Bald footballers: Mash Up XI
Make no mistake, whilst this mash up XI of bald footballers has been assembled just for fun, we’ve put in some serious research to select what we believe is the best side. We’ve then taken the time to craft some ‘close but no cigar’ types whilst giving you an overview of their respective careers. Read and enjoy. Oh, an important detail, we’re going for a straight 4-4-2 formation.
GK – Fabien Barthez
Keeping goal for our team of bald footballers is French shot-stopper Fabian Barthez. Barthez started his career in France where he came through the ranks with Toulouse. He quickly moved on to bigger and better things with Marseille where he racked up well north of 100 appearances in a spell that was somewhat bonkers. Marseille won the Champions League and Ligue 1 title in Barthez’s inaugural campaign; the latter was stripped for betting breaches and the club were punished with relegation. Barthez stayed put though to see them bounce back. Then he moved to Monaco.
With Monaco, the man known as Le Divin Chauve added two further club honours to his medal haul – both Ligue 1 titles. Of course, there was a major story involving Barthez between those title wins. France hosted – and won – the 1998 World Cup. Not only was Barthez the keeper for the duration of the tournament as France conceded just two goals but he was handed the Lev Yashin award; that recognised him as the best keeper at the tournament. On top of that, his bonce formed a key part of France’s pre-match plans; Laurent Blanc kissed his keepers head prior to each game to being good fortune. Barthez and France won the 2000 European Championships too.
After those two international tournaments, Barthez changed clubs; he joined Manchester United. Arguably, it’s with the Red Devils where Barthez is most synonymous. He enjoyed three full seasons at Old Trafford winning two Premier League crowns and his eccentric goalkeeping style and all round personality endeared him to most of the world. Of course, the flip side of his eccentricities was an ability to drop a clanger. Ultimately, that cost him his United career; he ended his playing career back in France with Marseille and then Nantes.
The other GK contenders
There have been a few bald footballers that have opted to play in goal but picking Barthez was a pretty easy choice given his honours list. That said, the likes of American goalkeeper Brad Friedel and former Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina came into our thoughts. Friedel had a career boasting close to unrivalled longevity whilst Reina won three international trophies with Spain along with enjoying success on the domestic scene with both Liverpool (cups only) and Bayern Munich where he won the Bundesliga.
RB – Lilian Thuram
How do you follow a European and World Cup winning goalkeeper up in a team of dedicated bald footballers? With Lilian Thuram. Thuram was a phenomenal for France during his time on the international scene; it spanned a record total of 142 appearances as well and albeit Thuram only scored two goals they both came in the same game – the 1998 World Cup semi-final as France won 2-1 versus Croatia. Throw on top of that the fact he also helped them win the Euros in 2000 and you can start to get the picture of the colossal he was for them.
It wasn’t just the international scene where Thuram impressed though. After an unstable youth development where he bounced between youth systems, his career burst into life with Monaco where an 18-year-old Thuram won his first piece of silverware in the form of the Coupe de France. He remained with Monaco through until the mid-nineties turning out in near on 200 games for the club including having taken them to the Cup Winner’s Cup final where they lost out to Werder Bremen.
After that, Thuram joined Parma in Serie A where he and legendary Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon, who is one of the best goalkeepers of all time, formed a mighty defensive wall. Parma enjoyed success with Thuram in the side in both the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup. Thuram and Buffon left Parma in a rather eye watering deal. Juventus were the lucky recipients. Thuram was a big player in Turin as well with his pace and power a real force travelling in both directions; 2002 and 2003 saw him win league titles. Fast forward through some match fixing issues at Juve and Thuram was on his way out the door. His career ended at Barcelona.
The other RB contenders
There was only one other name we considered for our right back spot but he couldn’t hold a candle to Thurham. Who are we talking about? Danny Mills. Mills doesn’t jump off the page as being a top player like many of the names that make our Bald Footballers XI but he still had a pretty solid career. He played Champions League football with Leeds, won silverware with Middlesbrough and played every game at the 2002 World Cup until England were eliminated at the quarter-final stage to Brazil.
CB – Jaap Stam
Continuing our theme of world class bald footballers is Jaap Stam. The Netherlands international was a shoo-in for one of our two centre back spots after a career of bossing strikers. Stam, who stands at 6’3, made his breakthrough in Holland with Zwolle, then Cambuur and Willem II. It was at PSV where he really started to make a name for himself. He spent three seasons with the Eredivisie giants winning both the league and cup along with some high profile individual awards; included in that was a Dutch footballer of the year award.
Stam’s performances in Holland attracted attention from elsewhere though and before long Stam was a Man United player. He spent three seasons as part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s backline. Whilst others have enjoyed better longevity at United, few players can compete with Stam’s honours to time ratio hence he’s a regular feature in most ex-player’s all time United XIs. In his three years at United Stam was named in the Premier League team of the season every year, won three league titles and was part of the team that won the 1999 treble.
Following his United exit, the honours dried up a little for Stam but he still impressed at an individual level. He won a Copa Italia with Lazio, helped AC Milan to the Champions League final, where he and his side famously blew a 3-0 lead against Liverpool in Istanbul. Stam’s career – or at least his playing career – came to an end back in his homeland with Ajax. His last real involvement with them saw him lift the Dutch cup.
CB – Frank Leboeuf
We’re only onto our second centre back and already we’re pulling out another French World Cup and European Championship winner in the shape of Frank Leboeuf. Leboeuf’s main claim to fame from that era was his display in the World Cup Final; he’d largely been a substitute in the tournament but with Laurent Blanc red carded in the semi-final, Leboeuf came in and marked the legendary Ronaldo Nazario out of the match. He made a round total of 50 caps for the French senior side.
At club level there was more success for Leboeuf, who was known for his ability to step out from the back and play raking forward passes. His career really kickstarted with Laval before a five year spell at Strasbourg with whom he won the Intertoto Cup; incredibly, during that five year period Leboeuf averaged a goal every four games! That’s on top of doing his defensive duties as well. Those displays saw Premier League outfit Chelsea come calling.
With the Blues, Leboeuf became somewhat of a hero. His calmness on the ball, his solid defensive displays and an eye for goal all contributed to – what was at the time – solid levels of success. Leboeuf collected two FA Cups, one League Cup and the Cup Winners cup during his time in England. The emergence of John Terry largely spelt the end for Leboeuf at Stamford Bridge. Two years in Marseille, his home town, followed before a big payday out in Qatar. Out there, Leboeuf collected another honour with his Al-Sadd team winning the Qatar Stars League.
The other CB contenders
In all honesty, with a Stam and Leboeuf pairing it was going to take some centre half to split them up. The best of our backup baldies was Martin Skrtel. Although Škrtel is best known for his time at Liverpool he earned major honours with multiple clubs including Zenit and Başakşehir. A less known name we considered is Roberto Ruiz Esparza; his profile is much lower than the others but anyone who follows Liga MX will know all about him and his famous barnet.
LB – Roberto Carlos
Just to continue our theme of out of this world talents we’ve managed to get Roberto Carlos, who is widely regarded as one of the best left backs ever, into our team. Carlos was also on the field that day when France won the World Cup in 1998 but, obviously, is on the wrong side of history as far as that day goes. In the fullness of time, we’re sure he doesn’t care given he won a Copa America either side of that final heartache and collected a World Cup winners medal in 2002.
Carlos isn’t just known for having been a star with Brazil though. His domestic career started out in his homeland where he won multiple honours with Palmeiras. The small but stocky fullback then made the move to Europe with Inter Milan. Carlos would only spend one season in Italy before Real Madrid took him to La Liga and there he would shine. He remained with Real for 11 seasons playing a big part in all of them and left a highly decorated individual courtesy of four La Liga titles and three Champions League crowns; the last Champions League title he won came in 2002 – the same year Carlos came second in Ballon d’Or voting.
After leaving the Santiago Bernabeu, Carlos went to Turkey, Brazil, Russia and India before eventually calling it a day. The history books will look kindly on the two time Defender of the Year though with replays of his ferocious left foot strikes likely to be watched forever more by football fans around the world.
The other LB contenders
We only have one other left back to throw into the mix for our bald footballers XI – Pablo Zabaleta. The Argentinian did predominantly play on the right but spent a fair old whack of time on the opposite flank too hence his inclusion here. As a player, Zabaleta has a highly decorated career winning multiple trophies with Manchester City, a Copa Del Rey with Espanyol and Olympic Gold with Argentina. He isn’t, however, on Roberto Carlos’ level.
RM – Arjen Robben
By the end of his playing career, Arjen Robben was definitely bald and, prior to that, he was balding for a long time. Like our other selections, his power was not in his hair! Robben both started and ended his playing career with Dutch side Groningen but it’s what happened in between those two spells that really saw him establish himself as one of the best wingers the world has ever seen. After leaving Groningen, Robben spent two years with PSV where he scooped the Eredivisie title but his displays caught the eye of Chelsea and he soon rocked up at Stamford Bridge.
Robben proved to be a star with the Blues. His first season in the English capital saw him emerge under the tutelage of Jose Mourinho, who was in his first year in England. That year saw Robben win a league and league cup double with the next season – 2004/05 – seeing Chelsea defend their Premier League title. The next year, which was Robben’s last in blue, saw another duo of honours arrive in the trophy cabinet; they were another league cup and a first – and only – FA Cup.
After Chelsea, Robben spent two years with Real Madrid. Robben became a key player for Los Blancos almost instantly and silverware soon followed. Real won the La Liga title in his first year in Madrid. The second season in Spain for Robben wasn’t quite as easy going. Robben played plenty of football but the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo rocking up meant a clear shift was taking place. Robben then jumped ship to Bayern Munich. In Germany, Robben cleaned up. He spent 10 seasons with the Bavarians winning a Champions League, five Pokals and a staggering eight Bundesliga crowns. He returned to Groningen before retiring.
The other RM contenders
We narrowed our bald footballers right wing options down to a handful of names with Temur Ketsbaia and Steve Stone honourable mentions. The player worthy of a further mention though is Attilio Lombardi. To English readers, he might be best known for his spell at Crystal Palace; he was much more than that though. Lombardi won three Serie A titles – each with a different club. On top of that, he can also boast Coppa Italia trophies from his Sampdoria and Lazio days whilst he also won the Cup Winners’ Cup with the latter and Juventus. His crowning achievement though was with Juve. The Old Lady won the 1995/96 Champions League with Lombardi playing four games in that run. More recently, Lombardi has assisted Roberto Mancini with Italy helping to guide them to European Championship success.
CM – Zinedine Zidane
Was it really going to be anyone else in the engine room of this team? Zinedine Zidane is widely regarded as one of the best midfielders of all time with players such as Roy Keane even referencing him amongst the best footballers of all time. It’s hard to argue with as well; in fact, we’re pretty sure that little ring of hair that once stood upon his head was nothing more than an oddly textured halo of a footballing angel.
Algerian born Zidane started his career in France starring for Cannes and Bordeaux. His fiery temperament was flagged almost from the outset of his career but his talent was just too much to ignore. Zizou tasted silverware for the first time in his career in 1995 – aged 23. That came in the shape of the Intertoto Cup. Before too long, Zidane waved goodbye to Ligue 1 and joined Juventus. Back to back Serie A titles arrived in 1997 and 1998 respectively but, in both those seasons, the glory was somewhat overshadowed with Champions League finals defeats.
At the back end of that spell, Zidane would prove big spells were not beyond his reach. At their home World Cup, France 98, Zidane inspired his nation to glory with the Ballon d’Or following the same year. A European Championship triumph followed two years later. 2006 was Zidane’s final game in football where we saw every part of him; he’d already starred to take France to the final, opened the scoring in that game and then drove his bald head right into the chest of Marco Materazzi.
There is just the small matter of Real Madrid as well. He joined for a world record fee of £77m in 2001. A La Liga title and Champions League triumph complete his medal haul.
CM – Esteban Cambiasso
It’s hard to live up to a name like Zinedine Zidane. Esteban Cambiasso doesn’t have quite the same hype around him but, alongside having a bald bonce, he was a damn good midfielder too! Cambiasso would run all day and had that knack of sniffing out opposition attacks – a handy trait for a deeper midfield player.
As for his career, it’s not quite as decorated as his central midfield partners but 52 Argentina caps don’t come along easy. His international peak came in his younger years as the youth sides won various honours but at senior level, Argentina weren’t quite up to it; a second placed Copa America finish in 2007 being the closest Cambiasso came to winning anything with his country. At club level it was an entirely different story.
Cambiasso’s first taste of silverware came in the shape of the Clausara title back in his native Argentina; that was with River Plate. Then with Real Madrid the 5’10 warrior added further trophies to his cabinet in the shape of the La Liga title and several Super Cups. A move to Italy wasn’t too far away though with Real on their Galactico journey. He joined Inter Milan in 2004 and never really looked back as he instantly became a key player. In 10 years at Inter Cambiasso won four Coppa Italia’s, five Scudetto’s and the Champions League; one each of those three honours formed part of the famous 2010 treble orchestrated by Mourinho. Cambiasso ended his career with a brief spell at Leicester before a final two years in Greece with Olympiacos.
Other CM contenders
It’s hard to ignore the Everton midfield duo of the early 2000’s Thomas Gravesen and Lee Carsley. That duo were a key reason for the Toffees consistent pushes for Europe under David Moyes. Also, the former earned that rather hard to believe move to Real Madrid back in 2005. That was a testament to his ability and also wouldn’t have been possible without his partner, Carsley. Another name that deserves a mention here is Yordan Letchkov. Letchkov bagged goals at a rate of around one in four throughout his career, which is a decent return from the middle of the park.
LM – Bobby Charlton
Let’s be honest, that combover wasn’t falling anyone! As such, Bobby Charlton qualifies for our bald footballers XI and is a shoo-in for the left wing position after spending a fair chunk of his playing time out there – albeit he was also known to operate centrally as well. Most fans – certainly England fans – will think of Charlton’s impact on the national team where he formed a key part of the England 1966 World Cup winning team. That’s understandable as he won the Golden Ball and made the All-Star team at that tournament before also scooping the Ballon d’Or that year. His career though was so much more than just that one summer.
On the club scene, Charlton and Manchester United are the obvious connection. Charlton spent the lion’s share of his career at Old Trafford having joined them in 1956 and not leaving the club until some 17 seasons later. That means that Charlton was part of the famous Busby Babes and a survivor of the Munich air disaster. During that 17 year period, Charlton became United’s all time leading scorer notching a total of 249 goals. That record stood until 2017 when Wayne Rooney surpassed it. He also won a host of honours for the Red Devils. Included in that haul were three First Division titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup triumph; Charlton bagged two of United’s four goals in that European Cup win over Benfica.
Charlton was 37-years-old by the time he left Man United. He wasn’t, however, ready to retire. He joined Preston in England’s lower leagues, then Waterford United in Ireland. After that he represented Melbourne Victory, Bangor City and finished his career in Australia playing for Newcastle KB and, finally, Blacktown City.
Other LM contenders
We’ll be honest, there aren’t many players that can compete with Bobby Charlton. One that we think does deserve a nod here – and not just because of his crazy scientist style balding barnet – is Grzegorz Lato. Lato played for just three clubs, one each in Poland, Belgium and Mexico. That leaves his career open to some questioning in terms of pedigree but 45 goals in 100 Poland caps is astonishing. Lato also won Olympic Gold, came third in two World Cups and top scored in the 1974 World Cup!
ST – Carsten Jancker
Leading our attack in Carsten Jancker. Jancker, who stood out on a football pitch courtesy of his 6’4 frame and bald head, was a phenomenal target man. His ability to hold a ball up and bring others into play was, at the peak of his powers, up there with the best of them whilst he wasn’t half bad at finding the net either.
The German striker, who averaged a goal every three games for the national side, started his career with FC Koln but after struggling for game time moved to Austrian side Rapid Vienna. One year, 16 goals, a lost Cup Winners’ Cup final and a league title later, Jancker returned to Germany as giants Bayern Munich shelled out for his signature. His career is probably best known for what followed. Jancker spent six years with Bayern winning a total of 12 honours in that time. Included in that haul of silverware were four Bundesliga titles, six domestic cup titles and a Champions League win.
After Bayern, Jancker spent time in Serie A with Udinese before a German return to Kaiserslautern. A money spinning year in China followed as he pulled on the colours of Shanghai Shenhua for a solitary season. He ended his career back in the Austrian top flight netting 26 goals in 86 games for Mattersburg.
ST – Gianluca Vialli
Finishing off our bald footballers XI is Gianluca Vialli. He was a striker that could do literally anything on a football pitch – particularly when it came to the sharp end of the pitch. He could drop in and link up, he could run a backline ragged and his technical ability when on the ball was something many players will envy. Don’t take our word for it though, Vialli’s career speaks for itself – and he started from the bottom up.
Vialli stared his career in his native Italy where we played for then Serie C side Cremonese; he was only 15-years-old when he made his breakthrough there at the back end of the 1980/81 season. The side won promotion to Italy’s second tier that year and in Serie B Vialli started to make a name for himself. Across three seasons Vialli made 111 appearances and scored 25 goals; remember he hadn’t hit 20 years of age yet! Eight years with Sampdoria followed, all of which were in Serie A. In that period Vialli and co won the league, won three Coppa Italia’s and the Cup Winners’ Cup whilst falling just short of the European Cup title.
Fast forward a few years though and Vialli would win the big European prize in the shape of the Champions League; that arrived during a four year spell with Juventus. Notably, Vialli was captain of that team. With Juve, he also won another Scudetto and Coppa Italia and, in addition to the Champions League, also lifted the UEFA Cup. Vialli ended his career with three years at Chelsea winning three trophies in the process; they were both domestic cups and another Cup Winners’ Cup.
Other ST contenders
Right, here we have the final section of our bald footballers XI. A lot of people throw out names like Thierry Henry and Alfredo Di Stefano at this point. Both were terrific footballers. That is undeniable. Were the bald enough to make this team? We’re not so sure hence neither have made the cut. Andy Johnson on the other hand was most definitely bald – in fact, Johnson with hair is barely recognisable. Johnson spent his entire career in England most notably playing for Crystal Palace, Everton and Fulham and bagged a fair few goals in the top flight. His honour roll won’t measure up against the other players we’ve listed here but eight England caps and being named in the Premier League team of the season in 2004/05 is proof of his ability.
There you have it, our bald footballers XI.