Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Weird & Wacky World of Footballer's Pre-Match Rituals

When it comes to pre-match rituals and superstitions, footballers are in a class of their own. Whatever it is, however weird or wacky it may seem, footballers will do anything if it makes them believe they will play better. Goalkeepers in particular seem to have a penchant for peculiar pre-match rituals. Here are just some of the more unusual footballing pre-match rituals I have discovered:

Malvin Kamara:

Former Huddersfield striker Kamara recently revealed that he would watch 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' before every match. He claimed it helped to "calms his nerves, bring him luck and maintain his goalscoring form."
After netting a less than impressive three goals in 45 appearances for 'The Terriers,' the player was released in 2009 and now plays his football for non-league AFC Guiseley. Maybe it's time to retire that ritual Malvin?

Sergio Goycochea

The Argentina goalkeeper literally used to take the pee. He had the unusual habit of urinating on the pitch before facing a penalty. Apparently he relieved himself once before a penalty and saved it, and so continued the tradition for the remainder of his career. "It was my lucky charm and I went before every shoot out," he said. "I was very subtle, nobody complained."

John Terry:

The Chelsea captain has revealed that he has "about 50 superstitions," which include listening to the same Usher CD, using the same urinal at Stamford Bridge and taking the same seat on the Chelsea team bus. He also claims to have used the same shinpads throughout his career before he misplaced them after a Champions League tie with Barcelona in 2005. "Those shin-pads had got me to where I was in the game," Terry revealed. He now wears a ‘lucky pair’ that were teammate Frank Lampard’s.
No mention, though, of the superstitious use of team-mates' birds before a big game!

David James:

As befits a goalkeeper, England's David James has a couple of odd pre-match 'must dos'. Portsmouth's resident artist and philosopher has admitted to not speaking to anyone before kick-off, as well as waiting for the urinals to empty of players before he enters and spits on the wall. Classy!

Shay Given:

The Ireland and Manchester City keeper insists on keeping a vial of 'Holy Water' at the back of the goal for every game he plays for club or country. With Ireland, he’s following in a tradition of superstitious keepers, as predecessor Packie Bonner used to carry a piece of clay from Gartan in County Donegal in his glove bag wherever he went.

Steve Phillips:

The former Bristol Rovers keeper cannot change his water bottle.

He reveals: "When I walk into the dressing-room the first water bottle I pick up I have to keep with me for the rest of the day."

"It doesn't matter how dirty or battered it gets, I can't use another one or else it's bad luck."

"And not only that, but once it's empty our kitman Roger Harding - and only him - has to refill it from a new bottle."

"Roger is the only other person allowed to touch my bottle. I don't let anyone else anywhere near it."

Neil Warnock:

The outspoken QPR manager is no stranger to irksome behaviour, and it seems as though his penchant for the irritating extends to his personal life. If his side are in the midst of a winning run, the former Crystal Palace and Sheffield United manager will stop at every traffic light on his journey home, even if the lights are green.

Kolo Toure:

The Ivorian defender has to be the last player out on the pitch. This superstition lead to a booking at the start of the second half in a Champions League clash with Roma - for taking too long to return to the field of play, following the half-time interval.

Gary Lineker:

Back in his playing days, former England marksman Gary Lineker consciously avoided shooting at goal during the pre-match warm-up, so as to ensure that he didn’t ‘waste’ his good shots before games.

Bobby Moore:

In a superstition mirrored by many of today’s superstars, England’s World Cup-winning captain would insist on being the last member of the team to put on his shorts prior to kick-off. It is thought that Moore’s West Ham United team-mate Martin Peters would often wait for Moore to put on his shorts before he put on his own, only to see Moore subsequently remove his own shorts and put them back on again.

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