10 Football Superstitions That Might Just Help You Win

10 Football Superstitions That Might Just Help You Win

In football, coaches and players will do nearly anything to get the slightest edge.

They spend hours training, developing tactics, and studying statistics on a daily basis to maximise their chances of winning.

But for some, the pursuit of victory also involves following certain rituals to secure an extra bit of luck. 

Here are the top 10 most interesting football superstitions in the sport’s history.

Top 10 Football Superstitions and Rituals

Midland Portland Cement

In many African countries, both teams and fans have a strong belief in the power of spirits, which has (at least on one occasion) led to one of the deadliest riots in the history of football.

That same belief also prompted the management of the Midland Portland Cement team to send the entire second division side to swim in a crocodile-infested river back in 2008 to cleanse the team of bad spirits before an important match. 

Unfortunately, one of the 16 players that were told to swim in the Zambezi River in the resort town of Victoria Falls didn’t return with the rest of the team. 

Johan Cruyff

The late Dutch legend and one of the best players that The Netherlands has ever seen wasn’t just a pioneer with his skills. 

The famous number 10 also had a string of quirky pre-match rituals that he believed secured him the luck he and his team needed for a strong performance. 

The Netherlands player would first box his goalkeeper in the stomach and walk across the pitch to spit his chewing gum on the opposite team’s side.

He once admitted in an interview that he found it hard to concentrate if he failed to complete his ritual.

In fact, the one time he couldn’t finish it, his team, Ajax, lost in the 1969 European Cup Final. Coincidence?

Romeo Anconetani

Anconetani, the former AC Pisa president and former Italian footballer and manager, believed that salt can turn his team’s luck around.

But unlike some people in the superstition mob who throw salt over their shoulders, Anconetani threw salt on the pitch before every game. The bigger the match, the more salt he dumped on the pitch (usually on the corners).

Before a crucial tie in 1990 against Cesena, he reportedly had stuff help him throw 26kg of salts on the Garibaldi Arena turf. Nevertheless, his side went on to win 3-2.

Alan Cork

During the 1992-1993 season, former Sheffield United striker Alan Cork decided to stop shaving until his team was knocked out of the FA cup. 

Cork, who was bald at the time, was an unusual sight on the pitch, but The Blades did enjoy a memorable cup run. They managed to get all the way to the semi-final, where they played and won 2-1 against Sheffield Wednesday for a ticket to the final.

Sergio Goycochea

When it comes to the most bizarre superstitions in football, Sergio Goycochea might just take the cake. 

The penalty-saving specialist made a habit of urinating before a penalty shootout after the 1990 World Cup quarter-final against Yugoslavia. During that match (and before the shootout), Goycochea peed on the pitch because he couldn’t hold it any longer and was not allowed to leave the pitch. 

His team ended up winning the match, and the Argentinian goalkeeper continued doing it before every penalty shoot until he hung up his gloves in 1998.

Malvin Kamara

The former Sierra Leone midfielder had one of the best superstitions in football history.

During his entire professional football career, he watched the 1971 version of ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’ before every match. 

When asked about his quirky pre-match ritual, Kamara claimed that it was his favourite movie since he was a child and that it boosted his mood every time he watched it. He also believed that it brought him luck. 

Laurent Blanc and Fabien Barthez

One of the most popular superstitions and rituals in the world of football took place during the 1998 World Cup, which was held in France. 

During the entire competition, Laurent Blanc, the French defender, kissed his teammate and goalkeeper Fabien Barthez on the head before the start of every match. Fans quickly noticed the duo’s ritual, and the kiss became the symbol of the French team at the cup.

Blanc even came out on the field in regular sports uniform to kiss Barthez’s head before the final, after he was disqualified from the competition.

The French team went on to win the World Cup. 


The Brazilian superstar and one of the best footballers and free-kick takers of his time had what he believed to be a lucky match shirt– which he didn’t know he had until he gave it away.

After Pele gave the shirt to a Santos fan following a match that his team won, his performance dipped. Pele believed that it was because the shirt he gave away was ‘lucky’ and asked a friend to track it down and get it back to him. 

His friend succeeded in returning the shirt to its rightful owner, after which the Brazilian football player regained his mojo. 

Pele’s friend later confessed that he never managed to find the original shirt and simply gave him the one he’d worn in the previous match.

Did you know: Pele was the youngest World Cup scorer

John Terry

The former England skipper has told The Mirror that he had around 50 superstitions that he observed before every game.

Terry would listen to the same Usher CD, park in the same spot, ride in the same seat with his team bus, tie the tapes around his socks 3 times, and cut the tubular grip for his shin-pads at the same length. 

The footballer also used the same pair of shin pads for 10 years because he believed they were ‘lucky’ before he lost them at a match in Barcelona. 

France 1998 World Cup team

The 1998 World Cup was marked by superstition, if you ask the French hosting team and a better part of their fans. 

Not only did Blanc kiss Barthez’s head ahead of every game, but the entire team rode in the same bus, sat in the same bus seats, and listened to Gloria Gaynor’s iconic “I Will Survive” song in the dressing room before every match they played at the cup. 

Bottom Line

Superstition is not about science– it’s the belief that counts. And in the world of football, it can make or break a game, or so certain players believe.

But are they football superstitions, coincidences, or pure luck? We leave it to you to decide.

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