Many people have superstitions.
Whether it be putting on your left sock before you right one, or refusing to walk underneath a ladder, there are certain things people do, either because they believe it will bring them good luck or will shield them from sorry consequences.
Footballers are no different.
Some will go to extreme lengths in their pursuit of three points, a goal or a clean sheet, utilising curious pre-match traditions in the belief that it will give them an advantage on the pitch.
And it’s not just the players who have their own superstitions. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp refused to touch the ‘This is Anfield’ sign at Liverpool’s stadium until he won a major trophy.
The German boss also refused to watch his own team taken penalties.
“I would say that in general I’m not superstitious but when we shoot penalties it probably says something completely different,” Klopp said.
However, it seems as though the Liverpool boss has reversed that habit.
We’ve looked at 10 more superstitions that rank among the weirdest in football.
10. John Terry
Former Chelsea and England centre-back John Terry admitted in an interview with the Mirror that he observed “around 50” superstitions during his playing days.
Among them included listening to the same Usher CD in the car, parking in the same spot, sitting in the same seat on the team bus, and tying the tape around his socks three times.
9. Marcelo Bielsa
The eccentric Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa is incredibly meticulous, even drawing on his shoes to show players which part of the foot they should be using.
The Argentinian has also been seen taking exactly 13 steps across his technical area, with 13 being considered a lucky number in South America.
8. Phil Jones
Whether Phil Jones places his left or right sock on first depends on whether Manchester United are playing home or away.
“The fixtures list United on the left side when we’re at home and on the right when we’re away,” the centre-back explained in 2011.
“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.”
7. Johan Cruff
Holland’s greatest every player, Johan Cruyff, followed a long list of pre-match rituals.
He would slap Ajax teammate Gert Bals, a goalkeeper, in the stomach before kick-off, and would spit a piece of chewing gum into the opponent’s half of the pitch.
“It’s odd I know, but it seems to work for me,” he claimed in 1972, per Goal.
“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.”
The one time that Cruyff forgot his gum, in the 1969 European Cup final against AC Milan, Ajax were beaten 4-1.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo has enough talent to not need to rely on any superstitions, but he follows some anyway.
The Juventus star always steps onto the pitch with his right foot first.
There’s also a rumour he likes to tie his hair up at half-time before coming back onto the pitch.
5. Sergio Goycochea
They say that goalkeepers are odd and former Argentina ‘keeper Sergio Goycochea can certainly be considered as such.
Before every penalty shootout, he would urinate on the pitch to bring himself good luck.
“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,” Goycochea told The Guardian.
“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.”
4. Malvin Kamara
Malvin Kamara played in England for a host of clubs, including Milton Keynes Dons, Cardiff City, Port Vale and Huddersfield Town.
Before each game, he made sure he watched the 1971 film, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.
“I have to watch it before every game. It gets me in the right mood,” he explained.
“It’s been my favourite film since I was little – it calms my nerves and gives me luck.”
3. Laurent Blanc
One of the lasting images of France’s 1998 World Cup win is the sight of Laurent Blanc planting a kiss on the bald head of goalkeeper Fabien Barthez before each game.
It clearly worked, with Les Bleus defeating Brazil 3-0 in the final.
2. Kolo Toure
Former Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool defender Kolo Toure insisted on being the last player onto the pitch during his playing days.
This had ramifications, though, during a Champions League game for Arsenal against Roma in 2009.
Toure’s centre-back partner William Gallas received treatment at half-time that delayed his return for the second half.
But Toure refused to come out before Gallas and the game resumed without either of them, leaving Arsenal down to nine men.
The Ivorian was booked for his actions.
An iconic story, this.
Pele, a prolific goalscorer during his playing days, suffered a dip in form after giving his match shirt to a fan.
He instructed a friend to track the shirt down and return it to him. Once he had the shirt back, the Brazilian striker returned to his best.
Pele, however, wasn’t told that the friend actually couldn’t find the original shirt and simply gave him another one.
Thankfully, Pele couldn’t tell the difference.
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