With movember fast approaching it’s time to assess the best facial fluff the world of football has to offer. For far too long the integrity of our sport has been jeopardised by over-glamourised show ponies, that hit the deck upon the slightest of touches. This year’s rugby World Cup has further highlighted the issue of manliness in football.
The game of rugby is played in a far better spirit, for most players it would be an embarrassment to feign an injury. However, many young footballers practice the art of play-acting in the training ground.
Another thing football should learn from rugby is to respect the referee. Incidents like the one involving Diego Costa last weekend would not be tolerated on a rugby pitch, and both players’ would have been sin binned long before Gabriel ‘kicked out’. It is therefore the responsibility of the referees and the players of the Premier League to toughen up and show some respect.
Of course for this to happen, rules would have to be changed, otherwise expect an increase in the number of red cards per match in the Premier League. So until the FA, FIFA, or whoever are in charge these days’ sorts it out, we need to find a short-term solution to make the beautiful game more honourable again.
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Therefore I propose that every player in the Premier League attempts to grow a beard, and managers should select a player based on his ability to do so. Also coaches are not exempt from this, it hasn’t done Jurgen Klopp any harm, so lose the razor!
The logic behind it is to bring back some good old-fashioned manliness to football. It’s the equivalent of telling a present day Hollywood actor to grow some chest hair.
What we need is a footballer, someone we can use as a case study, a player so nondescript that a beard would transform his career. Unfortunately Joe Allen shaved off his new beard before the first match of the season. Apparently he was in contention to start until he did so.
Oh well, let’s look at some examples through footballing history. Firstly there’s Alexis Lallas, a forgettable American defender until he grew a beard, and his performances improved as a result. New Barcelona man Arda Turan is another player who has seen a drastic improvement in his game since manufacturing a beard of his own.
However, the best example in football history has to be Andrea Pirlo. Who cared about Pirlo before he grew a beard? Who considered Pirlo to be the finest midfield player of his generation when he was clean-shaven? Maybe a few Italians did but that is not the point. His cult status in world football has only become apparent since Euro 2012.
This was Pirlo’s first fully bearded major tournament. His upgrade in facial hair drew large audiences to his immense talent. Since then Pirlo has won four consecutive Serie A player of the year awards, an award that had eluded him up until that point. It is unusual for a player to find his best form in his mid-thirties, and Pirlo is no exception.
The Italian is not a better player since growing a beard; he just looks better because he has a beard. He has literally gone from John Malkovich to John Malkovich with a really thick beard and a Mediterranean tan. It is uncanny how much Pirlo and Malkovich lookalike.
Anyway, this is the point; the world of football needs more beards, for the integrity of the game and for the confidence of its players. A beard can make an average player a good player, or a great player the best of a generation. Either way your team need’s more beards so put the shaving foam to one side and let the growing commence.