Football is a sport that enjoys a massive audience across the globe. Fans would love to keep an eye on even the smallest proceedings regarding the game and are eager to be updated soon. In the day and age of social media, the sport continues to gain more followers and admirers and so do those that play the sport.
Footballers have an equal status in society as other celebrities, if not more. Their fans follow them religiously, keeping track of what they wear, where they love spending holidays, what they drive, what they eat and much more.
As such, when footballers realize that they get all that attention, they tend to respect it and keep their lives transparent too.
Footballers these days roam around setting style statements and trends in their own unique manner. They spend time and money in maintaining themselves and setting themselves apart from other footballers. However, post-retirement, priority changes, lifestyle changes and there are different concerns rather than just style and looks.
So if one of your favorite footballers who once played the game walked into the same room, would you recognize him immediately? Of course you would, why wouldn't you, you'd say. Having seen them play throughout their careers, having followed them so closely.
However, there are footballers who have gone through quite interesting makeovers and if you hadn't been paying attention there are chances you'd have no clue who they are.
Here are five footballers who look completely unrecognizable now.
#5 Jesper Blomqvist
As far as achievements go in football, Manchester United's treble-winning 1998-99 campaign will always be spoken of in high regard. But today we are not going down the nostalgic route to revel in the glory of yesteryear, we turn our attention to a man who was part of that squad.
Jesper Blomqvist was a midfielder who joined the Red Devils in 1998 from AC Parma for €7m. He was part of the treble-winning side that season and stayed for three seasons. The Swede started in the final against Bayern Munich but was substituted by Teddy Sheringham, the man who scored the equalizer that night.
A disastrous knee-injury restricted Blomqvist from making another appearance, and as far as the last ones go for the club, this was quite special. While he used to grace the Old Trafford pitch he was known for his vibrant blonde hair, but 22 years down the lane, he is a much changed man.
The former Red Devil now sports a ponytail with brown hair and has gray and brown stubble. What is even more interesting is that now he runs his own Pizzeria! He was also a coach in Sweden for a couple of years at Enkoping and Hammarby IF.
#4 Juninho Pernambucano
There are many players who join a club and the club changes their fortunes and then there was Juninho, who joined Lyon and changed the French club's fortunes. Put him on any spot anywhere on the pitch and the threat that he caused did not fade away.
Andrea Pirlo, who is regarded as one of the best dead-ball specialists, admits in his autobiography that he was in awe of Juninho and studied his technique. The Brazilian always looked like one of the most innocent guys on the pitch with a baby face for the most part of his career.
However, the current Sporting Director of Lyon now looks a very intense and intimidating figure with his hair and beard gone gray. The specs he wears only add to the intensity and professor-like vibes. He holds the record for most Ligue 1 titles by a player and has seven of them in his bag.
The Brazilian has scored an incredible 77 free-kicks in his career!
#3 Dirk Kuyt
When they talk about cult figures in the Premier League, Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt will definitely be mentioned at some point on the list. The winger did not have the most prolific spell at Anfield but he remained consistent for the better part. The Dutchman retired for good in 2018 while playing for Quick Boys in the Netherlands.
However, he recently went viral a few months ago but not because he pulled something crazy on the pitch. Kuyt appeared on Sky Sports News and Ziggo Sport where he discussed various footballing matters of the Premier League. But most viewers did not realize who it was until the channel put his name up there.
The blonde wild fringes that were characteristic of the Liverpool winger have disappeared and he now has a much crisp haircut with hair pulled back. He also has a decent stubble that's adding to his new look. He discussed Donny van de Beek's lack of playing time at Manchester United on Sky Sports.
One look at Kuyt's pictures from his Liverpool days and you will know he's aged like a fine wine.
#2 Carlos Valderrama
Arguably one of the best players from South America and definitely the best from Colombia, Carlos Valderrama had an esteemed career. He is the most caped player for Colombia and participated in three World Cups and five American Cups. 'El Pibe', as he was popularly known, was a high-quality player with a strong character and leadership skills second to none.
Valderrama played in France and Spain before hanging his boots in the USA. The Colombian was always immediately recognizable with his iconic long blonde golden afro that he carried with swagger. During his playing days, he won the South American Footballer of the Year award twice.
Over the past couple of years, 'El Pibe' has gone through interesting makeovers where he has looked unrecognizable from his previous self. He once straightened out all his hair and they had a silky texture to them which was completely different from those wavy golden afros.
In November, Valderrama also posted a photo to Instagram where he changed his look again. This time he has much shorter hair and the Colombian seems to be done with those luscious locks. It is not very clear whether he has cut his hair or really chopped them but nonetheless, he looks completely different.
#1 Karel Poborsky
One man you would definitely not recognize if he walked into your room would be former Manchester United midfielder Karel Poborsky. The Czech was famous for his glorious long golden curls which he tucked nicely with a hairband. But the Premier League winner has now ditched his long hair for a rather short and slick hairstyle.
It was revealed that Poborsky caught Lyme disease due to being bitten by a tick which means it is unlikely that his older hairstyle would be back. The former Red Devil has been a part of various charity matches for Man United in recent years.
He starred in Czech Republic's run to the final of the Euro 96 and won the Czech league with both Slavia Prague and Sparta Prague. In his senior career, Poborsky played 288 games representing the likes of Lazio, Benfica and Man Utd.