Crazy hairstyles make way for tattoo army in Russia

Neymar seems to be showing his Brazil teammates Roberto Firmino, left, and Filipe Luis who's boss when it comes to body art.
Neymar seems to be showing his Brazil teammates Roberto Firmino, left, and Filipe Luis who's boss when it comes to body art.
Image: Nelson Almeida /AFP

Tattoos seem to have replaced crazy hairstyles as the fashion statement lighting up the World Cup in Russia.

Fans are seeing less and less of extreme mohawks, plaited hair and everything else that looks weird like Nigeria defender Taribo West's green and white "devil horns" at the 1998 and 2002 global tournaments.

In fact, Brazil's Neymar has so far been an odd one with a weird hairstyle at the Russia 2018.

His "noodles" hairdo, however, lasted just one match after Brazilians' barrage of criticism on social media of the Paris Saint-Germain striker.

Some claimed he was put off his game by thinking too much about his hair.

Brazilian newspaper Estadao reported this week that Neymar brought two hairdressers with him to Russia, with one doing the cutting and the other one handling the colouring of the soccer star's hair.

But his tattoos are permanent. Neymar and some of his teammates are among the stars who have taken over from the likes of retired England captain David Beckham to ensure that body art remains a growing trend among footballers.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi hardly sported any ink on his skin when he was in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup, but the Barcelona star is leading the tattoo army in Russia.

Argentina star Lionel Messi has frequented the tattoo parlour over the past few years. / Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images
Argentina star Lionel Messi has frequented the tattoo parlour over the past few years. / Gabriel Rossi/Getty Images

Messi has transformed from a clean-cut boy to assuming a thug-look with his arm and leg covered in tattoo sleeves.

The 30-year-old maestro is followed closely at the soccer tournament by his La Liga rival Sergio Ramos of Spain, another player whose body is festooned with so many tattoos.

Not to be outdone are Germany's Jerome Boateng and Raheem Sterling of England, whose ink work runs up to the neck.

Surprisingly, the game's "pretty boy", Portugal talisman Cristiano Ronaldo, doesn't sport a single tattoo and has gone mild on hairdos.

But he's still obsessed with his six-pack.

South Africa has its own tattoo band in Mamelodi Sundowns duo of Oupa Manyisa and George Lebese, Orlando Pirates new recruit Brilliant Khuzwayo and Bafana Bafana France-based midfielder Bongani Zungu.

But the SA ink brigade will have to fight tooth and nail for their tattoos to be seen and admired by the world at this stage, and that means qualifying for the 2022 World Cup which will be staged in Qatar.

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