Lost Arts of Football (6): Wearing a Hat

Like almost all sports, football has a strict dress code. Many pieces of jewelry and equipment, from necklaces to cleats, blood-stained shirts to rings, are subject to bans and restrictions for a variety of reasons, including player health. However, there is one accessory that goalkeepers can use arbitrarily: the hat.


Hat is a word that entered the world of football through different doors. Latins and French have adopted the words “sombrero”, meaning hat, and “hat” for dribbling when passing the ball over the opponent (e.g. Cafu’s rudeness to Nedved, defending the ‘Athletic Bilbao by Ronaldinho!). The most common usage is “hat-trick” meaning “hat trick”, which is equivalent to scoring three goals in the same game. The phrase, which was first used in cricket, has a history of over 150 years and has become universal today, referring to magicians pulling three rabbits out of a hat in the days of the Queen Victoria. (Still, consider the Turkish “trick” option.)

But the presence of the hat in football is not just a matter of words. Football players have been wearing something since the early days of the game. The most common reason is, of course, to prevent the sun from reaching the eyes, the sun from reaching the head, or the deterioration of vision in case of strong wind and rain. Although it has also been employed for different purposes. For example, in the 1930s, Chelsea’s Northern Irish striker Tommy Priestley appeared on the pitch wearing a bone-shaped headgear because he was ashamed to go out in public with his hair falling out.

Tommy Priestley and his hair, if any, that we can’t see

But Priestley was the exception; The main owners of the hat were goalkeepers. When football was on the screens, the two great goalkeepers of the 1958 World Cup, the Soviet Lev Yashin (the only goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or in history) and the Irishman of North Harry Gregg (who pulled off his biggest save by pulling his teammates from the wreckage of the Munich disaster plane) will be etched in the memory of football fans with their vintage caps. In Turkey, ‘controversial’ Beşiktaş goalkeeper Varol Ürkmez was one of the hat-wearers in the 1960s.

Without a glove but with his hair done, Harry Gregg wonders where the ball will go


One of the strictest provisions of the rules of football is that on the pitch there should be only the ball – and the players’ bodily discharge. For this reason, equipment that can fall from players on the ground is also not allowed. Aston Villa right-winger Charlie Athersmith, who scored a goal with an umbrella he borrowed from the crowd in a rainy match in 1901, or the stars who strutted around the pitch with his necklace, doesn’t are more.

Today, players can wear tights under shorts and bodysuits under T-shirts. The cap, on the other hand, is a privilege granted to the goalkeeper, in the same way as the tracksuit. The FIFA Equipment Legislation says: “All goalkeepers can wear the cap of the color of their choice, without any conditions. Goalkeepers of the same team can use different caps. Thus, the goalkeeper does not need an excuse or justification for wearing a hat. It is enough that there are no protrusions or pieces that harm the opponent.


Beyond its obvious function, the hat was ultimately a textile product and therefore a fashion item, its history in the field was therefore shaped in accordance with the spirit and trends of the time. Yashin and Gregg’s cap has been replaced with a ‘modern’ 1970s cap. John Burridge, who still holds the title of England’s oldest football player to play in the top league, has played for 29 teams with his topless visor, and waited for the net until the age of 43 in different areas of Ada.

John Burridge and that visor!

From the eighties, an epidemic of traffic jams began. Turkey also took advantage of the current. One of the pioneers was Fenerbahçe’s goalkeeper, Germany’s Toni Schumacher. Hats fell on the heads of goalkeepers such as Simovic, Pfaff and then Engin İpekoğlu. Raimond Aumann, who came to Beşiktaş from Bayern in 1994, is probably more famous for his cap than anything else. In Europe, on the other hand, it is possible to remember some important names such as Walter Zenga and Oliver Kahn “with a full head”.


However, if you are looking for a football legend with a hat, you have to follow a surprise route. The Faroe Islands, with a population of 50,000 in the North Atlantic, would play their first official Euro qualifiers match on September 12, 1990, after joining FIFA in 1988. The opponent was Austria , who played in the World Cup two months ago. The semi-professional Faroese naturally had no pretensions. The Faroese coach had made a speech to the players in the dressing room, saying: “We will embrace anything below 5-0 and put it on its head.” The Austrian front, on the other hand, shared with the press the idea that “we are going to launch 10”. At the time of the match, there were 1,157 spectators in the stands.

When the two teams entered the green field, the most striking name was not the Austrian stars, the great goalscorer Toni Polster or Andreas Herzog, but the Faroese goalkeeper Jens Martin Knudsen. A few weeks ago, Knudsen, who was selected as player of the year in the Faroese 2nd league (yes, there is such a league), and whose main profession is a forklift operator in a fish factory , pulled out a white pom pom beanie. Those who went to the screen in anticipation of high-scoring entertainment immediately embraced Knudsen. It was going to be a fun match either way, and Knudsen dressed appropriately for the occasion and acted in keeping with the spirit of the match.

Jens Martin Knudsen and

legendary pom beanie

But fate had knitted its cap. With his heroic defense, Faroe first stopped Austria and then scored Nielsen’s goal in the 61st minute. Knudsen, who shielded his body to repel crosses and shots on goal, wrote an epic with his friends in defense and became a folk hero when the referee blew the final whistle. Rumor has it that the beret knitted by her grandmother was auspicious and she kept it on her head in many subsequent matches. He wore the national jersey 65 times. Not content with that, he became the Can Bartu of the Faroes: after winning the national gymnastics championship, he played in the national handball team – as a player, not a goalkeeper. To our knowledge, he did not wear a beret in the room.


Caped goalies are rare these days. In England, Joe Hart was ridiculed for wearing a cap in the 2017 international match against Scotland. That same year, Barnsley goalkeeper Adam Davies became so uncomfortable with the sun during a match at Leeds that he ended the game in a cap borrowed from an opposing fan. Recently in Italy, Samir Handanovic and Pierluigi Gollini appeared with hats from time to time. But the examples are too few to single out. Why is that?

First, fashion. It may seem hard to understand today, but wearing a cap was once cool. In the 80s, chain necklaces, short shorts and caps with braids underneath made quirky football goalkeepers more charismatic – or so they thought. However, the caps began to lose their elegance, first in public and then on the pitch. Off the pitch, sunglasses have become fashionable.

Match time was also a factor. As evening installations increased from the 80s, there was no need for sun protection. England, which is dominated by match day culture, hasn’t felt much of the lack of hats, thanks to its generally cloudy and rainy weather.

An interesting and possible factor was construction. Over the past forty years, grandstands and buildings in cities in general have gradually increased. Especially in games played in the evening, the rays coming from the sun, which is about to set, are either caught on the skyscrapers and high buildings, or on the stand and cannot reach the goalkeeper’s eyes. goal.


Goalkeepers – even players – today wear caps, not hats, but for a different purpose. Battles have become more difficult in recent years as the pace and physical intensity of the game has increased. Dementia-like problems, which are increasingly seen in former football players, are associated with head trauma during the action period. As a result, names that experience such collisions sometimes wear a headgear -Raul Jimenez- for a while, and sometimes -Petr Čech- until the end of their career to feel comfortable. There are those who argue that all players on the field should play with helmets or hard hats because of the same danger.

But for now, the return of the hat seems to be due to less serious causes. To our knowledge, fashion, like history, is something that repeats itself. Moreover, we are in the era of visibility. The players are doing their best both on social networks and on the pitch to make themselves more visible and stand out from the general public. If caps come back into fashion, goalkeepers with caps may come back to life. Until then, keep looking at Yashin’s towering black-and-white photographs…

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