Ronaldo and the most fantastic hairdos seen at a World Cup

1994 World Cup Finals. Pasadena USA. 22nd June, 1994. USA 2 v Colombia 1. Colombia's captain Carlos Valderrama.
Just look at that - the jersey, the wristbands, the hair!
Anirudh Menon

The football World Cup. The pinnacle of the sport. The grandest stage of them all, an arena where the best footballers in the world showcase everything they have... the goals, the dribbles, the tackles, the skill.

It's one of Sport's great storytellers, bringing out the most poignant narratives, the David vs Goliath stories... the stage from which the whole world can see you.

And that's also why the quadrennial event turns into football's version of the Milan Fashion Week... footballers turning themselves into walking, talking pieces of art. Considering that their uniforms are, by their very nature, erm... uniform, footballers use their noggins as canvases and come out with some of the most fascinating sights known to man.

Here, then, are our select top 5 hairdos seen at a World Cup...

#5 Carlos Valderrama

If you lot think Marouane Fellaini and David Luiz have the most memorably distinct hairstyles in football history, it's only because you've not seen Carlos Valderrama in action.

Unmistakable for his shaggy mop of yellow-blonde hair atop a lanky 5ft 10in frame, Valderrama was also an infinitely better player than the two names mentioned above (if you are not talking about hair, simply mentioning Fellaini and Valderrama in the same sentence should be made a crime worthy of capital punishment) and graced three World Cups during the golden years of Colombian football.

His fame had quite a lot do with his cultured right foot, utter disregard for something as mundane as sprinting and footballing brain... but it was hair that made him a right proper global icon.

#4 Trifon Ivanov

Soccer - World Cup France 98 - Group D - Paraguay v Bulgaria
Ivanov marshalls his troops in WC 1998

Wait, maybe this one's a better picture:

FUSSBALL: Nationalmannschaft 1997/Team BULGARIEN/( BGR )
The Bulgarian Wolf

Look at those eyes. Look at that beard. Look at that goddamn hair. They didn't call him the 'Bulgarian Wolf' for nothing

Trifon Ivanov played central defence for a bunch of clubs (ranging from CSKA Sofia to Real Betis, Rapid Wien to Floridsdorfer AC) from 1983 to 2001, and was capped a commendable 76 times for Bulgaria - starring in their stellar 1994 World Cup run that saw them finish fourth. A defender in the old-school mould (no-nonsense, hard tackling, strong as oak), he was renowned for his long-range shooting prowess.

His main skillset though, I presume, lay in scaring the bejesus out of opposition forwards... Just look at that face!

#3 Ronaldo

Love the smile, hate the hair

That triangle. That infernal triangle.

Ronaldo stole the headlines in the 2002 World Cup for his goalscoring exploits - those 8 goals forming the central arc of a truly inspirational story of redemption - but he also left the entire world befuddled with his choice of hairstyle whilst he went about playing the role of a textbook Champion.

He was, of course, asked about this later on... some version of 'what the hell were you thinking Ronnie?'... and he answered: "My groin was hurting,โ€ he told ESPN Brazil. โ€œI was only at 60%. So I shaved my head. Everybody was only talking about my injury. When I arrived in training with this haircut everybody stopped talking about the injury.โ€

Bloody genius.

#2 Taribo West

1998 World Cup: Nigeria vs. Denmark
West in all his glory

Taribo West is one of Nigeria's most decorated footballers. He played his club football for names as illustrious as Auxerre, Kaiserslautern, Inter Milan, AC Milan... and erm, Plymouth Argyle and appeared in two World Cups for the Super Eagles, an integral part of two of their greatest teams of all time.

Also read: Top 3 World Cup Goals That Went Under The Radar

He was a strong, fast, reliable defender who got his job done with the minimum of fuss and had a thunderb****** of a shot on him.

None of this, though, is why we remember him. It's that green-alien-totally-alive-by-itself thing on his head.

As a standalone piece of art, it's hard to beat.

FUSSBALL: WM FRANCE 98 Paris St.Denis, 28.06.98
Better angle?

#1 The entire Romanian team in 1998

FUSSBALL: WM FRANCE 98 St. Denis, 26.06.98
Oh, the yellow!

In 1994, Gheorghe Hagi and his band of plucky, over-achieving, counter-attacking Romanians took the world by storm. And they took their form right into 1998, where they qualified to the second round... beating England en-route in the group stages.

But then, nobody remembers any of that. '94 was gold-standard for Romanian football, '98 was lead-standard for Romanian fashion.

You see, having been forced to play in away red against Tunisia, Hagi, and co. decided they needed to bring back the yellow in their lives... for good luck. And the world was treated to 11 grown-ass men standing side-by-side on the biggest stage of them all with their hair dyed peroxide blonde.


Edited by Amit Mishra


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