FOOTBALLERS are a funny bunch.
All the hours they put into training, honing their talent and preparing their bodies for match day, you’d think they would be ready for battle.
But that’s not the case for this superstitious mob, who will do anything to get that extra bit of luck before a big game with these incredible rituals.
And if you think something as simple as keeping the same seat on the team bus will cut it, wait until you read the length some players will go to to ensure a win.
They make Laurent Blanc planting a smacker on the bald head of Fabien Barthez before each match at the 1998 World Cup look tame.
John Terry, ex-Chelsea and Aston Villa
If they handed out black belts for superstition, JT would be a grandmaster.
While at Chelsea, the Aston Villa assistant manager revealed he has about 50 superstitions, including sitting in the same place on the team bus, listening to the same Usher album and parking in the same spot in the car park.
Terry even had a lucky pair of shin-pads he wore for ten seasons.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United
Even the world’s greatest player needs lady luck smiling on him.
His habits include being the last out of the tunnel when going into a game, and when stepping onto the pitch he places his right foot on the turf first before leaping to the heavens.
Rumour has it he also likes to tie his hair up at half-time before coming back onto the pitch.
Danielle De Rossi, ex-Roma
He was known as a fighter on the pitch, and his superstition was said to emulate real-life past gladiators.
In the 2012 World Cup, De Rossi habitually wore one long sleeve on his left arm, while his right arm was short-sleeved to emulate those Colosseum heroes.
There was another theory he was just trying to hide a tattoo on his left arm.
Phil Jones, Manchester United
The United defender’s superstition really is socking.
Dependent on whether the Red Devils are playing home or away, will determine what sock he puts on first.
He explained: “The fixtures list United on the left side when we’re at home and on the right when we’re away. So this weekend, I’ll put my right sock on first, because it will be Swansea v United.”
“Next week, if I play against Benfica at Old Trafford, I’ll put my left sock on.”
He added: “I also don’t like stepping on white lines on the pitch. When I do cross a white line, then I’ll take the first step with the foot that corresponds to whether we’re home or away.”
Jermain Defoe, ex-Tottenham and Portsmouth and currently at Rangers
Banging in the goals for more than a decade made Jermain a firm fan favourite.
And they’ll be surprised to know how he remains injury-free, even now at the age of 38.
He once revealed: “I have to get a short hair cut before a game. I only ever seem to get injured when I have longer hair.”
Jamie Vardy, Leicester City
It’s not Sunday League, Jamie.
The Leicester City marksman revealed a bizarre superstition on the eve of every Premier League game during the Foxes’ successful title-winning season in 2015-2016.
He admitted drinking half a bottle of port, and on game day guzzling three cans of Red Bull. It certainly gave him wings.
Gareth Bale, Real Madrid
The Welsh wizard has a number of superstitions to avoid injury… he may need a few more.
Bale loves to cut holes in his socks before stepping out onto the pitch because he believes it avoids compression on his calf muscles.
He’s also stopped driving his Lamborghini Aventador Roadster to games because he believes the uncomfortable seating puts pressure on that area of his legs.
Raymond Domenech, former France manager
Superstitions also extend to zany international team managers.
Raymond Domenech looked to the stars, refusing to pick Scorpios for the French national team from 2010-2014.
This peculiar habit effectively ended the international career of Robert Pires, but it benefited Sebastian Squillaci, who was a Leo and as a result a Domenech favourite.
Johan Cruyff, late Dutch legend
The original Dutch master, Cruyff wasn’t just a pioneer with his skills, he also made superstitions cool.
Before each game, the former Ajax hero would slap his goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach, then spit his chewing gum into the opposition’s half before kick off.
The one time he forgot his gum, Ajax were thrashed 4-1 in the 1969 European Cup Final by AC Milan. Coincidence?
Mario Gomez, ex-Wolfsburg
The German centr- forward had a particular habit when it came to taking his pre-game call of nature.
When he was an up and comer in the Bundesliga, Mario would only ever use a urinal on the left.
However, he’s now comfortable on his right side. “If it’s free, I still always use the one on the left,” he admitted.
“But if someone’s using the one on the left, I go on the right.”
Lionel Messi, PSG
It’s a ritual the diminutive Argentinian shares with his great rival Ronaldo before striking a free-kick, and it serves Leo well.
Before taking a set-piece, the PSG forward places the ball down with both hands.
He then takes the same amount of steps back, spreads his legs and takes a deep breath. The end result is normally a goal.
Cesc Fabregas, Monaco
Former Chelsea playmaker Cesc has a pre-game ritual that involves his wife, Daniella Semaan… and it’s not what you think it is.
No, the midfield maestro likes to kiss a ring she gave him four times (his lucky number) before removing the bling item, putting it in the locker for safe-keeping and stepping out on the pitch.
Mesut Ozil, Fenerbache
He doesn’t just leave his opponents in knots.
The Fenerbahce star, who has won the La Liga, the FA Cup and the World Cup, prepares for matches by tying several knots into his boots repeatedly.
He also insists on putting the right boot on first. We pity his kit man.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, AC Milan
His performances on the pitch have never been questioned, and it’s down to his lack of performance off the pitch, and in particularly, in the bedroom that sees Zlatan stay on top of his game.
In fact, the Swedish striker imposed a pre-game sex ban on his wife Helena Seger after he had a miserable time on the pitch following an evening of nookie the night before.
Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid
The giant Belgium goalkeeper has a unique superstition he performs during his country’s national anthem.
Every time he gets filmed singing along to La Brabanconne, Thibaut touches his chin for good luck. It’s been spotted by eager fans online multiple times.
David Beckham, England legend
Becks, who admits he suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, had a peculiar habit during his heyday of making sure everything in his fridge was arranged perfectly before leaving for a game.
There couldn’t be a condiment out of place before Beckham left his house.
Wayne Rooney, Derby gaffer
They make the milk more chocolatey, so is it any wonder Wazza’s pregame snack of choice is to wolf down a bowl of his favourite cereal, Coco Pops.
“I tend to have just a bowl of coco pops,” he once admitted.
“The normal ones, not the moons and the stars.”
Iker Casillas, ex-Real Madrid
He’s been one of the world’s greatest goalkeepers, but to keep the ball out of the net Iker sets his own rules.
The Spanish shot-stopper wears specially cut shirts every game.
He also likes to scratch a groove in the turf with his left foot on the edge of the box and his goal-line.
Not content with that, when his team scores, Iker goes to his goal and jumps up to touch the crossbar with his left-hand.
Gary Lineker, England legend
The renowned goalscorer for England made sure he didn’t waste his finishing prowess in front of goal by refusing to take a shot during the pregame warm-up.
Also, if the Match of the Day presenter failed to hit the back of the net in a first half, he would change his shirt before coming out for the restart.
Sergio Goycochea, Argentinian legend
Latin American goalkeepers have always been temperamental, and penalty-saving specialist Sergio was no different.
He made a habit of marking his own territory with his urine after peeing on the pitch before a penalty shootout during the 1990 World Cup quarter-final against Yugoslavia.
The Argies went on to win, he was the hero and he peed on pitches forever, before hanging up his gloves in 1998.