Football's craziest superstitions
According Bill Shankly, football is more than a matter of life and death. So it’s natural that anyone would love a pinch of luck to enhance their own, or their team’s performance.
According to the Oxford dictionary, a superstition is a widely held, but irrational belief in supernatural influences. It may be wearing the same boots or socks, sporting a beard, or praying to the Almighty. Everyone human is unique, and thus, superstitions also vary from person to person. To put it short, everyone has his superstitions.
So let’s have a glance at a few of the goofiest, weirdest and craziest superstitions in the footballing world:
Laurent Blanc & Fabien Barthez
During the 1998 World Cup, defender Laurent Blanc would plant a kiss on the shiny, bald head of goalkeeper Barthez before the start of every match, for good luck. And ironically, the French went on to win the World Cup, conceding only two goals on the way. Hail the Head!
The ever-smiling Englishmen never struck the ball towards goal during the pre-match warm-up. He believed that doing so would use up all his good shots. Apparently, he felt he was a 6-shot revolver. Moral of the story? Practice makes you under-perform.
The Sierra Leone footballer, playing for Hampton & Richmond Borough, has admitted that in an effort to maintain his goalscoring record, he watches ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ to get him in the ‘right mood’. Despite this wacky pre-match ceremony, he has scored a mediocre 15 goals in over 200 matches.
This Argentine shot-stopper had the uncanny habit of urinating before a penalty shoot-out… on the pitch. He explained, “If you have any natural human urges, you have to go on the field. I was very subtle and nobody complained.” Sly guy, ain’t he?
This Italian footballer-turned manager would throw salt on the pitch before every single match. Bigger the importance of the match, more the salt. Once, when his team, AC Pisa, was facing a formidable opposition in the form of Cesena, Anconetani threw about 26 kilos of salt onto the pitch. This guy was absolutely bonkers!
The Ivorian’s superstition dictates that he be the last to enter the pitch before the start of play. This habit caused a stir for former club Arsenal in a match against AS Roma, when he couldn’t get on the pitch at the beginning of the second half as William Gallas was nursing an injury. With Gallas off the pitch, his superstition compelled him to stay off the pitch, and the referee started the game without them. He eventually entered the pitch without taking the referee’s permission, and was subsequently handed a yellow card. Thankfully, the Gunners won.
The Captain of the Three Lions, widely considered the best defender of his era, had a peculiar habit of pulling his shorts on only after the rest of his team had theirs on. Martin Peters, once a teammate at West Ham, pulled on his shorts right before Moore and promptly pulled them down again after Moore had worn his, thus compelling Moore to pull his back down. Trolling at its best.
The current England manager claimed that during a winning streak he would wear the same clothes, including his suit, trousers, tie, socks, right down to his underwear. If his team was in dire straits, he would wear different clothes every match until his team triumphed. Poor chap. He must have had to buy a lot of clothes during his spell at Liverpool.
He claims he has about 50. Prior to any match, he parks his car in the same spot at Stamford Bridge, sits in the same seat in the team bus and urinates in the same urinal. He wore a pair of auspicious shin pads for a span of 10 years before losing them at an away game at Camp Nou.
I’ve saved the best for the last. Mr. Bilardo was the coach of the Argentine national team which won the World Cup in 1986. But he gave his players one heck of a hard time, courtesy some rigorous beliefs. He banned chicken during the entire campaign, believing that it brought bad luck. He carried the statue of the Virgin Mary before every match and claimed that young ladies were necessary for victory.
Once, during the group stages, the team bus broke and Bilardo crammed all the players and staff into a few taxis. Argentina went onto win the match and following that, he abandoned buses and stuffed all his players into the same number of taxis for the duration of the entire tournament. And his craziness continued even after the World Cup triumph. During his stint at Estudiantes, a woman wished him good luck. His team went onto thrash the opponents, and after the win, Bilardo ordered club officials to track down that woman, so that she could wish him luck before every match.
Some honourable mentions:
Jermain Defoe: The tiny Brit believes that short hair is the formula to avoid injuries and stay in good form.
Steve Bruce: The current Hull City manager cannot stand the sight of his team taking a penalty.
Adrian Mutu: The Romanian wears the same underwear for every single match. And he has played for more than 15 years, so that’s quite something.
Mario Gomez: He never sings the national anthem during a Germany match after forgetting to sing it once in a youth match.
Luis Arangones: The acclaimed manager hates the colour yellow. Whenever he sees a player wearing the colour, he makes him change it straight away.
If I’ve missed out on any other crazy superstitions, please mention them in the comments box.