Each November men all over the world abandon their razors and grow moustaches in an effort to help raise money for and awareness of men’s health issues. These include testicular and prostate cancer, as well as mental health and suicide among men, which is one of the biggest killers of men in the country. To recognise this, we’ve put together our top 10 list of sporting heroes that feature first-class facial furniture.
Almost as famous for his top-notch top lip topiary as he is for his legendary speed and derring-do behind the wheel, ‘Our Nige’ – as he was known during his peak years in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s – was (and still is) a true British sporting hero with an absolutely superb moustache. Neat and clipped, but still full and strong, Nigel and the moustache were inseparable until he tragically shaved it off after his retirement from Formula 1 in 1995.
There could have been any number of Australian cricketers from the 1980s on this list, but Merv Hughes – a bull of a man and a terrifying fast bowler at his peak – has some of the all-time great facial furniture among any sportsperson. Thick, lustrous and running the full length from each side of his chin, it truly is one of the most iconic sporting moustaches in history.
Now, the debate will rage as to the athleticism required to play snooker, but we’ll brook no argument about the quality of Thorne’s marvellous moustache. While his face fungus never managed to power him right to the top of the game – he won just the one ranking tournament during his career – it did make him one of the most recognisable figures in snooker and remains so to this day.
Graham Hill was the epitome of the suave, smooth-talking gentleman racing driver of the ‘60s and ‘70s and a huge part of this image was the perpetually-trimmed, pencil-thin moustache. Hill was so much more than an image, however, winning two driver’s world championships with BRM and Lotus, winning the Indianapolis 500, the Le Mans 24 Hours, as well as forming and running his own team. Tragically, he was killed in an air crash in 1975.
A player defined almost as much by his hirsuteness as by his genius between the posts, David Seaman was a legendary goalkeeper for both Arsenal and England. He was famed across the footballing world for his shot stopping ability, an outstanding ponytail and, of course, that voluptuous moustache.
Goalkeepers could have dominated this list – Bruce Grobelaar, the South African-born shot stopper was a strong contender for this list – but Neville Southall just tipped him round the post, as it were. Everton’s appearance record holder with 578 league appearances and playing 92 times for Wales, Southall and his face fuzz managed to win the league and European Cup-Winner’s Cup for Everton during what became a long and distinguished career.
What hasn’t already been written about the moustachioed man mountain that is Daley Thompson, probably isn’t worth saying; but we’ll give it a go anyway. The double Olympic champion decathlete was famed not just for his athletic prowess and rivalry with his West German counterpart Jürgen Hingsen, but also his top-notch facial topiary which, unlike some other subjects on this list, remains to this day.
Before swimmers needed to remove every trace of hair from their bodies in order to be successful, Mark Spitz dominated the aquatic arena, complete with a fabulously-follicled top lip (and chest). He demonstrated that hirsutedness wasn’t a barrier to Olympic success in the pool. He won nine Olympic gold medals in all, something he shares with only five other athletes, including fellow American swimmer Michael Phelps (who, rather unbelievably, has 23).
Liverpool footballers of the 1970s and ‘80s often sported top lip topiary, but none of them were as legendary as Ian Rush. The second Welsh footballer plying his trade on Merseyside on this list, Rush is Liverpool’s leading goal scorer with 346 in all competitions and 28 goals for Wales, a record he held until Gareth Bale over took him in 2018.
A cricketing legend if ever there was one and nearly as well known for his upper lipholstery as he was for his escapades on the cricket field. He won the 1981 ashes series against the Australians nearly single-handedly, dragging England from the jaws of defeat by sheer force of will. He’s third on the list of all time test wicket takers for England (having held the record until James Anderson overtook him in 2015 followed by Stuart Broad) and was a destructive batsman and agile fielder too.