How do Footballers Keep their Hair in Place?

Footballer’s hairstyles have long been a subject of discussion in the modern era of the game. David Beckham was a good example of this. Where his regular changing of hairstyle was given plenty of media attention in and outside of the game.

Back in the days before the Premier League, footballers’ hair was not so focused upon. Players wouldn’t usually style their hair before games, and most haircuts were normal and representative of the common men’s style.

how often footballers get the haircut?

In fact, footballers now care so much about their hair that they usually schedule haircuts just before matchday. A hairdresser who cuts the hair of some of the biggest footballers in the game states that he is usually booked in for the night before a game.

In fact, Dortmund players Jadon Sancho and Manuel Akanji even broke Covid-19 lockdown rules to get a fresh trim before a Bundesliga fixture. 

You’d think footballer’s hair it would turn into a matted mess by the end of 90 minutes of elite football, but rather their hair is usually still looking flawless and exactly the same as at the start of the game. So, the question is, how do they keep it styled? We’ll tell you how!

How Footballer’s Hair Stays in Place

Footballer’s generally use pomade, gel, or wax to keep their hair in place. Players would probably use designer branded and expensive hair gel. Which gives them the natural look which can hold shape even throughout a game of football.

hair accessories:

However, for longer styles, players often use hairbands, which must be pretty strong to ensure they don’t snap halfway through. But as well as this, there are actually laws of the game which restrict certain accessories for footballers. It is ruled that anything hard or sharp cannot be used in the hair.

It is also ruled that any hair accessory which can improve or help with heading the ball cannot be worn. We’re not sure what accessory could actually help with a heading.

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But in terms of hard and sharp accessories, this rules out plastic or metal hair clips, and hard hair bands. For men and women footballers with long hair, the options are soft elastic hair bands or headbands.  

Types of Hairstyles: 

footballer's hair

Short Hair

Most footballers you see will have a short haircut. Whether it is shaved all over, or faded on the sides with a bit more on top. Examples of these players are Gini Wijnaldum, Kylian Mbappe, Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos.

It’s unlikely these players need much product in their hair, but for those with a bit more on top. They would probably use a small amount of hair gel or wax to give them the desired styled look which holds throughout the game 

Slicked Back

A lot of players combine the faded haircut with a slicked-back look on top. An example of the players sporting this haircut are Olivier Giroud, Jack Grealish, Dani Ceballos, and sometimes, Cristiano Ronaldo.

In the women’s game, Megan Rapinoe sports this kind of look, with a short, quiff style haircut on top. The slicked-back look requires more effort, especially when wanting it to hold shape throughout the game.

These players have at times used hair bands to keep their hair in place. But have also been seen to wear their hair without. This would probably require blow-drying the hair before using a heavy hold pomade or wax to keep the hair slicked back. Different hair products can provide a different look.

For example, Dani Ceballos often goes for a more shiny, slick look, whereas Olivier Giroud and Megan Rapinoe have a dryer and more natural look.  

Long Hair

There are also many players in the men’s and women’s games with long hair. It’s uncommon to see these players without some sort of accessory in their hair to keep it under control, otherwise it becomes a distraction and disadvantage to the player.

Some players tie their hair in a long ponytail, such as Andy Carroll has done, US women’s player Alex Morgan, and famously, the retired England goalkeeper David Seaman.

long hair bun:

This keeps hair out of the way, but at a certain length, can still flick about and cause some distraction for players. Other players with long hair, or with slightly shorter hair, prefer a tighter bun at the top of the head.  

An example of these players is Gareth Bale, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Lloris Karius. These players use elastic hair bands to tie up their hair at the top of the head to keep it in place.

The ‘man-bun’ became a fashionable haircut and was rocked by many players in recent years. It is often combined with the fashionable fade haircut, where the sides are shaved whilst the hair remains long and tied up on top.  

Women Footballer’s Hairstyles

Footballer’s hair in the women’s game is different in that most players wear long hair. An example is ‘pre-wrap’ headbands. Pre-wrap is a thin, foam-like material used by trainers and physical therapists as a barrier between skin and athletic tape.

Its slightly tacky feel allows it to double as a no-slip headband, as demoed by several players throughout the World Cup tournament. It can be worn as a thick wrap, but it can also be rolled into a thin band. Colours are often used in line with the teams colours, or can be personalised.  

Many female footballers also wear braids. Braids have been sported in the men’s game, but are rarer. A braid is where the hair is tied and intertwined tightly, giving one or two long braided ponytails.

This keeps the hair out of the way and can be less irritating and flicky than long ponytails. It is a good solution for those players with very long hair.  

How Important have Hairstyles become in Football?

These days, players showcase their personality on the pitch more, which can be shown by the way they build their own brands and image outside of the game for commercial opportunities.

Hairstyles are one of the ways players do this, and an example is Paul Pogba, who regularly sports new hairstyles on the pitch, which has included leopard prints, stars, and even the word ‘Pogboom’ shaved into the side of his head.

However, Pogba is not the only player who draws attention from their hair style, and it is common for players to style their hair immediately before running out on to the pitch.

Iconic Footballer Hairstyles 

Football has seen some weird and wonderful hairstyles in its time. Some footballers have even had haircuts so distinctive that they are known for that style, and could even be considered to have invented and popularised certain hairstyles. 

footballer's hair

Ronaldo (O Fenomeno)

One of the best examples is the original, Brazilian Ronaldo. Ronaldo is undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all-time, and was a deadly, and clinical striker who could make defenders look stupid with his lightening pace and stepovers.

However, many would say the defenders he left in his wake appeared only slightly more foolish than Ronaldo’s own hair. He famously sported a small, almost round patch of hair in the front of his head, but he was completely shaved all over the rest of his head.

It wasn’t a style that took off and there hasn’t been a footballer since who has copied the iconic style, but it’s fair to say that Ronaldo’s ability made up for his sense of style.  

Rodrigo Palacio

Rodrigo Palacio was another player with an unusual haircut. From the front, Palacio looks like he wears a regular short, shaved look, however, from the back, you will see his off-centre rat tail which hangs down his back.

Perhaps inspired by Ewan McGregor and the Star Wars Padawan style which Jedi’s in training wore before being declared a Knight? Either way, at least the Argentinian striker got to play with Messi.  

Roberto Baggio

Roberto Baggio was nicknamed ‘the divine ponytail’. He sported curly hair which was pretty short on top, but he left it long at the back which he tied up in a long ponytail. Essentially, a curly mullet hairstyle which was tied in a ponytail.

On many other players, there may have been more people calling it a ridiculous style, but Baggio was one of the best and classiest players to play the game, and therefore the iconic style became celebrated and loved to look, and in fairness, he probably pulled it off. 

Megan Rapinoe

As mentioned earlier, Megan Rapinoe is currently wearing a short quiff look, but also experiments with many styles and colours. Rapinoe is one of the most eccentric and outgoing players in the women’s game, and shows this with her styles which have ranged from bleached, spiky hair, to bright pink and purple hair.  


Overall, footballer’s hair is a key part of their image in the modern game. Some care more than others, but increasingly, players are styling their hair before games and often look like they’ve just walked on to the pitch straight from the hair salon.

Players have access to some of the best barbers and products which allows them to keep their desired image throughout the 90 minutes of football, and with the increased media attention and TV cameras everywhere, maybe you can’t blame them for being slightly vainer than in previous years!

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