Whether it’s derived from their antics on the pitch or the way they carry themselves off it, cool footballers gain admiration from any keen football fan and sometimes fans beyond the football world. Stars such as George Best, Socrates and Bobby Moore have all helped pave the way for aspiring cool cats in the game of two halves.
Some set their standards by wearing fashionable clothes, swaggering around the training ground donning diamond shades and wearing some crisp Converse All Stars. Some use a broad range of vocabulary, demand an air of respect and ignite a room whenever they enter.
Others use their high profiles to expose subjects away from football, embarking on fanaticising theatre to enthral the ever present audience. Many just do their talking on the pitch.
Mario Balotelli, AC Milan
Ever since his departure from the Premier League there’s been something missing. He’s the type of player who would make the back pages even though his team performed amazing or won the cup.
‘Super Mario’ as he’s commonly known, is the archetypal big kid who swans around doing whatever he likes. He can get away with outrageous behaviour because he’s a talented footballer and someone who can inspire brilliance out of nothing. His off field activities lit up the Premier League and turned his once seen ‘bad boy’ image into a performing art for everyone to enjoy.
He’s a special person as well as footballer, it’s not often that someone can act so silly and accumulate so many admirers. Mario’s former boss and former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has previously referred to him as ‘another one of my children’, showing that Balotelli is clearly an infectious character. Now back in his mother land of Italy, Mario has kept up his plaudits, making it clear we are yet to hear the last of him.
His most cherished off pitch rumours:
- Coming face to face with a school bully after questioning why a young Manchester City fan wasn’t in school.
- Accidently setting off fireworks in his house.
- Handing a homeless man £1000 and a pair of Converse sneakers.
- Cruising around the city of Manchester dressed as Father Christmas.
Dimitar Berbatov, Fulham
His laboured style of play and at times total disregard to the word ‘effort’ has landed Berbatov in the ‘cool’ bracket. It’s not that the Bulgarian is lazy but he plays to the speed that he wants to. Instead of becoming in the face of the opposition, running lengths up and down the pitch and making last ditch panting runs into the box he uses his supreme touch, extraordinary vision and icy calm presence to shut the critics up.
At times, fans, pundits and probably even managers have questioned Berbatov’s commitment and determination. However, it seems that you can’t go long criticising his style of play until he slaps you in face with an inhuman goal. He possesses the ability to see things that others can’t and can punish teams for any lack of attention away from his star quality.
His intelligent and technical attributes, as well as his all round ‘I don’t care’ demeanour has firmly placed Berbatov in the cool footballer hall of fame.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint Germain
The football god of Sweden, taking long strides over Henrik Larsson, Ibrahimovic has pitched his incomparable style against teams ever since his major debut in the late 1990s. Like so many football players, Zlatan started out from a deprived background and had to work extremely hard to succeed in the sport he loved.
He grew up in Rosengard, a notoriously impoverished Malmo neighbourhood, and it is possibly here where he inhabited that ‘bad boy’ and futile image he so often gets tarred with.
Attitude aside, Ibrahimovic can talk the talk as well as walk the walk. His cool exterior can leave you in awe and he’s certainly got that ‘star’ quality factor. On the pitch he provides authority and is another player that can change the game with a flick of the switch.
He has the capacity to score goals that are out of this world; cheeky flicks that no one would dream of trying, smashers from outside the area, monster volleys and tantalising skills that belittles the entire opposition.
James Daniels is a massive football fan who likes to talk, write and embrace all things footy.
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