Never has really good face fuzz been more popular, and in recognition of this we have searched high and wide for the best hipster beards on the pitch

Words By David Hillier

Beards might be the hipster norm these days, but among footballers they are still fairly rare; a disappointment as really excellent facial attire can nudge a solid 6 out of 10 into hallowed man-crush territory. As well as provide a welcome distraction from the apocalyptic monstrosity known as John Terry’s haircut.

Never has really good face fuzz been more popular, and in recognition of this we have searched high and wide through the land of planet Google Images for the ultimate bearded men in football today. So, in no particular order (other than the first two, because they are the best) we present…

Xabi Alonso
 


Speak to any Liverpool fan and they will gush forth about the Basque midfielder with the Scouse accent, who pulled the strings of their Champions League winning team.  Presumably the one disappointment Reds fans must feel is that he didn’t really let his beard flourish until he went back to his homeland.  Indeed, it was during last summer’s European Championship that he stepped up to the plate and proved what we've all been secretly thinking: ginger beards are definitely the best.  With beard in tow he became the spunkiest player of the spunkiest team ever, and a nation of men had to endure their girlfriends spilling drinks on their lap as they jumped off the couch to breathlessly ask: “who is that?”

Andrea Pirlo
 

Truly a worthy contender to Alonso’s crown, and surely the winner were it not for the Spaniard’s offering. Pirlo is living proof of the edict that a beard can a pretty man make.  Without it, he looked like an over 30s entrant of the Italian X Factor, the one that gets voted out after his acoustic reinterpretation of 'Livin’ La Vida Loca'.  With it he looks like a big, virile Viking, both your missus and mum fancy.

Antonio Nocerino 





Wow! We mean, WOW! The AC midfielder has the sort of solid beard girth that really separates him from the bum-fluff brigade, but keeps it tidy enough to be an advert for Mach 3.  Nocerino inherited the number 8 shirt from Gennaro Gattuso (himself no slouch in the hair department) though this summer he's decided to switch to 23.  Maybe he’s trying to be like Beckham?  To this, we say: “Antonio, no. You have a beard of champions that both twins with, and creates an excellent counterpoint to, your matinee idol looks. Just be yourself.”

Andre Villas-Boas




If only he’d let it grow, AVB could be a contender to Xabi Alonso in the ginger mega-beardy spunk stakes.  As it is, he flits between Portuguese Prime Minister and little boy lost. To be fair, he is a manager and can’t afford to look too ragged, but with his classic bone structure and understated continental style we’re sure he could pull it off.

Olaf Mellberg



If ever a Swede looked exactly how a Swede should look like, it is the ex-Villa defender, now playing for Copenhagen. He momentarily put his country ahead against England in last year’s Euro Championships, and we didn't mind for two reasons. 1. We were expecting to lose anyway. 2. LOOK AT THAT BLOODY BEARD! HE LOOKS LIKE HE COULD CATCH DEER WITH HIS TEETH!

Daniele Di Rossi



The third Italian on the list, he has the wild-eyed look of a man that knows he’s prepared to behave atrociously to get his own way. After being suspended for four games at the 2006 World Cup for elbowing Brian McBride, he showed he had the balls to back his beard by returning for the final and scoring in the penalty shoot-out.

Pep Guardiola



 

We’ve been wrestling with ourselves about including the mighty Pep. For one, he doesn’t always have the beard, and his could potentially be described as stubble rather than beard and stone the crows they are simply not the same thing.  But when we went back to the drawing board we couldn’t help but think he deserved his place on such a important list, both so he can add it to his roll call of achievements,  and  because the grey flecks in his dark beard are the ultimate mark of quiet authority.  Nothing other than a worthy addition. 

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