Written by CaptainSausage

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image for Football's greatest toupees All footballers like the hairdryer treatment for their fabulous rugs

As the follicles of Euro 2012 are plucked away by the tweezers of footballing history, we examine the role of hair - or lack of it - in the world's favourite ball-sport.

Most football fans will tell you that the reason they watch the game is for the hairstyles. But footballers have not always been as hirsute as they are today. During the Middle Ages, only bald men were allowed to play the game. Indeed, the name "football" is actually a contraction of the Old English name for the game - "fo'-t'-bald" (for the bald).

Bald men have often dominated the game. In the 1880s, Preston North End's "Invincible Slapheads" became the first team to go an entire season in the English league without a loss or a trip to the barbers. In their end-of-season team photo, there was such a tremendous amount of light reflecting off their shiny helms from the flaming magnesium flash filament that they had to have their foreheads powdered with soot.

As fashions have changed, bald men have attempted to conceal their lack of hair, which has led to some of the great footballing hair substitutes. Who can forget the 1966 World Cup Final, when Jack Charlton's combover flipped first left then right, fooling the German defences with its unkempt skill.

The greatest balding player of them all, Pele, famously began selling hair loss pills after his own playing career was prematurely ended due to a receding hairline.

So what about the 2012 European Championship? Judging by their hair, England have a particularly strong team. From Roy "Wigmaster" Hodgson to Andy Carroll's clip-on pony-tail, they have fake hair to match the best. That is before you even consider Wayne Rooney's spectacular hair transplant, with his wig surgically glued to his skull. That firm fitting should help him to avoid the same embarrassment that befell the German Gerd Müller during the 1974 World Cup final, when his wig fell off at a critical moment but a fourth official ruled that it didn't cross the line.

Whatever happens, let us hope we have a good clean tournament, with no hair-pulling or any of the unseemly behaviour such as that of Maradona during the 1986 World Cup, when his "Rug of God" infamously pushed the ball over the line to defeat England. Such unruly hairpieces have no place in modern football.

Next week: Darts' Most Magnificent Codpieces.

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