Top 10 Weird Football Superstitions. The distinction between superstitions, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and bizarre routines is quite thin, but some people are better at doing it than others. Superstition is surprisingly widespread among footballers as well, whether it is a lucky pair of pants, a favorite shirt that fits exactly perfectly, or even wearing one boot before the other.
It should come as no surprise that even players, coaches, and even team presidents have their own superstitions as we have heard of supporters having a variety of them before, during, and even after the games.
Some people may find it strange that some people hold the fundamental concept or thought that some outcomes or occurrences can be influenced by supernatural forces that exist all around us and can cloud a person’s judgment. However, superstitions and rituals are frequently deeply rooted and invested in a team’s history or even in a person’s identity as a reflection of some of the most significant losses and victories of their careers.
#10 Cristiano Ronaldo:
Five-time When one hears the name, Cristiano Ronaldo, they immediately think of the Ballon d’Or winner and one of the greatest players in history. Who would have guessed that the man associated with “hard work” would make the list when discussions about superstitions arise and players have their own theories about what may make them great?
However, Ronaldo has acquired several eccentricities that have evolved into superstitions throughout the course of his career as a professional player. Being the first player off the plane when arriving at a game, putting his right foot down first, standing exactly the same during free kicks, and many other things.
The Portuguese star has won three Premier League championships, five Champions League championships, two La Liga championships, one Serie A championship, one Euro championship, and of course five Ballon d’Or trophies and four European Golden Shoes. They all appear to have worked.
#9 Johan Cruyff:
As one of the few people in the world who is synonymous with Dutch football, Johan Cruyff etched his name into the annals of football history. The player, a former member of Ajax and Barcelona, personified the “total football” philosophy that led the Netherlands to the World Cup final. The Cruyff turn is still one of the most difficult moves for any football player to perfect.
He was a fantastic football player, but he was also completely insane. As a coach himself, he would never have accepted his need for a number of obsessional pre-match routines. He would hit goalie Gert Bals in the stomach just before kickoff, then stroll over to the opposing half and spit his chewing gum in their direction.
“Although strange, it seems to work for me. My attention is entirely focused on what we need to accomplish to succeed on the pitch once I’ve completed my pregame routine.”
Cruyff, though, gave Bals his normal smack during the 1969 European Cup final and then moved over to the opposing half to spit his gum. Ajax lost 4-1 as a result of the Dutchman realizing too late that he had neglected to eat gum.
#8 France 1998 World Cup team:
Who can argue that what they did prior to the game didn’t truly aid their cause, even if they reached the World Cup final only due to the skill and talent of the players on their side? With players like Zinedine Zidane, Marcel Desailly, Didier Deschamps, Emmanuel Petit, and a youthful Thierry Henry, the French possessed a world-class World Cup team.
Nevertheless, Fabien Barthez’s shaved head was kissed by the goalie as part of their funny pre-game ritual, which they or Laurent Blanc had developed. The number of kisses increased along with the number of victories, and by the end, Blanc had the entire French squad kissing the head of the 26-year-old custodian. Everyone, even the coaches and substitutes, approached Barthez and kissed his head.
Another odd superstition practiced by the group was listening to Gloria Gaynor’s top-charting song “I Will Survive” in the locker room prior to every game. Even worse, each member of the squad had an allocated spot in the seating arrangement on the bus.
#7 Australian national team:
The struggles of the Australian national team, sometimes known as the Socceroos, in their quest to earn a spot in the 1970 World Cup are the subject of this narrative, which begins in 1969. The Socceroos were forced to play Zimbabwe in Mozambique after losing a playoff game. A few players had heard of a witch doctor in Mozambique who could make things right by casting some type of spell on the Rhodesians after Australia had lost the opening game of the series.
The witch doctor was consulted by the entire team, who then buried some bones next to the goalpost and cursed the opposition. It worked, and Australia went on to defeat Zimbabwe 3-1 in the championship game. However, the drama that followed the game was what ultimately led to the Socceroos’ turnaround. The witch doctor approached the team after the game and demanded the £1000 that had been promised to him, but the squad was unable to make the payment.
According to Johnny Warren, the “Godfather of Australian Football,” the witch doctor reversed the curse out of anger, and ever since, Australian football has been cursed. Australia would lose to Israel 2-1 on aggregate in the last round of qualification, eliminating them.
After the national team qualified for the 1974 World Cup, they had a string of heartbreaking losses. Two examples of the alleged “curse” are the heartbreaking match in Uruguay in 2001, where the Australians lost 3-0 to Uruguay despite winning the first leg at home, and the Australians failing to qualify for the 1998 World Cup despite leading 2-0 in the second half of the final qualifier against Iran.
After John Safran made the decision to return to Mozambique and break the curse—which involved him and Warren sitting in the center of the ground where the ’69 game was played—things started to shift.
Following the bloody murder of a chicken by a new witch doctor, Safran and Warren were forced to wash in clay in the Telstra Stadium. When the Socceroos qualified for and advanced into the second round of the 2006 World Cup, the curse was finally broken.
#6 Derby County:
Derby County had to evict a group of gypsies who lived there when they relocated to their new stadium, the Baseball Ground, in 1895. This stadium would serve as their home for the next 102 years.
The gypsies allegedly cursed the club, warning that the two-time Premier League champions would never again win the FA Cup out of resentment over their deportation. Thought to be made up and used just as an explanation for the club’s deplorable state, the curse nonetheless persisted and grew in the imaginations of the supporters.
The Rams made it to the final in 1898, 1899, and 1904 but lost all three games. They also lost three semifinals. When it appeared that the gypsies’ curse might truly be true, Derby gave up and failed to make another final for the next forty years.
When Derby County reached another FA Cup final in 1946, forty years after the first, fans prayed for a sign that the curse had been removed. Some even begged the sky, ‘We are fans of Derby County, do you not think that’s punishment enough?’
Soon after, the ball burst to stop a Derby goal, which everyone interpreted as a sign that the spirits had been placated. After extra time, Derby prevailed to win the FA Cup 4-1.
The Rams went on to win their first FA Cup title, but they haven’t made the finals since. It was later said that Jackie Stamps paid a gipsy to have the curse lifted before the final, where he went on to score twice and help the Rams win.
#5 Romeo Anconetani:
Romeo Anconetani, the former Italian player and manager, and former president of AC Pisa, would merely put salt on the pitch because he believed it would benefit his team. This is one of the stranger superstitions on this list. The pitch gets saltier as the game gets bigger!
Is it really that unexpected that football supporters, including Luis Fernandez, would sprinkle salt on the pitch in an effort to possibly boost their chances of tasting good luck given that Plato once referred to salt as the gift of the gods?
Romeo Anconetani was just like other Italians who believed that even betting against their team would boost the likelihood of greater luck. He acted in the same manner. But perhaps the president of AC Pisa went too far.
The former president entered the pitch before a key match against Cesena and began to sprinkle roughly 26 kilograms of salt on each of the Arena Garibaldi’s four corners.
#4 Birmingham City:
Harry Morris, the director of Birmingham City, expelled a group of gipsies from what would eventually become St Andrews Stadium (Birmingham’s home field), but he had no idea what would happen in the ensuing hundred or so years.
Over the years, numerous Birmingham City managers tried to lift the gipsy curse that was cast upon the Blues in 1906, but without much success. The curse dogged the team for more than 100 years.
In an effort to break the curse, former manager Ron Saunders painted the bottom of his players’ boots crimson and hung crucifixes from the floodlights in the 1980s. It never worked, despite his best efforts to convince the vengeful spirits to pardon the club and the ground.
Then, Barry Fry, who oversaw the team from 1993 to 1996, tried a more “creative approach” and peed on each of the pitch’s four corners before each home game after receiving a prophecy. That strategy paid off as the squad began to pick up victories until Fry was fired and the defeats started to mount once more.
However, the team ultimately celebrated the curse being broken on Boxing Day 2006 by defeating Queens Park Rangers 2-1. Four years later, in their first major final in the club’s history, they went on to defeat Arsenal in the League Cup.
Superstition held even one of the all-time greatest players, a Brazilian icon, and one of the most prolific league goal scorers captive. Pele once said that his career had hit a low point because he had given a jersey to a fan after a game. The Brazilian legend then dispatched a companion on a search for the jersey.
As luck would have it, the friend was able to locate the shirt and give it back to Pele, who quickly resumed his goal-scoring ways. The friend neglected to mention, however, the fact that he had actually been unsuccessful in his attempt to obtain that specific jersey and had instead handed the three-time World Cup victor the shirt he had worn in the previous game.
The Brazilian legend quickly regained his form after concluding that it was the clothing.
#2 Midland Portland Cements:
Only because it was ever thought to be a ritual did this strange one-time rite make the cut. A Zimbabwean football team’s managers believed that sending their players to a river to rid the side of evil spirits was the best approach to end a streak of defeats in 2008. Only 16 of the 17 players who were dispatched with the order to enter the Zambezi River survived.
The team and the coach afterward discovered that swimming in the river was dangerous and that it was off-limits to the general public. Even professional swimmers were advised against crossing the river due to the high currents, let alone 17 semi-pro football players.
The team lost a vital player after he was caught in the stream and did not survive the team’s purification rite, which made matters worse given that the river was teeming with crocodiles and hippos.
The team went on to lose the following games, which made matters worse. The player ended up being one of the few instances where a superstition or ritual led to a fatality.
#1 Raymond Domenech:
In contrast to mad management, Raymond Domenech prefers man management. Even if you ignore his altercations and confrontations with Karim Benzema, David Trezeguet, and Patrick Vieira, Domenech pushes eccentricity to a new extreme.
Being an avid poker player has its perks, especially when watching a game of football, but the French FA’s sanity must be questioned. After all, they have been employing a manager for more than six years who bases his squad decisions on astrology.
Players with the Scorpio sun sign were particularly problematic for Domenech, who described them as irresponsible, unreliable, troublemakers, and attention seekers. As a result, he basically put an end to Robert Pires’ career.
In response to being eliminated from Euro 2008, he proposed to his fiancée on the pitch, and two years later, he led a mutiny. However, these odd behaviors pale in comparison to his reliance on astrology.
Everywhere in the world, from the late, great Brian Clough to Diego Maradona to Alf Ramsey and many others, there have always been odd managers. The reason Domenech is ranked first on our list of football superstitions is that he outperformed them all despite never collecting a single trophy during his career.
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