The Red Devils, the Black Cats, Clockwork Orange, the Dragons, the Villans and the Bats. Soccer celebrates the scary and the supernatural all season, and today for Halloween SOCCER.COM is taking a look at the whole host of ghoulish delight the game has to offer.
There are tricks—the Cruyff turn, the Puskas move, the Pele Runaround, the stepover and the Rabona—and treats—FIFA World Cup™, UEFA Champions League and watching Lionel Messi take the field.
Here’s to a sport where costumes are found in the stands year round, where supporters sections have smoke bombs that give a spooky feel to the festivities and where a dubious score, such as Stefan Kiessling’s header that snuck through the side netting earlier this month, is referred to as a ghost goal.
To celebrate, we’re offering a special Halloween deal:
Also In honor of Oct. 31, here’s our team to take the field tonight, which will play in a frightening 3-4-3:
Goalkeeper: Lev “The Black Spider” Yashin
The former Soviet Union goalkeeper who played from 1950 to 1970 was so skilled in goal that FIFA named the Golden Gloves Award given to the top World Cup™ goalkeeper in his honor. He’s also the only goalkeeper to ever win the Ballon D’Or, given to Europe’s best club player. Always dressed from head to toe in black and capable of smoothing shots so successfully that it appeared he had eight arms, Yashin earned his “Black Spider” nickname.
The Romanian left back who plays for West Ham United has a last name that’s surely shriek-worhty to some folks.
Per “The BFG” Mertesacker
Not to be confused with the Roald Dahl novel by the same name, central defender Per Mertesacker earned his nickname from Arsenal faithful because, let’s face it; He’s a big freaking German. Also, with his adidas shoes, he’s playing the role of Predator.
Stuart “Psycho” Pearce
Among the players who struck the most fear into opponents, Stuart Pearce was a ferocious defender who represented Nottingham Forrest, Newcastle United, West Ham United and Manchester City in a professional playing career spanning 24 years. He also earned 78 caps for England. Pearce had a penchant for playing with passion, commitment and desire so fervent that it sometimes bore out physical clashes that bordered on lunacy.
Plus, with experience managing the Sky Blues and the English U-21s, Pearce can play the role of player/assistant manager in lending a hand to Scarry Redknapp.
We’re not saying that Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer and Three Lions centurion was genetically created in a lab, but given his longevity and ability to still play at an elite level at age 35, would it really surprise you? Either way, Lampard has had an absolute monster of a career.
Juan Sebastian “Brujita” (Little Witch) Veron
Veron gets the nod because of two distinctions. First, he was named in 2004 by Pele as one 125 greatest living players. Second, his father, who also played for Estudiantes in Argentina, was nicknamed “La Bruja” (The Witch), leading to the “Brujita” moniker. Any player boasting experience with Boca Juniors, Manchester United, Chelsea and Inter Milan can surely represent us, too.
Of the many Jacks in the world of soccer, Jewsbury makes our team because he’s proven himself to be an accomplished carver while sawing logs for the Portland Timbers. He’s also a former Wizard, having played for the Kansas City MLS franchise from 2003 to 2010.
The masterful midfielder from Merseyside, captain of club and country, Steven Gerrard strikes fear, often literally, into opposing goalkeepers. He’s the only man to have scored in the finals of a UEFA Cup, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup.
The horrific cut on his forehead in September would make you think Wayne Rooney was Frankenstein, but he’s Boo-ney to us. He’s as prolific of a striker as they have in England, and representing the Red Devils, he should be especially hallowed on Halloween.
The man’s name is Hulk. Do we really need to say any more. OK, we will, anyway. An imposing striker who also can play on the wing for Brazil and Zenit St. Petersburg, Hulk, whose real name is Givanildo Vieira de Souza, was given his name by his father, a fan of The Incredible Hulk, due to his likeness to Lou Ferrigno.
OK, so he’s not a real vampire. We’ve seen him score goals on many UEFA Champions League nights and during sun-filled English Premier League contests, as well. Still, when the dangerous Dutchman dressed as a Dracula at a recent Halloween-themed charity event, it just felt right.
Substitutes bench: Spookas Podolski, Robbie Savage, Ryan “The Welsh Wizard” Giggs, Super Mario Balotelli and Gianluigi Buffon, John Terrified, Wilifried Zahambie
Manager: Scarry Redknapp
Frankenstein Lampard’s uncle is the perfect man to wrangle together this group of goblins. Harry Redknapp has managed in England during four different decades, winning the 2008 FA Cup with Portsmouth, leading Tottenham to a fourth-place EPL finish and, as a bonus, as the leader these days of Queens Park Rangers, the costume possibilities, from Elizabeth to our Mighty Morphin friends, are seemingly endless.
Announcers: Ian “Are You Afraid of the” Darke, Ahhhhhhhhhh-ndres Cantor
The golden-tongued voice behind the “GOOOOOAAAAAALLLL,” amended to “GHHOOOOOOOUUUUULLLL” for today, and one of England’s most astute men behind the mic are our choices to describe the magic and mystery of this match with a few cackles, screams and shocking descriptions for good measure.
“Witch” one do you like best? Did we leave someone out of our pumpkin-filled punny list? Let us know in the comments section below.