the i-D guide to dressing like a footballer
Today’s footballers appear on the covers of fashion magazines and in advertising campaigns, some are dating fashion designers, some are even becoming fashion designers; Cristiano Ronaldo has his own pants collection and David Beckham is launching a...
Andy Carroll in Alexander Wang x H&M
Since the days of Ancient Greece when Olympic athletes were immortalised in marble as models of ideal beauty, sports stars have, for better or for worse, offered a look to aspire to. The thing about most footballers is they have way too much money and little to spend it on except clothes and cars, and they don't really bother with stylists, so they just buy whatever they want, and whatever haircut they can think of; footballers, surely, have the highest concentration of visionary hairstyles of any profession in the world.
Sometimes their style is boring but sometimes it is really, really weird and iconoclastic and provocative. So if you wish to dress as a vampiric lover of flesh and faded denim, or a swashbuckling horologist with a heart of darkness, or a ceaselessly violent time-traveller with a yearning for the artistic freedoms of the continental avant-garde, here is how.
Let's start with those footballers that worship at the cult of physicality, that look like they were sculpted out of marble. Shiny, hot-waxed and hard of body, they would play without clothes if only it was allowed.
A statue of Cristiano Ronaldo - who was just this week anointed the greatest footballer in the world - has been forged on his home island of Madeira, with tight, sculpted clothing clinging to his body, especially his bulging loins. Really it is an odd thing to have in your hometown - a colossal bronze of yourself stood in the town square with a prominent erection - but then this is a look that revolves around tightness and, actually, I think he might be onto something here as a lot of men's fashion is becoming much tighter and more revealing.
The secret of this look is squeezing yourself into the sort of nothing-left-to-the-imagination swimsuit that Mario Götze enjoys, or pulling up your shorts like Alexis Sanchez or debasing your body in the sort of pornographic underwear that Cristiano designs.
The Football Goth
Moody and athletic, with a mind brimming with bleak thoughts, the football goth is like a health goth but darker.
Despite his handsome model looks, Andy Carroll is an English footballer who was once considered such a troublemaker that he was ordered to live in a team mate's house, and when he was there his Range Rover was torched in the driveway, but since he was chosen for the H&M x Alexander Wang campaign he has become the king of the football goths with his slicked-back elven locks and loose, penumbral sportswear.
Likewise, Daniel Sturridge donned a doom-laden, hooded mage's habit as a visualisation of his pain whilst he was out injured, although some of the crueller commentators suggested that he was not hurt at all and was only imagining everything. Maybe he is a sort of Great Gatsby figure, a successful gentleman with many supermodel acquaintances and invitations to every society event, but one consumed by inner turmoil. I met him at a Storm Models party once and indeed he was unhappy. But only because he had just lost to Arsenal.
A touch of femininity adds a mysterious frisson to the football goth. Zlatan Ibrahimović, a man who dedicated his autobiography to outsiders everywhere, to anyone who has ever felt that they did not fit in, recently played in the Parc des Princes in a sports bra, and still appeared as formidable as ever. With its melancholic mixture of terror and eroticism, of ceremonial robes and athletic tights, the football goth finds its apogee in Paul Pogba, a frighteningly talented young Frenchman who wears almost exclusively Givenchy and dresses like Blade the vampire hunter, and one can just imagine him running through a dark techno club as blood pours from the ceiling, black basketball shorts billowing over black leggings.
The Lost Boy
Which brings us onto Luis Suarez, a man best known for biting his opponents who has become the face of Replay jeans. In the advertising he twirls balletically through the air as if he was one of the Lost Boys, a footballing vampire in double denim, while Neymar Jr scowls out at us like Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. And while Neymar is not necessarily opposed to surrealist extravagance - he once celebrated a goal by donning a mask of his own face, upside-down, for which he was shown a red card - really this is a casual, dress-down look.
The Avant-Garde Artist
The first time Dani Osvaldo turned up at Southampton he had a peace symbol hanging around his neck, an assortment of mystical beads, and a white T-shirt adorned with a photograph of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in bed. He appeared to be a new type of footballer, one with a topknot and noble aspirations, a flamboyant Italian pacifist with dreams of cosmic harmony, a gentleman thinker that holds audiences with the Pope. Sadly though, he has been exiled from Southampton - as he was exiled from Roma, and now Juventus - for attacking his teammates. Because although he enjoys nothing more than a relaxing afternoon with a philosophical novel he is nonetheless an exceedingly volatile man, one more likely to have emerged from a David Cronenberg movie than a Hampshire dressing room.
Having said that his clothes are nothing short of fantastic: his steam-punk waistcoats, spectacles and his bowler hats. A journalist friend once tweeted, "What is Osvaldo wearing? He looks like fucking Toulouse-Lautrec," and indeed he does have the air of a man that would be as happy in the bohemian cabarets of 19th-century Montmartre as in a training ground brawl in Southampton. He shows that a footballer does not have to dress like a footballer. No, he can dress like an absinthe-soaked Yohji Yamamoto model if that is what he wants.
The unhinged creative imagination is also all too apparent in Mario Balotelli, with his unusual combinations of combat trousers and a flat-cap, a patchwork denim tracksuit with a dropped crotch, or even a camo onesie with matching Bentley. His every action - whether starting a fire with fireworks in his own bathroom, or breaking into a women's prison out of lusting, inquisitive curiosity, or any of those other incidents that may or may not have happened - might as well be a piece of performance art. Once I asked his sponsors if I could interview him and they just said, "well, the thing about Mario is, he is actually mad."
He drives a Rolls Royce phantom and wears crocodile-skin shorts, he calls himself "the black Zorro" whilst wearing a flowing black cape, he tweets portraits of himself in a massive chinchilla coat, and loafers and no socks, fedora in hand. A footballer, a jeweller and an horologist, Samuel Eto'o celebrated Cameroon's World Cup qualification by buying everyone on the team a £29,000 timepiece of solid gold and diamonds, from his own line of luxury watches, with a personal dedication from him inscribed on the back. In other words, Eto'o is a dazzling embodiment of luxury and noblesse oblige, like a prince that has stepped out of a Hans Holbein painting. The thing is, so many footballers act like mad, mad kings, woozy with power in their ivory towers that they might as well dress like them. Also, you can never go wrong with a good cape.
Text Dean Kissick