Soccer is not just the game that brought us short shorts, FIFA 14, Carlos Valderrama and H&M underpants God David Beckham. Soccer is a game with a long history of style icons from all over the globe.
In 1815, drunken Brits trying to think of a way to kick each other in the nuts and forget about the socioeconomic effects of the Industrial Revolution invented soccer by kicking extremely heavy leather balls with hilarious looking high top leather cleats. Years later, thanks to the cultural crusades of Colonialism, soccer is the most popular sport in the world (other than American Football, baseball and basketball because Americans count for double when measuring population statistics).
After overthrowing the Red Coats in 1776 and again crushing them in the War of 1812, British culture is on the upswing here on planet USA. Downton Abbey is a smash, a confusing government shutdown means that less people are going to see the dentist and more moms than ever are ejecting their kids out of minivans and onto soccer fields for practice.
But what does the growth of soccer in America have to do with culture and, more importantly, style? Well, to be completely honest, more and more people are recognizing the unadulterated freshness that is soccer swag. Haters in varsity jackets are watching their babes walk away, turning for guys with cooler haircuts, tight black jeans, Adidas Gazelles and slick leather jackets. I’m not talking some modern day John Travolta/David Hasselhof hybrid—though that would be fucking unstoppable—I’m talking about super chill, super hot soccer bros. Soccer style just might be the coldest in the game.
But, as any reader of Four Pins can attest to because you're all geniuses, swag isn’t necessarily about wearing the coolest things even if it happens to be a pair of designer underpants.
Let’s talk feet. It’s 100% true that you can judge a man by his shoes. (This is an old saying that hasn’t been updated yet to say man/woman). And, no shit, soccer players love feet. Feet are the most crucial thing a good soccer player can possibly have. These guys will do everything in their power to make sure that their feet are cool at all times. That means swaggy cleats, swaggy casual sneaks and the swaggiest, softest leather Guccis made from the smallest, cutest baby kangaroos that anyone has ever put on their feet. Show me a soccer player that doesn’t take care of his feet. Im—fucking—possible.
Basketball players say to themselves, “I’m super tall, so I need a shoe that can keep my ankle locked down.” The keyword for basketball players is always "ankles". Golfers think, “I’m at a country club, so I need a cleat that looks terrible with a pair of plaid trousers.” The keyword for golfers? "Trousers" and probably "terrible" too. But any soccer player worth his weight in shin guards is worried about something completely different. He thinks to himself, “I need a shoe that fits like a sock, is in no way bulky, has a clean, classic design and is paper thin, but extra durable.” The keywords here: "clean", "classic", "durable" and "sexy". That last one was definitely implied.
But, as any reader of Four Pins can attest to because you're all geniuses, swag isn’t necessarily about wearing the coolest things even if it happens to be a pair of designer underpants. Shit's different. It’s about wearing completely ridiculous things with so much confidence that somehow it becomes cool. I mean, Ronaldinho is one of two guys ever to get tons of ass while sincerely wearing Kangol hats. This motherfucker dresses like its 1999 in Detroit and pulls the hottest Brazilian broads you have ever seen, all while wearing some of the baggiest Jorts the world has ever known.
Eric Cantona took the Martha’s-Vineyard-Ralph-Lauren-polo-collar-pop and made it the iciest look of his day. He brought the uni-brow to North America. He had the best goal celebration hands down ever and in the process inspired the "Are You Not Entertained?!" scene from Gladiator, not to mention got kicked out of the game forever for literally drop kicking a shit-talking fan in the fucking chest. FRIGID.
Edgar Davids essentially wore rec specs. Or so we think. Really, he was just a trendsetter. Hey Amare, who's your swag daddy?
What's more impressive than owning a Porsche? How about owning a Porsche and then leaving it at a train station for five months because you forgot you owned it? God bless you, Jermaine Pennant.
And that brings us ya boy Mario Balotelli. What can be said about the world's greatest living athlete? This is the guy who when pulled over by the police and questioned as to why he had 100 stacks in cash on him coldly replied, "Because I can." This is also the guy who brought his Ferrari to a go-cart track because his contract stipulated he was no longer allowed to race cars. Most of all, Mario is the type of guy who wears a camouflage onesie, only then to decide he would also like a matching camo ATV and Bentley for good measure.
Yeah, NBA players have good stylists and rock some pretty decent shit given to them for free, but let's be honest, things were way cooler when Iverson was wearing durags and fur coats post-game. Baseball players, fine, I’ll give you Dontrell Willis, Pedro, John Rocker, Lil' Griffey and Nelly when he was still employed, but that’s it. Football players? Perpetually angry dudes with their underwear on too tight? Negative swag points, bro.
I'll admit that hockey players come close: no teeth, mullets, punching each other’s faces off of each other’s faces and skating on literally the coldest surface known to man. But at the end of the day, soccer is like the “end piece” on a loaf of bread. Those who truly respect it will chow down, knowing that they are eating the most delicious part. Everyone else—those who don’t understand the truth—will continue to live in a world of ignorant bliss.
Andrew Meisel is a writer living in NYC who loves soccer.