In this vain and superficial world there is an overzealous emphasis placed on one’s outward appearance, a cruel byproduct of the times that not even our greatest athletes can escape. But we can hardly blame them, can we? Between the pressures of cashing their million Euro checks and the burden of maintaining their sports car collection, can we expect anything less but submission to the cruel cruel world of aesthetic prioritization?
The Bundesliga is serious business and players cannot afford to go out onto the pitch disheveled and unprepared. Here are some of the more colorful, and excuse the pun, hair-raising styling decisions in Bundesliga history and their real backgrounds. Because at the end of the day, who is going to keep all those cosmetics companies and hair salons in business besides housewives prepping for a company dinner?
What better place to start than the mother of all hairdos – or hair don’ts if you missed the excesses of the 1980’s – the magnificent mullet. If you thought for a second that Motley Crue’s lead singer switched the stage for the Hansa Rostock training pitch then think again, not that glam metal aficionado Mike Werner couldn’t don a mean pair of leopard print spandex pants and do a jumping split in front of a horde of prepubescent girls. The only problem with Werner’s glorious mane was that it often got caught in the net like a fish in the sea when the defender positioned himself on the goalline. Other than that Werner remains the coolest manifestation of the mullet. Some even say it was the 12th man on the pitch.
One of the above played for Borussia Mönchengladbach in the late 1970’s. I won’t tell you which of course because that would take away from the mystery but Lienen was known to be quite recalcitrant in his playing days, one time storming out of a training session because coach Udo Lattek refused to give every player equal playing playing time. In between matches, Lienen was also known to champion the cause of the masses, stirring up discontent in public squares and rallying Gladbach supporters to protest inflation. Rumor has it that Alan Moore took a liking to and was inspired by Lienen’s pomp off the pitch. Lienen now uses his hair as a level for various carpenters and construction projects.
“Sternkopf” literally translates into “Star head” and if you look closely enough you can make out at least half of the 88 standard constellations amidst all that hair. Apart from looking like defined areas in the celestial sphere, Sternkopf’s hair also doubled as a parachute when he jumped up for headers, always ensuring a graceful landing. As such Sternkopf was able to avoid any ankle sprains in his 16 year playing career. Sternkopf currently works for the DLR (Germany’s Aerospace Center) helping with the agency’s space and solar system exploration as well as posing as a research model for fellow astronomers.
Perhaps this explains why Stefan Effenberg seemed to have eyes in the back of his head in his playing days. Effenberg was nicknamed the “Tiger” for his ferocious and combative playing style and personality. But why just accept a nickname when you can live it out? Prior to his return to Gladbach in the mid 1990’s Effenberg reportedly spent 3 months in the jungles of India, studying the behavior and environment of the wildcats so as to improve his own performances upon returning to civilization. What he returned with was the natural agility and primitive rage of the beast as well as its face imbued on his scalp, believing it held supernatural qualities.
Heidenreich was a surrealist striker for Nürnberg in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Born in Bavaria but Catalan at heart, Heidenreich’s idiosyncratic performances on the pitch mirrored his philosophy off it. In an interview following his team’s 1982 DFB Cup final defeat to Bayern Munich, Heidenrich gave his thoughts on the match. Citing his idol and greatest influence, Salvador Dali, he proclaimed, “I do fear our loss is down to the predictability and destructive rationalism of our team tactics and we would have benefited from tactical adjustments that defied reason and positively expressed our subconscious reality.” To this day, Heidenreich remains one of the most misunderstood players of his time.
In his time in the Bundesliga, Marcelinho was one of the league’s most talented playmakers, lighting up the league with his imaginative dribbling and elegant free kicks. The Brazilian stood out in particular for his colorful boots and hair but few know the real story behind his vibrant appearance. Marcelinho is in fact the descendent of a long line of exotic parrots. Unbeknownst to many, the scout who discovered Marcelinho at an early age was in fact one of Brazil’s leading ornithologists, citing his talents and incredible ability to imitate the sounds and moves of others, particularly those of footballers.
In his short stint in the Bundesliga Abel Xavier revolutionized football. Well, not in the way you might think anyways. You see, Xavier, a master at deception, was never a professional footballer. His clever subterfuge and ingenuous ability to constantly change appearances like a chameleon paved the way for an illustrious career spanning 18 years. Whenever a coach or teammate became even slightly suspicious of his athletic deficiencies he would alter his appearance and remove all doubt. Similarly, after five unconvincing appearances for Hannover, Xavier again used his chicanery to convince then Italian vice champions and Champions League participants AS Roma of his talents.
I know what you’re thinking, “Another Hansa Rostock player? Good god what is in that water over there? Do they even have access to water? Did the city run out of shaving cream?” Rest assured, it’s less severe than that. After suffering a long term injury Holst vowed not to shave until he made a competitive appearance again. A year later he boasted one of the league’s longest ever beards, reaching a staggering 10 centimeters. The bad news, Holst has finally regained fitness and is ready to play, meaning the beard has to go. The good news, in that time, Rostock gained 100 new supporters from the Amish community.
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