🪄 The most unusual rituals in football | OneFootball

🪄 The most unusual rituals in football | OneFootball

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Lewis Ambrose·14 June 2024

🪄 The most unusual rituals in football

Article image:🪄 The most unusual rituals in football

Football is a game packed full of rituals and superstitions, from the humorous to the downright bizarre.

Here are some of the most unusual.

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Head to the comments to let us know what you think of these rituals and share your rituals as a fan!


Ajax and Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff was not just an iconic footballer, but a superstitious one too.

When playing for Ajax, the Dutchman used to slap the stomach of goalkeeper, Gert Bals, before going onto the pitch, and then would also spit his chewing gum into the opposition's half of the field before kick-off.

Article image:🪄 The most unusual rituals in football

“It’s odd I know, but it seems to work for me," said Cruyff, about his unusual rituals.

"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."

Say cheese

Part of the pre-match ritual for every team before an international fixture is the quick team photo taken on the pitch before kick-off.

Back at Euro 2016, the Wales national team noticed that they were quite bad at choreographing these photos, with the players on the back row often out of sync with those at the front.

But after the Dragons memorably made it all the way to the semi-final of that tournament, the lopsided team photo became a tradition which carried over to Euro 2020 five years later.

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Kiss kiss

Back in his Liverpool days, Luis Suárez injured a finger on his right hand, requiring him to wear a bandage.

And the Uruguayan played so well while bandaged up that he decided to keep it after the finger injury had healed, and he still wears one for every match to this day.

Suárez also has another nice ritual. When he scores, he celebrates by kissing his wrist and three fingers, which is a tribute to his wife and three children.

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Former Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona and Spain midfielder Cesc Fàbregas had a similar ritual during his playing days.

Before each match, Fàbregas would kiss the ring given to him by his wife four times - because four is his lucky number.

Touchy-feely with France

Article image:🪄 The most unusual rituals in football

Back in 1998, World Cup hosts France had an unusual ritual whereby defender Laurent Blanc would kiss goalkeeper Fabien Barthez on his head before each match.

It worked like a charm, as Les Bleus romped to glory on home soil. That summer, every player also sat in the same seat on the bus heading to matches, and they always played Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive' in the dressing room before they went out to play.

Fast forward 20 years and the French had another funny ritual, where the players would touch the moustache of defender Adil Rami.

And once again it worked, as Didier Deschamps' side were crowned world champions again in Russia.

Last man standing

Former Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool defender Kolo Touré insisted on always being the last player back out on the pitch for the second half, no matter the scenario.

As Arsenal faced Roma in the Champions League in 2009, fellow centre-back William Gallas was receiving treatment and Touré's superstition meant the Gunners were momentarily with nine men (and no centre-backs) in the knockout clash.

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Curiously equipped

There are countless examples of players being funny about their kit, from tucking shirts in to putting socks and boots on in a particular order.

Former Bayern Munich and Germany striker Mario Gómez didn't change shinpads after turning 15. One can only imagine how they smelled by the time he retired.

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And ex-Everton left-back Leighton Baines would tie his boots before going out onto the pitch, then untie them on the pitch before tying them again before kick-off. Sounds exhausting!

Potty luck

Back at the 1990 World Cup, Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea accidentally started one of football's more bizarre and, frankly, disgusting rituals, when he was forced to relieve himself on the pitch before a quarter-final penalty shoot-out.

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“You know, by the rules of the game, until the match finishes you cannot abandon the field. And if you have any necessary human urges, you have to go on the field," he explained later.

"So that is what happened against Yugoslavia (in the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals). At the end of the game I really had to go so I had no choice. But we won, so then when the semi-final against Italy went to penalties I did it again - and it worked! So from that moment on I did it before every shoot-out. It was my lucky charm.”

Italian intuition

Italy is possibly the world's most superstitious nation, and it's a culture which often manifests itself in some very interesting football rituals.

Take Pisa president Romeo Anconetani, for example, who would sprinkle salt on the pitch for luck. The bigger game, the more salt. Before a big derby against Cesena he arranged for 26kg to be strewn across the pitch.

Former Leeds owner Massimo Cellino, meanwhile, had an aversion to the colour purple (which fans later wore as a sign of protest against his ownership) and banned the number 17 (having changed all seats with 17 to 16b at Cagliari) because he thought it was bad luck.

No wastage

Worried he would waste his goals for the day, ex-England, Barcelona and Tottenham striker Gary Lineker wouldn't join his team-mates to practice shooting when warming up before games.

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And considering he finished his career with 331 goals for club and country, you'd have to say he probably had a point.

Pre-game indulgence

Way back in the mid-1970s, then-Frankfurt boss Gyula Lóránt introduced a "coffee klatch" — coffee, cake, a casual chit-chat — for his players before a game. Things went well and they didn't look back, remaining unbeaten for 21 games while running around with coffee and cake in their stomachs.

Remember to head to the comments to share your favourite rituals — whether yours or those of a friend — no matter how unusual they are!