Superstitions and bizarre rituals have a very narrow border between them, but some people are able to cross it a little bit more than others. Superstition in football is surprisingly common. Players, managers, and team presidents all have their own rituals and lucky items, such as a favorite t-shirt or pair of underwear that they wear for good luck. They even have superstitions about what order to put on their boots. It is not surprising that team members of all levels, from players to managers to team presidents, also have their own superstitions before, during, and after games.
More specifically, football superstitions often revolve around rituals that are done before and during the game, such as crossing oneself or finding a specific seat to sit in. Some players even have lucky charms that they carry with them. There have been reports of teams having specific colors for playing gear or pregame meals to bring about good luck.
Football players also have superstitions about their equipment, such as the order in which they put on their boots or gloves. There have been reported cases of players wearing certain pieces of clothing throughout the season, believing it will bring them luck. Additionally, some players have rituals they perform before each game, such as spinning around a certain number of times or having a specific way of entering the field. Let’s have a look at some of the most unusual superstitions of football players.
Top 15 Unusual superstitions of football players
Arguably, the greatest footballer on earth, Cristiano Ronaldo, also carries a set of superstitions with him. The former Real Madrid superstar has a set of things he practices daily before every game. Cristiano Ronaldo is known for his superstitious behavior. He has been observed to wear the same pair of socks during a streak of games, cross himself before a match, and enter the field with his right foot first.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner also carries a lucky charm with him- an old Portuguese coin that was given to him by his grandfather. Ronaldo has several superstitious habits, such as being the first to disembark while traveling to a game by plane and standing in the same way during free-kicks. He also has other unique superstitions, such as eating a certain meal before a game or listening to a specific song.
Pele, one of the most successful league goal scorers and greatest players of all time, was not exempt from superstition. During a difficult period in his career, he thought the cause might be tied to a jersey he had given away to a fan after a match. He sent a friend on a mission to retrieve the jersey to remedy the situation.
Fortunately, the friend was able to locate the shirt and give it back to Pele. Shortly after, Pele’s goal-scoring form was restored. However, Pele’s friend didn’t really find his jersey but gave the three-time World Cup champion the jersey he had worn in the previous game. Nevertheless, his trick worked, and Pele got back into his old form.
Lionel Messi has an interesting superstitious ritual that he follows before taking a free kick – he will place the ball down with both hands, step back the same amount of steps each time, spread his legs, and take a deep breath. This technique has definitely paid off, with Messi often scoring goals from the resulting set piece!
Gareth Bale had a few superstitious rituals to help him avoid injuries. One of those was cutting holes in his socks before stepping onto the pitch, believing it helped to prevent compression on his calf muscles. He also used to drive his Lamborghini Aventador Roadster to games but stopped because he thought the seating put too much pressure on that area of his legs. His superstitions seem to have worked, as he left the game as one of the best to be out there.
John Terry was well-known at Chelsea for having around 50 superstitions, such as sitting in the same place on the team bus and always listening to the same Usher album. He also had his own lucky pair of shin pads, which he wore for ten seasons. John Terry would definitely be a grandmaster if awards were given out for superstition.
Danielle De Rossi
The famous player from Rome was also known for his superstitious behavior. During the 2012 World Cup, Danielle De Rossi sported one long sleeve on his left arm, and a short sleeve on his right, which some say was an homage to the gladiators of the Colosseum. Others believe he may have been trying to hide a tattoo on his left arm.
Johan Cruyff made an indelible mark on the history of football. His playing for Ajax and Barcelona helped to popularize the “total football” style, which led the Netherlands to a World Cup final. His iconic Cruyff turn is still one of the toughest skills to master for any footballer today. Despite his incredible football aptitude, Cruyff was famous for his pre-match rituals, which were very difficult to understand. Shortly before kick-off, he was known to slap goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach and then walk to the opposite half of the field to spit out his chewing gum toward the opposition goal.
“It’s odd I know, but it seems to work for me. Once I’ve gone through with my little system before the game, my mind is fully focused on what we have to do to be successful on the pitch,” said Cruyff.
Cruyff’s usual pre-match rituals were put to the test at the 1969 European Cup final when he forgot to chew gum. Cruyff slapped goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach as usual and walked to the opposite half of the field to try and realized he wasn’t chewing any gum. Unfortunately for Ajax, they ended up losing the match 4-1.
Manchester United’s defender Phil Jones has an interesting superstition – he will determine whether to put on his left or right sock first depending on if the Red Devils are playing at home or away. This certainly makes for an intriguing pre-match ritual.
Jones explained: “The fixtures list United on the left side when we’re at home and on the right when we’re away. So this weekend, I’ll put my right sock on first because it will be Swansea v United.” “Next week, if I play against Benfica at Old Trafford, I’ll put my left sock on.”
He added: “I also don’t like stepping on white lines on the pitch. When I cross a white line, I’ll take the first step with the foot that corresponds to whether we’re home or away.”
Jamie Vardy’s superstitious ritual prior to every Leicester City Premier League game during their successful 2015-2016 season was quite unique – he would drink half a bottle of port and then gulp three cans of Red Bull in one go the day before a match. It looks like this truly gave him the wings he needed to soar to success!
Cesc Fabregas had a curious pre-game ritual involving his wife, Daniella Semaan. He would kiss a ring she gave him four times (his lucky number) before putting it in the locker and stepping out on the pitch. It seems that this little superstition helped him perform on the pitch as he was a key player for Chelsea
Former Fenerbahce star Mesut Ozil had some unusual pre-game rituals, such as tying several knots in his boots and always making sure to put the right boot on first. We’re sure his kit man had a tough time dealing with this superstitious behavior!
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s pre-game ritual involves a sex ban for his wife, Helena Seger, as he believes it affects his performance on the pitch. He admitted to having a particularly bad game after an evening of fun, so this superstition is definitely something he sticks to.
Thibaut Courtois is known to have a superstitious ritual that he follows during Belgium’s national anthem – he touches his chin for good luck. Observant fans have spotted this many times during games, and it looks like this ritual has been successful in keeping him at the top of his game!
Before leaving for a game, David Beckham (who admits he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder) was known to have a superstitious ritual of making sure all the condiments in his fridge were arranged perfectly. He had to make sure nothing was out of place before he left his house.
Wayne Rooney’s pre-game snack of choice is no surprise – he loved to drink a bowl of Coco Pops cereal! This makes sense, as the cereal is known for its chocolatey taste, and it likely gives him a boost before taking the pitch.
“I tend to have just a bowl of coco pops,” he once admitted. “The normal ones, not the moons and the stars.”