By Jack Beresford
To this day, it remains one of the most derided haircuts in World Cup history and now, 16 years on, Ronaldo has revealed the cunning plan behind that most dodgy of all barnets – his incomplete crop at the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.
After playing all the way through to the quarter-finals (in which Brazil knocked out England) with a standard close shave, all eyes were suddenly on Ronaldo when he emerged for the semi-finals against Turkey with a strange semi-circular thicket atop his forehead.
Brazil went on to beat Germany 2-0 in the final thanks to a decisive brace from Ronaldo, taking his tournament tally to eight goals.
O Fenomeno’s outstanding performances helped erase memories of his infamous no-show at the World Cup final in France four years earlier, and according to the man himself, it was all down to his odd hair.
Speaking at the ‘World of Football Experience’ expo in Melbourne, Ronaldo explained that his half-shave was designed to serve as a distraction for the media as he continued to struggle with a persistent injury:
I had an injury in my leg and everybody was talking about that.
I decided to cut my hair and leave the small thing there. I come to training and everybody saw me with bad hair.
Everybody was talking about the hair and forgot about the injury. I could stay more calm and relaxed and focused on my training.
I’m not proud about the hair itself because it was pretty strange. But it was a good way to change the subject.
Well, he looked a plonker but it certainly worked a treat.
Maybe Gareth Southgate should considering getting the clippers on Harry Kane?