Inside the lucrative world of cutting footballers' hair
Global soccer stars such as Neymar are paying a fortune getting their hair cut each week – so why is it now a pre-game must?
Most men get their haircut every month or so, squeezing in an appointment at the barbers when they can. But for many elite footballers, it’s a completely different story.
In the age of social media and with hordes of young fanatics avidly following their every move, it’s no surprise stars want to look their best 24/7.
Yet just how far some professionals will go – and how much they spend – might surprise you.
Brazilian icon Neymar is well known for his extravagant haircuts and it was reported in December he flew his personal barber 6,500km to Qatar during the World Cup for a pre-match trim. Former Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Foster revealed England player James Maddison did the same, telling the Happy Hour Podcast that “when money isn’t an object they just chuck money at it and go ‘yep, come on I’ll fly you out’”.
Former Manchester City defender turned pundit Micah Richards admitted in February he routinely spends A$1,100 a week on haircuts, which works out to more than $57,000 a year.
“I’ve got to look sharp. When you look good you’re able to perform,” he told his CBS colleagues live on-air in defence of getting his hair cut three times a week.
Unconfirmed rumours circulating online claim megastar Lionel Messi, who has a somewhat traditional haircut compared to some of his fellow professionals, is paying more than A$280,000 a year to a celebrity barber.
Footballers making money from their appearance
Sydney-based barber Jean-Philippe Bailly Koudou, owner of Studio Nwar, has developed a reputation as a leading stylist in the world of soccer, with players reaching out to him when in town. French superstar Kylian Mbappe is among his previous clients, while he has this week tidied up the Socceroos ahead of their friendly with Ecuador, including hot prospects Garang Kuol, Nestory Irankunda and captain Maty Ryan, who has been a longtime customer.
He told Yahoo News Australia footballers care more about their appearance than ever because “their image is their trademark”.
“With their style of dress and their appearance in a world where digital is at its peak, a strong appearance allows them to have more visibility via social networks. This means more influence to win sponsors and partnerships,” Bailly Koudou said.
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Arguably the most famous footballer when it comes to haircuts is France international Paul Pogba. He’s renowned for his choice of striking haircuts, sporting dozens of different styles over the years, which include leopard print patterns and blue mohicans. It’s helped him becoming one of the most recognisable and most followed sports stars in the world, with more than 57 million followers on Instagram alone.
And with the sport stronger than ever globally, meaning millions of eyes on top level games, there’s also the natural desire for players to simply look their best, Bailly Koudou believes.
“Of course, they want to look beautiful on the field and on the screen," he told Yahoo.
London barber Sheldon Edwards, who boasts Pogba as one of his clients, says a haircut can have a direct impact on a player’s performance.
“They're superstitious. Some say that if they don't feel good, they won't play good, almost like they haven't brought their football boots to the game,” he told Business Insider.
“It brings me the greatest satisfaction when I see players performing at their highest level — and knowing that I brought out in them a form of confidence that nobody else could've.”
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