by Stuart Moriarty-Patten

Am I alone in finding my eyes being drawn away from Wayne Rooney’s boots to the amazingly lush head of hair he his growing following his hair transplant.  With money to spend on such modern treatments, I guess, that gone forever are the days when tricky wing play left you as much entranced by the flapping comb-over as the dazzling ball skills.

Ralph Coates and Bobby Charlton (top of page): masters of the comb-over.

Of course there are more ways of covering your bald patch than an expensive hair transplant.  The wig is an option naturally, which was most famously worn in recent times by Bulgarian, keeper Borislav Mikhailov.  It was also rumoured that Stephen Ireland, while at Man City, might have briefly adopted one, when his thinning hair seemed to grow a few inches practically overnight.

Suspicious Stevie. Highly suspicious.

However there are good reasons why footballers shouldn’t wear wigs, as exemplified by the case of ex-Manchester City defender George Heslop.  Towards the end of his career in the seventies he was playing for Northwich Victoria when, after contesting a header, his hairpiece fell off, and was volleyed home by an opposition centre forward. Much to Heslop’s deep embarrassment  a picture of the offending item was pictured in the Manchester Evening News, resting neatly in the stanchion.

Of course some footballers have no worries about a lack of hair.  George Berry while at Wolves at the end of the seventies had a magnificent classic afro.

Afro hit: George Berry, the epitome of seventies cool.

During this period quite a number of afros were seen around the grounds of England, but not all were carried off with such aplomb as Berry.  Two particularly bad examples spring instantly to mind, Arsenal’s Alan Sunderland, and Coventry’s Ian Wallace’s belisha beacon of a hair style.

But the undisputed king of the afro is, and probably always will be, Colombia’s Carlos Valderrama, who sported a colossal head of hair.

Carlos feared the rain might make his hair look stupid.

Valderrama was unlikely to ever feel the cold with that mop of hair, and neither would Faroe island’s keeper, Jens Martin Knudsen, who became the country’s most famous player ever by sporting a bobble hat while playing for his country.

Of course, if you are bald you can always just accept it, and it was nice to see possibly the most famous bald head in football briefly on the TV screens again this week in the shape of hugely respected referee Pierluigi Collina, now the head of UEFA’s referees.  With his bald head and piercing eyes Collina cut a commanding figure on the football field, but I could never quite shake the feeling that I had seem him in Star Trek.