Footballers, fashion and how a player’s image matters more than ever – The Athletic

Football and fashion have not always gone hand in hand.

Not too long ago, players were singled out for anything approaching ostentatious dress sense. “It has changed a lot over the years,” former Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers defender Nedum Onuoha told The Athletic. “At the start of my career, in the early 2000s, there was almost a culture of bullying. If you came in wearing something that people didn’t like, they would literally cut your clothes or hang your shoes somewhere you couldn’t reach them.

“You were always being judged, so you were just trying to blend in. So as a result, you’d just have tons of people wearing sportswear, just something very basic. A Nike tracksuit: that’s the Camouflage You still see that with some players.

In the ultra-male world of football, being interested in fashion was anathema. Show up in “rascal clobber” and you were the talk of the locker room. Thinking about what you wore meant you didn’t think about gambling, and perhaps more dangerously, also had associations with vanity and softness.

It’s a school of thought that goes back a while. Brian Clough once claimed he didn’t sign Gary McAllister because he arrived for contract negotiations at Forest wearing cowboy boots, conveniently unaware that McAllister had always preferred to sign for Leeds. Sir Alex Ferguson has said he knows Manchester United will beat Liverpool in the 1996 FA Cup final as soon as their opponents step onto the Wembley turf in their pre-match white suits.

“I told (assistant) Brian Kidd, ‘1-0’. Because of that,” Ferguson said.

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