Hair’s an interesting thing. That politics, identity, creativity, and so much more can be expressed on top of one’s head is pretty neat, but does it have to stop there?
No. No, it doesn’t. Using the most cutting-edge follicular analysis technology,¹ I’ve aligned a handful of Team Croatia’s players to learn more about their character.
Like Modrić at midfield, this is a look that’s reliable, time-tested, and only getting better with age. This is the Honda Odyssey of hair and it projects low-key confidence: no dye, no need for highlights or a cheeky streak of color, just natural sandy-brown that’s comfortable loose or pulled back with a headband when it’s time to get to work. It’s happy with itself.
This soft tousled flow majored in ceramics and teaches pottery classes part-time. No, Sharon, it didn’t give up its artistic ambitions when it chose to start a family. That bumper sticker on the back of the Odyssey advertising an art studio? Yeah, this hairstyle owns the studio and its work is selling quite nicely, thank you very much. It’s having a show next month.
Sharon’s not invited. Neither is Ronaldo.
Alignment: Lawful Good.
This look presents something of a conundrum. How can one be expected to correctly align a footballer’s hair when the hair in question can’t make up its mind?
Or…has a mind of its own.
It’s been speculated that octopi have separate brains in each of their tentacles. Vrsaljko’s hair appears to have gathered inspiration from our aquatic overlords. What started off as a short Shia LaBeouf-esque coif has evolved over the seasons and now demonstrates an uncanny ability to separate into tentacle-like forms. Are they rustling in the wind or are they writhing of their own accord? We just don’t know.
Alignment: Unknown. We can’t be sure what it wants, so we can only hope for its benevolence.
This is a standard high and tight fade that’s designed to work with the hair’s natural curls for a fauxhawk effect. Accentuated by the buzzed-in side part, it’s a good basic wash-and-go look, cut for instant style that requires little to no actual effort. Work smart, not hard, amirite?
Occasionally Perišić makes great use of his long face shape and its additional scalp real estate. Anyone who says hair can’t be patriotic hasn’t seen Croatia’s iconic red and white checkerboard pattern lovingly dyed into the sides of Perišić’s head. Tell the world that a Croat loves his people, indeed.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral.
At first glance, this is a meh. It’s a natural color, the length transitions are subtle, there’s nothing to complain about but nothing worth getting excited over either. Look again. Notice the point forming on top of Rebić’s head, that hint of a fauxhawk gelled immaculately in place? That’s not an accident: it’s a weapon. Designed for maximum aerodynamic capability, this style is wielded mercilessly up and down the pitch. It’s a heat-seeking missile of hatred and hair product determined to smite all in its path.
Alignment: Neutral Evil. There’s no guarantee it won’t turn on its owner.
If recently-retired goaltender Danijel Subašić’s hair is the K9 police dog hanging up its collar after a long and distinguished career, then Kalinić’s mini-quiff is the new service puppy on its first day of training. Upright, earnest, and just so excited to be here, it brought enough snacks for the whole class. Plus, if he gets grass in it, all he needs is a quick shampoo before he’s ready to try again.
Alignment: Lawful H*ckin’ Good.
It’s amazing what a good haircut can do (see also Messi, Lionel) in terms of taking a glow-up from light sparkle to glitter bomb. Rakitić’s layered bob of yesteryear didn’t just want to speak to the manager, it wanted the corporate headquarters’ phone number and a $100 gift card for its inconvenience.
Enter a pair of clippers and a fresh start. This windswept sometimes-a-pompadour, sometimes-a-tumbleweed fade still has its preferred grocery store and a very specific coffee order, but too much latte foam is no longer cause for a meltdown. After all, mistakes happen, baristas are people too, and life is too short to cry over full-fat milk.
Alignment: Neutral Good.
As a disclaimer, we can’t promise that Domagoj Vida’s hair is, in fact, a human entity. It’s entirely possible that it, along with its bearer, is an alien who came to Earth for a visit, had a look at this whole football thing, and went, “yeah, okay.”
What starts off as nondescript shoulder-length flow presents something of a conundrum upon closer inspection; it’s normal to do a double-take or twelve at this Escher-esque reverse blond bowl. Go deeper. Are the sides of his head shaving themselves? If Vida’s hair looks fine (ish) when it’s down, how can it be that ridiculous when it’s tied back? Has Schrodinger’s Undercut finally been discovered?
This is the Honey Badger of the Vatreni. VidaHair don’t give a sh*t. Keep on rocking, you beautiful being. Your home planet is proud.
Alignment: Chaotic So Bad It’s Good.
And we couldn’t help from adding a little bonus…
Even though he retired from international duty after the World Cup, Mandžukić’s danger spikes deserve an honorable mention. Imagine if Sonic the Hedgehog decided to reinvent himself after the Chaos Emeralds saga and forged a new identity based in punk ethos and Henry Rollins poetry. A pinch of rage, a glob of gel hard enough to take an eye out, and voila.
Alignment: Chaotic Evil. Just ask Sergio Ramos.
¹ Tumblr searches