Hair Hair Everywhere – The Bundesliga’s finest coiffures and real stories behind them

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?

Mike Werner in all his glam metal glory.

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.

Lots of Ewald Lienen masks going around these days.
Ewald Lienen wants to occupy wallstreet.











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's pierced ears were a tribute to the rings of Saturn

“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.

Stefan Effenberg's alternate personality.

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.

Tom Selleck got nothing on Heidenreich

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.

Marcelinho was known for his colorful boots and hair.

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.

Footballer during the day, Road Warrior at night.

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.

Holst houses a colony of elfs in his beard.

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.

The following two tabs change content below.

Cristian Nyari

Cristian is a football writer and analyst living in New York City, fascinated with the history and study of the beautiful game and all it entails. Follow Cristian on twitter @Cnyari


  1. I’m glad you included Abel Xavier — certainly a legend who shared his tonsorial talents with the fans of eight domestic leagues and even let American fans love his locks with the LA Galaxy.

    And Holst’s beard…he could be a Civil War general. Born too late.

  2. Don’t be so sexist, Chris! 😉 Surely everyone can appreciate hair. It’s universal, like Klinsmann dives and Özil’s chewing gum skills.

  3. HA! Thank you Isabell, I had a feeling the first response might not be from a guy but there’s something for everyone in there. 😀

  4. I might be slightly biased since I’ve been advocate for more stories focusing on the phenomenon of footballing hair in all its epic forms for a very long time, but this might be one of the best things ever!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.