In the numbers game, thirteen can be lucky for some | sports | Hindustan Times
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In the numbers game, thirteen can be lucky for some

sports Updated: Jun 14, 2010 02:30 IST
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Footballers are known for their superstitions - be it putting one sock on before the other, last out onto the pitch (France's William Gallas) or kissing your goalkeeper's bald head - the French again in the shape of Laurent Blanc and Fabien Barthez.

England defender John Terry has various routines that the Chelsea star never deviates from - including always sitting in the same seat on the team bus - while teammate Jermain Defoe is on record as saying having a haircut can ward off the likelihood of injury.

Others swear by their shirt number: The number 10 shirt of Brazil and Argentina appears to be blessed with superhuman powers - or maybe it's more to do with the stars who have worn it. Argentina once tried to retire their number 10 shirt after Diego Maradona but that was before Lionel Messi came along, while the likes of Zico and current star Kaka have done their best to honour the legacy of Pele.

But spare a thought for those whose superstitious nature extends to "unlucky" number 13 - and there are 32 of them at this tournament. Some of those assigned the "unlucky" shirt might reasonably expect to get to the final, such as Brazil's Dani Alves, Argentina's Walter Samuel or even Germany's Thomas Mueller - though Italy's Salvatore Bocchetti and England newcomer Stephen Warnock will be equally determined to shine.

Uruguayan striker Sebastian Abreu says he is unruffled about the number 13 on his back though they do call him "el loco" the crazy one, in his homeland. "I've always asked for that number everywhere I have played," says the man from Brazilian side Botofogo, whose boots even bear the inscription 'Loco-13'.

Mario Lobo Zagallo, a double world champion as a player with Brazil and then championship-winning coach in 1970, was another counter-intuitive type who believed in the number 13. "I liked the number 13," says Zagallo, who explained there was a rather mundane reason behind the fact. "It was because of my wife - she was a devotee of Saint Anthony," whose feast day falls on June 13.