Hair today, gone tomorrow – because they're worth it

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Marc Lièvremont's 'tache has lit up the World Cup, prompting Robin Scott-Elliot to unfurl a top 10 of hirsute sporting errors

1. Marc Lièvremont

The French coach has come to resemble D'Artagnan during this tournament, albeit a D'Artagnan wearied by his fruitless attempts to control his rowdy musketeers. But for all the troubles he carries, the classic pencil tache lends him an impressive air of louche sangfroid

2. WG Grace

The grandaddy of hirsute sportsmen. The daunting beard only added to the impression that he was the damn man and would do whatever he damn well pleased. He also had an eye for a quick pound and it was rumoured that during the close season he would rent out his ample whiskers for small mammals to hibernate in.

3. Bill Buckner

He may have gone down in US sporting history as baseball's biggest loser but just look at the tache. Buckner let the ball slip through his legs in the decisive moment of the 1986 World Series to gift victory to the New York Mets at the Red Sox's expense. But he deserves credit for a facial arrangement that would make Magnum PI question his masculinity.

4. Dan Cole

The sole success of England's World Cup campaign was Cole's beard. A typical no-frills forward's growth; don't shave, beard grows. What we actually have here is an admirable throwback to Henry VIII, only with less wives, I hope

5. Romania 1998

How did Dan Petrescu and his team-mates pass the time in camp during the 1998 World Cup finals? By making silly bets. The result of qualifying for the knockout stage was the entire squad decided to dye their hair blonde, apart from their goalkeeper, who was excused on the grounds he didn't have any hair to dye.

6. Australia cricketers

There is a rich tradition in Australia –I suppose they have to have one – of hairy cricketers. The Chappell brothers and Dennis Lillee set a high standard in the 1970s and Merv Hughes and David Boon, who was more moustache than man, have kept the flame burning, although not too closely as tache fires are a real worry Down Under.

7. Graham Gooch and Shane Warne

If you are losing your own hair take someone else's. There are plenty of sportsmen who have taken this route, but these two were among the first. Gooch scored a 100 in his first game post hair transplant, an achievement that has become known as a reverse Samson.

8. Bobby Mihailov

Again more of a tale of hair that wasn't, but demands inclusion for being the worst wig in sporting history and perhaps beyond. If Donald Trump and Paul Daniels were ever to have sported hairpieces, only they might, ahem, trump the follicly challenged Bulgarian and briefly Reading No 1

9. Phillips Idowu

The triple jumper would win best in paddock at any Games and actually it would add a whole new level of excitement to the event were judges to mark the competitors' look and then multiply that by the distance leapt. It would certainly improve chances of British gold next year.

10. Jimmy Hill

The man who broke down the doors to the bank for British footballers had an extraordinary career in and around the game and through much of the later stages of it he was accompanied by the neatest, best behaved goatee you could wish to see.

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