15 of our favourite ever bald footballers: Lombardo, Ketsbaia, Zidane…

Quick Reads

The eroding of men’s hair follicles has been around for even longer than the beautiful game – but it certainly doesn’t seem to hinder footballing ability. 

As unusual as it might sound, a player’s haircut can have a huge impact on their legacy. Everyone remembers Roberto Baggio for his trademark ponytail, for example, and the first two words that spring to mind when you mention Rodrigo Palacio are ‘rat tail’.

But there is possibly no greater sight in football than a player with no hair whatsoever doing their thing on the pitch. For no particular reason, here is our non-exhaustive list of some of our favourite bald footballers.

Brad Friedel 

We have tried to restrict this list to players we immediately picture as being bald rather than those who only started losing their hair towards the end of their career.

With Friedel, we’re struggling to accept the fact he ever had hair – but he did and it just looks weird.

There were still remnants of it remaining when he joined Liverpool, but we’ll always remember that bald head of his flying through the air making saves – and even scoring for Blackburn in 2004.

He wouldn’t have been able to do that if he still had this hair.

Brad Friedel pictured playing for USA in 1990

Steve Stone 

Maybe part of the reason we have a fondness for bald footballers is that it reminds us they aren’t perfect. Bald footballers are the everyman, giving hope to us all that we could definitely still make it if only we could be bothered to get fit enough.

Well Steve Stone was kind enough to go bald in his early 20s, being that everyman for virtually his entire career and so letting us all share in his achievement of turning out for England. Top man.

Lee Carsley & Thomas Gravesen

As Everton’s central midfield partnership for a few years in the early 2000s, these two simply had to be grouped together.

They were very different players – Carsley was the holding midfielder that protected the defence, Gravesen the energetic box-to-boxer – but their bald heads seemed to confuse Real Madrid in 2005 when they ended their search for a holding midfielder by signing…Thomas Gravesen.

Carsley was a hero at Everton, helping them to the Champions League and scoring the winner in the 200th Merseyside derby, while Gravesen will always be remembered for his his tough-tackling, no-nonsense and, lets face it, bat-shit crazy antics – including launching a firework at a physio just trying to rehabilitate injured players.

His nickname at Real Madrid was ‘mad dog’.

READ: 12 of the hardest bastards to play in the Premier League: Keane, Batty, Jones…

Frank Leboeuf 

Leboeuf was part of Ruud Gullit’s cosmopolitan Chelsea side we’ve still got such fond memories of, helping them win their major first trophy in 27 years in 1997 alongside the likes of Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Di Matteo and Gianfranco Zola.

He also won the World Cup with France in 1998, coming off the bench following Lauren Blanc’s red card in that memorable final to keep the was he or wasn’t he fit-Ronaldo quiet.

Once Leboeuf hung up his boots, the Frenchman entered the world of acting – boldly showing off his bald prowess on screen.

He even appeared as a Swiss doctor in the Oscar-winning Theory of Everything. Not bad.

Gianluca Vialli

We really did like that Chelsea team. There weren’t too many foreign players in the Premier League back in the 90s, but suddenly we were getting to watch players like Vialli who we’d grown up idolising on Football Italia.

Vialli only played on for three more seasons after joining the Blues in 1996, becoming their player-manager in 1998, but to us he’ll always be associated with one of our favourite ever eras of football in England.

Attilio Lombardo 

And here’s another player we were extremely excited to see come to the Premier League from Serie A.

Frankly, we still quite can’t quite work out how Crytal Palace managed to sign him.

They’d only been promoted at the end of the previous season, and among their other signings that summer were Kevin Miller, Hermann Hreidarsson, Paul Warhurst and Neil Emblen.

Alongside Lombardo, the only other overseas player to start the Eagles’ first game of the season was Kevin Muscat. It was utterly mental and only got stranger still when Lombardo was appointed player-manager.

Come the start of the following season, just two years after ‘the Ostrich’ had scored in Juve’s 1996 Super Cup thrashing of Paris Saint-Germain, he was playing in England’s second tier…

READ: Remembering Attilio Lombardo’s bizzare 18 months at Crystal Palace 

Sir Bobby Charlton 

We’ve tried to avoid including players we never saw play – Alfredo Di Stefano, for example – but Bobby Charlton’s hairdo is so famous that we simply had to mention him.

A key part of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team and a two-goal scorer in Manchester United’s first ever European Cup win two years later, Charlton clearly couldn’t accept going bald and so invented the comb-over.

Strangely, it’s a style that has never really caught on.

Zinedine Zidane

“Give me Zinedine Zidane and ten planks of wood and I’ll win you the Champions League” – Sir Alex Ferguson.

Seriously, Zidane was that good. He did admittedly have hair for a large proportion of his career, but it was forever becoming more sparse until disappearing altogether, making him surely the best bald footballer in history.

We’ll never forget his performance against Brazil in the 2006 World Cup quarter-final…

READ: A forensic analysis of Zizou’s World Cup QF display vs Brazil 

Esteban Cambiasso 

An Inter Milan legend, Cambiasso was a staple of their 2000s glory days – scoring 41 goals in 315 games and winning countless honours along the way, including the Treble under Jose Mourinho in 2010.

He will also forever be remembered for finishing off Argentina’s amazing team goal at the 2006 World Cup, while he went on to impress in a season at Leicester City in 2014-15, helping them avoid relegation.

He probably wishes he stayed on for another year…

Jaap Stam 

As well as being a colossal defender and one of the few players Sir Alex Ferguson regrets selling, Stam was another hard bald bastard.

Fergie worried Stam had lost an edge when he started to tackle less at Manchester United, but the truth is that he didn’t need to. In fact, we like to think he was so hard that forwards simply avoided going nearing him in case Stam did have to tackle them.

He memorably clashed with Patrick Vieira at Highbury, where both teams had to quickly split them up before a battle of the baldies broke out, and even if the Dutchman came sliding in with his studs showing, it really wasn’t advisable to retaliate.

Fabien Barthez 

You probably know at least one person who has a Buddha statue in their house, intended to bring them luck.

Well, as far as Laurent Blanc was concerned, Barthez’s bald head could do exactly the same job for France – so long as he kissed it before every game.

Maybe there was something in it – Barthez won the World Cup with Les Blues in 1998 and then the European Championship two years later.

Nicknamed Le Divin Chauve, The Divine Bald One, Barthez went on to join Manchester United and though he was probably past his best by that stage, he still added a couple of Premier Leagues titles to his personal haul of trophies.

Temuri Ketsbaia

Newcastle United were a lot of fun during the 1990s. And a bit mental. And despite already having Tino Asprilla in their squad, in 1997 the Magpies decided to sign Temuri Kestbaia as well.

No player has ever appeared so angry to score a goal.

Pablo Zabaleta 

A City cult hero, Zabaleta became as lovable for his charm off the pitch as his bravery and determination on it.

The look of the Argentine’s head all bloodied and bandaged after a rough challenge became a trademark of his no-nonsense nature in a sky blue jersey.

Not only that, ‘Zaba’ was a brilliant overlapping full-back and always provided a distinct threat out wide.

In the end, he made 230 appearances for City, scoring nine goals – each one of them even more memorable than the last.

Including the opener against QPR on the famous last day of their 2012 title-winning season.

READ: Seven reasons why Pablo Zabaleta became a Manchester City legend

Arjen Robben 

One of the greatest wingers of the modern era, we will literally never get tired of watching yet another full-back somehow get caught out by Robben quickly cutting inside onto his favourite left foot.

He still just about had hair when he was at Chelsea but saw it pretty much disappear altogether during his two years at Real Madrid and finally embraced baldness at Bayern.

It could be a coincidence that he went on to enjoy the best spell of his career in Germany, winning 18 trophies including the Champions League in 2013…but it’s definitely not a coincidence.

Robben won the Man of the Match award in that all-German final against Borussia Dortmund, scoring the match-winning goal and writing his name into the Bayern history books.


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