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Fifa Under-17 World Cup sees hair-raising encounters in the UAE

Dubai: The history of football is incomplete without references to the haircuts of star performers from each era. Who can possibly forget the side partings of the 1960s and 70s, the flowing manes of the 80s or the blow-dried, curly-haired styles of the 90s? Each successive generation has been responsible not only for a new age of football on the pitch, but also a new era of hair styling.

Some players developed their own styles and went on to become world-famous for their unique haircuts, such as Columbia’s Carlos Valderrama with his magnificent blonde shock of curls. Former England captain David Beckham, for his part, became a true trendsetter with his constantly changing hairdos and provided inspiration for many of his contemporaries.

Even the generation currently competing at the Fifa U-17 World Cup 2013 are well on their way to establishing a look of their own. They are hoping to become the stars of the future, but the hairstyles worn by the players competing in the UAE are very much contemporary.

And although there is a wide range of different hairstyles on display, from the mohican to the undercut or sidecut, the overriding approach appears to be “the wilder, the better.”

Several players in the Brazilian ranks are wearing mohawks apparently inspired by their compatriot, Barcelona and Brazil star Neymar. Meanwhile, Austrian player Valentin Lazaro is going one step further with his bleached blond spikes.

Explaining his extravagant appearance, the midfielder told Fifa.com: “I’ve always had ‘different’ hairstyles. I’ve got a slightly crazy personality and I want my hair to reflect that. I go to a special hairstylist in Salzburg about twice a month. As long as my haircut keeps bringing me luck, I don’t plan to change it.”

Italy’s Gennaro Tutino has opted for an adventurous combination of curls and short hair, whilst the hairstyles of several of the Argentinian players can best be described as ‘military.’ However, it remains to be seen whether Sebastian Driussi, Lucio Compagnucci and German Ferreyra were, in fact, styled by an army barber.

Slovakia’s Denis Vavro has also gone for a military crew-cut. Indeed, if the 1.87-metre tall centre-back was not already formidable enough, the stripe of hair down the middle of his otherwise shaven head sends out a stern message.

“I’ve been wearing my hair like this for about a year. I wanted to try something new, and I really like it,” Vavro revealed when speaking with Fifa.com, adding with a laugh: “But when my friends and team-mates first saw me with this haircut, they said I looked like a criminal!”

Who knows what “hair-raising encounters” still await between now and the final on November 8? It certainly would not be the first time that a new haircut has caused a stir during a Fifa World Cup.

Ronaldo became world champion and adidas Golden Boot winner at the 2002 Fifa World Cup with his notorious triangular cut while, in 1998, the entire Romanian team dyed their hair blond upon qualifying for the knockout stages. Will UAE 2013 be the scene of something similarly memorable?