The beard; some love them, others hate them. But there is no denying that, when pulled off correctly, they can be triumphiantly brilliant. Past sportsmen like W.G Grace have always been in an uncool minority; their facial fuzz often something to be sniggered at. This, however, is no more. Pioneers such as David Beckham have made the beard a favourite for football hipsters across the land, and here are the very best.

5.) Trifon Ivanov

Trifon Ivanov - commonly known as 'The Bulgarian Wolf' - was, perhaps, not the greatest endorsement of 'the beautiful game'. His long-range shooting was as notorious as his grizzly mane; a mullet-beard combo unrivalled in the world of sport. Unfortunately, his playing career wasn't quite as illustrious as his chin curtain, although he was part of the 1994 Bulgarian side that finished 4th in the World Cup, beating the likes of Germany and Argentina along the way. Watch out Mesut Ozil, this is you in 10 years!

4.) Antonio Nocerino

The Milan midfielder's beard/hair combo is a beauty to behold. Joining the Italian club for a measly £500,000, the deep-lying playmaker has established himself as one of the finest passers in Europe. His short boxed chin whiskers are making up for all these years of beardy anonymity, narrowly besting Italy teammate Daniele De Rossi in the running for the best beard of Euro 2012.

3.) Abel Xavier

After brief stints with Everton, Liverpool and later Middlesbrough, Xavier became something of a cult hero amongst fans. His outrageous dyed styles overshadowed his nomadic-style playing career, as he refused to be outdone by the likes of Djibril Cisse. The full-back recently retired, before converting to Islam and changing his forename to Faisal... 

2.) Alexi Lalas

There is only one word for it; monstrosity. Okay, maybe this is a little harsh, but the American's infamous flowing ginger mane and matching goatee helped him through some stellar performances during the '94 World Cup. He was the heart of the yanks' defence, inspiring them to a round of 16 finish (losing narrowly to eventual winners Brazil).

1.) Andrea Pirlo

Well, what can you say about Andrea Pirlo? As if being possibly the greatest regista of all time wasn't enough, he decides to grow a beard of such magesty, such prestige, I don't even feel worthy of even being within the same continent as him. Whilst the rough-and-ready look can be just as, if not more effective as a plucked-and-primmed affair, however one can only presume that Andrea spends as much time plucking his nose hairs as he does perfecting those pin-point passes. But that's alright, we love him and his magnificent beard no matter what. I mean, just look at it! Look at it!

 

If you feel I've missed out an obvious choice then feel free to leave a comment below. Is Olof Mellberg deserving of a top five place? What about David Beckham and his Laughing Cavalier attempt? Please rate, comment and enjoy!