Football’s coolest characters

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Bradley Wiggins not only made history by becoming the most successful British Olympian of all time in terms of medals won yesterday – but by also by showing himself to be the coolest athlete on the planet.

With a mod target on the front of his helmet Wiggins darted to glory outside of Hampton Court, leading home Germany’s Tony Martin and countryman Chris Froome.

However Cycling doesn’t have the monopoly on cool characters – check out these footballers who have more than their fair share of swagger.

Eric Cantona

The turned up collar. The shrug of the shoulders. The philosophical ramblings. Eric Cantona was known as The King for plenty of reasons, chief of which was his undying cool.

It wasn’t that he just puffed out his chest and strutted around the pitch, nor was it that he is the only man to karate kick a fan but still enjoy utter adulation from United’s fans.

It was that he represented all that was good about United as they went swashbuckling into the Premier League era, sweeping all comers before them. For that he will always be the coolest man in Manchester, and that’s saying something.

Mario Kempes

Take Mario Kempes off the football pitch and pop him on a stage, slide on a leather jacket and a guitar and you have a ready made rockstar.

Luckily, the Argentinian chose to strut around a football pitch rather than a stage – although Kempes more rampaged than strutted whenever he crossed over the white line. ‘The Matador’ enjoyed successful spells with Valencia and River Plate but enjoyed his greatest success with his country, winning the World Cup in 1978. Now a cult figure he fills his time looking somewhat more sensible but still rocking his trademark flowing locks.

George Best

Some of George Best’s finest work came off the pitch as most know, but amongst his greatest contribution to the game was a series of quotes that demonstrated his unrelenting cool.

‘I spent 95% of my money on drink and women – and the rest I wasted’ was one of his most famous lines. ‘In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol – it was the worst 20 minutes of my life’ was another. Basically he liked women and alcohol.

‘The fifth Beatle’ and his long hair earned him the title of the first real celebrity footballer, and to this day he is still known as one of the coolest footballers to have graced a football pitch.


Perhaps it was the beard and perm combo, perhaps it was the effortless style; either way Socrates oozed cool.

Not only did he look the part either, the attacking midfielder led a mini revolution at Corinthians, democratising the club so that the tea lady held the same sway as the president. For that he is the king of cool.

Zinedine Zidane

Anyone who can nonchalantly convert from the penalty spot in the World Cup final is pretty cool – but anyone who can pull off a Panenka penalty with the world watching is in a league of his own.

That’s exactly what Zidane did against Italy in the 2006 final, and while he eventually lost his cool and got sent off, the Frenchman’s place in the hall of cool is certainly assured.

Languid across the pitch with a touch most of the world’s players can only dream of, Zidane strutted around the place as if playing at his own pace, which was more often than not still too quick for most others.

The leader of France at the 1998 World Cup which Les Blues won on home soil, his volley in the 2001 Champions League final is also forever etched in the memories of football fans all over the world. Zidane is the ultimate French artisan.

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