By Mark Grassick
Soccer and style don’t always go hand in hand. For some, a six-figure weekly wage can result in commissioning a marble statue of one’s self for the living room or buying a $250,000 camouflaged Bentley. Thankfully, the opening round of the 2018 World Cup has demonstrated that there is sartorial nous to be found out there, and we don’t just mean the Nigerian team’s jerseys. Sadly, the Italians failed to qualify, denying us the eminently fashionable Gigi Buffon and Claudio Marchisio, but we still managed to find five stars who should be straight through to the next round based on their fashion sense alone.
Hervé Renard – Coach, Morocco
The French coach of Morocco’s national side could pass for a long-lost Lannister brother, with his elegantly tousled blonde hair and high cheekbones. The 49-year-old favours a simple, crisp style, rarely seen without his trademark white shirt, which serves to only accentuate the deep tan he’s picked up in North Africa. He’s been on the cover of Moroccan celebrity mags and it’s not difficult to see why he’s become something of a national hero.
Alisson Becker – Goalkeeper, Brazil
Alisson’s teammate Neymar will surely get the most attention, both from the media – for his skill and bleached blonde Flock Of Seagulls hairstyle – and from opposition defenders, but the Brazil and Roma goalkeeper leads his side in terms of style. He’s a handsome fellow to begin with, but he accentuates it with a neatly groomed – but not over-groomed – beard and that rarity for a soccer player: a sensible, classic haircut, both courtesy of Sicilian barber Davide Greco. However, British barbers will be on standby as Alisson has been linked with a move to Liverpool this summer.
Jannik Vestergaard – Defender, Denmark
There’s a trend for simplicity among the most obviously stylish soccer players. So many of their peers whole-heartedly embrace contemporary trends, risking ridicule when the winds of fashion turn against them. This giant Danish defender most definitely belongs in the former category, opting for a uniform of monochrome t-shirts and jeans. He’s as Scandinavian as they come, 199cm tall, long blonde hair and cheekbones that could cut glass. It’s a lot easier to look good when you’ve got that on your side.
Joachim Löw – Coach, Germany
The coach of the 2014 World Cup champions has had a difficult start to this year’s tournament, losing 1-0 to Mexico in the opening game. At least Löw looked good while his team looked flat and uninspired. His early years in charge of the national team saw him favour the white shirt and black pants look inherited from his predecessor (and former USMNT coach) Jürgen Klinsmann. Löw seems to be channelling 70s power pop bands with his tight t-shirts and bowl haircut. It’s a different look but it works for him.
Keisuke Honda – Midfielder, Japan
The Japanese legend is a dapper man who clearly takes his fashion as seriously as his soccer. Honda has a taste for excellent tailoring, often looking like he just stepped out of a Patricia Highsmith novel. There aren’t too many other soccer players with a liking for tan suits and even fewer who would match their tie to their pocket square.