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The most bizarre rituals and superstitions in football


by Don McMahon

We all know that superstitions and ¨lucky charms¨ play a significant role in all supporters and players,managers and administrators lives when it comes to pre-game preparations. A number of articles have already been written about such but at the risk of repetition, and in order to lighten the mood a bit before the Bayern spectacle, I decided that a review of some of the more outlandish examples would be fun to read and if anyone wants to share some of their own, that would be great.

My personal Arsenal superstitions:  I do not pray for AFC to win the day of the game, I always wear my Arsenal shorts (I have 4 pairs) the day of the game (and like many here, often have to change them during the match), I watch the game but none of the advertisements, and I take a walk at half-time rather than listen to the commentators inane babble. [That’s not a superstition – that’s basic retention of sanity – Ed.]

Some Famous players superstitions: (adapted from two 2010 articles in Caughtoffside’s website)

* John Terry, former England captain, always sits in the same place on the bus, always listens to the same CD en route to the stadium, and he always ties a band three times on his socks.

* Mario Gomez once forgot to sing to the national anthem in the youth team, he scored a goal in that match and hasn’t sung along to the anthem ever again.

* Kolo Toure likes to be the last to enter the pitch. He was once yellow carded for entering the field of play during a game without the ref’s permission, and claimed afterwards that he didn’t know that was a rule.

* Paul Ince was always the last guy to leave the locker room, he sprinted to the field, and once there he put his jersey on.

* Neither Ronaldo nor Gary Lineker would shoot towards the goal before the match. They didn’t want to “waste the goals.”

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* Genaro Gatusso always uses the same sweater that he wore on his first day, regardless of the weather or the temperature.

* Mutu wears the same underwear for every game as did Colombian goalkeeper Rene Higuita ( they didn’t share!!!)

Some Famous managers’ and coaches’ superstitions:

* Steve Bould always put his watch into the right pocket of his trousers.

* According to some fans, Arsene Wenger always sits in seat 13 at the Emirates when a spectator (can anyone confirm this?)  [I sat in Wenger’s chair while a substitute when playing for Benelux in a five aside tournament at the Emirates and I certainly didn’t see any number on it – Tony]

* Luis Aragones hates yellow. Raul once went to the hotel wearing a yellow shirt and was immediately forced to change it.

* Raymond Domenech and former Mexico coach Ricardo La Volpe, who in the 2006 World Cup wore dragon ties, both let their astrologer tell them what tie to wear.

* Giovanni Trapattoni “showers” with holy water sent by his sister, who is a nun.

* Laurent Blanc, now Bordeaux coach, said that he always kissed Barthez’s head in the 1998 World Cup, and before the matches he used to listen to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”

Some universal superstitions:

* Wearing a lucky beard for the duration of a long run is ubiquitous in Football.

* Rubbing the shaved head of a teammate for good luck.

* Players not washing or changing their socks when on a winning run.(I tried that once but my girlfriend left me for a pig farmer-she said it was a refreshuing change!)

* Keeping the same boots match after match while on a run, is a de rigeur, as long as the game has actually been played.

Some officiating superstitions:

* I knew a referee colleague who as an assistant would always ask to run the line closest to the officials’ entry door. He told me it was from his experiences in Latin America, where the shortest way to the dressing room might save you a beating!

* I never put my pencil (when refereeing) in my socks unlike a lot of my colleagues. It was less superstition than a safeguard against taking your eyes off the player to be cautioned. I got sucker-punched once and that was enough.

* Many officials I met from all over the world would avoid a dressing room with the number 13 on it.

* A former FIFA referee told me that he never left by the same stadium exit he entered. He refused to explain why. I think he was cheating on his wife because he never seemed to meet the same woman after each game!!!

Any more?

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13 comments to The most bizarre rituals and superstitions in football

  • Highamsparkgunner

    I only shave when arsenal lose.
    Unfortunately this season I haven’t had much timeto a beard.
    En route to Munich now with 9 days growth lets hope it grows to a ZZ Top style beard.

  • WalterBroeckx

    In my country they say that keeping a rabbits leg in your pocket brings good luck. Never tested it to be honest…

  • Highamsparkgunner

    Not so lucky for the one legged rabbit though

  • WalterBroeckx

    LOL Highamsparkgunner, never looked at it from his point of view 🙂

  • robl

    Whenever we get Mike Dean as a ref, I now put a tenner on the other team. One way or the other I still get to win.

  • @Don i liked that one of the assistant liner ha ha ha ha ha its the same in most Africa stadium you have to be prepared for the unexpected and if Mike shit Dean was in Africa ooh my GOD he will either be the richest or lame.

  • Stuart

    Or even the three legged rabbit.

    Walter, in UK, we say it’s lucky to have a rabbits foot. Same thing I suppose.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    For every CL game I get’ it on ‘ with the wife ( she does not know this ) and I don’t watch the game ‘live ‘.Yesterday I ‘prepared ‘ earlier than usual (in the morning to be exact!)and before going off to work !Important game and all, you see !
    I had wanted to come on here and crow about it and to calm the masses but my computer was faulty .
    The home game ? Well I was misled when I thought it was her time of the month ,but she took ‘ precautions’ as she was having urinary incontinence due to a very bad cough !I ‘ll take the blame for that loss !
    If( ? ) we qualify for next year’s CL , I promise that I’ll do my utmost even if I have to get down and dirty !

  • WalterBroeckx


    Oh f*ck 😉 or should I say f*ck off? 😉

    I must remember that one to be honest. So when is the next game…

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sorry , Walter , I knew I ‘d ‘screwed up’ again ! In the future ( next CL game ), I pledge myself to ‘do it ‘ ,even if I have to go ‘against the flow ‘ !
    Ah ..the things I do for the Arsenal !

  • WalterBroeckx

    It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it 😉

  • nihirealist

    Untold, now known as All-told… where we get more bang for our buck. Where we get lucky to get lucky. where we plumb the depths to reach new heights.. All for the love of Arse..nal 🙂

  • Crazy superstitions! But hey if they work they work. Part of it for the user is that whatever they do to prepare allows them to become more focused whether whatever they did worked or not, if it allowed them to play better it still worked in my book!