You've arrived at the local Powerleague. You're tentatively warming up your quad with the only stretch you remember from your playing days (the one where you pull your foot up to your arse and totter about like a baby giraffe until you can find a shoulder to grab onto). You soon sack that off. You start smashing the ball into the sideboards in a vague drill that doesn't really aid either your touch or shooting and will lead you to misplace the first eight passes you attempt in the game. The opposition arrive. They start strategically stuffing their bags behind the goal. You stop and watch them. Specifically, their feet. What are they wearing? What boots have they got on? What does it tell you about them as individuals? What does it tell you about the way they play football? It tells you this. It tells you all of this.
Modern Adidas Predators
A show-pony of an individual. Cares about nutmegs more than goals. Even worse, actually says 'megs' beforehand. Prat. Is wearing lycra tights, gloves and a snood even though it's April. Still lives with their parents, has a car on finance and pays for Tinder Gold. Never, ever, ever goes in goal because they have a sprained wrist. Their wrist has been sprained the entire time you've known them. Their wrist has been sprained for 14 years. You're pretty sure their wrist isn't sprained.
Adidas World Cups
Never plays a pass off the floor, never uses anything other than the instep of their foot (for passing, shooting, first touch - they even head the ball with the instep of their foot, somehow) and always, ALWAYS has a 2 litre bottle of Volvic kept behind the goal. "Hydration is key," they say, as they drink approximately 90% of it in one gulp and offer you the dregs. Full of intelligent movement (even if they've lost a yard), constructive feedback after a goal (they don't just scream "COME ON LADS") and love nothing more than sitting in their towel for 2 hours in the changing room after the game. Unbelievably disciplined. Goes to the pub after, says "I'm only staying for one" and actually means it. Pays their subs in 20ps. Have to take the good with the bad, I guess.
Any Mizuno Football Boot
They pronounce 'Calcio' correctly, have a soft spot Borussia Monchengladbach (doing well in the Bundesliga this season, aren't they? Marcus Thuram and László Bénes are proper talents, aren't they?) and wear a hairband even though their hair isn't actually long enough to require a hairband. They are 15 years deep into a Football Manager save with Djurgårdens IF, use the outside of their foot at every available opportunity and describe themselves as something between a modern 8 and a traditional 6 if anyone asks what position they play. They are a baller though, to be fair, but have never won a 50/50 challenge in their entire life. Ref pulls them up 30 seconds into every game to tell them to take off their rings and ear studs. Attempts to chip the goalkeeper when put through one-on-one and once scored a goal so outrageously beautiful it made grown men cry. Usually have a name like 'Callum', or 'Ricky', or 'Seb'.
They're the oldest player on the pitch by at least 20 years. Their knees don't work. They have a velcro first touch and can still find the bottom corners but are otherwise a complete liability for their team due to the lack of movement. Nobody knows their real name, they have a thick gold chain and even thicker chest chair poking through the neck of their shirt, always collared, and they wear a luminous orange bib even when they don't need to.
Nike Total 90s
Always worn with rolled down football socks, as demonstrated above. They are interested in two aspects of football and two aspects of football only: shooting from distance and cynical fouling. They are good at both and absolutely nothing else. They have either shoulder length hair or Jarhead buzz cut, no in between, and have on more than one occasion pushed the ref over a penalty decision that they know, deep down, was correct. Has to be reminded 'no slides' every. single. week.
They are a walking contradiction. They wear the football boot of choice for Ronaldinho and Andrea Pirlo despite being a full-back (even in five-a-side you are a full-back, despite there being no need for full-backs in five-a-side. Move away from the side you weirdo). They pass the ball by tackling it to someone. They support Chelsea despite growing up in Bristol, wear floral swimming shorts and have at least four Reading Festival bands still on their wrist. Their favourite players of all time, in order, are: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Frank Leboeuf and Eidur Gudjohnsen. Drink Lucozade Sport because they think it improves their performance. It doesn't.
They're a referee. And Italian.
They love running and they'd much rather be running but they come along to the football anyway so they can run around until they want to die. Always play in a H&M basics tee in olive green and have a monstrous sweat patch on their back before they even start the game (because they ran here, didn't they). Crap at football but fitter than everyone else so annoyingly effective on small-sided pitches due to the tactic of hoofing the ball and sprinting after it over and over and over again. They know how to code and they order a Hobgoblin in the pub after and they have tickets for the My Chemical Romance tour. Multiple dates.
They picked these up last minute from Sports Direct. Oh God they're wearing shin pads. The kind with added ankle protection. They kick the ball with their big toe and will injure at least one other player during the match because they tackle by winding their leg all the way back like a cartoon character. Scored a goal once via their knee. They play 'at the back' and only 'at the back'. Statistically the most likely people to respond to the question "Who do you support, mate?" with "Brazil".
Any Adidas Predator Manias
They are responsible for the vast majority of Zidane YouTube compilations set to the music of Coldplay and have never really gotten over being released from the academy of a League One side when they were 14. They have a 'Player of the Tournament - Yarmouth 1999' trophy on their mantelpiece. They are, in fairness, very good at football but absolutely lose their minds if someone plays a forward pass rather than recycling possession. Other than themselves, of course. They are allowed to play forward passes. They are always between 5 foot 6 and 5 foot 8 and double up on their tennis socks (have to be Adidas) for "more control". They have, on more than one occasion in their lives, gone to the astro on their own to practice corners for several hours. They have never voluntarily subbed off in their life. Shouts 'TWOS" a lot.
Good Nike Mercurials
They scored 56 goals in a season at Sunday League level when they were younger but now weigh between 16 and 20 stone. They are therefore impossible to shrug off the ball and that fact combined with their great feet (How? How do your feet stay that quick despite you being huge? That is beyond science) and great balance makes them almost the perfect five-a-side player. You know, if they didn't spend the entire game stood in the opposition half with their hands on their hips whilst the rest of their teammates fight off four on three counterattacks for an hour. For some reason they play in a puffa coat in the summer but a short sleeve t-shirt in the winter. Which has always confused me to be honest. Likes the ball to feet. Will turn their back on the play if they don't get the ball to feet. Always called 'Jase'. Only called 'Jase'.
Bad Nike Mercurials
They are the lankiest player on the pitch and have these in a size 13. Their feet look ridiculous. Like big canoes. They look ridiculous. They describe themselves as a 'set-piece specialist' even though they've never scored a free-kick in their life, never even hit the target, and free-kicks are basically pointless at five-a-side anyway. They wear a full kit including matching shorts and socks with the name and number of a not-that-good player on the back from ten years ago. Examples: a Nani 17 United shirt, a Chamakh 29 Arsenal shirt, a Voronin 10 Liverpool shirt. They have spent actual money on their FIFA Ultimate Team and take notes during Alan Shearer's segments on Match of the Day to "help with their movement". They play as a striker and they are fucking shite.
They refer to their car as a 'motor', wear a knee brace and believe the most important factor in their team's success is "talking" and "lots of talking out there" and "lots of talking, lads" and "I want to hear lots of talking out there, lads. Let's talk to each other, yeah?". They have the crest of a Midlands football club tattooed on the back of their calf. Always bring their own overly-pumped-up Mitre to the game even though the Powerleague provide balls. Message the team WhatsApp on a Friday night asking 'Who's out?' and get no replies. After a bad defeat will stomp around the changing rooms claiming that they've had enough and aren't coming next week. Will inevitably come again the next week, 20 minutes early, and sit in their car with the heater on instead of watching the other games. Sometimes good footballers, sometimes woeful footballers, always have the reddest faces you've ever seen in your life. Still own a Nokia 3210 as their 'works phone'.
Doesn't look like much but they're actually the best player the rest of us have ever seen. Doesn't say a single word during the game. Doesn't need to. Plays like the perfect cross between Franz Beckenbauer and Kaka, wears a University leaver's hoody and doesn't say goodbye to anyone afterwards. Vanishes during that walk from the pitches to the car park. Has had the same short back and sides haircut their entire life and probably doesn't sleep. Just sits on their single bed and 'waits for tomorrow'. Has been to the pub with their teammates only once: had a diet coke, no ice, and left the second it was finished. Has never missed a game and doesn't believe muscle injuries actually exist. Can see their abs through their t-shirt.
These kind of monstrosities
You're a goalkeeper, aren't you? What's the point? WHY? Get a pair of Sondicos. Fuck off.