Why Do Footballers Wear Masks?


Even if you’re not an avid football fan, you have probably noticed a football player running on the field with a mask on their face.

But why do footballers wear masks?

We answer that and look at some of the popular football players who wore (or are still wearing) a face mask.

Why Do Some Footballers Wear Face Masks?

In the world of football, masks are protective equipment.

Typically, footballers wear them after suffering a laceration or having surgeries to fix a fracture on their face

In most cases, players wear masks on the field until their injury heals.

Since they’re still technically in recovery and their injury doesn’t prevent them from running and kicking the ball, they’re allowed to get back in the game, but not without protection.

Sometimes, they wear a mask (or a helmet, like in Petr Cech’s case) to minimise the risk of re-injury, even after it’s healed completely.

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Famous Footballers That Wear Masks

Victor Osimhen

photo source: footballitalia

The Napoli player– one of the hottest and youngest strikers in European football– missed nine games at the end of 2021 due to a nasty injury.

The 23-year-old suffered several facial fractures–including an eye socket fracture– after a clash of heads with Milan Skriniar at the San Siro. After 8 metal screws and six plaques, he returned to action with a carbon fibre mask.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

photo source: dailystar

Aubameyang is known for donning masks of iconic comic book heroes, like Spider-Man, the Black Panther, and Batman, during his goal celebrations.

After being on the receiving end of an armed robbery at his home in Barcelona and suffering a jaw injury (The robbers smashed him on the chin with an iron bar.), one of the fastest football players had to wear a mask to train and play since his deadline day transfer from the club.

Giampaolo Pazzini

photo source: goal

Giampaolo Pazzini wore a mask back in 2009 to protect his broken nose– an injury he suffered at the hands of Fernando Muslera.

Muslera punched Pazzini in the head after the striker beat him to the ball during a match between Lazio and Sampdoria. He got back into the game a week after the incident wearing a mask that had his jersey number ‘10’ on one side and his nickname ‘Pazzo’ on the other.

Emilson Cribari

photo source: skysports

Cribari fractured his jaw, cheekbone, and orbital floor in a 2007 match against Dinamo Bucarest. 

He returned to the game 12 days after his surgery with a fibreglass mask that covered most of his face. He wore a mask that featured the Brazilian flag, and one with an eagle in honour of the Lazio team.

Paolo Maldini

photo source: eireplusalba

The Italian is considered widely as the best defender ever. Maldini had to mask up back in 2003 after breaking his nose in a nose-to-neck collision with Bobo Vieri. 

After that Milan Derby, Maldini laid low for a couple of weeks before returning to the field for the club’s Champions League quarter-final game against Ajax, with a transparent protective mask.   

Harry Kane

photo source: themirror

One of the best Premier League players suffered a broken nose during Tottenham’s 1-0 loss to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup in 2016, which caused him to miss the subsequent Europa League win over Fiorentina.

The English forward returned just in time for the games against Swansea and West Ham with a mask that featured a transparent plastic band that made it look similar to the type of masks that divers wear.

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Daniele De Rossi

photo source: bbc

Following a double fracture to his cheekbone, which De Rossi sustained during a game against Inter in 2009 after clashing with Patrick Vieira in the first half of the 1-1 draw, the Italian national was sent to the hospital for emergency surgery.

The retired AS Roma midfielder then had to take to the field with a mask on, which covered most of the right side of his face.

Robert Lewandowski

photo source: youtube

In 2015, the then-Bayern Munich player fractured his cheekbone and broke his nose in a  DFB-Pokal semi-final against Borussia Dortmund.

Lewandowski was later spotted wearing a face mask during training ahead of the team’s Champions League clash with Barcelona. He didn’t have much time to get used to the mask, but he did show up for the game, which is why he ranks among the most clinical strikers.

Memphis Depay

photo source: shutterstock

The current forward of one of the clubs with the most fans, Barcelona, had to wear a face mask back in 2014 while he was still wearing the PSV Eindhoven jersey. 

Depay suffered an eye socket injury at the hands of a Vitesse player, who hit him with the elbow. Following the incident, Depay wore a mask that covered most of his face.

Mario Mandžukić

photo source: express

Mandžukić broke his nose during his gig with one of the most hated teams in football, Atletico Madrid, in 2004, on top of the team’s 3-2 loss at Olympiakos in the Champions League.

This meant he had to wear a protective mask for a couple of weeks, but the Croatian striker famously tossed it to the side during a match against Juventus.

Bottom Line

The answer to the question ‘Why do footballers wear masks?’ is simple: They do it to prevent an injury to their face from becoming worse.

There have been many players in the history of football (or soccer) who have donned a facial mask to the field – and some who have worn masks for celebratory reasons– after suffering a nose, cheekbone, or another type of fracture.

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