We’ve had a lot of time on our hands during the international break, so naturally these spare hours have been used to put together a ranking of footballers’ accessories.
From the suave and extravagant, to the desperate and disillusioned. It wasn’t easy…
In the 2010/11 season – predominantly due to activity at Manchester City, may I add from vague memory – the Premier League, Football Association, UEFA, FIFA, the European Supreme Court and Kim Jong Un came together and finally got something right.
After considerable outrage, and all dads everywhere bemoaning how it ‘wouldn’t be like this in my day’, football’s governing bodies decided to ban footballers from wearing silly scarves around their necks.
For those who are fortunate enough to not remember what a ‘snood’ is, a dictionary definition is as follows: ‘a wide ring of knitted material worn as a hood or scarf.’
Think Balotelli. Think Chamakh. Think shit. When even Sepp Blatter’s bemoaning something, you know you’re fucked. “‘It can be dangerous, like hanging somebody. The decision was unanimous. There was not even a discussion because this is not part of the uniform,” he said at the time.
Four Pints Later rating: 0 stars.
Similar to those prancing around in ‘snoods’, footballers in gloves have never been accepted by those of the older generations.
We’ve all heard tales of dads, uncles, teachers and coaches playing through blizzards and snowstorms on ‘pitches’ that were in fact concrete ice rinks – and you can bet your bottom dollar they didn’t wear gloves.
Hell, they didn’t even wear long sleeves. And players nowadays choose to wear gloves on a regular basis? How dare they.
Personally, I haven’t got an issue with players wearing gloves, when the timing suits. A cold Wednesday December evening in Donetsk playing against Shakhtar? Sure – go ahead.
Thierry Henry comes to mind as someone who wore gloves well and at the right times and of course no one can argue with his talent. But when you’ve got players like Adama Traore wearing gloves at Turf Moor in April…come on, bruv.
Four Pints Later rating: 1 star.
Now obviously television cameras aren’t trained on a goalkeeper for a whole game, but I only ever see members of the Goalkeepers’ Union using this towel at half time and full time. During these occasions, the towel is not even used a for its rasion d’être, it’s merely slung over a shoulder. What’s up with that?
I’m genuinely interested to hear from some keepers to find out what they actually do with their towels.
One of the only times a goalkeeper’s towel has had a truly fitting place on a football pitch is when Pepe Reina, complete with beach ball and Darren Bent, was playing happy holidays at the Stadium of Light.
Four Pints Later rating: 3 stars.
Hairbands and Alice bands
Well, where to start on these. You either rock them, or you don’t. It’s arguably the case with every accessory, but certainly with a hairband, you need to have the end product in order to avoid the abuse and judgement reserved for those taking sartorial risks when out on the pitch.
I’ve had long hair myself, and I know how important it is to wear a headband when playing football. That said, these accessories have become somewhat of a target on the pitch from the opposition.
Only the best players are remembered for their long hair, when they deliver on the pitch. Beckham, Maldini, Messi, Totti, Bale etc. – a plethora of talent who despite having ‘feminine’ haircuts and accessories, are not questioned because of their talent and success.
On the flipside, Anthony Voronin, George Boyd, Sergio Ramos (when he was shit) all got endless amounts of stick, wolf whistles and became something of a joke due to their long hair and subsequent hairbands.
Sure, their inability to appease fans was mainly down to being crap, but the lid wouldn’t have helped.
Four Pints Later rating: When it’s right 5 stars. When it’s wrong, 1 star.
The goalkeeper baseball cap
This is one for 90’s nostalgia enthusiasts. Unfortunately; the days of keepers wearing baseball caps appear now to be few and far between.
Nothing was more pleasing on the eye than seeing a mud-covered goalie screaming ‘my ball’ while jumping to catch a corner, only for him to successfully grab said corner-ball and yet still be required to bend down and pick up something else he’s dropped – his baseball cap.
The low winter sun affecting the vision of a goalkeeper is still a common issue so why has Chris Kirkland’s legacy not prevailed? Also, why has a keeper never worn sunglasses?
So many questions that need answering, and none are in Law 22.1, which states the following: “All goalkeepers may, irrespective of the prevailing conditions, wear a goalkeeper cap of any Colour.”
“The goalkeeper cap must be produced by the Manufacturer of a Playing Equipment item. The goalkeepers of the same team may wear different goalkeeper caps.”
So that’s that, then.
Four Pints Later rating: 3 stars.
I’m genuinely fascinated to know if Petr Cech feels safer with the cap on or whether it’s just become a superstition (like Jamie Vardy’s cast).
One thing that is for sure is that Christian Chivu joined the elite club of scrum caps when he fractured his skull a few years after Cech’s collision – and his injury meant he had to play wearing one, especially in a position where heading is necessary.
Four Pints Later rating: 1 reluctant star.
‘Why always me?’ will forever be ingrained into football fans’ minds after Mario Balotelli revealed his message to the world, following a wrap on the knuckles for letting off fireworks in his bathroom.
But this is a trend that started long before Super Mario and his practical jokes. The earliest memory I can think of is the Ian Wright ‘Just Did It’ t-shirt back in the 90s. Forgetting the cringe ordeal of his goal being ruled out and having to re-reveal the shirt the second time, the concept behind the undershirt itself was class.
I’m sure Nike had something to do with it, but it came at a time when footballers seemed more willing to share their personality, and their words weren’t scrutinised by lip readers when they forget to cover their mouths. What they wanted to say was written on their fucking t-shirt…!
Footballers, particularly the South Americans and Southern Europeans, sometimes carried religious quotes on their undershirt, others sometimes included messages to people and messages of ‘get well soon’ or condolences to someone who has passed.
I know that players are now banned from wearing such undershirts, but if they are happy to accept the booking for removing their shirt, surely we should allow this extension of charisma?
Four Pints Later rating: 4.5 stars.
The best. The pinnacle. Maybe as they cover less ground, or the fact they can use their hands, or perhaps because they’re routinely the craziest member of the squad, it seems that goalkeepers have the best opportunity to customise their look with accessories. And boy do they take it.
They say that people are only cool, when they don’t mean to be. And I can absolutely 100% guarantee that Gábor Király is making no effort in his appearance whatsoever.
His bottoms have become so cult, they even have their own section on his Wikipedia page, where he explains his choice quite magnificently.
“I’m a goalie, not a top model. It’s essentially a question of comfort. I’ve played on clay or grass that’s been frozen in winter; it makes your legs hurt when you dive so jogging bottoms seemed obvious.”
“I always take a size above to facilitate movement. I tried shorts during my spells in Germany and England but it didn’t suit me. The end result is more important than your look.”
I salute you, Gábor, you fucking legend.
Four Pints Later rating: 5 stars.
So there you have it, our attempt at a definitive guide to footballers’ accessories. If you disagree with any of our ratings, or we have missed a whopper of an accessory, let us know on Twitter @fourpintslater.
Written by Jack Richards.