Have you ever wondered why most footballers have such sharp haircuts, even when they are away from home for several weeks at tournaments and cannot visit their favourite barber? Sure, the best in the world might fly their trusty stylists in to do the job, but what about everybody else?
If players are very lucky, they might have a versatile team-mate in their midst – someone like Javi Lopez, who is currently playing for Spain at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil. “Yes, it’s true,” the defender told FIFA.com with a laugh. “If we’re away from home together for a long time, I do it for the team. I don’t have any particular background in it – nobody in my family is a hairdresser. I just enjoy it, and everyone thinks it’s great.”
Nevertheless, the 17-year-old centre-half is as skilful with his feet as he is with scissors, a hairdryer and a razor. La Rojita have conceded just one goal in Brazil so far, and have not technically let the opposition through at all, as their only concession was an unfortunate own goal from defender Alvaro Carrillo in Spain’s 5-1 win over Tajikistan. They began their campaign with a goalless draw against Argentina.
“Although four points is a good start, the group is very close, so we can’t afford to make any mistakes now,” said Lopez. “We’re already looking forward to the match against Cameroon and want to qualify for the last 16 no matter what.”
So would Lopez switch to hairstyling if his football career does not work out the way he hopes it does? “That’s something I’ll have to think about in any case,” said the amused 17-year-old, who was born in Tenerife and has since played for Alaves in the Basque Country. “I hope I’ll be successful in football before I do that.”
Cameroon-Spain (Brasilia/Gama 17:00 local time)
Argentina-Tajikistan (Vitoria/Cariacica 17:00 local time)
Lopez will be hoping that Spain’s current success will culminate with the final on 17 November, and knows what he will do if it does. “If we win the title, I want to dye all of my team-mates’ hair red, except for our coach – he’s bald.”