Today marks the 45th birthday of legendary Hungarian goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly. Despite a solid career at Hertha Berlin, Crystal Palace and Fulham it would be the European Championships of 2016 that Kiraly would really come into the public consciousness. 

It was his heroics that had helped see Hungary reach the round of 16 on his way to becoming the oldest player to ever feature in the tournament. But what really caught the eye was what he was wearing, more specifically those dirty grey sweatpants. His relationship with said dirty grey sweatpants has lasted for over twenty years after a string of good results coincided with him first pulling them on back in his homeland. 

So in honour of the great man's birthday we’ve pulled together some of the strangest items worn by footballers, be it though superstition or merely jumping on the bandwagon of a fad. So stock up on VapoRub and tiny shin pads and we’ll begin.


Gabor kiraly

Kiraly made the smart move to monetise his iconic look a few years ago by making his sports direct tier K1RALY trousers available to purchase for the low low price of 28 euros.


Vieira vaporub

It became something of a statement look for the big Frenchman, a hearty smearing of Vicks VapoRub© across the chest. The idea was the overwhelming scent of the stuff would clear your nasal passage. It did no such thing, but it possessed such a potent menthol smell that it tricked the user into thinking they’re airways were cleared. 


Davids glasses

The story of Edgar Davids goggles is an interesting one. After a string of knocks and injuries damaged his optic nerve in the mid 90’s Davids began to develop glaucoma which, after a few years, had progressed sufficiently to necessitate the introduction of the protective eyewear in order to save his career. After gaining special permission from FIFA to wear the goggles they became his trademark look as he wore them for the remainder of his nearly twenty year career.


Goalkeeper baseball caps

It used to be a ubiquitous part of the game, the team photo of ten outfielders looking smart in their matching kits and one big bloke standing at the back with his oddly colourful kit and baseball cap. Then sometime in the 2000’s they all but disappeared. Things got so bad for the keeper cap that when Joe Hart justifiably donned one against Scotland in 2017 he was roundly mocked on social media.


Robbie fowler nose tape

The story of the nose tape is very much a familiar one. For all that Vieira and his VapoRub set trends in the 2000s the original pseudoscientific breath better fad belongs to the Breath Right company and their poster boy, Robbie Fowler. Fowler spent years wearing the tape and while a handful more joined him the world quickly moved on. 


Pogba arm sleeve 

In by far the most recent item on our list we have the full on NBA compression sleeve that decisive midfield maestro Paul Pogba has been rocking for club and country in the last few weeks. It’s so new that no one actually yet knows why he is wearing the sleeve. It was popularised in basketball by Allan Iverson who began to wear a compression sleeve while recovering from () and enjoyed it so much that he never took it off. And while that’s all well and good for Iverson, Pogba’s last two significant injuries have been to his hamstring and ankle. Maybe it’s a crafty piece of advertising by long term partner Adidas? Time will tell.


Tiny shin pads - Terry, Grealish

For many the first player that springs to mind when talking about tiny shin pads is John Terry, the superstitious former Chelsea captain famously spent a decade wearing the same pair of tiny shinnies. And while Terry may be the godfather there is a new generation of players pushing the boundaries of just how tiny a shin pad can be. The current frontrunners are undeniably Jack Grealish and Dominic Calvert Lewin.


The sock vandals

Another trend that has emerged in recent years is the tendency for players to perform a little DIY on their brand spanning new socks, presumably much to the chagrin of Nike, Adidas and co. The reasoning for this trend is apparently to alleviate the pressure that modern, super tight socks put on the calf muscles. The end results is quite a staggering array of patterns and designs put forward by the liked of Bale, Walker and the games other biggest proponents of the torn up socks 


Efe Sodje’s do-rag

Easily the most obscure player to appear on this list, Efe Sodje is an English born Nigerian defender who played over 600 games in the football league and 12 times for Nigeria. Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about him (at least until he was jailed for two years for embezzling money from a charity) was that he played almost all these games while wearing a do-rag in his sides colours.


Gerard Deulofeu - full body suit 

It was the early 2010’s when the term snood first entered into the public consciousness it sparked an all out frenzy of men rushing to denounce any such notions as keeping warm as simply not for on. And while the snood alone would have been a worthy item on this list it is instead to Gerard Deulofeu that we turn. If the snood annoyed many, Deulofeu’s full body base layer may have just sent them into an apoplectic fit of rage from which they never recovered. The Spaniard ensured that not an inch of skin was showing from the neck down with what appeared to be an all out bodysuit leading to the burning question. Was it all one piece a la Cameroon 2004.


Words by Andy Gallagher


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