BY JORGE E. PRADILLA
How A Funny Dare Became A Tradition
It's funny how things just happen sometimes for no reason and then turn out to be something cool. My football hair style came from a dare with my brothers during dinner in Munich, during the 2006 World Cup. Aged 18, I felt like I could take on the world if I needed to, so I decided to accept the dare and keep it for the entire trip.
As seen on the picture below, the look wasn't all that sexy. That's because there was not much thought process put into it. We just stopped by a corner store and bought a hair trimmer, and half way through the haircut (which my brother did on the fly without practice), the stupid trimmer died. That meant we had to finish the look with a Gillette razor, which actually hurt quite a bit (now that I look back, the razor did more pulling than shaving hair for a while).
That said, I had a lot of fun with it and other fans actually loved the idea of it, which made me feel better. Not to mention, a couple news channel did some street interviews.
Better Preparation. Better Look. Increased Awareness.
As South Africa 2010 loomed, my brother Daniel called me and asked if we were doing the football hair cut again. I agreed to do it again, but wanted some assurances.
Well, as I discussed in my "Bafana Bafana! The 2010 South Africa World Cup Experience" post, we were stuck in the East London airport for 12 hours, so we decided to document the process.
The first step was easy, trim my hair completely. After that, Daniel began sketching the football with a sharpie and cardboard cutouts he made. Then came the fun part. Daniel trimmed the white patches of the football with my beard trimmer, before pulling out a razor and shaving them completely.
Due to the success of my haircut, he decided to get one himself. This time, I was the one with the sharpie, the cutouts, and the trimmers, and though I am not an artist, the end product was acceptable. Heck, some people thought we were twins, so we enjoyed the attention for a bit.
Some photographers went as far as doing an entire photo session of us, and I am pretty sure an Australian journalist wrote an article about us. Again, we did it for the fun, but we also liked the attention (who are we kidding?). In fact, we even got a few free drinks out of it.
Third Time's The Charm
As Brazil 2014 approached, the haircut wasn't even a question. Despite bringing my wife with me, we knew we were on to something and wanted to continue the tradition.
Check out the picture below - I think we did a good job. I say "we"; I think Daniel did a good job. The cool thing this time around was that people who frequented World Cups recognized me, and I had two different people approach me to talk about how they remembered me from the previous World Cups (Germany and South Africa), which I thought was pretty darn cool.
I even made it on the big screen at Colombia's match against Ivory Coast; What I didn't know was that it was the FIFA camera who caught a glimpse of it, so that meant my haircut was seen around the world for a good 30 seconds. I remember my phone blowing up after that, I had messages from people in Colombia, the U.S., and Europe, all of who had seen me on TV. I thought that was pretty neat.
This was before the USA's World Cup opener against Ghana. The Brazilian press was testing my football knowledge, and asked if the US had a chance against Ghana considering the history between both teams. I told them the US had something to prove following their elimination from South Africa 2010, and that they would end up doing better than Brazil. The US did not get further than Brazil, but they did beat Ghana in dramatic fashion.
Even the USA TODAY wrote a not about us. Read here
Overall, I would say that the football haircut was a moment of spontaneity that turned into something cool. When I talk about football traveling and backpacking through some of the major football tournaments, I realize that moments like this made it a lot better.
If you are wondering if I will be doing the same in the upcoming World Cups, the answer is yes. I plan on doing it as long as possible.
I hope you appreciate this as much as I do.
Jorge E Pradilla
Born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. Die-hard fan of the Colombian National and Liverpool FC. Has 12+ years of football traveling experience, including 3 World Cups, Champions League, Premier League, La Liga, MLS, Copa America, and Euro 2016.