Soccer players with glasses: A list of players who wear glasses

Soccer players with glasses: A list of players who wear glasses

Ciku Njuguna
November 2, 2023 at 7:16 AM
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Roberto Firmino logo
R. Firmino
Al-Ahli SFC logoFBrazil logo
Cristiano Ronaldo logo
C. Ronaldo
Al Nassr FC logoFPortugal logo

Typically, glasses are worn to correct vision and protect the eyes. While protective eyewear is encouraged in junior football leagues, it is not a commonly used piece of equipment in top leagues. Dig into this article to discover which soccer players with glasses have played association football over the course of the game's history.

Soccer players with glasses
Roberto Firmino (Left), Cristiano Ronaldo (Centre), and Alexandre Song (Right). Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC, Christopher Lee, and Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto.
Source: Getty Images

Can soccer players wear glasses? Several coaches, such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Alan Pardew, Aimé Jacquet, and Arsène Wenger, have been known to grace the sidelines in eyewear. Scroll down and discover what football players with bad eyesight use during play.

Can you play soccer with glasses?

Unfortunately for soccer players with glasses, FIFA rules and regulations state that players are not allowed to wear any gear that may pose a danger to themselves or other players. In addition to jewellery, spectacles fall in this category as the glasses and metal frames can cause injuries. According to Field Insider, the glass lenses and plastic rims add a degree of risk of head and facial injuries to the wearer and other players.

However, the rule can be waived if the spectacles are not a danger in the referee's opinion. In the situation where the referee decides that a player's eyewear is a danger, he or she must order the removal of the item. Players who refuse to comply will be cautioned with a yellow card and must leave the pitch.

Can soccer players wear glasses?
Edgar Steven Davis (Left), Lionel Messi (Centre), and Joaquin Beltran (Right) in action during a Messi and Friends match in Mexico City on July 31, 2011. Photo by Alfredo Estrella/AFP.
Source: Getty Images

How do soccer players with glasses play?

Poor eyesight is a common condition, with a significant proportion of footballers suffering from it. However, due to modernisation and medical progress, players today are not confined to wearing thick-rimmed goggles for eye protection and vision. Players whose choices are limited must wear specially designed, plastic framed spectacles with antiglare and fitting bands around the head.

Why do soccer players play with glasses?

Eyewear is worn for various reasons, such as correcting poor vision or protecting eye injuries from getting worse. During a training session for Watford, retired footballer Jay DeMerit suffered a corneal injury from his contact lenses. Similarly, players such as Philippe Mexès, Gordon Banks, and Andy Wilkinson suffered optical injuries.

Conditions such as myopia have also contributed to the number of players who require the use of glasses. Despite needing glasses, players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Balotelli, and Kakà have been known to prefer contact lenses during play but wear glasses off the pitch. Here is a comprehensive list of all soccer players that played with glasses throughout history.

Players who wear glasses

Which footballer played with glasses?
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino runs during a training session at Melwood on September 19, 2018, in Liverpool, England. Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC.
Source: Getty Images

1. Edgar Davids

Davis is one of the most famous footballers with glasses. Between 1991 and 2014, the central midfielder played for the Netherlands national football team as well as Crystal Palace, Juventus, Tottenham, Ajax, Barcelona, Inter and AC Milan.

Why did Edgar Davids wear glasses all the time? The three-time Italian Champion suffered from glaucoma for which he had surgery in 1999. Following the surgery, the midfielder began wearing spectacles to protect his eyes.

Can you play soccer with bad eyesight
Tottenham Hotspur's Edgar Davids (Left) holds off Aston Villa's Steve Davis (Right) during a Barclays Premiership match at White Hart Lane on January 21, 2006 in London, England. Photo by Phil Cole.
Source: Getty Images

2. Firmino

In 2018, photos of Saudi Pro League centre forward Roberto Firmino training in sports spectacles emerged, earning him the number two spot on our list. His choice of eyewear came after he sustained an optical injury during a tussle between Liverpool and Tottenham in September 2018.

3. Alex Song

Cameroonian defensive midfielder Alex Song caused a Twitter storm in February 2016 after showing up against Manchester United in protective eyewear. Although he later removed them, he revealed his struggle with the glasses, reporting that he could not see while playing in them.

The AS Arta midfielder's eye suffered damage after he was accidentally poked by Agbonna Angelo. He told the Times that,

What happens if a footballer needs glasses?
West Ham United's Alex Song runs for the ball in a Barclays Premier League match against Bournemouth on January 12, 2016 at Vitality Stadium. Photo by John Walton - EMPICS.
Source: Getty Images
"I have an eye problem, so I have to wear the glasses. The doctor said if I caught an infection, it would be very bad. Sometimes I have to play without them because I can not see properly, but it is a risk. I have to be careful because it's not good for the future. I have to keep wearing them until the doctor tells me not to."

4. Joop Van Daele

Joop Van Daele was a left-back who played for Fortuna Sittard, Excelsior, Fortuna SC, Go Ahead Eagles, and Feijenoord between 1967 and 1982. While playing for the Netherlands national football team, Argentinian defender Oscar Malbernat grabbed and stomped on the spectacles, reminding him not to play with glasses.

5. Rinus Israël

One of the veteran footballers who wore glasses on the pitch was PEC Zwolle '82 sweeper Rinus Israël. The 1970 Holland national football team skipper was famous for donning a pair of thick-rimmed glasses to the pitch.

Can I play soccer with my glasses?
Feyenoord's Rinus Israël celebrates after winning the European Cup final in the San Siro, Milan, on the 6th of May 1970. Photo by VI Images.
Source: Getty Images

6. Joseph Armand Jurion

Between the 1950s and the early 1970s, Belgian winger Jef Jurion was also one of the soccer players who played with glasses before leaving active play for managerial duties with the SK Beveren-Waes. The 9-time Belgian champion won 69 caps for his national football team.

7. Eric Ross

Irish midfielder Eric Ross wore glasses during his matches for various teams, including North Shields, Hartlepool, Newcastle, Northampton, Glentoran, and the Northern Ireland national football team in the 1960s and 1970s. Although he had a successful career, the retired footballer spoke to the media with regard to his eyewear choices, saying,

"I never had any regrets about it, nor did I feel embarrassed."

8. Annibale Frossi

Legendary Muzzana native Annibale Frossi was an Italian soccer player and manager who frequented the field of play in glasses. The 1936 Olympic gold medalist made 147 appearances for Internazionale in spectacles due to an optical condition called myopia.

Do any pro football players wear glasses?
Italian football player and coach Annibale Frossi runs after a ball on a football ground at the Arena Civica stadium in Milan on January 01, 1940. Photo by Mondadori.
Source: Getty Images

9. Andrew Farrel

Louisville native and MLS hotshot Andrew Farrel, ruptured his left eye retina during training, resulting in loss of vision in his eye for 5-6 hours. The injury sustained while blocking a shot left the defender out of the roster for weeks. In reaction to his newest piece of equipment, he told MLSsoccer that,

“My mom says it looks good, so I might have to keep rocking them. No one has crushed me on the team yet about wearing them. My family and my girlfriend say they look cool, so maybe I’ll keep them all year.”

10. Ignazio Abate

Former AC Milan defender Ignazio Abate joins the list of the best soccer players with glasses in position nine. He began wearing the glasses after getting hit by a ball during a friendly match between AC Milan and US Sassuolo Calcio in February 2017. He was later seen wearing the spectacles in training and in a match against F.C. Lugano.

11. Achmad Nawir

When Indonesia made its FIFA World Cup debut in June 1938, Achmad Nawir, a bespectacled doctor, captained the team. Compared to other players on this list who were forced to wear protective goggles due to injury, Nawir believed that spectacles gave him an edge against the opponents on the field.

12. Leopold Kielholz

Between 1927 and 1958, Swiss football player Kielholz made history as one of the first bespectacled players ever. Historical records show he was the first player to score for the Swiss national football team at a World Cup tournament.

13. Javier Montero

Atletico Colchonero, Javier Montero began wearing protective eyewear after suffering a retinal detachment in 2017 due to a tackle with a colleague. He appeared in a number of matches, including an early match against Atlético B and Arsenal.

What glasses can you wear in soccer?
Club Atletico de Madrid's Javier Montero runs with the ball during the La Liga match against Sevilla FC at Wanda Metropolitano on May 12, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Quality Sport Images.
Source: Getty Images

How many football players wear contacts?

At the time of writing, there are no players donning eyewear on international association football matches. However, the pitch has been a welcome home for football players with bad eyesight.

Some players, such as Genaro Gattuso, have had to wear alternative protective gear after injuries, such as eye patches and contact lenses. Here is a list of some of the footballers who chose to wear contact lenses rather than spectacles on the pitch.




Cristiano Ronaldo

Al-Nassr F.C.


Álvaro Arbeloa

West Ham United


Jérôme Boateng

Olympique Lyon



Orlando City SC

Attacking midfielder

David de Gea

Manchester United


Andrés Iniesta

Emirates Club

Central midfielder

Paul Scholes

Manchester United

Central midfielder

Petr Čech

Arsenal F.C.


Jay DeMerit

Vancouver Whitecaps F.C.


Siem De Jong

De Graafschap Doetinchem

Attacking midfielder

How do you play soccer if you wear glasses?
2015 Laureus World Team of the Year winner Jerome Boateng posed with the trophy at Villa Kennedy Hotel on March 23, 2015, in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo by Matthias Hangst/Laureus.
Source: Getty Images

Notable mentions

The number of soccer players who play with glasses has dwindled over the years due to FIFA laws. Here is a list of five famous soccer players with glasses who choose contact lenses on the pitch and spectacles off the pitch.

  1. Lilian Thuram
  2. Mario Balotelli
  3. John Terry
  4. Nicolas Anelka
  5. Genaro Gattuso
Is it okay to play football with glasses?
Roberto Firmino poses with Alberto Moreno of Liverpool during a training session at Melwood on September 19, 2018, in Liverpool, England. Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC.
Source: Getty Images

Glasses are not an essential part of the recommended FIFA equipment list. However, injuries and conditions affecting players have necessitated their use in the field of play.

READ ALSO: Soccer equipment list: Essentials a footballer needs to have

Sports Brief recently published an article outlining all the recommended gear a professional or amateur soccer player would need. The report covers FIFA-approved football essentials such as jerseys, cleats, shin guards, and headgear required by all players from minor to senior leagues.

Click on the link above to discover what type of gear players, goalkeepers, and coaches are required to wear.

Ciku Njuguna photo
Ciku Njuguna
Ciku Njuguna is a journalist with 3 year’s experience in content creation based in Kenya. She currently covers sports personnel as well as team biographies.