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Goalkeepers and caps, the story of a pair that has now disappeared

Used extensively during the 1990s, they have now almost disappeared from the fields

Goalkeepers and caps, the story of a pair that has now disappeared Used extensively during the 1990s, they have now almost disappeared from the fields

In Italy when you think of the cap, the first frame that will bounce in your head, impossible for it to be the other way around, is about: Giuseppe Iachini. In his 20-year coaching career, the cap has always accompanied him on every bench in Italy, from the amateur categories to the Serie A pitches, and Iachini has never taken it off, not for aesthetic reasons but for health reasons. But even before the coach from Marche, the cap was a fundamental item for every goalkeeper, especially in the 90s.

With the passing of time, thanks to the evolution of architecture that has given football technological and increasingly covered stadiums with less exposure, and the introduction of the so-called calcio-spezzatino that has distorted all match schedules, goalkeepers have slowly put the cap aside. A process that has taken place gradually, almost slowly, which has led to the hats being taken off all pitches, not only in Serie A but also abroad. The last person to have worn it a few weeks ago but only for the first part of the match was Samir Handanovic. While going back a few years to the 2006-07 Serie A season there is the last great defender or bulwark of the cap: Armando Pantanelli. In 37 matches as a starter with Catania, the defender always took the field with his black hat on, while to find other regular or simply occasional hat lovers we have to go back a long way.

In Serie A in particular the use of hats is strangely allowed, given the rules on shirts that limit the creativity of brands, allow us, but impossible not to be surprised given the rigidity of some rules, perhaps unnecessary in some cases. The rule expressly states: 'The use of non-hazardous protective equipment [...] as well as caps for goalkeepers is permitted'. 

Despite its disappearance from the green rectangles, the cap is an item that has naturally undergone all kinds of changes, but it has never gone out of fashion, it knows no seasons and its use is not confined to particular fashion weeks. Its total and definitive consecration can be framed between the 70s and 90s thanks to rap and cinema. In the hip hop imagery in particular, the hat completed if not in some cases even defined the character, the American rapper LL Cool J knows something about this, being one of the biggest influences of those years. Although unlike those used in the cinema, in the rap game one of the most popular models was Kangol, a brand created by Henry Sergen, an English veteran who decided to set up a trade in hats imported from France, modifying some of the details.

Probably contaminated by music and cinema, caps were more than present on football pitches during the 90s. An item accompanied by oversized shirts, typical of the number 1s during the 90s, which with their strange and crazy patterns kept the goalkeepers company throughout the 90 minutes. From those who couldn't take to the pitch without it, to those who borrowed it from a fan like Joe Hart, we have collected the most iconic goalkeepers with caps.

Inter dynasty


At Inter, the hat seems to have never gone out of fashion, the trend started with Walter Zenga who wore his hat backwards because of his thick hair which has long since disappeared. Zenga used to wear customised hats, without any Inter logo but rather with a spider's web accompanied by the number one, hallmarks of the Milanese goalkeeper. After the spiderman, the hat passed to Gianluca Pagliuca called to pick up the legacy of one of the best Italian extreme defenders. Both on the pitch and stylistically he will not be outdone at all, often playing with the cap provided by Inter with the Pirelli sponsor, more or less similar to the one worn by Samir Handanovic a few seasons ago. And it is the current Nerazzurri goalkeeper himself who is the latest to bring the cap back onto the pitch, dusting off an item that was lost in 2021.

Armando Pantanelli

As mentioned earlier, the Turin goalkeeper is the only one to have played literally every match of his career with the cap on. An inseparable binomial, so much so that after a few seasons Pantanelli decided to affix several sponsors as well, a nice marketing stunt. 

Joe Hart

The case of Joe Hart is simply unique. The former West Ham goalkeeper had not considered what problems the sun might cause him during the FA Cup match, so to make up for it he borrowed a cap from a Hammers fan. Obviously the Englishman couldn't choose the type of hat, so he settled for the first one he received and then returned it to its rightful owner at the end of the game.

John Burridge

Here we go back to 1979. John Burridge, the Crystal Palace goalkeeper, used to wear a special visor hat, different from the others. The only one until now to have worn a hat with this cut in the world of football.

Massimo Taibi

An ambassador of the most iconic and recognisable aesthetic canons of the most difficult role of all: Massimo Taibi. With his shirt always a little wider than necessary and strictly long-sleeved, like his trousers, the extreme defender used to wear a cap at times, both at Reggina and Venezia.

David James

Another ambassador for this duo was Newcastle goalkeeper David James. Here in action during the FA match against Liverpool, the Englishman used to combine the iconic goalkeeper's jerseys of the English club with the sober cap, strictly monochrome given the complexity of the jersey.

Oliver Kahn

Last but not least is the German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. Despite being known for his rigidity and coldness, the German also wore the most diverse hats. An iconic moment was when, during the 1994 World Cup in America, he appeared on the pitch wearing a cap with the words 'Chicago' written on it.