It’s one of football’s greatest mysteries: Why did Nicolas Anelka wear goalkeeper gloves while playing for France against England back in February 1999?
The striker netted both goals as Les Bleus recorded a 2-0 victory.
The reigning world champions at the time, France recorded their first ever win at Wembley against an England side led by caretaker coach Howard Wilkinson.
Curiously, it seems the bizarre sight of Anelka wearing goalie gloves was rather overlooked at the time.
It isn’t even mentioned in the BBC’s match report from February 10, 1999.
But exactly 22 years later and football fans continue to be baffled by images and footage of Anelka, aged 19, scoring two goals past David Seaman while wearing a pair of Adidas goalie gloves.
This was Anelka’s first goal of the evening…
Zinedine Zidane, hero of the 1998 World Cup final months earlier, was in imperious form against the Three Lions.
That first-time pass through to Anelka was sensational.
Zidane then provided his friend Christophe Dugarry with the pass that led to Anelka’s second goal of the evening.
Why did Anelka wear goalkeeper gloves?
But was the reason for Anelka’s unusual choice of attire ever revealed?
Not as far as we can see, unfortunately.
FIFA wrote on their website in 2012: “Had L’Enfant Terrible wanted to set a trend in a city preparing for that month’s London Fashion Week by bizarrely wearing goalkeeping gloves, he failed.
“Anelka did, however, certainly look the part in footballing terms.”
But it doesn’t explain *why* it happened.
The logical explanation is that it was a particularly cold night in London and there were no regular gloves around, so Anelka took a spare pair from either Fabian Barthez or substitute Stephane Porato.
Whatever the reason, no other professional footballer has ever played outfield while wearing goalkeeper gloves to our knowledge, despite Anelka’s impressive record of two goals in one game.