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Portugal urged to grow lucky beards in bid to help win World Cup

By Nick Callow

Cristiano Ronaldo's team-mates have been urged to follow his example and all grow lucky beards in a bizarre bid to help Portugal win the World Cup.

The Real Madrid superstar is winning the race for Golden Boot with four goals in two games and is sporting a 'lucky' goatee for the first time.

Teammate Cedric Soares, who also has a little beard for superstitious reasons, thinks the whole team should get growing.

The Southampton defender said: “It is a good idea – why not? If you look at our squad a lot of us already have beards.

“I know why I have it – I started in England and now I do not want to take it off because it is bringing us some luck.

“Maybe Cristiano wanted to have it like mine and maybe it is bringing us some luck. So I hope he keeps it. It has nothing to do with Lionel Messi.”

The beards follow in a long line of World Cup superstitions.

Former Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea would urinate on the pitch to bring himself good luck before penalty shoot-outs and Laurent Blanc kissed the bald head of France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez before every game in the 1998 finals.

Portugal now need to avoid defeat against Iran in their final group game to progress to the last 16 and will again look to Ronaldo as he has scored all four goals in their opening two matches.

Soares added: “It is good to know we can count on him and I am sure he will be there for us in the next game.

“He knows that we all support him as the best player in the world. He proved it again against Morocco and is proving it every day. Definitely, we are happy to count on him.

[quote]Cristiano is the best in the world. You can give him the ball and you know he'll try something, try to get something out of it always. It gives me pleasure and I'm proud to be part of it, to be here and to be able to play with him. I think he's amazing, it's true.[/quote]

“He works every day. It's a fact. Everyone works a lot but he's always focused. It doesn't matter where he is. He is always working.”

West Ham defender Jose Fonte is also backing Ronaldo to take them all the way as they look to add the World Cup to their EURO 2016 triumph.

Fonte said: “Cristiano is Cristiano. He is the best player in the world and it is not surprising he is doing what he is doing.

“He prepares for that and being Portuguese and having him in the team is just incredible. We know that we have him in the team and he is the major asset for us.

“We have to do our job at the back and he will do his up front.

"What is it like to defend against him in training? Tough!

“Portugal always has the expectation to win but we have to take it game by game and Iran will be a very very tough one.

"They beat Morocco and are a team that runs as a collective and works very hard. They will try and make it very difficult for us.”