The humble shin pad.
While boots emerged as the rock and roll stars of football equipment, the shin pad was tucked under a sock and forgotten about.
Well it’s time to shine some light on the part of the World Cup you didn’t realise you needed to know about.
Shin pads are no longer bulky Sondicos. They’re Instagram-worthy customised masterpieces.
Thomas Muller loves his (ex)team-mates
Why does Muller have Lukas Podolski’s name and number inscribed on his shin pads?
Because he’s the maverick space invader doing everything he can to rid Germans of their stiff stereotype, that’s why.
We’d like to think Podolski is repaying the favour at Vissel Kobe.
Edinson Cavani, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho are massive narcissists
Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh.
But you’ve got to fancy yourself a fair amount to put yourself on your own shin pads.
Are the players on the shin pads wearing shin pads and, if they are, are there pictures of themselves on those shin pads?
Panama are in a league of their own
Panama are committed to making the most of their first ever World Cup.
On-pitch glory was never going to be easy to come by, especially after being drawn in the same group as Belgium and eventual winners England.
Not a problem. The Canal Men have made the best of a bad situation by bulk ordering a load of flair shinnies.
Sort of like when you get back from a night out and order a lava lamp. Sort of.
Tim Cahill is hard as fuck
Cahill celebrates every goals by repeatedly punching a defenceless corner flag.
So it’s no surprise that he shuns the colourful carbon fiber options sported by his team-mates in favour of something basic.
He gets extra marks for using plasters to pay homage to the big man upstairs.
Shin pads can double up as a calendar
Keeping track of time can prove difficult during the World Cup.
The relentless onslaught of games is discombobulating for the most organised of spectators, so we’d hate to think what it’s like for the players involved.
Poland centre-back Thiago Cionek has come up with an ingenious approach to safeguarding his short-term memory; he’s inscribed the Group H fixtures on his shin-pads.
However, after scoring an own-goal in Poland’s opening group game- a 2-1 loss against Senegal- he’s probably trying his hardest to lose or break those shinnies.
Family comes first
Sometimes you just need the familiar call of home to calm you down before a game.
For your average amateur footballer that might be a pinch of your favourite baccy, or a losing betting slip.
But for elite footballers about to compete in a World Cup game that means keeping it in the family.
No wonder Pepe goes down so theatrically at the faintest rap on the shins.
Sorry for your loss, Paul
There’s a lot of nonsense talked about Paul Pogba’s hair and how it impacts on his performances.
Most of that talk comes from grey, balding men who, even if they wanted to, wouldn’t be able to dye a French flag into the side of their head.
It’s easy to forget that Pogba is a 25-year-old who lost his father a year ago.
France’s World Cup win against Australia provided the Man United midfielder with a perfect opportunity to pay a touching tribute to his late dad.
Finally, when all else fails you can always rely on divine intervention
Costa Rica’s Oscar Duarte sought divine intervention before taking on dark horses Serbia (we’re contractually obliged to mention horses every time we talk about Serbia, otherwise they’ll send Aleksandar Mitrovic after us).
Costa Rica proceeded to lose 1-0.
Make of that what you will.