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The popularity of male facial hair has sky rocketed these past couple of years. Long gone are the days when having a beard was reserved to those who were members of the hipster community; i.e., anyone who lived in Shoreditch.
Alongside baggy Adidas sweat tops and New Balance trainers, the beard has left the known realm of the alternative and has firmly headed for the mainstream, which is by no means a bad thing.
Beard love right now is at a fever pitch, with more and more people opting to let their facial hair grow out. What may have started as a shaving hangover from Movember has now turned into a full blown craze.
When one does think about beards you almost certainly think towards musicians or perhaps actors. The classic Paul McCartney during his time with The Beatles was certainly close to the zenith of facial hair excellence. However, much like how beards themselves have left their social surroundings in society, it is no longer musicians and new-age actors who get to revel in the warm glow of facial hair perfection. Moreover, we are now seeing a rise of beards on the football pitch, which is a particularly good thing.
There are more and more players nowadays taking the plunge and allowing themselves to grow a beard, despite the intense media glare that is fixated on them every weekend. It takes great commitment to a cause to be willing to play football in front of millions of eyes with a beard that is still in the formative stages of growth.
Beard growing is perhaps one of the only times you can tilt your cap to a footballer and give them your respect, for we all know about the demands of a beard. But which five footballers have the best beards in the game?
Raul Meireles – Fenerbahce
If there was to be a generic football hipster it would be Raul Meireles. The former Liverpool midfielder is undoubtedly the man. When the tattoos – which cover nearly every part of his body – stop, you reach the facial hair, which for a time was nearly reaching his pectorals.
Meireles was an advocate of the noted bald head and bolder beard look for most of 2014, but has started 2015 with a Mohawk look; again another popular hipster image.
As for the beard itself, Meireles is a man of fortune who can grow an exceedingly thick beard. He managed to get superb volume and bounce on his facial hair while the precision in the styling of it is something that can only be achieved by a nicely-paid stylist.
While Portuguese team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo may have won World Player of the Year, he will be the first to admit that Meireles is out there on his own when it comes to facial hair. The world’s best player and the world’s best beard will be in action together next month when Portugal take on Serbia in the European qualifiers, with the odds for that match now available with bet365.
Josh Brillante – Fiorentina
Let us start off by first giving credence to this young Australian’s name. Unsurprisingly, the 21-year-old has a beard to match his name.
It is a beard that is very much Australian outback in style. It is unkempt, slightly bedraggled and altogether massive. For those familiar with WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan and his beard; Brillante looks like his younger brother, a brother who at times is willing to wear a top-knot.
Brillante has that slightly deranged-looking beard. A wild-man’s beard. The type of beard that would bite you for just looking at it funny, making it perfect for a football pitch.
George Boyd – Burnley
Boyd plays for Burnley, a side that is just like Boyd’s beard, they are alright. There are those days when both are on fine form, sending both compliments and goals flying. But just as numerous as the good days are the bad days, in which the football is lacklustre and the facial hair is looking a bit thin on the ground.
The Scot is a good example for how far the beard has come in certain areas of society. Boyd is not a hipster. He doesn’t care about places like Camden or who the next Pete Doherty is. He is a lad who has worked his way up from non-league football to the Premier League. He is a grafter and that is very much reflected in his beard. He has laid the foundations, now he just needs to build on them.
Tim Howard – Everton
Fair does to Tim Howard, he committed to his beard and my word doesn’t he look all the better for it. The Everton goalkeeper has the previously mentioned bald head phat beard vibe.
Here is a man who almost single-handedly took America to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. He is a stopper, a behemoth of a man and thus it is only right he has the facial hair of a warrior knight from the 16th Century.
Howard’s beard has a really nice colouring which compliments his natural skin tone, but away from the pretentious talk it is simply a sick beard. Whilst the 35-year-old may have struggled with injuries in the past, one thing has remained; his exquisite beard.
Andrea Pirlo – Juventus
The Italian midfielder is not far off perfection. He is the man that everyone woman wants to be with and every man wants to be. Regardless of his beard, Pirlo just oozes cool. Here is a footballer that has no problem drinking wine and eating cheese the night before a match. Speaking of playing, there are few that can do what Pirlo can do on the pitch, which is achieve brilliance whilst seemingly looking like you are doing nothing.
Here is a player who is very content with his football career and it shows with his beard. His thick, black, matted facial hair conjoins perfectly with the longer hair that sprouts from his head, giving Pirlo a slightly untamed looked. In fact, you could go as far as saying that thanks to the facial hair’s marriage to Pirlo’s natural hair, the midfielder’s look is the perfect melange of rough-and-ready and Italian chic.