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Football Face Fuzz

And what happened to the moustache?

Over the last decade or so we have seen many adopt the Stone Age look with more regularity, with varied levels of facial growth. From the easy access, entry level beard or 5 o'clock shadow (which can leave friends and family questioning whether you have just had a rough night), through to the game changer - the full beard or face-blanket.

As is so often the case, Football and Fashion have strong ties - beyond those of Gianluca Vialli. As an Everton fan, I always felt our team was in safe hands when our big bear of an American goalkeeper, Tim Howard, prowled the penalty area sporting his beard of bees-even producing a couple of match winning saves using his mass of chin wool.

Tim Howard looking chin strong.

Of the current Premier League crop, those currently dining at Henry VIII's end of the beard table, include Crystal Palace's fiery Welsh midfielder, Joe Ledley and the strikingly suave French powerhouse, Olivier Giroud, who has turned beard caressing into an art form.

Some of the more daring efforts have been saved for the biggest stage. At Euro 2000, Portugal defender Abel Xavier, sporting a bleach blond hair and goatee combo, gave away an extra time penalty and was sent off as his side lost 2-1 to France, whilst his reaction to the red card saw him banned for 9 months.

Abel Xavier's bleached look for the Euro's.
In the process of getting a red card.

Surely the most famous beard to appear in a major tournament, is the property of flame haired rocker, Alexi Lalas, who turned in some solid defensive displays for a USA side who were hosting the World Cup for the first time in 1994.

An unlikely poster boy, several steps removed from the standard clean cut image, Lalas, with his ZZ Top style ginger weave, left a lasting imprint on the tournament and would go on to play a part in enticing David Beckham to play his trade in the US.

Alexi Lalas ladies and gentleman.

Whilst the wacky and bushy may not be commonplace, the trendy stubble is sported by many in today's game. In contrast, one area of footballing facial hair where we are yet to see a resurgence is the moustache.

While the beard has been the 'heir' to the throne in recent times (sorry, couldn't resist), the moustache was worn with pride and confidence in the 80s. Not fluff disguised as a moustache (the 'Soul patch' or 'Anchor'), more the kind of stand alone work of art demonstrated away from the football pitch via the likes of Tom Selleck, Freddie Mercury, John Oates or Lionel Richie.

Again, the links with the beautiful game are evident, certainly on English shores, where I again refer back to an Everton goalkeeper. Neville Southall was considered one of, if not the best goalkeeper in the mid 80s. Nicknamed 'The Dustman', his general appearance was a little scruffy, but Southall's upper lipholstery gave him a distinct look. Southall's was one of 4 moustaches on show in the 1986 FA Cup Final, with Liverpool winning the match and the 'Crumb catcher' stakes, 3-1.

Neville Southall AKA The Dustman.

When the sides met again in 1989, the scores were again 3-1 in terms of fuzz, and ironically Southall was beaten by fellow tach bearers - by Ian Rush (twice) and John Aldridge, in the greatest combo of Mersey moustaches since The Beatles went all Maharishi on us in the 60s.

John Aldridge and Ian Rush sporting some of Liverpool's finest kits with the classic 3 leaf adidas logo and the Candy script logo.

You couldn't move for moustaches in 80s and 90s English football. Looking back, it seemed every team had at least 2 or 3, whereas nowadays, you would struggle to find 2 or 3 across all 20 Premier League teams. The players who sported them, spanned across a plethora of personalities:

The Hard Man - Graeme Souness
The Mad Man - Bruce Grobelaar
The Hard Mad Man - Brian Kilcline
The Scruffy Welshman - Neville Southall
The Suave Yorkshireman - David Seaman

In South America, Colombia's Carlos Valderamma had one of the most iconic looks known to football, with his blow dried poodle mop of hair, complemented by his resplendent ‘tach’, he ticked all the hairy boxes. Valderamma's national team Goalkeeper, Rene Higuita, became famed following his 'Scorpion Kick' (pulled off in a friendly against England at Wembley). There were unconfirmed reports that after this game, Valderamma embraced his teammate, with a hug and a kiss, and it took several teammates to prise them apart due to the Velcro effect of tach to 'stache combat (unconfirmed).

One of the legends of soccer hair.
We're big fans of Carlos at Adsum. So much so that we commissioned illustrator Ben Lamb to put him in our clothes for our first ad.

The most famous (and confirmed) footballing tash clash was in the 1990 World Cup last 16 match between Germany and Holland. Both teams were well represented with face lace tashionistas, with Holland boasting Gullit, Wouters, Van Tiggelen, Van Aerle and Frank Rijkaard, whilst Germany, despite the obvious historical representative, had Kohler and Rudi Voller. After a feisty encounter, the moustache took centre stage, when Rijkaard was sent off for spitting in Voller's hair on more than one occasion - an incident that bizarrely saw the German red carded too (perhaps for allowing his hair to get in the way).

The infamous tash clash of 1990.

Rijkaard brought the moustache into disrepute that day and it’s struggled to recover ever since. To that point, the Voller hairstyle didn't seem to catch on either.

With so many fond footballing facial hair memories, it’s good to see the beard creeping and crawling its way back into the game. Will someone soon be brave enough to bring back the lip caterpillar? We live in hope - bring back the tash fash.

Words by: Mark Longman