Soccer players like to display their individuality in a variety of ways on the pitch. Often, players portray an image or demeanor to make themselves more intimidating to opponents or more marketable to potential endorsement deals. Players often use their hairstyles in order to accomplish this. Trademark hairstyles allow players to be more identifiable on the football pitch, where it is often difficult to stand out. Some of the world’s best players have had their often ugly hairstyles catch on within their home countries.
A trademark haircut is not always necessary for a great player to grow into an icon, but it has made several very good players into icons for their ability to stand out and be recognized. This recognition can lead to opportunities to endorse products, earn opportunities to appear on television as a pundit, or simply be included in lists similar to this one. One example is David Beckham, who has combined his personal style, business acumen, and iconic status into his own fashion line and ownership of an MLS expansion franchise.
In the modern game, players like Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham are not only considered to be greats, but are also considered fashion icons. Their haircuts and personal styles are emulated by admirers around the world. Fans and members of the media attempt to find the meaning and motivation for different looks, which can increase the style’s popularity. However, not all haircuts are widely accepted by fans and the potential negative attention can have devastating side effects. The weirdest hairstyles in soccer history have spanned the spectrums of player quality to fan reaction.
11. Abel Xavier – Defender – Portugal
There’s not much that needs to be said about this head of hair. With Abel Xavier, we could’ve chose from a wide number of his insane hairstyles, but we settled on this incredible hairdo. Why did we settle on this one, you ask? Well, this one won because he dyed the front of his hair brown, over the dye of bleach blonde he used for the rest of his hair and beard, to make the most ridiculous combination of hair dyes ever seen. This made for one of the craziest and strange hairstyles of all time.
10. Bobby Charlton – Forward –England
Bobby Charlton attempted to fool the world into thinking he had a full head of hair by utilizing the comb over. Long before Donald Trump received ridicule for the popular middle aged male hairstyle, Charlton adopted the hairstyle because he feared his baldness would affect his public image. At the urging of his mother, Charlton first started using the style in the 1950’s. As his career progressed into the 1960’s, Charlton’s baldness became more apparent, especially on windy days. His comb over can even be spotted as he celebrated the 1966 World Cup victory with his England teammates.
9. Alexi Lalas – Defender – USA
Alexi Lalas was player that was absolutely impossible to miss on the pitch. Standing at 6’3’’, Lalas had a massive head of curly ginger hair and a beard to match. The look along with his outstanding play made him into one of the most recognizable players in the world following World Cup ’94. Alexi’s hair and beard fit his grunge style, not to mention the uniforms of MLS teams like the Metrostars and Kansas City Wizards. Following his retirement, Lalas became a television pundit, where he has preferred a more conservative hairstyle, but still has a flair for the facial hair.
8. Mario Balotelli – Striker – Italy
Mario Balotelli has attracted attention in virtually every way possible for a soccer player, and his hairstyles have been no different. Balotelli has changed his hair constantly during his career, going from a bleached blond Mohawk to having designs shaved in his head. Balotelli even starred in a Nike commercial where he alternated between the haircuts of Ronaldinho, Neymar, and others before ultimately deciding on his own thin strip of a Mohawk.
7. David Beckham – Midfielder – England
David Beckham tried out many hairstyles during his illustrious soccer career. None of them were as controversial as when Beckham decided to rock some blond cornrows in 2003. Years later in 2012, Beckham admitted that he had a few glasses of wine before deciding to allow a hairdresser friend to give him the hairstyle. Becks allowed the vacation mode decision to carry over to several appearances that season. The cornrows are widely considered to be the worst of his 30 different hairstyles.
6. Neymar – Forward – Brazil
Neymar burst onto the scene as an 18-year-old sensation with Brazilian club Santos. He could easily be recognized on the football pitch thanks to his fantastic blond Mohawk, which later became known as the Neymar Crest. He has since gone through several iterations of the haircut, adding braids and layering on several occasions. New Brazil manager, Dunga, banned distracting haircuts and oversized hats in order to promote discipline within the Brazilian squad. Now with Barcelona, Neymar has yet to settle on a new look and still rocks the Cockatiel hairstyle.
5. Jason Lee – Striker – England
Jason Lee attracted more negative attention for a haircut than almost any player in soccer history. Lee chose a style of blond dreadlocks that were tied behind and above his head, which comedic pundits David Baddiel and Frank Skinner determined looked like a pineapple. This led to Lee being taunted by opposing crowds with the song “He’s got a pineapple on his head” sung to the tune of “He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands.” Lee claimed the taunts harmed his confidence and his performances suffered as a result. He can serve as a cautionary tale for young footballers with ambitious hairstyle ideas.
4. Mike Werner – Defender – Germany
Mike Werner is not a household name for most soccer fans, playing his career in Germany and never earning a call up to the German National Team. However, he earned a reputation because of his spectacular hair. During Werner’s career as a player with Hansa Rostock, he had a mullet that would have made Joe Dirt jealous. Werner’s beautiful blond mullet extended well below his shoulders and was paired with a feathered coif that was the envy of bald men around the world.
3. Roberto Baggio – Forward – Italy
Roberto Baggio’s hairstyle was so iconic that it earned its own nickname, “The Divine Ponytail.” Baggio’s hair was on display for all the world to see during the 1994 World Cup in the United States. While Baggio excelled on the field, his ponytail took on different iterations and included beads and braids. The Italian striker performed spectacularly during the tournament, helping Italy to penalty kicks in the Final against Brazil. Baggio missed the final penalty kick over the bar, which gave the Brazilians the victory, but did earn the Silver Ball as the second best player at the tournament.
2. Ronaldo – Striker – Brazil
When Ronaldo adopted a fully bald look with a tuft of hair at the front, he claimed it was so his son could identify him on television during the 2002 World Cup. Brazilian youths were soon clamoring to have the haircut of their idol, and even Neymar claims to have gotten the cut. Ronaldo scored eight goals in seven matched with the haircut and helped Brazil win their 5th World Cup. The image of Ronaldo kissing the World Cup trophy with a small wedge of hair at the front of his head, is one of football’s most iconic moments. The hair-cut transformed Ronaldo into “Il Fenomeno.”
1. Carlos Valderrama – Midfielder – Colombia
Carlos Valderrama was impossible to miss on the football pitch. Throughout his career, he wore a mane of curly bleached blond hair in an afro that often extended beyond his shoulders. Valderrama embraced his naturally curling hair and mesmerized fans and opponents with his skill on the ball. Following his retirement, he dyed his hair pink in order to raise awareness for breast cancer. Outside of the football stadium in Valderrama’s home town of Santa Marta, a 22-foot statue of “El Pibe” stands complete with an afro’d head full of blonde hair.
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