, Baggio could explode out of his hand-on-hips posture into a dazzling run, where his elegance was unparalleled. Nicknamed the 'Divine Ponytail', Baggio is a Buddhist and since retirement from soccer, he has worked with the UN and received the Man of Peace award from the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in 2010.
5 George Best
George Best made some questionable life decisions, and one need only look at an image of him towards the end of his life to see that drinking as heavily as he did, most assuredly is not cool. However, George himself, was certainly a cool guy. When you look like Best did and are one of the most gifted players in the history of the game, you don't have to do much to be considered cool. Owner of his own fashion boutique, Best often picked out some unusual outfits but never failed to look uber cool. Known for his long hair, good looks and celebrity lifestyle as much as his outstanding abilities on the pitch, Best often said of his life, "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars - the rest I just squandered." In 2007, GQ magazine named him one of the 50 most stylish men of the last 50 years.
4 Xabi Alonso
There should be a certain effortlessness to all genuinely cool individuals, and Xabi Alonso looks just that on the football pitch. You will do well to find a soccer fan who has a bad word to say about the Bayern Munich midfielder, who is almost universally respected as a tremendous player and one of the game's good guys. Few men can pull off a beard quite like Alonso does, and when he was pictured in his shades on the pitch prior to the Champions League final, the image went viral in accepting Alonso as an incredibly cool guy. With a steely grit and determination when breaking up play, combined with a fantastic range of passing and creative ability, Alonso has spent 15 years at the highest level with Real Sociedad, Liverpool, Real Madrid, and now, Bayern Munich.
3 Zinedine Zidane
Another obvious choice, everything about Zinedine Zidane reeks with coolness. He played with a level of flair, skill and control almost unrivaled in the history of the game and always did so with ease. Few men suit a shaved head better than Zizou and even if he hadn't been the best player of his generation, he still would have been coolness personified. A World Cup, European Championship, La Liga, Serie A, Champions League and Ballon d'Or winner, the Frenchman's ridiculous ability and achievements only added to his image as one of the coolest men in the game. Currently managing the Real Madrid B team, there are strong rumors that Zidane could become Real's first team manager in the not too distant future.
One of the first icons of the game, as it became a worldwide spectacle, Socrates was a new breed of cool. In his obituary, the BBC wrote that he became a, "symbol of cool for a whole generation of football supporters." His trademark beard and headband combination made him instantly recognizable, and not only was he one of the best midfielders of his time, he was also superbly intelligent, with a doctorate in medicine which he practiced and remaining heavily involved in politics both during and after his playing days. Socrates was well-known as a serious intellectual, as well as a heavy drinker and smoker. He stated that Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and John Lennon were childhood heroes of his, and he had been writing a work of fiction at the time of his death at the age of 57.
1 Andrea Pirlo
If good-looks and effortless respect and admiration are the barometer of coolness, then look no further than Italian midfielder, Andrea Pirlo. The deep-lying playmaker is 35 now, but still virtually untouchable due to his vision and range of passing which are probably the best in the world today. Pirlo has won a whole host of trophies with AC Milan and Juventus, as well as a World Cup with Italy and a vast array of awards for his individual efforts. Stats show that Pirlo covers the least ground and makes the least sprints of almost any player in Europe, yet he is still one of the best players in the game.
Away from the football pitch, Pirlo is a wine connoisseur who owns his own vineyard, producing 15-20,000 bottles a year. Effortless and apparently timeless, Pirlo is well worth top spot in this list of the coolest men in soccer.
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