MOSCOW, JUNE 22: Some players believe World Cup success is earned through exercise, diet and endless practice drills – others are convinced it’s a matter of wearing lucky underwear.
Players and coaches can be a superstitious bunch and often have a ritual or item of clothing they believe is a charm that has contributed to a winning run.
They range from former Colombian keeper Rene Higuita’s insistence on wearing blue underpants to current German striker Mario Gomez’s habit of only using the far-left urinal to relieve himself before a match.
Gomez’s Germany teammate Julian Draxler gives himself a spritz of scent before a big match.
“Sometimes my teammates ask me if I’m not right in the head,” the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder said.
Right foot in
Some players such as England’s Phil Jones do not like stepping on white lines, while Brazil defender Marcelo always runs onto the pitch right foot first.
The habit is so ingrained that during training in Rostov-on-Don he left the pitch and re-entered after realising he had accidentally led with his left foot.
“Everybody likes to enter with the right foot, right? I’m no different,” he laughed when quizzed by reporters. France is convinced superstition played a part in its 1998 World Cup win, when Fabien Barthez’s teammates rubbed the goalkeeper’s bald head for good luck.
Defender Laurent Blanc planted a big kiss on Barthez’s pool-ball pate before every match, right up to the final against Brazil. (AFP)