If you’ve ever watched the FIFA World Cup or any football games in real life or on television, you’d know that some football players have their signature styles or quirks. But did you know that some of them have their own rituals? These rituals, strange as they may seem, range from the order they put their equipment to the music they listen to pregame, and even to their individual moves after scoring a goal.
We’ve picked out some of the superstitions and rituals footballers/coaches go through to help with their games/teams:
1. John Terry, former England captain, always sits in the same place on the bus, always listens to the same CD en route to the stadium, and he always ties a band three times on his socks. And we still have no idea why, but we bet neither does he.
2. Bobby Moore, England’s World Cup-winning skipper from 1966 had an odd habit when it came to getting kitted out for action. He would insist on being the last player to put on his shorts, and would often take them off again if one of his teammates decided to change theirs or play mind games with him.
3. In the opening game of the 2010 World Cup, South Africa’s Steven Pienaar crouched in the centre of the circle while his teammates placed their hands on his head and bellowed out words of encouragement at each other.
4. At the 1998 World Cup, France’s team was riding a wave of superstition, with defender Laurent Blanc kissing goalkeeper Fabien Barthez’s shaved head before each game. As the wins piled up, so did the smooches. By the time France took on Brazil in the final, the entire team was in on the pregame ritual. France went on to defeat Brazil to hoist its first World Cup trophy.
5. In 2006, Ecuador’s World Cup team implemented its own pregame power play, enlisting Tzamarenda Naychapi, “an Ecuadorian Indian who is known for using magic to control events,” to perform a ritual to eliminate evil spirits at each of the 12 World Cup sites in Germany. And it worked until it didn’t: Ecuador lost 1-0 to England in the Round of 16.
6. Former English professional footballer Paul Ince, the self-proclaimed “Guv’nor” was always the last out of the tunnel for any of the teams he played for. He would also wait until the very last moment before pulling on his shirt. Not sure what this was supposed to achieve because it just made him look like he was always late and had not had chance to get changed.
7. Goalkeepers are renowned for being a bit crazy and England international David James is no different. His approach to the game has always been far from normal, and his latest pregame ritual is no exception. He enjoys prancing around trying to catch an imaginary ball as he prepares for action. In full view of everyone. We’re not judging.
8. One of England’s finest goal scorers, Gary Lineker, never practised shooting in the warm-up. He claimed that he wanted to save his goals for the game and was not prepared to waste his energy before kick-off. The goal-poacher extraordinaire would also swap his shirt at half-time if he failed to find the target in the opening 45 minutes.
9. Dutch master John Cruyff is among the greatest players to have every played the game, but it appears he got a helping hand in his climb to the top. While turning out for Ajax, he would slap his goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach and would spit his chewing gum out in the opposition half of the field. Obviously this routine was responsible for making him a legend!
10. Nevermind that Cristiano Ronaldo the only Portuguese who’s allowed to start off with a long-sleeved jersey, when on the bus on the way to a game, he’s known to sit alone in the back row and he’s always the last one to leave the bus. Also, in the locker room at halftime, he must change his hairstyle – because who can go through 90 minutes’ worth of football with just one hairstyle, right?
11. France’s oddball coach Raymond Domenech has admitted to often picking players based on their star signs, with Robert Pires once overlooked for being a Scorpio. As someone who has never been able to win over a sceptical French public you would’ve thought that he would’ve been keen to avoid giving them any more ammunition to throw at him – but obviously not!
12. Adrian Mutu will not have much opportunity to play out his pre-game ritual any time soon, as he is currently serving a second ban for drug-related issues, but that might be a good thing. The Romanian is said to wear his underpants inside out while playing as he believes no harm will come to him if he dresses in such a way. How..strange.
13. Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure likes to be the last to enter the pitch. He was once yellow carded for entering the field of play during a game without the ref’s permission, and claimed afterwards that he didn’t know that was a rule. Okay, Kolo.
14. There must be something about Irish goalkeepers, as legendary shot-stopper Packie Bonner used to carry a piece of clay from Gartan in County Donegal in his glove bag wherever he went. Continuing that trend, Shay Given ensures that he has a vial of Holy Water in the back of his goal whenever he takes to the field.
15. Former Italian footballer Gennaro Gatusso always uses the same sweater that he wore on his first day, regardless of the weather or the temperature. Nope. No questions asked, not about the strange ritual or the hygiene factor. No siree.
Are these or are these not the most preposterous routines anyone has ever heard of or what? Got any to add to our list? Drop us a comment or two! Meanwhile, check out our simplified guide to the FIFA World Cup 2014 here.