Judging Footballers’ Hair

Let’s rank the Euro 2016 players by what really counts.

Kati Krause
5 min readJun 13, 2016

Hairdos are the most important means of expression in football right after goal celebrations and fouls. It might even be the most important, given that there are limits on free speech in both fouls and goal celebrations (FIFA bans players from taking off their shirts, meh) but not officially in hair — unless you count Sir Alex Ferguson making David Beckham shave off his mohawk in 2000.

Anyway. I find footballers’ hairdos highly entertaining, and since we can assume that their styles will be imitated by men across the world, I think it’s only fair to submit them to closer scrutiny. Which is why I want your help in finding the European Champions of Hair.

But first: if you doubt footballers’ dedication to their hair, consider how Turkey lost to Croatia in their first Euro 2016 match on Sunday, June 12th:

Ozan Tufan, the Turkish defender responsible for keeping Croatian scorer Luka Modrić in check, was instead— fixing his hair.

There are two general rules to footballers’ hairstyles. One, the more expensive the player, the more eye-catching the hair. And two, Beckham wore it first.

Incidentally, the top 3 players in Uefa’s “player barometer” on Sunday night also represent three leading tournament hairstyles:

  1. The mohawk. It comes with two side-kicks: the broader (and broadly defined) faux-hawk — a fixture at the 2014 World Cup — and the more elaborate mo-coiffe.
  2. The Weimar Republic, which appears to be a distant relative of the faux-hawk and often features a ferocious side parting.
  3. The man bun, possibly an update of the wet beach hair of the mid-2000s. Both are styles that only the most confident (or least caring) of players seem to dare wear now.

Let’s consider them in detail. With one caveat: All photos used in this post are from the official Uefa players’ page, so haircuts may be outdated. I’ll try to find match photos for future posts.

The Mohawks.

Real mohawks seem to be rarer this year than in the 2014 World Cup. However, some players still sport them — and not just the short, easy-to-fix kind of Dimitri Payet, but longer versions that I simply can’t imagine surviving a header. Points for dedication, Slovakians!

Juraj Kucka and Marek Hamšík (Slovakia)

The Faux-hawks.

Some faux-hawks are timid mohawks. Some are glorified bowl cuts. Other, more fashion-forward versions sport the pencil-sharp side parting of the Weimar Republic, but with longer top hair. All are pretty terrible.

Dele Alli (UK), Ján Ďurica (Slovakia) and Shkodran Mustafi (Germany)

The Mo-coiffes.

The go-to style for players who find the mohawk too political and the faux-hawk too banal. Incidentally, Ozan Tufan, the man whose hair cost Turkey a goal against Croatia, also wears something of a Mo-coiffe.

Stephan El Shaarawy (Italy)

The beach ‘dos and man buns.

The beach hair with that weird rubber band used to be a staple among Spanish and Italian players who’d be constantly tucking stray strands behind their ears — but it has nearly disappeared by now. (Granted, Modrić looks more “scared Jesus” than “surfer boy” in this picture, but he pulls it off well enough on the pitch). The man bun, on the other hand, is much less common than its place in popular culture would suggest.

Luka Modrić (Croatia), Yann Sommer (Switzerland) and Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden)

The Weimar Republics.

I can’t remember seeing this haircut much at the 2014 World Cup, so I’m attributing it to the general rise of the nationalist right in Europe in the last two years. (Though of course, Beckham wore it in 2011.) It’s clearly one of the most popular styles this year. Somehow, even people who may not be interested in reinstating traditional Christian family values have shown interest in its fashion components. Maybe because it looks vaguely grown-up?

Jordi Alba (Spain), Mesut Özil (Germany) and Wojciech Szczęsny (Poland)

So this was a first overview. But! But! There are so many more styles! Also, I don’t just want to list them, but rank them. And since this is football, let’s make it a team effort: please tell me your favourite Euro 2016 hair styles, including ridiculous made-up names and who you think wore it best. Both individual players and teams can be nominated.

Together, we shall crown a champion.