As Mark Twain once said, "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." In this case, these footballers were indeed influential, but not in the right ways. Perhaps they should have stayed naked.
Here are 50 cases of sartorially challenged footballers from across the world and the history of the game, including poor fashion choices, freaky hairstyles, tasteless tattoos, terrible kits and more for the worst fashion statements in football, in no real particular order.
If you have others you'd like to share that didn't make the list or just want to discuss the sartorial shockers pictured here, please have at it in the comments.
In all fairness, this was actually pretty awesome in terms of entertainment value. After scoring the first goal in Manchester City's 6-1 rout of crosstown rivals Manchester United at the end of October, Mario Balotelli lifted his shirt to reveal his moping message and jibe at critics—"Why Always Me?"—and immediately wrote himself into football cult history as a sharp-striking, thoroughly entertaining, ridiculous t-shirt-wearing legend.
Want-away Manchester City striker Carlos Tévez has been very busy as of late—not on the pitch, but likely running around trying to secure a transfer move for January and plugging his new clothing line, Tevez 32, which will soon be available in the UK, Brazil and Argentina.
We would endorse this venture if that shirt didn't look like something Ed Hardy rejected for not being totally tacky and awful enough. Also, of all the footballers whose names you could wear on a shirt right now, we're not sure if "Tévez" really has the most favorable association.
It'll be interesting to see more of the line, though. Best of luck to him.
Not only does no one really want to see a streaker on the pitch dressed in a Borat-style mankini like this crazy fan at a Birmingham City match in 2007, but seriously, even by that point that joke was outdated. Not very niiiiiiiice at all.
Roy Aitken, Sir Alex Ferguson and Graeme Souness really got into the Tex-Mex spirit for this photo. Souness' 'stache is truly the focal point, but the cowboy hats are all tacky and wonderful.
Tourists, am I right, folks?
The 1996 FA Cup final between Liverpool and Manchester United was supposed to be the crowning moment of glory for the Reds' notorious "Spice Boys." But sadly, they lost and will be forever remembered in football fashion history for the tacky, matching cream suits worn before the match.
As Robbie Fowler said of the club's sartorial choices:
"I've still got the white suit, I may wear it for our Christmas fancy-dress bash next year.
People still remind me about the white suits all the time. It's one of those things - if we had won the game nobody would have mentioned it but we lost and it has become infamous.
It was David James' fault we wore white suits, it was his idea. He's bigger than everyone so nobody questioned him and at the time he was an Armani model."
Everyone knows you can't wear a cream suit before the first of June, David. Gosh.
No, the lovable loser from the classic Peanuts comic strip didn't actually play for the Slovenian national team during the 2010 World Cup. But it seems the Slovenes took their inspiration from Charlie Brown's iconic zig-zag shirt. I'll bet some school bully used to pull the football away from Robert Koren, too.
With his suits that never quite find the fine line between overly mundane or just a bit too tacky, the former manager of the Brazilian national team sometimes looks more like a suburban dad from middle America than the manager of one of the most prestigious national teams in the world.
The Nottingham Forest legend and his iconic bright green sweater got him voted the "Worst-Dressed Manager" in English football history in a 2005 Daily Mirror poll. Although he's not the worst, it's safe to say his managerial skills were a whole lot better than some of his sartorial choices.
A close second to Brian Clough in that poll we mentioned in the last slide of the worst-dressed Premiership coaches was Ron "Bojangles" Atkinson, the former Manchester United and Aston Villa manager turned pundit. And with that weirdly trimmed bow and matching electric-blue pocket square, it's clear to see why.
Thierry Henry, ladies and gentlemen, with his own interpretation of the fashion mullet that is the tie-on-a-t-shirt.
For the 2010 World Cup, the Nigerian national team coach overdid it a little on the team spirit.
Tottenham Hotspur's Sandro has unveiled a new look this year that is certainly daring, but certainly strange. In his defense, he's had even worse.
Former Liverpool striker Andriy Voronin didn't do a whole lot on the pitch while at Anfield, but he did make headlines for some rather unorthodox fashion choices, among them this shirt, which reads "Sex and Love are the Future," and I guess you can make the argument they led to his future, as in the small child he is carting in the pram in Liverpool city centre in that picture.
His wife Yulia has received more flack than he has for her fashion choices and has received the title of "worst-dressed WAG"before in the British tabloids.
After raising eyebrows on the pitch for her stellar performance in the Women's World Cup over the summer, team USA keeper Hope Solo raised eyebrows in a different way when she posed nude in this year's "Body Issue" of ESPN: The Magazine. The weird-fitting leather dress she wore to the issue release party left little to the imagination, but not in a good way.
Andrey Arshavin is known for his interest in haute couture, even starting his own women's clothing line that is quite popular in his native Russia. So why, in this snap of him taken on his way to the Colony Club, does he look more like he's on his way to a Night at the Roxbury than a posh night out in Mayfair?
A note to Hull City from 1992: Just because your nickname is the Tigers doesn't mean the gaudy pimp-suit look is a good idea. Better to channel the ferocious cats in your performance on the field than in your uniform color scheme.
Poor Ronaldo. It looks like the Brazil star's national teammates decided to mess with him and buzz his hair while he was sleeping, leaving this weird little front thatch. One of the most iconic, awesomely bad 'dos in the history of the game.
Sir Bobby Charlton is a Manchester United and England legend, a master of the game if ever there was one. One cannot say the same about his hair maintenance. It looks as though that weird, nasty strand of hair atop Sir Bobby's head is trying to escape on the wind.
We can't really fault Didier Drogba for getting into the Oktoberfest spirit and donning traditional dress. It actually looks like he had a pretty wonderful time, and we've gotta root for anyone who looks like they're having fun. Any excuse to include a picture of Didier Drogba in lederhosen and holding a massive Bavarian-style pretzel is a good one, really. But for real, he should probably stick to the athletic wear on the regular.
Unless he's preparing to do some wading—maybe restoring some wetlands or doing some shallow-water net fishing or whatever—there's no real reason Freddie Ljungberg should be wearing those shorts, especially since it looks like he's at some kind of fancy event with lots of serious people.
In Italy, the great Roberto Baggio is known as "Il Divin Codino," or "The Divine Ponytail," for his celestial skills on the pitch and his iconic 'do. Baggio's curly rattail-mullet-ponytail hybrid will forever go down as one of the least flattering but most memorable hairstyles in footballing history.
Oftentimes, the worst moments in fashion come from the fans. Take this gentleman, who was just a bit too excited about Team USA in the 2010 World Cup. So excited, in fact, that he decided to wear Old Glory as a cape and Shave. U. S. Into. His. Chest. Hair.
And this is why the rest of the world doesn't take us seriously anymore.
Not to be outdone, football-mad Brazil supporters went all out for the World Cup, but this particular selection, with its terrifying face paint, unflattering horizontal stripes and footballs-and-netting bra job, was particularly noteworthy.
The former USA international gained notoriety for his questionable hair choices, rocking a look that was somewhere between mountain man and Lord of the Rings, but in this picture, he dons ill-fitting duds and channels his best Eddie Vedder. Don't think you're quite ready for Lollapalooza yet, Alexi.
The German international and former Chelsea star looks less ready for the pitch and more ready to audition for the role of '70s porn star Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights with that totally groovy getup.
This isn't the only time always-controversial AC Milan star Gennaro Gattuso lost his shorts on the pitch, most famously in the heat of play during a friendly between Italy and Egypt. But after AC Milan won the Scudetto, he and his teammates celebrated on the pitch—Gattuso in his underwear—by greeting the Curva Sud with a rousing rendition of a heartwarming tribute to Milan's former coach: "Leonardo, uomo di merda" ("Leonardo, man of s***"). Classy.
Hey, remember that time England stars Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle had a totally cheesy '80s pop duo with classic mullets to match? You do now.
Norwich City's nickname are the "Canaries," which makes it all appropriate that this notorious kit from the '90s appears to have been defecated on by a flock of birds. Hence its nickname from fans, the "Bird Poo Kit."
Manchester United star Wayne Rooney has a number of tattoos, most of which are pretty standard: a cross on his upper arm, the name of wife Coleen, the title of an album by his favorite band, the Stereophonics.
Decidedly less normal is the tattoo he and his mate got together for a laugh: Rooney has the word "then" inked in the "tramp-stamp" location on his lower back, and a friend got "OK." Together, as they drop their pants, the tattoos spell "OK then." Cheeky, cheeky gentlemen.
In this 2006 promotional pic for the National Lottery, Chelsea star Ashley Cole and his girl-band ex-WAG Cheryl Cole sported horrendously tacky matching white ensembles that perhaps befitted a lower-tier Vegas cabaret act more than a superstar footballer and recording artist. All they need are a couple Siberian tigers, some pyrotechnics and a host of tourists with cash to burn.
This came from a story about England legend Paul Gascoigne's longtime pal Jimmy "Five Bellies," who lost his significant gut and seven stone a couple of years ago, but no success story can overshadow the horror that is Gazza's jacket. It looks like he went into a rug shop, stole a bunch of merchandise and cut it up.
Chelsea star Frank Lampard was snapped while on holiday in Mallorca with his fiancée, her mother and his two daughters donning this hot pink tank top and equally loud shorts. Maybe he needed a break from that Stamford Bridge blue and wanted to go with something a little more festive for the beach. But we suppose when you're Frank Lampard, you can do whatever you want.
Earlier this year, David Beckham was declared the Best-Dressed Man in the UK in a national poll, and indeed, when he's on (like at the Royal Wedding), he is as dapper as can be. But he's had his fair share of hit-or-miss moments, like this getup, which makes him look more like he's part of the catering company than a guest of honor at the party. Crudités, madam?
There's a reason the North American Soccer League's Colorado Caribous (or "the Caribous of Colorado") only lasted one season before relocating to Atlanta. Their 8-22 record, which saw them at the bottom of the league, may have had something to do with the difficulty of playing in a ridiculous uniform with a tacky fringe strip that looks like it was designed by Dolly Parton's road manager.
Can you just picture what this team meeting was like?
"You guys! We're going to the World Cup! Isn't that awesome?"
"Yeah! Totally awesome!"
"You know what would make it even awesomer?"
"If we, like, all bleached our hair before the match so we looked like we were, like, unified and stuff."
"That's the best idea ever."
This is why more people don't miss the '90s.
His name is Rio and he dances on the sand... or, at least, that's what Rio Ferdinand looks like he's getting ready to do in that beach-ready halter top and cropped jorts ensemble.
Maybe he's a "never-nude" like Tobias on Arrested Development and has to wear denim shorts under everything. Bonus points for the lurker in the background.
CR7 knows how good-looking he is—this is the man who once, after being elbowed in the face during a match, declared, "In four or five days I will be beautiful once again." That still doesn't excuse some of his choices of attire, though. He must have gotten the hankering to wear those shorts from his former United teammate Rio Ferdinand.
To be honest, I don't really even know where to begin with this. Just... what? It's like the cast of Jersey Shore got into some bad hallucinogens and ate an outdated GAP catalog. And no, that doesn't even make sense, but those are the first things that came to my mind when I saw this picture of Ronaldo.
No, that's not a Shoreditch hipster. That's veteran SS Lazio striker Djibril Cissé, looking like he's on his way to some sort of warehouse party with a tacky belt buckle, retirement-home spectacles and a top ensemble that recalls a groomsman who gets way, way too drunk at the wedding. It should say, "I'm formal, but I like to party," but this is too much.
Becks has had a number of questionable hair choices over the years, but this was by far the worst. Beckham's cornrows were totally inexplicable and started a fashion trend that no one really needed.
An oldie but a goodie of the superstar and the O.G. of WAGs. The sarong is ridiculous, it looks as though Posh's bra straps are showing (was this ever a thing that was in vogue?) and Becks' haircut makes him look like a lost member of the Backstreet Boys.
Was Athletic Bilbao sponsored by a condiment company when this ketchup splatter-meets-lava lamp design was chosen? Actually, no, because Bilbao was one of the last clubs to take on an official sponsor on their kits. Nevertheless, ick.
Look at this. What is it? Why does it exist? Who thought these colors looked good together? It's like an overzealous but inexperienced graphic design student projectile-vomited all over Jorge Campos. Man, the '90s were weird.
Paolo Di Canio may always be a fan favorite at West Ham United and Lazio for his spirited and skilled performances on the pitch, but his controversial beliefs—and the tattoos that convey them—don't sit quite as well with the masses.
Di Canio, an outspoken fascist and past proponent of dictator Benito Mussolini, has the Latin word "Dux" (a form of "Duce," the nickname for Mussolini) tattooed on his arm and the "fasces," symbols used in Italian fascism and Mussolini's own flag, across his back.
I believe there was a tribute anthem to Djibril Cissé's more revealing choice of attire at the Stadium of Light...
"He loves his flashy underwear,
He's got designer facial hair,
He scores a goal at half a chance,
We'll never send him back to France,
Djibril Cissé, Sunderland's Number 9!"
It takes a whole lot of confidence run down the pitch in your skivvies, and in this case, Cissé perhaps had a little too much.
Polish keeper Artur Boruc, who now tends the net at Fiorentine, has this cheeky monkey as an eternal companion on his stomach.
When Boruc was still the "Holy Goalie" at Celtic, the tattoo got him into a bit of trouble at the Old Firm derby: if you can see very closely, the monkey has "Rangers" written across its cheeks.
Boruc also caused controversy with his other strange choice of ink: he has the words "Addicted to" inked on his neck, leading to rampant speculation and puzzlement from fans trying to figure out exactly what Boruc is addicted to. The answer might just be awful tattoos.
You know those big cow-print sleeper onesies from Primark that people sometimes buy when they need a last-minute cheap and easy costume for a party? It pretty much just looks like El Hadji Diouf is just wearing one of those.
And, in true El Hadji Diouf fashion, his custom gold-metallic-painted Cadillac Escalade is just as tacky as many of his sartorial choices.
The itinerant Nigerian defender made a name for himself by sporting more wild and diverse hairstyles than Dennis Rodman.
He won an Olympic gold medal in Atlanta in 1996 with the national team and helped Partizan Belgrade advance to the Champions League while playing for them, but what people will really remember West for most was his ability to grow vivid, healthy shrubs out of his head. Oh, wait. That's just his hair.
A gifted fullback who made his name for Portugal during the 2000 UEFA Euro competition, the itinerant Abel Xavier was known far more for his bleached, butchered and totally bizarre hairstyles than his performances on the pitch. In addition to the wonderful display pictured, Xavier also sported the Troll doll look, this platinum blonde full beard and this inexplicable Mohawk-Afro-mop thing.
It's the most iconic, awesomely bad fashion statement in football history, so we had to save it for last.
We have to give Jorge Campos some credit, seeing as the guy made his own kits. The itinerant Mexican goalkeeping star had quite the career, helping Mexico win a FIFA Confederations Cup and two CONCACAF Gold Cups, but he's more known for his loud, neon and utterly '80s kits.