To celebrate the start of the World Cup, we look at past and present footballers who are big rock and metal fans.
Let’s face it, footballers aren’t generally renowned for their excellent taste in music. Germany’s Marco Reus is apparently a Justin Bieber fan, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo once listed Ricky Martin and R Kelly as among his favourite musicians, and according to Zlatan Ibrahimović, David Beckham had Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez on his pre-game playlist at Paris Saint-Germain. Oh, and did we mention hardman Vinnie Jones was in a Westlife video too?!
Much to their annoyance of their team mates, there are a number of footballers with a love for heavy metal and hard rock music. Here we take a look at 13 footballers who are playing at Russia 2018, or have played at previous World Cup tournaments, with fine musical taste.
Tomas Rosicky & Master of Puppets © REX/Shutterstock
1. Tomas Rosicky (Czech Republic)
The former Czech captain outed himself as a metalhead in a ‘Mixtapes’ interview on Arsenal’s YouTube channel in 2015. Starkly juxtaposing the tastes of his Arsenal teammates, Rosicky listed Metallica’s thrash metal classic ‘Master of Puppets’ as his favourite song of all time saying “it represents everything I like in metal music.” His other song choices were Foo Fighters’ ‘Everlong’, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Under The Bridge’, In Flames’ ‘With Eyes Wide Open’, Sylosis’ ‘Victims and Pawns’, Pennywise’s ‘Bro Hymn’, Rise Against’s ‘Prayer of the Refugee’, Pantera’s ‘Cemetery Gates’, Killswitch Engage’s ‘This Fire Burns’, Slipknot’s ‘Dead Memories’ and Metallica’s ‘Orion’. Impressive.
World Cups played in: Germany 2006
David de Gea & Avenged Sevenfold's M. Shadows © REX/Shutterstock & Darren Griffiths
2. David de Gea (Spain)
Regarded by many as the greatest goalkeeper on the planet right now, de Gea has the music taste to match. In an interview published on Manchester United’s official website, de Gea said: “I like metal and rock bands like Slipknot and Metallica. When I put it on in the dressing room, everyone moans! Most of the other players are into hip-hop.” His Manchester United team mate Ashley Young adds: “Whenever he puts the heavy metal on, a few people are looking around thinking ‘alright, we need to get out of here’."
When Download Festival 2018 headliners Avenged Sevenfold played Manchester Arena last January, he presented the band with a Manchester United shirt with the number ‘7x’ on the back.
World Cups played in: Brazil 2014 (squad), Russia 2018
Marcus Hahnemann & Tool © REX/Shutterstock
3. Marcus Hahnemann (USA)
The retired US keeper says he likes music that’s “the heavier the better” and lists Slipknot, Mastodon, Five Finger Death Punch and Machine Head as his favourite acts to get him in the mood for a game. He told Kerrang! Radio in 2011: “It’s a bit difficult in the changing rooms sometimes, thank God headphones were invented so I can get excited and not want to fall asleep!”
His footballing career has also enabled him elbow into the heavy metal fraternity. “During the World Cup in Germany I had the chance to meet Tool who are my favourite band of all time,” he told Kerrang! Radio. “Kasey Keller and I went backstage at their show and I’m still really good friends with Justin (Chancellor, Tool bassist) to this day. I’ve seen them I don’t know how many times.”
He snuck on stage with Tenacious D at Reading 2010 and two years later recorded a track with Reading thrash metallers Malefice called ‘Omega’.
World Cups played in: Germany 2006 (squad), South Africa 2010 (squad)
Carles Puyol & Napalm Death's Mark "Barney" Greenway © REX/Shutterstock
4. Carles Puyol (Spain)
The former Barcelona and Spain player, rightfully regarded as one of the finest defenders of his generation, is a big death metal fan. During his playing career, it’s reported Puyol warmed up for games while listening to extreme bands including Cannibal Corpse and his beloved Napalm Death. In keeping with his music tastes, he was an intimidating presence on the pitch too and nicknamed ‘The Wall’ by fans.
World Cups played in: South Korea and Japan 2002, Germany 2006, South Africa 2010.
Slaven Bilic & Megadeth's Dave Mustaine © REX/Shutterstock
5. Slaven Bilic (Croatia)
The 49-year-old former West Ham manager and player has mighty fine taste in music. His favourite bands read like a holy grail of hard rock and heavy metal; Slayer, Metallica, AC/DC and Iron Maiden. Shortly before West Ham’s 3-0 win against Liverpool at Anfield in 2015, Bilic played Megadeth in the team dressing. His assistant Julian Dicks said: "The gaffer’s got me and him tickets (to a Megadeth concert). He put on a couple of their songs at Liverpool. It seemed to lift the mood of the dressing room."
Indicative of his intense passion for rock, he’s also the rhythm guitarist of Croatian prog-metal outfit Rawbau. Ahead of Euro 2008 they recorded the unofficial Croatian anthem ‘Vatreno Ludilo’ (‘Fiery Madness’) which became a number one on home soil.
World Cups played in: France 1998
Sergio Ramos & AC/DC's Angus Young © REX/Shutterstock
6. Sergio Ramos (Spain)
The Real Madrid captain cites Motörhead and Guns N’ Roses as among his favourite bands and in May 2016 shared photos of himself and girlfriend Pilar Rubio hanging out with Axl Rose after AC/DC’s gig at Estadio Olímpico de la Cartuja in Seville. “'A dream come true for Pilar Rubio and I got to meet a legend... Thank you, Axl Rose!,” he wrote. TV presenter Rubio also has a fashion line called Metalhead Clothing and she features on the delightful cover to Canadian thrash metal band Annihilator’s 2013 album ‘Feast’.
In June 2018 Ramos unveiled his own World Cup 2018 song alongside Spanish singer Demarco Flamenco, called 'Otra Estrella en tu Corazon', which, sadly, has a decidedly non-rock/metal vibe.
World Cups played in: Germany 2006, South Africa 2010, Brazil 2014, Russia 2018
Claudio Caniggia & Poison's Bret Michaels © REX/Shutterstock
7. Claudio Caniggia (Argentina)
With his trademark flowing locks, it’s absolutely no surprise that Claudio Caniggia has a penchant for rock music. A keen drummer, during the 1994 World Cup he was reportedly invited by Poison’s Bret Michaels to guest at a show in Wisconsin where he apparently played on three tracks – ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’, ‘Nothin' but a Good Time’ and ‘Unskinny Bop’.
However, undoubtedly the most ‘metal’ thing Claudio Caniggia did in his career was when he was excluded from the France ’98 squad for refusing to comply with manager Daniel Passarrela’s order to cut his hair.
World Cups played in: Italy 1990, USA 1994, South Korea and Japan 2002 (squad)
Olof Mellberg & In Flames' Anders Fridén © REX/Shutterstock
8. Olof Mellberg (Sweden)
The retired defender says he has “always been a fan of rock music” and in November 2006 had a personal visit at Aston Villa’s training ground from Swedish heavy metallers In Flames, who were touring with Slayer at the time. "In Flames contacted the club and said they wanted to come along to the training ground to say hi," explained Mellberg to the Daily Mirror. "Not a lot of people from Sweden come to Birmingham so it is nice when they do and you get to meet them - they are interesting guys. I went to their concert too and it was heavy stuff but I didn't bang my head and jump up and down. I wanted to save my energy for Blackburn but I grew up with rock and have always been a fan of that kind of music.” He added: "I don't think I will play any of their albums in the changing room as the majority of players wouldn't enjoy it.”
World Cups played in: South Korea and Japan 2002, Germany 2006.
Kasey Keller & Disturbed's David Draiman © REX/Shutterstock
9. Kasey Keller (USA)
Just like his friend, fellow countryman and musical kindred spirit Marcus Hahnemann, Kasey Keller is a huge rock music fan and was a regular at Download Festival when playing in England. Originally a punk fan as a teenager, Keller developed a taste for “the heavy stuff” in early adulthood and as a Premiership goalie used his privileged position to hang with some of his favourite bands including Foo Fighters and System of a Down.
He told The Seattle Times in 2012: “The guys from Disturbed are good friends of mine because their manager is a Scottish guy who is a big soccer (football) fan who was the bass player for Supertramp. So, when Disturbed comes this summer, I'll be backstage with the guys and trying not to get bullied into drinking too much Jagermeister.” Keller also counts Tool’s Justin Chancellor and Max Cavalera (Sepultura/Cavalera Conspiracy/Soulfly) as among his close friends.
World Cups played in: Italy 1990 (squad), France 1998, South Korea and Japan 2002 (squad), Germany 2006.
Terry Butcher & Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson © REX/Shutterstock
10. Terry Butcher (England)
The formidable ex-defender and England captain didn’t shirk at playing an entire game with blood pouring from a gaping head wound so it’s no surprise he has a penchant for grittier music. A close friend of founding Iron Maiden member Steve Harris, Butcher is an avid fan of the band and has even played for the Maiden football team. In a blog for Classic Rock, Butcher enthused: “(Iron Maiden) have influenced so many others and been responsible for some of the best music of the last two decades. You have to wonder where we’d all be without them.” Lofty words, indeed.
When Butcher was unveiled as Scotland assistant manager in 2008, his mobile phone went off during the press conference and Guns N Roses’ ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ echoed around the room. Alongside Maiden and Guns N’ Roses, he also cites Saxon as among his favourite bands.
World Cups played in: Spain 1982, Mexico 1986, Italy 1990
Dan Eggen & Pantera's Dimebag Darrell © REX/Shutterstock
11.Dan Eggen (Norway)
The retired central defender turned coach, who was capped 25 times for Norway, is an aficionado of his country’s most famous musical export since A-ha – black metal. Eggen appeared in Satyricon's 2001 behind-the-scenes DVD ‘Roadkill Extravaganza’, where he outed himself as a fan of the heavy metal subgenre. He also joined Pantera on stage at a gig in Spain where he headbanged and played air guitar for 30 seconds – the footage of which can be seen right here.
World Cups played in: USA 1994 (squad), France 1998
Paul Mariner & Steve Harris in 1982 © REX/Shutterstock
12. Paul Mariner (England)
Just like Terry Butcher, ex-England, Chorley, Plymouth, Ipswich, Arsenal and Portsmouth player Paul Mariner is another massive Iron Maiden fan. Speaking to Kerrang! Magazine way back in 1992, Steve Harris described Mariner as “a real fan” who he’d seen at a number of gigs. In fact, such is Mariner’s Maiden fandom that at the time of writing, he has Maiden’s mascot Eddie the Head as his profile pic on Twitter. Asked by a follower last year to cherry-pick his favourite Maiden album, Mariner said: “I just love Maiden. All of the albums the lads put out are tops for me.” Alongside Maiden, Mariner is also a keen AC/DC fan and is great friends, with Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan. Here they are hanging out:
World Cups played in: Spain 1982
Germán Burgos & The Rolling Stones © REX/Shutterstock
13. Germán Burgos (Argentina)
When Burgos’ playing career came to an end in 2004 he decided to channel his energy into his other passion; rock music. As the founder and frontman of hard rock band The Garb – named after his full initials for Germán Adrián Ramón Burgos – Burgos released several studio albums. Although his love of rock music remained undiminished (Burgos is a passionate Rolling Stones fans), in 2010 he returned to football coaching and he’s currently assistant manager to Diego Simeone at Atlético Madrid.
World Cups played in: France 1998 (squad) and South Korea and Japan 2002 (squad)
Other honourable mentions:
Daniel Agger (Denmark)
In an interview with Liverpool Football Club’s official website in 2013, Agger was asked what one song he would listen to if he was stuck on a desert island. Diplomatically opting for Gerry and The Pacemakers’ ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, Agger said if he wasn’t able to choose that he’d go for Whitesnake’s seminal anthem ‘Here I Go Again’.
World Cups played in: South Africa 2010
Stuart Pearce (England)
Psycho is a massive punk fan and has been to over 300 gigs by The Stranglers over the decades. Asked by Four Four Two magazine in 2003 whether he likes any more contemporary punk bands, Pearce said: “I do listen to modern punk and it’s not at all bad. I like some of the American bands that are coming through. I saw Green Day a couple of weeks ago.” Other bands he cites as his favourites include The Sex Pistols and Stiff Little Fingers.
World Cups played in: Italy 1990