As the FIFA World Cup 2014 nears its second round, the guide takes a look at some of its biggest names, their fitness regimes and quirks to help you choose your favourite routine
This one's for grandma
Name: Lionel Messi
Quirk factor: Unlike other players who may be narcissistic, Messi doesn’t watch video highlights of his game. Plus, every time he hits a goal, he raises both hands in the air as a tribute to his grandmother who passed away when he was 10.
Diet: Football players gradually increase their carbohydrate intake as the match approaches so that it boosts their glycogen levels and provides stamina. Roughly five days prior to the game, he has vegetable soups made from ingredients like turmeric, coriander and ginger to aid blood thinning and help supply oxygen to the cells. During the meal before the match, Messi consumes fish, prawns or chicken as well as vegetables. Around six hours before the match, he ensures protein intake through porridge or egg whites. An hour before the match, he has a fruit that is high on fibre.
Fitness routine: Messi’s workout includes strength-building and agility —building routines such as squat jumps, skipping, hopping over hurdles, sprinting and running for five minutes. Post this, he does forward and multi-directional lunges. He does a pillar skip or running with feet high in the air. He also does yoga to relax his mind.
King of boot superstitions
Name: Robin Van Persie
Quirk factor: The Dutch footballer is believed to be the king of boot superstitions. He believes that if a boot delivers once, it will delivers again. In fact, he customised a boot to suit his needs, with the number 20 (his Manchester United jersey) on it.
Diet: Persie follows a strict diet like most of his Manchester United teammates. However, he avoids meat a day before a match.
Fitness routine: Van Persie follows a very strict, tailored fitness regime, designed especially for him at Manchester United. A recent video, before the World Cup showed him working out in a gym with some heavy weight lifting, and plenty of sprinting. In the past, the footballer has credited his football skills to playing in game courts, known as the cage. Persie also watches videos of him playing football, almost everyday.
Hair cut to score
Name: Cristiano Ronaldo
Quirk factor: Ronaldo is a strict teetotaller as his father passed away from alcoholism. Before the match, he keeps a ritual of getting a haircut as he fears not doing so, might jinx his scores.
Diet: Named after Ronald Reagan, he follows a strict diet and includes six small meals a day starting with toast and fish fry for a carb-rich breakfast. It is followed with a protein shake and fruit juice. Lunch usually consists of cheese, brown rice, wheat toast, green vegetables and olives. His dinner includes rice with pulses and protein intake is through chicken, eggs, beans or lean cuts of beef or pork.
Fitness routine: Ronaldo works out almost four hours a day, five days a week. He runs daily for around half an hour for cardio exercise. Apart from that, he varies his exercise routine based on what he wants to focus on and includes high intensity sprints, pull ups, dumbbell bench presses, box jumps, body weight dips, etc. He reportedly does 3,000 sit-ups daily.
Footie and music
Name: Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior
Quirk factor: Neymar also has a musical connection; he is famous for the video that went viral showing his teammates dancing to Michael Telo’s Ai Se Eu Te Pego. He also makes stage appearances at Brazilian concerts. He scored his 100th goal on his birthday (February 5) last year. It’s a rare feat, especially at the age of 20. He was ranked the seventh-richest footballer in the world by Forbes, last year.
Diet: With the sport being the focal part of his life, Neymar has a balanced diet with sufficient intake of protein, carbohydrates and salads. His diet also includes a lot of pizzas, spinach, eggs and spaghetti.
Fitness routine: His training routine includes weight training to help him bulk up and improve upper body strength. He also does cardio exercises including tennis, cycling, golf, running and swimming. His workout focusses on enabling flexibility and strength building for which he does squat jumps, skipping, hopping hurdles, short sprints and running. He also does forward lunges and multi-directional lunges.
Sitting is bad
Name: Karim Benzema
Quirk factor: Benzema doesn’t like sitting in the same place for long, because he feels it may cause muscle damage. Even while on a flight, he gets up every five minutes. No wonder then that none of his teammates like to sit next to him during a flight! The only time he can be found sitting is during take off and landing. The rest of the time he could easily be wandering around in the plane.
Diet: The French footballer, who turned down Manchester United time and again, follows a very strict diet throughout the week. His post-training meal mostly includes grilled chicken with rice or pasta.
Fitness routine: Benzema has different fitness plans made to suit up varied needs. During pre-seasons, he works out mostly in the gym, toning his muscles. During the game season, his workout regime includes around 80% pitch training and 20% in the gym. In the gym, he could be seen doing cardio exercises, which includes bike works at least four times a week. In the pitch, his regime includes speed exercises like high intensity sprinting drills everyday. And as per kicking the ball, he does a lot of first touch shooting.
Luis Suarez and his lucky number 9
Suarez is very superstitious about the number nine.
The Uruguayan footballer, who wears jersey number nine for Uruguay, insists on staying at room no 9 in hotels, and sits in seat number 9 whenever he travels in the team coach.
The footballer has also admitted of following rituals like kissing the tattoo of his son and daughter’s names for good luck.