We associate hair with power and the loss of it as some complex weakness. You can attribute this to whatever you want—you can attribute it to the Hebrew Bible, and its Book of Judges, the story of Samson, a powerful demigod whose strength is tied directly to his hair; you can attribute it to socially conditioned masculinity, or the fact that most men don’t really do much caring or worrying about their looks until the first thin strands of hair start to float into the sink each morning in front of them; you can attribute it to the fact that male pattern baldness is often a late-blooming affair, something that strikes around the late thirties or early forties, final confirmation that the last great flush of youth has petered out entirely, that those great resources of testosterone are running on fumes. We belittle bald men: we slap their nude pink scalps with perfectly cupped hands (there is a particular slapping sound—schplip—that you only get when slapping a bald man’s head); we laugh at their attempts to hold on to the last vestiges of their hair; we call them “baked bean head” or “fucking baked bean head”. The bald man does not get much respect.

Alex Rae

If combative bald Scottish midfielders for mid-to-low tier clubs were an art form, Alex Rae would be a renaissance painting. He would be the Sistine Chapel. He would be the Michelangelo’s David of lads called ‘Graeme’ who lost their front teeth in a League Cup game once and always go forehead-to-forehead with Lee Cattermole even though he’s on their team.

Temuri Ketsbaia

Temuri Ketsbaia is the best of the bald lot because he kicked an advertising hoarding once, and that was directly after scoring a goal. You can’t not love a man who is so complexly damaged that he expresses the sheer euphoria of scoring a goal by kicking the word ‘McDonald’s’ while Alessandro Pistone tries to hug him.

Paul Konchesky

There’s absolutely no way Paul Konchesky doesn’t supplement his income around games by offering to mind away fans’ cars for £20. Absolutely no way.

Kasey Keller

Kasey Keller was good because he was one of the first American players here in the UK (something so exotic and all-star about Americans, isn’t there? You’d still take Freddy Adu, wouldn’t you, on that basis alone), plus he rocked the dad-of-five ‘80s bald thing—that sort of ‘if I grow a bouffanty enough mullet, nobody will notice my hairline!’ double-denim look—for ages before finally conceding and shaving his head.

Paul Scholes

Can you think of a single man alive who hates getting his hair cut more than Paul Scholes? Just scowling at the mirror. Barber asks what he wants, and Scholes just goes “make it shorter”. For anywhere between six and eight minutes, Paul Scholes is in hell, because a man is lightly touching his hair and fussing over him. Nobody wishes he didn’t have hair like Paul Scholes does. Nobody.

Jaap Stam

It’s hard to think of a better centre back United have had in the modern era than Stam—and yes, I am aware of Rio Ferdinand, but the man invented merking and so necessarily cannot be the best, his on-pitch skill diminished by his off-pitch banter—and much of that power can only be attributed to his choice of hair. Jaap Stam looks like that topless warrior that is in every ancient war movie, who comes up to you silently with a scimitar in each hand, panting out of the nose like a horse does, then smiles—not a smile, exactly; you cannot imagine Jaap Stam knows how to smile, how to contort his face into the shape of joy—but sort of grins, anyway, and throws each sword to the ground, and crumples your head with two hands and a twist, like it was a Coke can. He was the most unfuckwithable defender of the modern era… but you reckon you could take him if he had hair, don’t you? Like: if he had shoulder length meso-Italian locks… you could take him, couldn’t you? He wouldn’t be that hard. He wouldn’t be that impenetrable. It’s the hair that made the man. A scalp you can build a treble on.

Brad Friedel

The bald American goalkeeper called Brad who played for Villa for a bit who was good.

Brad Guzan

The bald American goalkeeper called Brad who played for Villa for a bit who was bad.

Dean Ashton

Never knew whether Ashton’s hair loss was genetic or a result of extreme tip-frosting that was the trend briefly for a period in the mid-aughts. His hairline, much like his ankle, never recovered from three years at West Ham.

Alan Shearer

Think of Shearer and you think of that single, mediocre salute, one hand in the air, the other arm chunting in time with his running; think of Shearer and you think of that smile so wide his eyes disappear, holding up his £15m Newcastle shirt in front of a crowd of adoring Geordies. Think of Shearer and you think of him at every stage of his career: that kind of young Labrador blonde look he had at Southampton and Blackburn; the high glamour and thinning pate of his early Newcastle years; the slow spiral into a more muscular, sinewy beast as injuries pulled on his career; upright and bald and sunburned on the BBC punditry sofa. As his eyes retreat ever further into the creases in his head, it’s easier to remember Shearer for his more extreme peaks—big headers, England captain for a bit, could’ve gone to United but didn’t—and not the day-to-day pure genius of the man. He was an absolutely complete centre forward. He had two phenomenal shooting legs and a big pink head. His movement was as impeccable as his timing. He was a born leader. He was one of the greatest English players ever. And he did it with 75% of the hair of an average man. That, in many ways, was the beauty of Shearer: we like no-nonsense strikers with no-nonsense haircuts in England. We like Harry Kane, with his ‘Gentleman’s Cut #1’ slickback. We like Wayne Rooney, who tries. We deplore David Beckham, who tries too hard (For the record we love David Beckham, but Joel is a jealous man). And we like Alan Shearer, with his pragmatic fade-out approach to his baldness. We liked him because he didn’t fuck about, on the ball or in the bathroom. He may be a very average pundit—no man says “you’ve got to do better” with more existential detachment—but as a player, Lord. What a player. What a bald, bald player.

Thomas Gravesen

In Jewish folklore, Thomas Gravesen is an animated anthropomorphic being that is magically created entirely from inanimate matter (specifically clay or mud), i.e. David Moyes rendered him out of soil and clay and gave him a Lucozade and told him to kick the shit out of anyone and everyone until he got a red card and, bafflingly, a transfer to Real Madrid.

Lee Carsley

Everton always has to have one hairless hard midfielder who couldn’t pick himself out of a police line-up comprised only of bald men and eggs. Lee Carsley was that man for six years.

Arjen Robben

Arguably we never saw the best of Arjen Robben in England—livewire fleet-footed single-minded snide wingers are not exactly the weapon of choice for José Mourinho, the Portuguese Pulis—but he won every trophy in the domestic game then moved to Real and shaved his head. And that’s when he came alive: shorn of the thin tufts that reached down the centre of his forehead, Robben could run free, a stampede of horses in a single size-M white shirt, somehow becoming even more magnificent after a switch to Bayern, taking the hair back another half a millimetre, until it barely skimmed the surface of his scalp. Arjen Robben is a lesson to us all: we can touch the very hem of greatness if we do away with childish things, like having hair.

Alan Wright

The forehead of six or seven men crushed onto the skull of one very mediocre journeyman left back.

Danny Mills

Danny Mills looks like that bloke you always have coming up to you in the park around sunset, asking you where you got your dog from while you’re picking up its shit. “Seen him sniffing around my one, is the thing,” Danny Mills is saying, in a Sondico shell suit. He points to the back of his greyhound. “Look how red her cunt is!” Find another park.

Tim Howard

One of the many goalkeepers who tried and failed at Old Trafford in the wake of a legendary goalkeeper leaving (see: Carroll, Roy; Taibi, Massimo; Bosnich, Mark; Rachubka, Paul; Goram, Andy; the list goes on), albeit one that was actually good: he had nine decent years at Everton, one really good game in the World Cup, and now he’s back in his native US, where he can probably keep playing until he’s 50.

Juan Verón

Juan Verón was, to a certain generation, the first true Serie A giant to cross over to England: peerless in Italy, where he shuttled between Sampdoria, Parma and Lazio, accruing transfer fees by the millions, he came to United and was… okay, I guess? And then to Chelsea where he was… I mean, yeah, he did a job? After all those mornings watching him flash technicolour and boss it on Football Italia, Verón’s English adventure felt like an anticlimax, the football equivalent of the day you realised your dad was the bloke at your school you dressed up as Santa. Verón looked, with his goatee and his evil eyebrows and his perfect bald head, too continental to be real. And then in drizzling afternoons in Manchester and west London, he looked human, suddenly, and frail. You Broke My Heart, Juan Sebastián Verón.

Esteban Cambiasso

Left Leicester City after one season and they promptly won the Premier League. The conclusion here, sadly, is the five-time scudetto holder and Champions League winner is actually incredibly bad at football. Sad to have to say it.

Thierry Henry

Never bald as a player and hardly even bald now, but you’ve got to hand it out to a player who looked that good with his head shaved down to the nub. Henry in his prime was a staggering footballer—he operated on a different radio frequency, in a different time zone, in an alternate universe playing a different game to everyone else on the park, flicking the ball over with his off feet and surging into space that didn’t exist and chips and volleys and every possible way of getting the ball in the net in between, and all the time he did it he either had a £6 corner shop buzzcut or he bic’d it down to the scalp, occasionally letting it grow out to, at best, an inch long on the top. At Barcelona, he slowed down in the face of an ascendant Messi, and his hair remained short or went even shorter in the sweltering Spanish heat, and in the MLS it undulated little and stayed more or less the same, and then he returned: wearing #52, more magnificent than ever, four games at Arsenal and one FA Cup goal, looking like a louche, slender, big French Rick Ross. What un man. What un player. What un bald.

William Gallas

Had A Big Strop during that five-year period where Arsenal kept losing tragically to Birmingham, wore a ten shirt when he was clearly a five, so bald you could see reflections on him. Absolute belter.

Wayne Rooney

His body wants to be bald. The monster’s body wants to be bald. How many hair transplants do you think Wayne Rooney’s body has turned down? There are at least two we know about: Rooney, turning up in the off-season, a few pounds over and his scalp redder and rawer than ever, ginger-brown strands wisping forward over his pate. “Now lads, now lads,” Rooney says, acknowledging it. “No banter.” His body wants to be bald. His body wants to be retired, and drunk in a casino in Vegas. His body wants to be bald and pink and in Dubai for the next 30 years. His body does not want to play football anymore. It does not want to have hair injected into it by specialist doctors. Let it go, Wayne Rooney. Let it all go.

Alan Hutton

Never been a more Aston Villa player than Alan Hutton. Genuinely mad he played for any non-Villa clubs for as long as he did before signing with them in 2011. Surprisingly tender eyes for a man who looks like the hardest TA at a Channel 5 documentary-subject juvenile detention centre.

Gabriel Obertan

Mouthbreathing Manchester United mistake turned Newcastle United mistake turned Anzhi Makhachkala mistake turned let’s be honest, probably a Wigan mistake too. One of the worst bald Frenchmen to ever grace our shores, and there’s been some shit.

Fabian Delph

Convinced the act of signing Fabian Delph is some sort of niche tax break. He’s an offshore haven with a big, dome-shaped skull. He’s claiming you bought a printer with a receipt you found of a printer. He doesn’t exist.

Zesh Rehman

I’ll be honest I went down a big Zesh Rehman YouTube rabbit hole and found a video from 2012 which is Zesh-centric highlights of an off-season game he had against Arsenal, where he full on throws an elbow into the face of Theo Walcott and the top comment is “Welcome to the Elephant Army”. I don’t need to know anything more about Zesh Rehman. He is now the captain of the Bald XI.

Pascal Cygan

Some men wear baldness well, handsomely (Pep Guardiola). Some, baldness ages them prematurely (Zidane). Others, it makes them look absolutely hard as nails (Škrtel). And then a few—a very rare few—it makes them look like they only blink once every minute and have speed and only speed for breakfast every day (that bloke from the ‘Bounce by the Ounce’ video; Pascal Cygan).

Steve Agnew

A great bald: during his time at Leicester and Sunderland he kept the sides of his hair neat and short, making him look like the high-voiced headmaster at a drama school where kids keep going missing.

Gareth Bale

Every day Gareth Bale takes two white pieces of bread, some cheese, a beery roux and makes rarebit, sacrificing it up to the old Welsh gods. And he plays Tom Jones and he sings a perfect, deep, tremulous valley choir note, and he says “bara brith” and throws a pinch of white Welsh salt over his shoulder, and he looks up and he says thanks, he thanks them, he prays and he prays and he thanks them: thank you, boyos, he says, I thank you every day for making the man bun trendy at the exact same time I started to lose it at the back. Gareth Bale is bald; we just don’t know it yet. We won’t know for ten or fifteen years, when the ponytail has faded out of trend, and his hair doesn’t matter anymore. But watch the slow-motion replays. Pause the screen and look for scalpy streaks of white. Gareth Bale is bald, down there. Pay penitence to the gods and thank them.

Danny Murphy

Daniel ‘Danny’ Murphy is one of the last vestiges of the great British game: a player who you sort of maybe think still lives in his car. There’s just something about him. “That’s my travel mug, there,” you can imagine Danny Murphy saying, can’t you? “Heat that up in the ciggy lighter for five minutes, and it’s hot enough to do a Pot Noodle in. Got some Boost bars in the glovebox, if you’re peckish.” This isn’t his life, but you can imagine this is his life, can’t you? Coverless duvet artlessly folded on the back seat: single, sink-washed white shirt hanging to dry behind the passenger seat. Danny Murphy holds his phone up to you, charging it from a large portable brick-like travel unit. “That’s me office, right there.” Is there a beaded cover seat? There is a beaded cover seat. Danny Murphy Lives In His Car, Pass It On.

John Hartson

I always liked John Hartson because he always looked quite knackered playing and he always looks quite knackered now, when all he has to do is sit straight-backed in the Match of the Day studio and occasionally say loudly how well the Welsh players are doing in whatever game he’s watching.

Sol Campbell

Shame that he’s turned post-retirement into a bad Tory meff, but on his day Sol Campbell was one of the greatest centre backs in the world: strong, powerful, uncompromising, bald, and so devoid of emotion that he switched from Tottenham to Arsenal as if he was changing banks. You have to respect that. The bit where he tried to stage a comeback at Notts County, lasted one game, then turned into a proper tweed-and-a-shotgun Conservative voter? Less so. In many ways, he never deserved hair.

Pepe Reina

Reinvented goalkeeping in the UK: we used to like really, really tall lads called ‘David’ to be in our goals, men who took four seconds to get to the ground if a low shot came in, boys who shanked every single goal kick they ever took out for a throw-in; we liked big hard lads who only really knew 100 words and spat in their gloves before penalties and caught the ball instead of punched it. And then Pepe turned up, sprightly and jumping and bald, and showed us all how it was done. Thank Pepe Reina every time your team’s good European goalkeeper makes a save. He showed us all the light.

Freddie Kanouté

Came through as some sort of tangle-legged Harry Redknapp gem at West Ham, secured the same £3.5m transfer to Tottenham every eight-goal-a-year striker got back then, last seen getting a yellow card for revealing a ‘PALESTINE’ T-shirt after scoring a goal for Sevilla. What a player, what a man.

Franck Leboeuf

Last anyone heard from Franck Leboeuf he was making a very short cameo in The Theory of Everything as a doctor or something, which is proof if proof were needed that footballers should be banned from being anything other than pundits or managers after they retire. What, Franck: do you want every middling-to-quite-good left back to appear in Oscar-nominated films? Do you want Stephen Warnock to pop up in Revenant, doing a big throw in at a bear? Grow up.


How hard do you reckon Alex could head-butt you? I’ll rephrase it: in a one-on-one situation, where Alex has the run on you, and you’re trying to get to a header but you’re not really feeling it because Alex is going to get there first, and he’s already rising off the ground with his arms up so he can get better purchase on the air with which to head-butt you: how many head butts, from Alex, out of ten, could you (you.) survive? I reckon three out of ten times I would live. Other seven times and you can get the stretcher but there’s no real point. I’m dead.

Momo Sissoko

Could never really tell if Momo Sissoko was ‘gangly, clumsy, and actually brilliant’ or ‘gangly, clumsy, and pure shit’. He was linked with a transfer to Sunderland in January and didn’t manage to secure it, so safe to assume that now, being 32, he is very firmly the latter.

Fabien Barthez

Do you ever think Laurent Blanc kissed his head with tongues? Do you… did Laurent Blanc ever fuck his head?

Martin Škrtel

Some players will always be useful in a Premier League team: a nippy left back who can feasibly be converted to a middling winger; a blood-and-thunder defensive mid who doesn’t mind Nigel de Jonging his way into someone else’s chest; first-choice goalkeepers who wear squad numbers other than ‘#1’. And then there is the Škrtel: a near vowel-less hair-free eastern European centre back who really, really, really looks like one of them killers you see in films who kisses every individual bullet they fire who eventually dies when a tank explodes their sniper tower.

Demba Ba

Glass-kneed syrup merchant and all-round lovely lad.

Michael Bradley

Deemed surplus to requirements at Villa by Alex McLeish, signed a year later by A.S. Roma. Tells you literally everything you ever need to know about Alex McLeish.

Freddie Ljungberg

Yeah yeah, nice perfect bone structure, mate. Oh, and you’re really fast and wicked at football, too? And West Ham once paid you £4 million to stop playing for them? Made up for you, Freddie Ljungberg, mate. Nice one. Nice, nice, nice one.

Heurelho Gomes

Mad how undulating Heurelho Gomes’ football career has been: he went from genuinely amazing Brazil #1 prospect at PSV to flapping Alice the Goon-lookalike at Tottenham, then got banished to the bench and Hoffenheim before returning looking like a god at Watford. And then two seasons passed and he sort of went shit again. Watching Heurelho Gomes in goal is like looking at a Magic Eye painting: you sort of suspect there’s an image of a good goalkeeper in there if only you stare enough at it and squint just right.


Gervinho’s hair is actually a meta-commentary on the player himself: at first glance, both the hair and the winger gave the appearance of competence, of an object acting as it should (hair: growing from the scalp towards the face; winger: running at speed at defenders without falling over and fucking up). But look closer and realise it’s all just a flimsy artifice: Gervinho’s hair is structurally dependent on the band that runs around it, his hairline impossible to truly figure out but probably starting somewhere around the crown; his on-the-ball play was basically just shite. Eden Hazard once claimed Gervinho was the best player he’s ever played with. He was wrong to claim this. He was incorrect.

Andrew Johnson

Only good at penalties. Entire career was a myth. Find me on Twitter. I don’t care.

Willy Caballero

Filled a void left when Dick Advocaat left Sunderland of ‘players whose names are really funny to schoolchildren’, and for that, he must be respected.

Carl Ikeme

Once broke his hand punching a tactics board, an incident that by law now makes him your dad’s favourite player. Fuck tika-taka up, Carl!

Pablo Zabaleta

Head down, run, tuck in, short pass to the overlapping winger. Nine years of that will make you a City legend, apparently.

Youssouf Mulumbu

Decent enough break-it-up-in-the-middle-of-the-park tackle lad, but not sure he was ever worth the chant, ‘He comes from Africa, he’s better than Kaka’ that Albion fans used to do for him. Come on, boys. I know you don’t get much talent in the West Midlands. But come on.

Dion Dublin

Cheerfully released a drumming cube called ‘The Dube’; now co-presents Homes Under the Hammer. Absolutely nothing about Dion Dublin’s post-football career makes sense.

Stephen Ireland

I’ve always got time for players whose banter tracks and then exceeds their natural talent, before burning on the edges of the sun and falling back to earth with a thump as their first touch abandons them. Stephen Ireland (like Nicklas Bendtner and Jimmy Bullard before him) is a prime example: in his five years at City, he was a banter untouchable, rising to the ranks of Player of the Year 2009 after forging a weirdly symbiotic brain-meld with Robinho and dropping his shorts to reveal Superman pants beneath them a lot: then Mancini came in, hated him and transferred Ireland over to Villa, where, shorn of banter opportunities such as ‘telling Steve Staunton his grandma had died when she hadn’t’, his form spiralled and dipped away. He’s currently at Stoke, where every player who loses their hair and goes shit ends up.

Iain Dowie

I like Iain Dowie. He looks like a foot gone wrong, but I like him. Shite manager. Not the most nuanced pundit. Very straw-coloured, as a human. But I like him. I think he’s sound.

Alan Cork

By the time he hit his last season at Sheffield United, Cork looked sort of like if Ralph Fiennes went method to play a really big knackered pissed version of Santa, but he’s still the only player to score in all four pre-1992 divisions as well as the Premier League, so. Can’t take that away from him, can you?

Nicolas Anelka

My theory is Nicolas Anelka hated football—hated it, absolutely loathed it—but loved money and having money and the pursuit of money, and figured football was the best way for him to do that, i.e. earn extreme amounts of money, and so, begrudgingly, he scored 157 career goals for Arsenal, Chelsea, PSG, Real, Juventus, Bolton, City, Fenerbahçe, and West Brom. It was just the easiest method he could think of to make cash.

Steve Bould

Tricky to remember now he’s Arsene Wenger’s quite hard mate, but Steve Bould was once… well. He wasn’t part of Arsenal’s legendary back five, but he was first sub if any of them came off. And that’s just as good, isn’t it!

Vincent Kompany

Vincent Kompany isn’t, technically, bald, it’s just his skull is so ballooning and huge that it’s medically unviable for hair to grow on it. It’s like how you never see grass growing on sheer cliff faces. Gravity does not allow it to happen.

Sylvain Wiltord

Sylvain Wiltord was a very good striker who was turned into a peripheral figure at Arsenal after a big-money move and a lot of hype. Sound familiar? Yes, it does. Sylvain Wiltord was Franny Jeffers before Franny Jeffers was even Franny Jeffers.

Simone Zaza

One of the worst to ever do it in a West Ham shirt, which truly, truly is saying something, because West Ham have had some real shit. When you’re worse than Mido, Benni McCarthy, David Bellion, and Savio, maybe it’s time to drop the little penalty run-up and give up on football altogether.

Gary McAllister

Some are born with baldness; some have baldness thrust upon them. Gary McAllister’s baldness defies categorisation: it would just seem wrong if a man that cheery and Scottish could be anything other than exceptionally, exceptionally hairless. Despite a long career pinging really good free kicks about for Leeds, Leicester, and Coventry, it was his two seasons at Anfield that cemented his legend of the game status, and where his celebratory pro-baldness chant emerged from. Gary Macca, Gary Gary Macca: oh how we love your baldyhead.

Gianluca Vialli/Attilio Lombardo

Gianluca Vialli and Attilio Lombardo are both inextricably linked, because i. they both came to England and proved to your dad that Serie A strikers weren’t all flouncing continental types with leather thong necklaces and a ponytail, sometimes they could be bald too and ii. both looked slightly older and therefore more trustworthy as a result of their aforementioned baldness and so were inexplicably promoted high above their station to manage their respective clubs. Lombardo relegated Palace; Vialli won the FA, League, and UEFA Cups in two seasons flat.

Leroy Lita

Leroy Lita once scored ten goals in 12 Premier League games and I was convinced he would be good for Arsenal and then I blinked and ten years passed and Lita—still bald, now 32—just signed for a team in Thailand. Life, Leroy Lita teaches us, comes at you fast.

Seth Johnson

Turned out Seth Johnson wasn’t even ever bald, he just shaved his head out to look double-hard while he was going in two-footed to every midfielder in the league round the turn of the millennium. His £7 million Leeds move is often referred to as just ‘Risdale’s Folly’, but if it wasn’t for knee injuries and the general Leeds implosion, he could have been really good. But yeah, turned up in 2015 at a charity game with hair. Who knew?

Michael Duberry

Once scored a perfect hat-trick for Oxford that included two own goals and ended in a 2–2 draw, which I think we can all agree is A Very Michael Duberry Thing To Do.

Brian Deane

One of those players who oscillated between Sheffield United and Leeds a lot, taking a quick time out to score the first ever Premier League goal and then spend a season at Benfica under Souness. Imagine. Imagine what an intense and confusing time that must have been for the people of Lisbon.

Stelios Giannakopoulos

Giannakopoulos was a Bolton stalwart for five years before inexplicably coming back in 2015 to try to buy the club. “I have the club in my heart,” he told The Bolton News at the time, when they asked him what the fuck he was up to. Nobody loves Bolton that much, Stelios. Come on, mate. Come on. Don’t try and buy Bolton, mate.

James Collins

James Collins is useful in the same way that a small hammer is useful: blunt and effective, sure, but there are bigger better tools that get the job done in a more efficient and glamorous way. Also he is so ginger that at most angles you assume his baldness is a trick of the light, rendering him a sort of large, bean-like freckle, but no, he’s definitely going.

Andros Townsend

Everyone reckons he lost form because of the life-altering events of leaving Newcastle and getting thoroughly Pardewed in the process, but nobody is mentioning the fact that he’s been really shit ever since he shaved his hair down and got his hairline tattooed in. Nobody wants to talk about that, do they.

Steve Stone

There is no more English a name than ‘Steve Stone’ and, in many ways, there was no more English a player: a useful if underwhelming nine-cap midfielder who looked like a cheerful potato and who had the most ‘just shave it all off, Ken, I’m not arsed with all this’ haircut Nottingham’s ever seen. A Bald XI legend.

Ian Wright

Think of Ian Wright peeling away in delight, his gold tooth sparkling, his arms spread wide, his torso a flash of red with white; think of him as something near to holy to the Highbury faithful, moving on their feet in one motion to applaud his name. Don’t think about every time he’s gone on TV and sincerely defended Shaun Wright-Phillips as a player. Don’t. Stop that. Think instead of him as possibly one of the game’s last ever greats to wind his way down the divisions when his legs started to slow: would Wayne Rooney ever do a year at West Ham, eight games at Celtic then half a season at Burnley? No. No he would not. Hail Ian Wright. Hail his big bald head.

Claude Makélélé

In 2006–07 Claude Makélélé maintained a 100% shot conversion for the season by shooting and scoring exactly once, against Tottenham. Don’t care about being a Bentley engine bemoaned by Zidane when he left Real. Don’t care about having an entire role named after you. That’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to anyone across a football season.

Finidi George

One of those curious anomalies who won the Champions League (with Ajax) and the African Cup of Nations (with Nigeria) and then, scene deleted, ran his big head around for two seasons at Ipswich under the watchful eye of George Burley. He essentially lived a Football Manager render that got a bit out of hand.

Paddy Kenny

Pathologically bald Neil Warnock protégé whose goalkeeping technique seemed to be ‘yell at the ball until it goes away’, Sir Patrick of Kenny once got his eyebrow bitten off in a kebab house by his best mate a week after his wife left him for another one of his mates. Get better mates, Paddy Kenny.

Philippe Senderos

Philippe Senderos always seemed to me as though he was the mute large farm boy in a cosy Sunday night teatime adventure, where the leading lady—Joely Richardson—marries a rough handsome landowner and teaches all his servants how to read. “M–m–miss Richardson,” Senderos is saying, after learning how to crayon out the letter ‘C’. “How I l–love you, Miss Richardson.” How, with that rabbit-crushing face, the man has ever got 250+ games for club and country, I will never actually know.

Lomana LuaLua

Filled the ‘too-small-for-his-shirt, tricky but shit third-choice striker’ role Newcastle always have for four solid seasons between 2000 and 2004.

William Prunier

Knobbly-looking French bloke who got signed on a trial at Manchester United once literally just to hang around and be friends with Eric Cantona when kicking Palace fans in the head got too much for him. Quietly scrapped after a defence of him, Paul Parker, and the Nevilles conceded four to ‘lads, it’s Tottenham.’

Danny Drinkwater

Not technically bald but has the most fucked up hairline of any player currently in the game so makes the list on points alone.

This interview originally appeared in Issue 9 of MUNDIAL, which has long sold out. You can subscribe or buy the latest issue here. Illustrations by Dan Evans. 

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