Lists

10 of football's weirdest initiation ceremonies

John Hartson Wimbledon

Forget a warm welcome: signing for a new club often involves scorched clothes, inappropriate swearing and toilet brushes...

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

1. Kenny Sansom's unlikely bedfellows

“Peter Taylor kept mouthing ‘I love you’,” recalled Kenny Sansom. “The next thing, he’s blowing kisses at me too.”

The chunky full-back, who admitted to being “naive” when he turned professional at Crystal Palace, later discovered room-mate Dave Swindlehurst had pushed the beds together in their room. Sansom soon cottoned onto the wind-up, but not before some curious moments ahead of his first-team debut.

2. Garrincha's Little Bird dropping

His Botafogo coach later described him as “the most amateur professional ever to play football”, and Garrincha’s behaviour towards new signings did little to disprove that view. “He’d eat a really spicy meal,” explained former team-mate Didi, “then break wind in the new boy’s face.”

The Little Bird’s array of botty-related pranks also extended to lobbing turds through new signings’ windows. Lovely.

3. Parlour-vous Anglais?

Ray Parlour enjoyed taking new Arsenal recruits under his wing and teaching them some helpful English phrases. After being schooled by Parlour, Brazilian midfielder Edu was reported to have greeted former Manchester United chief executive Martin Edwards with “you dirty bastard”.

The Romford Pele later admitted that he would “try to get foreign players to swear at important people all the time”. It was an old trick: ex-Manchester United man Andrei Kanchelskis told FFT recently of the time he was duped into calling Alex Ferguson "Scottish bastard". We're sure that went down swimmingly. 

4. Know what Amin?

Idi Amin

“You were told to shout ‘down with Amin’ in front of the first team,” explained an unnamed former Uganda striker in the early '80s. With the despotic Idi Amin rumoured to have political spies everywhere, this test of foolhardiness proved too much for some petrified newcomers, who opted not to play for The Cranes, rather than incur Amin’s wrath. 

5. Trev's “milk and two sugars”

Having already threatening to “whack him around the head with my squash racquet” after signing for Nottingham Forest, Brian Clough then decided to bring down million pound signing Trevor Francis a further peg or two by instructing him to make his new team-mates’ half-time cuppas during his first week at the club.

“He put too much milk in mine,” moaned the barking mad Cloughie afterwards, “but luckily he played football better than he made tea.”