World Cup mind games: Weird, wacky and wonderful player superstitions

World Cup mind games: Weird, wacky and wonderful player superstitions

- Some of the biggest names in world football have certain rituals and habits which they adhere to before, during and after games

- Lionel Messi always puts the ball down with both hands and Cristiano Ronaldo always leaves the changing room last and puts his right foot on the field first

- Other players have lucky underwear, grow beards and even kiss each other on the head

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The world’s best footballers will do anything in their power to win matches for their national and club sides. This includes spending hours in the gym, adhering to a strict diet and relentless practice sessions. Some of these players even resort to some weird, wacky and wonderful superstitions.

Players and technical staff often have certain habits and rituals which they strictly adhere to before, during and after matches.

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Some of these rituals are as simple as holding their kitbag in the same hand when they step off the bus at the stadium, some players believe in the ever-popular lucky underwear and others grow beards. has gathered together some of the weird, wonderful and strange superstitions of World Cup players past and present.

• Lionel Messi

Argentina’s superstar has ritualised the way in which he takes free-kicks. He always puts the ball down with both hands and takes the same number of steps before kicking the ball.

• Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal’s talisman always leaves the dressing room and the tunnel leading onto the field last, he also ensures his right foot touches the field of play first.

• Harry Kane

England’s captain is a player who stops shaving when he starts scoring a run of goals. English fans will be hoping a hairy faced Kane returns from Russia.

• Dele Alli

He uses the same shin pads he used when he was 11-years-old. This means his shin pads are a prehistoric 11-years old. Alli admits that he doesn’t wash or clean his shin pads, but maintains they don’t smell. The English player said he once lost his shin pads for about six months which happened to coincide with a bad run of form.

• Mario Gomez reported that the German has a somewhat strange toilet habit, before matches, he uses the urinal furthest to the left in the locker-room. Gomez also doesn’t sing the German anthem because he scored a goal for the junior team when he forgot to sing the anthem.

• Laurent Blanc

The French defender is convinced his team won the 1998 tournament because he started kissing the bald head of teammate Fabien Barthez. Blanc and Barthez went through the ritual for every match of the 1998 tournament.

Sports psychologists say these behaviours might not impact player performance in real terms but they do serve an important purpose in that they focus players and help them to feel like they have a certain amount of control over the outcome of matches.

Crucially, some of the superstitions allow players to feel good and when they feel good they play well.

READ ALSO: Top football stars who could be playing their last World Cup in 2018

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