Tiger Woods has had few, Ryan Giggs might have a little more, Chelsea skipper John Terry has even confessed of having as many as fifty of them. Now before their wives (or ex- wives) lose any more sleep over this, let us make it clear that we are only talking about superstitions.
It is a very well known fact that sportsmen share a very strong bond with superstitions. The impact superstitions can have on them is immense. Otherwise, how can one justify a player who despite of possessing truckloads of talent- much to the envy of even his peers would actually credit his and his team’s success to a lucky pair of boxers?
One cannot deny that everyone in their day-to-day life follows some silly superstition but it is the players who take it up one notch further. In this article we take a look at some of the craziest and famous superstitions that have been practiced in the game of football.
1) How Far Is Too Far
It is difficult to term this sheer act of stupidity as superstition but the head coach of a first division Zimbabwean club believed otherwise. In December 2009, the coach of Midlands Portland Cement football club commanded his players to take a dip in the crocodile infested waters of Zambezi river. It may sound ridiculous but eventually the entire squad did step inside the river in order to proscribe evil spirits. Seventeen walked in but only sixteen walked out. Yes, they lost their next match as well.
2) Taxi Anyone?
If you think Maradona was the reason why Argentina went on to lift the 1986 World Cup, where the Mexican Wave was born; then you are highly mistaken. Carlos Bilardo, who coached La Albiceleste in the 1986 World Cup edition, left no stone unturned both on and off the pitch. He carried a Virgin Mary statue to every match, as he believed it brought good luck. He was also of an opinion that the newlywed brides played a pivotal role in his team’s success.
Before one of their group stage encounters, their team bus broke down and they had to take a taxi to reach the stadium. Argentina ended up on the winning side, which led Bilardo in establishing a connection between the taxis his team took and the win. From there onwards on his insistence, the entire squad was made to travel via taxis en route to all their match venues.
3) What is With Footballers and Their Underpants!!
Yes football players love their undergarments. We have enough proofs.
Bobby Moore – The English legend had a strange habit of always being the last one to put on his shorts before the start of the match in the locker room. When his teammate Martin Peters found out about this he made his captain’s life miserable. He would often wait in the dressing room until Moore was ready and would then take off his own shorts. Moore would then take off his shorts in reply and would wait till Peters would put his shorts back on.
Chris Waddle- He fashioned some really bizarre hairstyles during his playing days but none of them were as absurd as his custom of wearing the same set of underpants throughout the 1982- 83 season while playing for Newcastle United. We just hope that those lucky boxers of his were a regular in his laundry as well.
Rene Higuita- Frustrated with their inability to beat their rival club in the 1980’s, this Colombian goalkeeper accompanied by his teammate Carlos Perea went on to see a fortune-teller. She said they were cursed and gave them blue underpants and belts for the entire team in order to overcome their bad omen. The tricks of the fortune-teller worked like a charm and their club Atletico Nacional went on to win the Copa Libertadores .
4) Some are Just Crazy
The former Argentine shot stopper Sergio Goycochea had a preposterous habit of urinating on the pitch before every penalty shootout. He said that he did it once before coming up with a remarkable save and then continued on with it till the end of his career. This unique pre-shootout ritual of his earned him a lot of fame and proved to be quite useful for them as it helped them reach the finals of the 1990 World Cup, knocking out Yugoslavia and hosts Italy on their way. Goycochea said, “It was my lucky charm and I went before every shoot out, I was very subtle, nobody complained.“
5) Anything for the Cup
It seemed like the French captain Laurent Blanc was practicing kissing the cup much before the finals of the 1998 World Cup, as he used kiss the bald head of their keeper Fabien Barthez in the centre of the pitch before every match. Not just that the entire team used to listen to Gloria Gaynor’s hit single “I Will Survive” in the locker room before every match.
In 2006 World Cup, Italian midfielder Gennaro Gattuso accepted the fact that for the sake of victory he took his pre match rituals to acute proportions. Before Italy’s group encounter against Czech Republic he packed up all his bags and then had to do the same for all the remaining matches.
The midfielder also decided on wearing the same pullover everyday for the entire length of the competition and got really angry at himself as he was not able to take it off owing to his superstition in spite of feeling the heat. It did not end there for Gattuso as he developed a ritual of reading a book in Russian language on every match day.
France won the World Cup in 1998 and Italy in 2006.
6) Even the Legends Fall Prey
Pele had once given away his jersey to a fan following which his form dipped profusely. He sent a friend of his on a hunt to recover his “lucky” jersey. His friend gave him back the jersey a week later, which resulted in the return of form for the striker. Pele’s friend smartly hid from him the fact that the jersey he had returned to him was not the one that Pele had initially sought for, but was one of Pele’s earlier jersey which he possessed.