ThreeMatchBan Top 10: Facial Hair

Players today are often well groomed with a pop-star fashion sense and a mahogany tan, with the possible exception of the heavily stubbled Roy Keane. However facial hair was a popular accessory not so long back and was sported with pride by some of the biggest names in the game and also some of the lesser names too. This everyman look is seemingly no longer present, as todays stars become increasingly fashion conscious and removed from the every day by monstrous wages, despite facial hair slowly creeping back into fashion. So here is my salute, in no particular order, to an age of facial hair that I sorely miss.

Alexi Lalas

Whatever Lalas achieved in his career, his massive ginger goatee beard is what I will always associate him with. Despite this the central defender was also the first American to play in Serie A with Padova in 1995, was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2006 and was president and general manager of LA Galaxy until August of 2008. He can now be found as a pundit on ESPN and ABC Sports, when he’s not practicing with his band the Gypsies, who supported Hootie & the Blowfish on their 1998 European tour.

Ruud Gullit

The ultimate exponent of sexy football was the driving force behind Holland and AC Milan’s success in the late eighties and early nineties and was always easily visible on the pitch thanks to his forest of dreads and tache. Twice voted world player of the year in 1987 and 1989, Gullit resigned as manager of LA Galaxy in August 2008 after failing to make David Beckham’s American adventure an instant success, but he had more success as manager of Chelsea and mixed fortunes with Newcastle and Feyenoord. He also joined the ranks of singing footballer when he released the single Not The Dancing Kind in 1984.

Carlos Valderrama

No one has ever had as much hair and had the patience to perm it as meticulously as Valderrama did and that has to be saluted. Aside from this he was also a hugely skilful midfielder who orchestrated his sides play with meticulous passing and helped his country to three successive World Cups between 1990 and 1998. He was voted South American Footballer of the Year in 1987 and 1993 and his image is etched onto my mind as a cover star of N64 game International Superstar Soccer 98. He has also been commemorated in his hometown Santa Marta with a 22-foot tall statue, complete with bushy bronze hair.

Rudi Voller

In my mind he still has that massive green booger in his hair thanks to a disagreement with Frank Rijkaard in the 1990 World Cup. The pair had been involved in a continuing battle of handbags during the second round match and were eventually sent off together, prompting Rijkaard to spit in Voller’s hair as the pair trudged off the field, for which Rijkaard later apologised. Voller went onto play in the final and earned the penalty that secured West Germany’s victory. A prolific striker with Werder Bremen, Roma, Marseille and Leverkusen, Voller also took Germany to the final of the 2002 World Cup, but resigned after a first-round exit from Euro 2004.


A tall rakish midfielder who earned degrees in medicine and philosophy whilst still playing professional football and sporting the necessary intellectual trimmed beard of a doctor and possibly a tweed jacket to match. Elegant and composed on the ball, he was a classy midfielder who memorably scored in the 3-2 defeat by eventual winners of the 1982 World Cup Italy, after stroking the ball inside the keepers near post from a tight angle. Anything was possible with the ball at his feet. Captained his side in both the 82 and 86 World Cups but never lifted the trophy, a feat emulated by his brother Rai in 1994. At the age of 50 he once again returned to football with none other than lowly Garforth Town of the Northern Counties East Football League.

Bruce Grobbelaar

If he had been offered a backhander to shave off his trademark tache, he might well have done considering his alleged involvement with a match fixing scandal in 1994, but he was eventually cleared in 1997, despite suspicious looking video-tape evidence. As a player with Liverpool he won the European Cup in 1984 thanks to his crazy-legs dance in the penalty shoot-out against Roma and also helped his side to five league titles between 1983 and 1990. Most recently the Zimbabwean was seen on ITV’s Hell’s Kitchen.

Abel Xavier

At least he thought his bleached hair and beard combo looked good, but surely a member of his family or close friend must have pointed out that he looked like a complete tit. A formidable full-back who helped Portugal to the semi-finals of Euro 2000 and could have put his country into the final, but his late effort was adjudged to have been saved by Fabian Barthez. In the closing moments of extra-time Xavier handled on the line to hand (no pun intended) France a penalty and a path into the final. During his second spell in the Premier League with Middlesbrough he tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid and was banned from the game for 12 months. He finished his career with LA Galaxy in 2008.

David Seaman

Always mustachioed and for a time sported a fetching pony tail, Seaman was Arsenal and England’s rock in goal throughout the nineties, but will always be remembered for conceding a looping Ronaldinho free-kick in the 2002 World Cup and being lobbed from the half-way line in the last minute of 1995 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Final by Nayim and then posing in camp astonishment in the back of the net. He atoned for this error in Euro 96 though after saving a Gary McAllister penalty and was named Player of the Tournament by sponsors Phillips.

Des Bremner

If he hadn’t been a footballer he most certainly could have been an actor, but could probably have typecast as a crazy wild-eyed scientist. A successful club career saw him win the league championship in 1980/81 and the European Cup in 1982 with Aston Villa, but he was only rewarded at international level with one cap. He followed former Villa manager Rom Saunders across the city to Birmingham in 1984, before spells with Fulham, Walsall and Stafford Rangers.

Brian Kilcline

Looking like a wet and disgruntled St Bernard, Brian Kilcline was an imposing central defender, after all anybody who earns the nickname ‘Killer’ deserves recognition as an enthusiastic tackler. As was the fashion of the time Kilcline often sported a dangerously short pair of shorts and a fantastically bushy tache, something which isn’t a common sight in the Premiership today. He is best remembered in my mind for his bullish defensive displays for Coventry City and Newcastle.


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wllmhll 24 July 2009 at 4:03pm

lalas’ beard is legendary.

Chris 26 July 2009 at 10:27pm

I am a bit disappointed that the dream duo of Kevin Richardson and Shaun Teale failed to make the grade, not to mention the various offerings from Lawro.

On another note you could definitely re-use the picture of Abel Xavier in an article on the most garish kits.

Andrew 27 July 2009 at 1:44am

there are some real winners here from the bundesliga.

Dan Mobbs 28 July 2009 at 9:44pm


Brilliant find, that is an absolute goldmine of classic hair cuts and facial hair, with Mike Werner of Hansa Rostock sporting a personal favourite of a tache and massive mullet combo.

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