Football Afro’s

Footballers haircuts are such a sitting target really but I hope to take this one slightly away from the normal mullet and ‘razored into a ridiculous design’ type examples. Yes, it’s the good old afro hairstyle or footballers perm just as you wish. Perhaps the first and foremost example will always be Kevin Keegan in his Admiral-England-shirt-with-the-teddy-bears down-the-sleeves era and Kevin certainly doesn’t escape. It’s important to note how much competition he had in the ‘hideous’ stakes though.

Is this man the king of them all? Carlos Valderrama with his magnificent corkscrew ‘do’. Colombian Carlos was a pretty slick operator on the park, even if he flattered to deceive a little at times. It was a little-know fact during Carlos’ career that he kept a pet hamster in his hair – complete with wheel. He was a hard man to ignore though, particularly easy for opposing midfield players to pick up in their peripheral vision one would have thought?

It’s a Colombian one-two as Jose Rene Higuita Zapata – Rene Higuita is beaten by a short head. Note similarly the extra facial hair worn as an insurance. The eccentricity that Higuita shows when playing in goal whilst exhibiting his famed scorpion kick is equally matched by his Charles II-ish visual image. Without this somewhat expansive hairstyle I can report that Rene looks almost human.

Let’s delve back a little now to a player with *ahem* slightly less renown, (well this guy played awhile for H*arts, okay?). George Berry was confusingly and perhaps surprisingly born in West Germany but played his international football for Wales. Let’s be kind and say that big George had a playing style that ‘took no prisoners’. On second thoughts let’s just say that he was an an absolute clogger of a defender with the poise of an elephant on figure skates. Here he is pictured in Wolves days, some afro though I think you might agree?

Another central defender, like Berry, was Manchester City’s Tommy Caton. Toothy Tommy, and let it be said his was a considerable talent having made 95 appearances for Arsenal – no mean feat – had a promising early career but never really fulfilled his huge early promise…except for of course in the hairdressing salons of Manchester and North London. It should be noted that this period shows him with a near-spherical style highly reminiscent of a lightbulb – impressive indeed. It’s thought that at least six match balls were lost in Tommy’s luxuriant thatch during his career. Apparently a linesman was reported missing in 1981 too.

Refreshing Anglo-German unity and two afros for the price of one now. Pictured here are West German left back, Paul Breitner with England’s Kevin Keegan. (yes you knew he would make it in here didn’t you?) Keen observers will note the nice nylon track suits which immediately date the shot of the two adversaries. Keegan appears to be consoling Breitner here as his Adidas apparel has shrunk two sizes in the wash. In this incidence, two heads are definitely better than one.

Many often believe the stereotypical footballer hairstyle is that of the mullet but I hope to have offered a different insight into a past time when men were men and knew their way round a good perm, a set of curling tongues and a blow-dry. Some of the players here were of exquisite talent, particularly Breitner who is possibly the best left back I ever saw in spite of his hideous hairstyle. Keegan’s claim as a great, if man-made footballer cannot be denied. What they all do however is remind us of a different era in the game, one when they stood out in like beacons for differing reasons.

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