Jamie Vardy’s Red Bull and whiskey pre-game drink and 10 other rituals
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In football, as in life, preparation is key.
The more practised and prepared you are, the more likely it is you will succeed and achieve your desired goals.
From closely-monitored nutrition to carefully crafted training regimes, footballers of the modern age apply an increasingly meticulous approach to the beautiful game in order to eke out whatever advantage possible over their opponent.
After all, football is a game of fine margins.
However, while many of the sport's rituals and customs have been accepted as commonplace, a number of football's superstars have taken matters into their owns hands when it comes to attempting to influence the outcome.
Some superstitions make sense, while others appear as just down-right silly.
As the enigmatic Jamie Vardy celebrates his 35th birthday, we at Daily Star Sport take a closer look at his bonkers pre-match ritual and shed light on some of the game's other more baffling superstitions.
Vardy loves a Red Bull
The birthday boy himself has become a football icon having made a sensational rise from non-league football to Premier League stardom in recent years.
The Leicester City striker, whose story is the subject of an upcoming Hollywood film, is renowned for his tenacity and never-say-die attitude on the pitch, but the former England frontman revealed some bizarre off-field antics are the reason for his unrivalled energy.
Vardy documented in his autobiography 'Jamie Vardy: From Nowhere, My Story' that his pre-game routine of drinking port out of a Lucozade bottle and three cans of Red Bull energy drink help him "run around like a nutjob".
"I can't say why it started, because I genuinely don't know, but I decided to drink a glass of port on the eve of every game in the 2015-16 season," Vardy wrote.
"I'm not normally superstitious but from the moment I scored against Sunderland on the opening day, I didn't want to change anything.
"I fill a small plastic water or Lucozade bottle to halfway and just sip the port while watching television. It tastes like Ribena to me, and it helps me switch off and get to sleep a bit easier the night before a game."
Elaborating on his pre-game rituals whilst with England at Euro 2016, Vardy revealed: "While we're waiting and killing a bit of time, I have a double espresso.
"We get into the dressing room and an hour-and-a-half before kick-off, and I'll have a third can of Red Bull. But with this one I'll sip it all the way until we go out for the warm-up, leaving a bit to finish off when I come back in.
"So three Red Bulls, a double espresso and a cheese and ham omelette is what makes me run around like a nutjob on matchday."
Klopp's hatred for penalties
What is the craziest football ritual you have ever heard of? Let us know in the comments section
Perhaps a more relatable superstition is one upheld by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who simply detests penalties.
After refusing to watch spot-kicks during his time with Borussia Dortmund, the Reds gaffer has maintained his stance of looking away following his move to England.
"I would say that in general I’m not superstitious but when we shoot penalties it probably says something completely different," Klopp once revealed to the Liverpool club website after turning away when James Milner took one.
“The only reason I don’t watch them is because from the start of the season he is doing a job well without my support. So that’s why – I don’t want to be responsible if he fails one or misses one! That’s the only reason.
“I don’t want to touch wood, but I hope it stays like this."
Though spot-kicks are notoriously considered one of the most nerve-racking aspects of the game, it's somewhat of a surprise to learn of Klopp's dislike for them. After all, you know what they say about Germans and penalties.
Our list of superstitions simply wouldn't be complete without an appearance from Mr Meticulous himself, Cristiano Ronaldo.
CR7 has established himself as one of the greatest players the game has ever seen and, even at the age of 36, his obsessive approach to fitness and fame show no sign of slowing up.
In order to achieve such remarkable feats within football, the Portuguese superstar has maintained a countless number of rituals and regimes.
These include being the first squad member to disembark a plane, the last to leave the tunnel prior to kick-off, putting his right foot on the grass first and puffing out his chest before approaching free-kicks in his now iconic manner.
From his love of long-sleeved kits to getting his hair cut before every game, Ronaldo's pedantic list of preparations goes on and on.
However, with five Ballon d'Ors to his name, 32 trophies under his belt and having notched over 800 goals within his illustrious career, who are we to question his methods.
Fry's creative approach to curse
After years of searching, Birmingham City finally found a new home in the form of St Andrew's back in 1906, but it wasn't without its troubles.
Director and former player Harry Morris described the site as ‘a wilderness of stagnant water and muddy slopes’ when the land was acquired but the club faced the more pressing issue of removing a group of travellers from the site and then expelling the 100-year curse the gypsies subsequently placed on the club.
All sort of efforts were put into lifting the jinx, including former manager Ron Saunders placing crucifixes on the floodlights and painting the bottom of his player’s boots red in the 1980s, but with the hoodoo still hanging around in the early 1990s, manager Barry Fry adopted a more creative approach.
“We called in a bloke to lift the curse and he told me that the only way to fix it was to go and have a pee in all four corners of the ground," a straight-faced Fry revealed.
“I am not normally superstitious but after three months I was willing to try anything so I went and took a leak on all four corner flags. It took me a while – it’s not that easy.
“Lo and behold, we went on to win seven of our next 10 games, drawing twice and losing just once, so it must have worked.”
Blanc kissing Barthez's head
During the late 1990 and early 2000s, France possessed a star-studded squad that dominated international football, claiming the 1998 World Cup before following it up with European Championship success two years later.
However, despite boasting the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps and a burgeoning Thierry Henry, the secret of their success may have been an altogether more surprising reason.
Les Bleus defender Laurent Blanc routinely planted a kiss on the shimmering head of bald goalkeeper Fabian Barthez prior to matches for good luck. Clearly it worked.
That, or the teams insistence on listening to Gloria Gaynor's 1970 smash hit 'I Will Survive' prior to matches.
The French flamboyance when it comes to obscure superstitions doesn't end there either, as we are pleased to report as recently as the 2018 World Cup, Antoine Griezmann and co. adopted the ritual of stroking Adil Rami's moustache for luck.
We dread to think what body part will be next…
Controversy has followed Luis Suarez throughout his career as his win-at-all-costs approach to the game has seen him gnaw opponents amongst other infamous antics.
It probably won't come as a surprise to learn that the Uruguayan madman also possesses a number of superstitions, including wearing a protective wrist covering and smelling (yes, that's right) his tattoos, as he searches for any advantage possible over his opponents.
“A few years ago, I was injured while playing for Liverpool. The bone of my right hand cracked and the doctor pressed it,” Suarez revealed.
“After recovering, I then decided to keep wearing it. I made it for covering the red ribbon which was believed to bring good luck since, in England, they forbid us to wear any accessories when competing."
He added: “There are several other insanities. Every time I enter the field, I always smell the tattoos of the names of my daughter and wife. Yes, we as football players, do believe in superstition.“
Pele and the Placebo effect
Another of the greatest players of all-time, Pele makes the list for a rather humorous anecdote.
After experiencing a rare goal drought in his illustrious career, the Brazilian icon attributed his bluntness in front of goal to a change of shirt as he struggled to find the net after generously handing his jersey to an adoring fan.
Hellbent on ending the poor run, Pele went to extreme lengths to be reunited with his lucky outfit, ordering a friend to track down the fan and reclaim the attire.
After his ally successfully reunited player with shirt, Pele recaptured his fine form in front of goal and continued with his staggering scoring rate.
There did prove to be one particular catch to the story, however: his friend failed in his pursuit of the jersey and actually handed the three-time World Cup winner his shirt from the previous match. It worked though, didn't it?
Placebo effect anyone?
Bale's injury blight
Gareth Bale has attempted all manner of methods in a bid to maintain fitness during his injury-ravaged career, which evidently prove that most haven't worked.
One such ritual which caught the eye of onlookers was the Welsh wizard's decision to cut holes into the backs of his socks prior to stepping out on to the Santiago Bernabeu pitch.
The Real Madrid man reportedly did so in order to avoid compression on his calf muscles, and was famously joined by Manchester City's Kyle Walker who was another to do the same during a time.
Not only that, but Bale also stopped driving his Lamborghini Aventador Roadster to games as he believed the uncomfortable seating played havoc with his hamstrings, putting pressure on that area of his legs.
Domenech reads the stars
Controversy seems to have followed Raymond Domenech wherever he has set foot throughout his managerial career.
The former France boss was welcomed with circus music for his first training session with Nantes back in December 2020 and perhaps most famously oversaw mutiny as the Les Bleus' 2010 World Cup campaign descended into chaos.
The eccentric coach, whose reaction to being knocked out of Euro 2008 was to propose to his girlfriend on the pitch, raised eyebrows on countless occasions throughout his career, but perhaps his most baffling quirk is his obsession with astrology.
Domenech reportedly harboured issues with players of the Scorpio star sign, referring them to as reckless, unreliable and troublesome attention-seekers, as astrology affected his squads selections.
“Astrology has a mystical side and as soon as I mentioned it people started thinking I wear a wizard’s hat on my head and gaze into crystal balls," the maverick told The Guardian in 2008.
"Astrology has a value in finding out about people’s character. Not in predicting the future or anything like that, but in working out people’s profile."
One of football's more common rituals includes the order of adorning items of clothing, particularly when it comes to socks.
Many of the game's superstars follow a set routine when readying themselves for a match, and Manchester United's Phil Jones revealed the reasoning behind his sock-specific superstition.
"The fixtures list United on the left side when we're at home and on the right when we're away," a particularly observant Jones once pointed out. "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.”
It's a wonder football matches ever get going.
Something for Cruyff to chew over
Another of the game's finest ever footballers, Johan Cruyff propelled himself to fame as a football pioneer and an integral member of the Netherlands team which introduced “total football” to the world in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
As manager, the Dutchman was notorious for detesting the pre-match rituals of his players, but during his time as a pro, he maintained a few peculiar practices himself.
One such pre-game rite involved slapping goalkeeper Gert Bals in the stomach shortly before kick-off, then walking over to the opposition half and proceeding to spit his chewing gum in the direction of their goal.
“It’s odd I know, but it seems to work for me,” Cruyff admitted in 1972. “Once I’ve gone through with my little system before the game, my mind is fully focused on what we have to do to be successful on the pitch."
Failure to follow through with the routine proved particularly costly prior to the 1969 European Cup final.
After delivering a customary smack to the belly of Ajax teammate Bals, Cruyff wandered over to towards the AC Milan end and prepared to gob on the turf, only to find he'd forgotten his gum. Needless to say, Ajax were beaten 4-1.
At least the result left Cruyff with something to chew over…
- Jamie Vardy
- Premier League
- Leicester City FC
- Manchester United FC
- Gareth Bale
- Real Madrid FC
- World Cup
- Birmingham City FC
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Liverpool FC
- Jurgen Klopp
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