Let’s talk about beards. No, I don’t mean the date you took to prom to appease your heteronormative parents. I mean the scraggly, scratchy face-coverings. More specifically, I mean the ones that will show up on your pixel box when you watch the World Cup this summer.
You know the scene. It’s Brazil. It’s hot. Incredibly fit men are sweating through their skin-tight shirts. But if you can manage to lift your gaze just north of the pectorals, there’s a very good chance—better than any year since 1974, I’d wager—that you’ll be rewarded with a full, bristling beard. Here are a few of the best beards you’ll be seeing in Brazil.
1. Daniele de Rossi, Italy
On the club crest of AS Roma is a she-wolf. Suckling at her teats are Romulus and Remus, the two brothers who founded Rome, as the myth goes. Along with Frank Totti, De Rossi forms the current version of the twin tandem—Romans who stuck by the club and by now create its identity. De Rossi’s beard is feral, ferocious; even the she-wolf would be proud.
2. Georgios Samaras, Greece
You know the huge, gory Christ figure hanging in the church you went to as a kid? Six-foot-three, ruggedly handsome, most definitely Scandinavian? If that historically inaccurate depiction came to life, got a tan, and started playing soccer, he would look like Georgios Samaras. (Also, it turns out Samaras is a decent human being, perhaps surprising for a professional athlete.)
3. Xabi Alonso, Spain
Xabi Alonso is precise. Xabi Alonso is efficient. Xabi Alonso conducts a thorough cost-benefit analysis before each discrete movement. Xabi Alonso’s beard is trim. Xabi Alonso’s beard is tidy.
“I am only possibly thanks to a perfectly calibrated flow of testosterone,” says Xabi Alonso’s beard, “and I groom myself so that Xabi doesn’t even have to think about me.” Xabi Alonso’s beard can talk. Because Xabi Alonso’s beard is that impressive.
4. Andrea Pirlo, Italy
“I don’t feel pressure,” Andrea Pirlo wrote in his autobiography, I Think Therefore I Play. “I don’t give a toss about it. I spent the afternoon of Sunday, 9 July, 2006 in Berlin sleeping and playing the PlayStation. In the evening, I went out and won the World Cup.”
Everything about Pirlo comes across as easy elegance, casual swagger. He’s the guy who broke Joe Hart as unceremoniously as tossing a Perrier bottle into the recycling bin. Where some break things when they drink, Pirlo turns inward, attempting to work through the contradictions of his own existence. And his beard is the same: suave, sexy, a tad intellectual, totally perfect.
5. Joshua Brillante, Australia
Joshua Brillante isn’t brilliant. He’s a middling player who has spent his entire career in Australia’s A-League. He’s a bit pudgy. He’ll barely scrape into the Australia squad. His Wikipedia page is three-sentences long. There is almost nothing remarkable about Brillante; except, of course, his beard. And his beard is fucking brilliant.
Just gaze into those Ryan Gosling eyes, reach your hand out toward the monitor, and pretend to stroke his beard. At least that’s what I do when I see this picture.
Note: You won’t actually see Arda Turan, the man who owns the beard in the top image, at the World Cup, because Turkey didn’t qualify. Sorry for tricking you.