10. The Same Old Song – Carlos Bilardo
Throughout the 1986 and 1990 World Cup tournaments, Carlos Bilardo was known to be driven by his beliefs. He wore the same tie and suit throughout the World Cups, but that wasn’t the weird bit. When it came to music, Bilardo ensured that the same song would play on the team bus over and over again. He would never let the bus driver use the brakes, or slow down for traffic signals. He won the 1986 edition but in 1990, the tape player must have been broken.
09. Midland Portland Cements
A Zimbabwean football team, Midland Portland Cements, was sent to a ritualistic cleansing ceremony in the Zambezi river, by their coach, in October, 2008. 17 members were forced to take a dip into the crocodile-filled waters, only 16 emerged. That the team lost the next game, was no surprise – the omen wasn’t favourable.
08. Linekar’s Goal Shyness
One of the greatest strikers in the world of football, Linekar would never take a single shot at goal during the pre-match warm-ups. His logic – he didn’t want to waste his goals. During a game, if Linekar failed to score in the first half, he would change his shirt for the second. If his goal drought continued for the second half as well, he would just go out and get himself a haircut.
07. A Bag of Superstitions – Gary Neville
When it comes to superstitions, Gary Neville could write the book. His superstitions became so overwhelming that he had to try and lose some of them, so that he could lead a close-to-normal life. One of his superstitions is to not change his boots if his team’s on a winning run. He would also wear the same aftershave if results were favourable. Neville has confessed, himself, on having worn the same clothes, shoes and aftershaves for long periods.
06. Terry’s Toilet Habits
Everyone goes to the washroom before a game, and so does John Terry. At Stamford Bridge, the former England captain has a standard urinal that he needs to use, before going out onto the pitch. If that urinal is occupied, then Terry waits his turn. We wonder what he does on away games?
05. Goycochea’s Toilet Habits
It happened against Yugoslavia, at the 1990 World Cup. Argentina were heading into the penalty shootouts against the “Brazilians of Europe” and Sergio Goycochea decided to go to the washroom. Only problem was that players weren’t allowed to go off the pitch and so, Goycochea decided to go right there, on the pitch. His subtle washroom habits went largely unnoticed and also seemed to help them win the shootout. After that, Goycochea repeated his stunt against host nation Italy, in the semi-finals, again leading to the same result. Thus formed a fantastic superstition that saw Goycochea rule the penalty takers with his bathroom break!
04. Mutu’s Shield
Protecting themselves from injuries is key to a player’s longevity. For Adrian Mutu, it was never a worry because he always seemed to have armour around him, protecting him from troubles. On being asked, he put it nicely when he said that his never-changed underwear was the source of this magical power.
03. Holy Trapattoni
Giovanni Trapattoni was extremely religious in his belief that Italy would need supreme intervention if they were to win anything. So he resorted to holy water from his sister, who was a nun, and sprinkled it on every player as they walked out of the tunnel. Strangely, it didn’t work. Maybe he should have spent some more time on the training ground than in church.
02. Last Pair to Go
England’s world cup winning captain, Bobby Moore, insisted on being the last person in the dressing room to wear his shorts before they headed out onto the pitch. Moore would stand around with his shorts in hand, waiting for everyone to suit up. Martin Peters, a teammate, would be fascinated by this habit and would refuse to take his shorts out of the kitbag. Moore would put his on, allowing Peters to take his pair out and put them on. At this point, Moore would take them off and put them on again. Wonder if they ever got into a cycle!
01. Rounding it Off
At the 1998 World Cup, the French national team was practically surviving because of superstitions. The team treated goalkeeper Fabien Barthez’s body like a religious icon, touching it for good luck. The team bus always had the players sitting in the same seats while the changing room was ringing with Gloria Gaynor, claiming that she would survive. The final act would appear on the pitch when defender Laurent Blanc would kiss Fabien Barthez’s head just before the team took their positions on the pitch. In the finals, when Blanc was suspended, he still came onto the field to give that final kiss on Barthez’s round head.