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It’s a fortnight from the moment Fridolina Rolfö and Ingrid Engen will find themselves lining up for the UEFA Women’s Champions League final and yet, had you not been aware of that beforehand, it would be hard to suspect such a career-defining event was ahead for the Barcelona Femení duo.

Not solely because of their willingness to take part in our photoshoot so close to the final, nor the endless energy they have brought with them on set after a long, hectic season of competing on all fronts. No, it would be the fact that neither Rolfö nor Engen had ever dreamt of becoming professional footballers that would surprise you most about the level they have since reached.

Thinking practically though, why would they? Growing up in Scandinavia – Sweden and Norway to be exact – women’s football was not only void of coverage, it was virtually invisible, just like it was for young girls in every part of the world.

Engen, who now plies her trade almost 2,000 miles from her birthplace of Melhus, believes change is coming and the days of girls being excluded from developing dreams of becoming elite-level footballers are finally and rightfully coming to an end.

Inspiring the next generation. Photography by Shane Bain.

“I think visibility is key,” the 25-year-old says, reflecting on her own lack of childhood influence. “Now, young girls can see us play here, they see us playing for the biggest clubs and they can dream about and work towards being at the same place in the years ahead.”

Both Rolfö and Engen arrived in Barcelona after joining from VfL Wolfsburg Women in a double deal for the Spanish club back in 2021. The pair are also both signed to major sportswear brand PUMA and like their taste in both football clubs and brands, Rolfö and Engen also agree on the importance of visibility for the women’s game.

“Visibility. I think that’s the most important thing to make the game grow,” says RolföThe younger girls looking up to us need to see us. Not only on TV but in the newspaper, they need to read more about it. I think that’s the most important thing that we are challenging, that women’s football is more visible.”

Though the fight for visibility is far from its endgame, interest in women’s football is undoubtedly on a rise at levels the game has not witnessed before. Barcelona Femení’s Champions League final clash against VfL Wolfsburg Women in Eindhoven is evidence of that, with the full 36,500 capacity of the Philips Stadium witnessing Jonatan Giráldez’s side come back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and lift the prestigious prize for the second time in the club’s history, with Rolfö making history by scoring the winner.

“It would be a special feeling to win the Champions League,” Rolfö says prior to the match-winning performance she would later drop against her former club. Ingrid and I, we’ve been in two finals and lost both of them so we know how it is to lose those important games and especially a Champions League final. It’s something that I have dreamt about winning for many years.”

“It’s time now for Frido and me. Third time lucky,” Engen adds with a grin.

“Hopefully,” says Rolfö. “Now it’s our year.”

Indeed it was their year.

Champions League winners in PUMA. Photography by Shane Bain.

The sun is shining in Barcelona on the day of our shoot, with a cloud in the sky proving impossible to find. Despite attending training earlier in the day – in the same heat the rest of us on set continue to hide from – both Barça Femení ballers are in better spirits than anyone, most notably when discussing the gratitude they hold for living in the city.

“For me, it’s a dream playing here in Barcelona,” Engen says. “Just to be a part of such a big club, that cares so much for their female side, is incredible. We feel like we get a lot of support and the fans? They are amazing. I feel like we’ve been writing history together, us players and the fans. It’s a special bond between us and we’ve seen the games we’ve sold out the Camp Nou, which is pretty crazy.”

“The fans are amazing, as Ingrid said,” Rolfö says, continuing the show of love for their supporters.“We feel it every day. At training, they are outside the training ground supporting us and giving us energy.”

“When we play the big games, they are there and you can really feel the energy. It helps us a lot. I didn’t dream about becoming a footballer but I wish I had dreamt about playing here because it is such a cool experience to be a part of. Moving abroad, playing for one of the best clubs in the world, reaching (and winning) a Champions League final and being a part of this team here, it’s surreal.”

“I agree with Frido,” Engen adds. “I wish I knew that one day I would play for Barcelona. I know how much motivation that would have given me and it’s really cool that young girls now have this opportunity to dream big and find the facilities to get better and do what they love.”

Barcelona flow. Photography by Shane Bain.

Whilst their influence at club level on aspiring female ballers cannot be understated, both Engen and Rolfö’s biggest opportunity to inspire a generation arrives this summer in the shape of the Women’s World Cup, held in Australia and New Zealand. Like any sport, success in a globally-watched tournament can create new heroes for supporters all over the world. The triumph of the Lionesses’ at the Women’s Euro 2022 finals is proof of that with young girls across England finding new role models to idolise having previously been turned away by the traditionalism and outdated mindset of the male game for years prior.

Rolfö, who holds 76 caps for Sweden, believes the upcoming World Cup will only be an improvement from previous tournaments due to the quality of the women’s game consistently increasing. “I think it’s so interesting to see how the women’s game is growing,” the Swede says with excitement in her eyes. 

“We see it in the tournaments especially. We see one level at one tournament, then a new level at another and then another new level at the next, so it’s cool seeing how fast the game is growing. I think we will see the best tournament every year for the next couple of years.”

For Engen, the thought of featuring at the World Cup for Norway is another dream she never deemed possible as a young girl in Melhus. “It’s incredible what we are achieving and what we are doing. I don’t think I could have dreamed about this years ago.”

“With the new World Cup ahead and the really good tournaments in the last couple of years, the expectations for this summer are the same. The interest is there, people are going to show up and it’s going to be a great tournament. I’m really excited.”

Like most athletes, football doesn’t define either Rolfö or Engen. The growing interest in athlete self-expression is not exclusive to solely male players and as footballers continue to position themselves in the fashion scene, the demand from Gen-Z to see their favourite ballers away from the pitch only increases. This being something Engen enjoys. 

PUMA girls, on and off the pitch. Photography by Shane Bain.

“I think my love for fashion is about showing another side to myself,” the midfielder reveals. “We are football players, yes, but we have other interests too. I think it’s really cool to show on my platforms what I like, who I am and explore myself through fashion, which is a big interest of mine.”

That love of self-expression on and off the pitch was a key reason Rolfö and Engen joined the PUMA family, with the German-founded brand regularly focusing its efforts on championing their male and female athletes on the same level. Manchester United’s Maya le Tissier, Chelsea’s Jess Carter and Wolsburg’s Alexandra Popp and are all also on PUMA’s athlete roster, highlighting the brand’s mission to progress the game further.

“We really are PUMA girls,” Rolfö says whilst wearing the brand from head to toe. We love to wear PUMA and I like the style the clothes and sneakers have. It’s a mix between fashion and sport and that’s what I like the most. I feel comfortable and I feel fashionable so for me, it’s a perfect match.”

As ever, Engen agrees with Rolfö: “For me, PUMA is special. The brand has things that I don’t feel other brands have at the same level and as a female athlete, you also get the special things such as the collaborations, which are great. So for me, I love wearing PUMA and showing the brand off.”

At this point in the conversation, it feels nigh-on impossible to get Engen and Rolfö to disagree with each other. The duo’s close-knit friendship is becoming more evident by the minute, with each response they give broken up by smiles and laughter as they bounce off one another. So, learning that their everyday style continues that trend comes as no surprise, even when they admit to arriving at places in the exact same items of clothing which, you can probably guess, is often PUMA-branded. 

Off-season vibes. Photography by Shane Bain.

“It’s actually hard to explain your own style,” Rolfö responds when asked about her daily fashion choices. I think it’s easier for someone looking at you to describe it than explaining it yourself but maybe like a mix of sporty, trendy, I don’t know…” she says before stopping to look at Engen for help.

“We have a very similar style, I would say,” Engen adds, coming to the aid of Rolfö. We like the same things and we often show up in the same things.” 

“It’s embarrassing!” Rolfö says in laughter. “Often, when we go to different dinners or when we go to lunch, we are wearing the same clothes!”

“The same jeans, the same shoes, a similar white top,” Engen describes. “I wouldn’t say we’re basic but we like the basic things. We also like to have some bold pieces. Colour on our purses, a lot of jewellery and some really cool sneakers. These kinds of things are where we go bold.”

“We have a lot of the same things,” Rolfö explains through the laughter. “A lot of PUMA pieces, for example, so it’s definitely not a coincidence that we are wearing the same clothes often.”

At home with Frido and Ingrid. Photography by Shane Bain.

One occasion neither Engen nor Rolfö could afford to arrive in the same items was the Camp Nou tunnel. What first hit the scene through Barcelona’s male superstars, most notably Jules Koundé, the La Liga champions have allowed players to arrive to games in their own clothes – recreating the culture seen for so long in the NBA – driving football x fashion conversation to new heights.

In March, Barça Femení were given the same opportunity and boy did they deliver.

“It’s a really cool thing to do,” Rolfö says on pre-match fits. “All the fans and the people that follow us on social media see us on the pitch the whole time. Now, we get to show something else in the football stadium and inside Camp Nou. It was a fun way to express yourself, what you like to wear and how you are as a person. I really enjoyed walking on the…not catwalk…but the basement where we walked,” she laughs.

“The first time we were like ‘hmm, what do we do?’,” admits Engen, recreating the action of walking in with her bag. “Yeah, we’d just hear the clicking of the photographer,” Rolfö adds, who is also imitating what she describes, adding camera noises for extra effect. “It was fun!”

“We also heard after that it’s something we should do more often,” Engen says, something we’re all in agreement on.

Camp Nou tunnel ready. Photography by Shane Bain.

The topic of tunnel fits brings the conversation to the style within the dressing room which, for Rolfö and Engen at least, causes some debate. “We [Barça players] all have different styles. I’d say that me and Ingrid have more Scandinavian styles, so for us, it’s different from the Spanish style and what they like.”

“The other players are always saying to us ‘Ah, Scandi’s’,” Engen reveals on the fashion talk within the dressing room.

“Yeah, they say that!” Rolfö jumps in. We have some people that have a really unique style like Asisat Oshoala for example. She likes to express herself with a lot of colours and patterns which is really cool and it really fits her.”

“Who is the best-dressed then?” Engen asks Rolfö, taking over the role as interviewer on our behalf.

“I really like Alexia Putellas’ style,” Rolfö responds. “I think she has a cool style, she’s like classy but still sometimes cool. I’m trying to go through everyone in the locker room and see them walking in” she laughs. “Yeah, let’s say Alexia,” both say agreement.

Despite their fame and access to brands, Rolfö and Engen are just like everyone else when it comes to their fashion influences. In a world where technology has allowed creatives all over the world to build their own platform and community, social media has become a breeding ground for inspiration from all things fashion-related, something Engen utilises. 

“I get a lot of inspiration from Instagram,” the Norwegian says. “Following brands, Scandinavian brands that I’m a big fan of. I think my fashion inspiration is pretty random. In my feed, people come up and you save it and get ideas, so that’s how getting inspiration for outfits works for me.”

Digital cover star(s). Photography by Shane Bain.

“I think my inspiration is more from watching people in the street,” says Rolfö. I really like to get inspired by people, not only with what they wear but also with how they express themselves. I really like Pinterest too, I find a lot of style inspiration on there.”

Away from football and fashion, another look into the personality of athletes is through their taste in music. From vibing around the house to the dressing room playlist before a big game, a lot can be learned by hearing the tracks each baller has on repeat right now. Unsurprisingly, a love for music is a common trait of both Engen and Rolfö’s personalities.

“It’s a big part of our lives,” says Engen. “Music and sport are two things that fit really well together. We use music not only for motivation when we’re getting ready, but also to calm down. It plays an important part in both our lives and the dressing room before and after games. Favourite artist? Khalid is a big favourite for me. His songs are more calm, but they put you in a good mood.”

“I have some favourite songs that I always like to listen to before a game,” Rolfö explains. “Sometimes I listen to a calm song because it can make me even more focused and gives me a good vibe. It doesn’t always have to be pumped up because I know I will get that in the locker room so in the car before a game, I listen to music that makes me feel good.” 

“I also have a favourite artist that I like to listen to, she’s Swedish singing in English and her name is Seinabo Sey. She’s an amazing singer and one of my favourites.”

“Music is a big part of our lives.” Photography by Shane Bain.

Despite their affection for music, neither Engen nor Rolfö are yet to reach the level of musical taste that would see them take responsibility of the speaker in the Barcelona dressing room. Instead, the role belongs to Spanish midfielder Patricia Guijarro, whose love of reggaeton has been hard to adjust to for two Scandinavians.

“Patricia Guijarro is our DJ. She’s taking good care of it,” Rolfö says.

“There’s a little bit too much Spanish for us,” Engen responds, grinning at the thought. “We try to say ‘Can we have an English song now?’ when we can.”

“Yeah, it’s reggaeton the whole time! It’s just the same rhythm so sometimes you feel like maybe we should get another rhythm in here now,” Rolfö says once again in laughter. “Like Ingrid said, we try to put the English songs in. If she’s asking, I’m like ‘You can add this one to the list’. She is listening to us but she could do even more. But now, we’re starting to like some of the Spanish songs. It’s like ‘Oh, it’s not actually that bad’ but sometimes it’s just too many in a row.”

The friendship between Rolfö and Engen is as evident as any friendship could be. Two girls from Scandinavia – who never had dreams of becoming professional footballers – find themselves playing together at one of the biggest clubs in the game years later with a major brand in PUMA standing alongside them on their journey.

Despite all odds and challenges they have faced within a sport that has been labelled as a ‘man’s game’ for most of its history, Rolfö and Engen have made it to the top and now find themselves as role models to a new generation who will have fewer barriers on their journey thanks to the struggle and effort of today’s female athletes. For that very reason, it feels fitting to end the interview with one last question: ‘What would your advice be to the young girls who are now able to seriously dream about becoming professional footballers?’

“Dream of it,” Engen begins. “Believe you can do it and have fun, that’s the most important thing. If you don’t think it’s fun, it’s not going to work.”

Rolfö agrees. “To have fun is the most important part but be confident, believe in yourself and believe that you can reach this level,” the 29-year-old says. “We are two ordinary girls from two small places. I was not a big talent that everyone could see was going to make it. I had to work hard and there are many in the team that did the same. We believed in ourselves and we ended up here, in Barcelona.”

Conversation: Ryhanna Parara

Words: Jordan Clarke

Photography: Shane Bain

Video: Oliver Hayes

Styling: Stephanie Wüstemann





Amadou Onana lives every single day like it’s his last. Why? Because he knows it truly could be. “Tomorrow, everything could end,” he tells me in the aftermath of our first cover shoot of the year.

“It doesn’t matter how far you’ve made it in football or life, or who you are or where you’ve come from. It’s the same for everyone. Tomorrow, anything could end. You have to live life to the fullest and go after all of your goals.”

The Everton midfielder, who has already played professionally in multiple leagues across Europe before his 23rd birthday, speaks with the maturity and humility of a seasoned pro, though not without the enthusiasm for life of a new kid on the block with the world at his feet.

For Onana, every accomplishment in his short career so far has only been possible due to the sacrifices of the two strongest people in his life: his mother and sister.

Photography by Shane Bain.

“They played a crucial role in my journey to making it as a professional,” he says. “My sister was battling cancer at the same time she helped me get a move to Hoffenheim. To this day, she is my agent. She takes care of everything in my life. Literally everything. From a personal trainer to a chef to a mental coach, whatever I need, she takes care of it. A big shoutout to my sis. She is one of the strongest human beings I know.”

“With my Mum, she did a lot,” Onana adds. “She’s my Queen. She gave up on her life and her dreams for me. She had her own business in Senegal as a physio and gave up on all of that to move to Belgium to make her child’s dream a reality. I could never say ‘thank you’ enough to my Mum.”

Born in Colobane of Dakar, Senegal, Onana’s early life – eleven years to be exact – was spent in West Africa under the roof of a 14-member household. Though originally from Cameroon, Onana’s father lived in Belgium, the place he would first meet Onana’s mother, and therefore Brussels provided the pathway to more opportunities to not only play football but to forge a professional career in the sport.

Despite Belgium’s contribution to his journey in football, Onana’s gratitude for his upbringing in Senegal has never wavered. “Growing up in both Senegal and Belgium gave me different views about life,” he says.

“They are two different countries with two very different cultures. Growing up in Senegal gave me the family values I have now. It humbled me. I’ve been around people who didn’t have much but they lived life with happiness and would help the next person, even when their situation wasn’t the best.”

Photography by Shane Bain.

“With Belgium, I moved there when I was eleven as a young kid. I went to school there, I started my football career there and I think I learned the discipline to make it to the top level during my youth there.”

Onana, by his own admission, is a larger-than-life character. If you’re in a room with him, you will know about it. Not because of his 6’4″ frame, footballer fame or distinctive style choices, but the fearlessness he holds in his self-expression. From dancing to afrobeats to belting out Giveon’s ‘Heartbreak Anniversary’ on set, Onana is never afraid to be himself in any environment, something many athletes are progressively becoming more open to than ever before.

The Belgian believes his travels across the globe have helped shape the person and player he is today. “Growing up around the world was great for me,” he says. “It opened my eyes and my vision for life. I picked up something from every single place I’ve been.”

“In Senegal, I learned family values, creativity and the art of being yourself and doing your own thing. In Belgium, I learned about football, how the industry works and the business side of the game. Going to Germany, the German discipline is just different. You really have to follow the advice you’re given and the steps as they are to succeed.”

Now, England is Onana’s new home. Almost two years on from his switch to Everton from Ligue 1 side Lille, he is one of the Premier League’s hottest prospects with the character to match. Last January, he reportedly turned down interest from Chelsea, refusing to leave the Toffees in the midst of a relegation battle, a decision that would later help keep Everton’s Premier League status intact.

Photography by Shane Bain.

Fast forward to January of this year and once again, Onana’s name is attracting suitors. Reports of interest from both Manchester United and Arsenal are rife and Everton’s troubles with the Premier League continue, including a points deduction for allegedly breaching financial regulations. Despite this, Onana remains at Goodison Park, giving his all in every game as each Evertonian – on the pitch and in the stands – continues to do since the ruling.

“I feel very happy living in England, I’ve been accepted as I am,” he says.

“I’m a loud character and I’m quite different from other people. I think that’s normalised here, which is a great thing for me. In England, I feel like people are very open-minded. You’re accepted no matter who you are, what you come from, what religion you follow and you can be yourself.” 

The importance of being yourself is something that regularly features in conversation with Onana. Whether it be from his time in Senegal or forging a career as a young player in the social media era, being unique and standing out from the crowd is a vital part of his life.

“To me, it’s very important. I can’t be anything else but myself,” he reveals.

“That’s how I’ve been raised. Being proud of who I am, what I do and where I came from. In the most humble way, there is no other human being on this planet that is exactly like me. Everyone has different characters and different views on life, so just be yourself, express yourself the way you want to and do things that you actually want to do.”

Photography by Shane Bain.

Away from football, fashion and music act as an outlet for Onana in his hunt for self-expression. If you aren’t aware of the rise of football x fashion in recent years, firstly, where have you been? Secondly, things are only getting bigger so you may need to catch up whilst you still can. Long gone are the days of athletes being required to stick to football. The new generation of players are leading a wave in which they have become the new age fashion icons and with the backing of the youth, their influence over football fans and Gen-Z consumers knows no bounds.

“Everything has evolved,” says Onana. “Back in the day, football players were just seen as football players. Now, people understand we can do a lot more than that. Football doesn’t define us. Football is not who I am, but what I do and what I love. I do loads of other stuff, like singing, modelling and fashion,” Onana reveals. “It makes me happy that everyone is opening up and showing a different side to themselves. I think it’s a great thing for the game.”

“I feel like fashion is a way of expressing myself and that’s the magic thing about it,” Onana explains, more than happy to continue diving into his fashion exploits. “You get to decide what you rock today. I express myself through the way I dress and I dress the way I feel.”

“If I wake up happy, you will see it in the way I dress with loads of colour combinations. If I’m a bit moody, I’ll go dark. It really depends on my mood and that’s what is so special about it. If I feel comfortable in it, I don’t mind wearing anything. I’ve done crazy styles before and as long as I find it fire, I’mma rock it.”

Photography by Shane Bain.

One thing about top-level athletes is that they are competitive by nature, in any and every field they play. When it comes to football and fashion, things are no different. As the niche continues to grow (a rise which saw training fits and pre-game looks introduced across club socials in Europe last season), so do the levels being displayed by each elite-level baller with a love of self-expression. Naturally, debates between players now go further than just on-the-pitch performances with wardrobe wars replacing everyday football discussions and players battling it out to be the best-dressed athletes in sport. Barcelona’s Jules Koundé and Aston Villa’s Kenza Dali were most recently crowned Footballer Fits’ 2023 MVPs, a prize given to the flyest footballers of the year.

For both club and country, Onana has shared dressing rooms with some of the waviest names in the football x fashion world, aside from his own of course. One baller in particular stands out when I quiz him on the best-dressed players he’s played alongside.

“Number one, Mr Michy Batshuayi. That guy is fly! That guy is cold!” Onana says without a second of hesitation.

“I like the way he dresses because it’s different from anyone else. He does his own thing and you can really see that. The way he dresses matches his personality, which I love.”

“Timothy Weah is another. I played with him back in Lille. He brings that American style and he’s one of the coldest I know. I also like Dominic Calvert-Lewin a lot too. Again, he expresses himself differently to most people. Jérémy Doku is a fly baller and he’s my guy! I play with him at Belgium and every time we come to meet up, it’s a competition, I’m not going to lie! People are always trying to look the best and I like it. I could name even more, but I feel like these guys are the flyest I’ve played with.”

Photography by Shane Bain.

Whilst the endless supply of inspiration from other players may be of use to many, Onana’s inspiration comes from far greater means than the Instagram feeds of his peers. “I feel like I inspire myself from everything I see. I look at other athletes, artists, models or my experience travelling the world and coming from Senegal, where people dress in a very loud and colourful way,” he says.

“Then I can go across the globe to America and look at the NFL players for example. I feel like I can dress in any kind of way, I can dress young, I can dress classy and elegant, I can dress crazy and colourful and do it all, rock n’ roll. I don’t really focus on brands. For me, as I said, if it looks good, I don’t care about anything else. I really look at everyone around me for inspiration but then try to do my own thing.”

Fashion is no longer the only route of self-expression players are exploring outside of the game, though. The new-found trend of footballers launching music careers is becoming harder to ignore with each passing day. AC Milan’s Rafael Leão goes by the pseudonym ‘Way 45′ to release his music, Juventus’ Moise Kean recently released his debut track under the group ’19F’ and Memphis Depay has been dropping heat across all streaming platforms in recent years.

Onana’s musical ability is no secret either. From singing videos on his own channels – including his viral cover of Summer Walker’s ‘Session 32’ – to his ability to rap in multiple languages on the same track, the midfielder sees music as another form of expressiveness that football nor fashion can offer. “With music, I can put everything into words,” he says.

“I’m expressing myself with my voice and I can shout about how I feel. It’s different and expressing myself in a way that everyone can understand in comparison to football and fashion.”

Photography by Shane Bain.

Onana is not just jumping on a popular trend either, as his family will attest to. Since early, music has been a part of his life.

“My love for music started young, you know. I’ve always loved listening to music, singing in the house and in the shower so loud that my Mum would bang the door! I started writing my own tracks since I was young too,” he reveals.

“Ten, eleven-years-old, writing little rap songs and that. I never released them and never will because those songs were crap! Nah, I’m just joking, but those songs were very different to the ones I create now. I released the track with you guys and my guy #17 (Alex Iwobi), which was a great track too by the way and I’m planning on releasing more in the future. It’s something that’s really fun for me.” 

The process of those tracks can start and end anywhere for Onana. Though many musical talents like to lock in during their time at the studio, Onana, like his fashion sense, sources inspiration from all over. “I feel like I could start writing anywhere,” he says, taking me through his creative process.

“I could be on the coach to an away game and a bar will come in my head. Sometimes I see something and I’m able to write about it there and then. There’s no special place or routine. I just need a beat, my creativity and inspiration and that’s it. I can write from anywhere at any time.”

As things stand, the footballer music scene is yet to have as many participants as the fashion wave, but it continues to grow. Draping yourself in designer clothes and the latest fashion trends across social media is a little easier than being born with musical ability, it must be said. Despite the vast improvement of criticism against players for their outside interests, making and releasing music still has some way to go before it’s fully accepted in the sport. Because of this, some players with genuine talent have kept it far from the eyes and ears of football folklore and traditional media, something Onana wants to change.

“There are some very talented ballers out there who are probably scared to release something because of those who say ‘focus on football’. Of course, football is the main part of my life but it’s what I do, it’s not what I am,” Onana says passionately.

Photography by Shane Bain.

“Football is the most important thing so I’m focused on it but I need other interests and to think about different things when I’m away from the pitch. I think that’s more healthy. The ballers out there with talent, go out there and do your thing. Believe in yourself and just drop it, man. If you enjoy it, do it. We have to thank the likes of Memphis Depay who started the wave, so a big shout out to him and the other players that created a pathway for us to express ourselves.”

Spending time with Onana, it is incredibly hard to believe he is still just 22-years-old. From his understanding of life to his humble nature with everything he says and does, you would be forgiven for thinking he had already been there and done it all. A born leader who is focused on using his voice and his platform to inspire those around him and help those who need it most, Onana strays far from the stereotypes given to footballers.

Whilst becoming the best player he can be is a huge ambition and one he will give everything to reach, he understands life does not revolve around eleven people kicking a ball every Saturday, even when we football supporters feel that it does. Instead, leaving a legacy beyond the walls of a football stadium is at the forefront of his mind.

“I want to break records, I want to win as many trophies as I can, I want to push the barriers and play as many games as I can. I want people to remember me as the football player I am.”

“But more importantly, I want people to remember the person I am. To remember the people I inspired and the charity work I’ve done. I want to help as many people as I can, donate as much as I can and do as much as I can for my people.”

“At the end of the day, that’s what really matters to me, man. Football is great, but there’s a life after it. I want to be remembered for way, way more than just football.”

Producer: Jordan Clarke

Executive Producer: Kieran Clarke

Photography: Shane Bain

Video: Cory Shillingford-Cox

BTS Video: Ellie Wickes

Styling/Creative Direction: Marcus Pancho

Make-up: Corrine Gibbons

Lighting: Aaron Price

Retouching: Adam Lupton

Cover Design: Scott Mcroy

Jewellery: Local Kettle Brothers

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Without a doubt, it was an eventful off-season for football. Our favorite ballers have gone from movie-level holiday scenes, all the way into the recent round of international friendlies stateside and beyond. A hectic way to introduce this weekend’s all-new league title race, to say the least, but we’re here for it.

From the Bundesliga to La Liga, the Premier League & Serie A, the top style prospects – some new like the youngbloods on Chelsea’s roster, some veterans – have used this downtime wisely & carried the fashion game on their backs, using any opportunity to showcase their individual styles and character through clothing. 

We’ve seen an impressive variety of fits and dress codes, with players cooling off – and loading up – as far as hillside & courtside L.A. to NYC, beachside in Mexico, yacht settings in French Riviera spots, Mykonos & Ibiza, to kicking ball in Asia. There’s no telling how many beige private jet interiors and clearport content we’ve seen from this season…and we’re not mad at it.

Take AC Milan star forward Rafael Leão for example. Just like his on-pitch play – the smooth stepovers, risktaking strikes – he’s recently come into his own style-wise too, developing much more confidence in his creative flair and how he pulls his fits together. He’s already been coming different with the flat caps, jorts and penny loafers. Tuff.

In anticipation of the new pre-game looks this season, we peeped the braziest fits of the past few months to bring you a round-up of the current fashion trends that are here to stay. Fellow ballers, stylists, personal shoppers, boys and girls of the FF community – take notes (or screenshots).

LV To Kenzo: Luxury Brands Still Have Motion 

Clearly, Louis Vuitton’s streetwear-luxury reign has been extended with Pharrell’s takeover. More than ever, the brand has a growing pull that keeps players loyal to their designs – even without sponsorship deals. The likes of Jude and Jobe Bellingham, Sancho & Marcus Thuram pulled up kitted out in LV to Skateboy P’s opening SS24 Paris Fashion Week show and did numbers on the ‘Gram and TikTok. 

Just like Pharrell, O.G designer and BAPE founder Nigo has brought new eyes to legendary brand Kenzo. The vibrant blend of preppy Parisian vibes with real Japanese formalwear is slowly picking up momentum & motion and saw shots & footage of Leroy Sané and girlfriend Candice Brook in full Kenzo drip at June’s show went viral across socials. It’s no wonder why given the traditional Japanese wrap shirt and wide-leg pleated pants the Bayern Munich winger rocked brought a whole new level of drip to the table, It’s time to see more players taking a chance on Kenzo’s graphic tees, kimono wrap-style blazer jackets and their cold denim pieces going forward.

Now take this in… Jules Koundé’s appearance at both Kenzo & Louis Vuitton’s shows alone made him the third most influential athlete – behind Lebron James and Lewis Hamilton – stacking up almost $1 million in media value* for brands just from online engagement, per Footballers as a whole made up 14% of Fashion Week’s media value. Stats that prove ballers aren’t ditching pieces from the world’s biggest brands just yet.  

This season, we’re hoping to see for ballers rock the new camo, “Minecraft style” Damier LV print pieces introduced by Pharrell. Don’t be surprised to see the new “buttery” leather monogram speedy bags and the latest selection of solid leather jackets either, which have already been seen on Inter Milan’s Marcus Thuram.

The LV x Kid Super Autumn / Winter ‘24 collection is one to watch too, most notably the easily identifiable patchwork-face outerwear, donned by Chelsea’s Diego Moreira and renowned baller fashion-head Jesse Lingard.

Classy And Elegant Flex 

Over the summer, we’ve seen luxurious vacation views and even more luxurious drip from the game’s biggest players. There’s been a clear shift, where ballers are wearing much more formal, understated, and classic fits. Take the classic tailored pants, the linen shirts and even the suede Loro Piana summer walks rocked by Juventus’ Moise Kean for example.

They’ve all been keeping to the unspoken yet strict color scheme too: cool beiges and browns, calm blues and crisp whites. The unshakeable Ousmane Dembélé – now at PSG – and Atlético Madrid’s Memphis Depay are just two ballers doing just that.

This classy theme is heavily inspired by the sweet, city life of fashion hotspots like Milan, Monaco, London and Paris. A life that calls for quality and coolness in all areas. Don’t get it twisted though – there’s no age limit on this trend. Young players like Liverpool’s Stefan Bajčetić have stepped up and made this their own. Check his ‘Gram for proof. At only 18, he’s yet to miss with once in the fashion regard. Designer Martine Rose also had the USWNT looking dapper & chic in their custom pre-game suits at the Women’s World Cup.

The cooler months will call for high thread count cashmere sweaters, flawless blazers, bespoke shirts and trousers with premium leather kicks. Look no further than brands like Prada, Loewe, Ami and JW Anderson for inspiration via their latest collections. Loewe’s introduction of high-waisted, straight and ever-so-slightly flared pants are 10/10. Affordable options in Cos and Massimo Dutti could also do the trick too. 

This is definitely the vibe we’re looking for this season. Plus, with players like Jude Bellingham getting the call-up at Real Madrid and Timothy Weah linking up with the impeccably dressed Juventus guys, it’s no time before they see the vision & catch the Mediterranean wave.

Right (And Left) Wrist Van Cleef 

Drake was spot on when he sealed this trend into current culture with the above lyrics from “BackOutsideBoyz”. The luxury jewelry brand – Van Cleef & Arpels – famed for their neat and lightweight four-leaf clover style “Alhambra” bracelets – have got players like Jadon Sancho spinning the block back to the store and doubling up the amount they wear on one wrist. 

The brand has really caught on due to its “lucky charm” look, which means each link gives off a personal feel to its owner. Now this may not be everyone’s vibe (nor everyone’s price bracket) and that’s cool. More than anything this season we’re looking out for similar jewelry that has a sentimental feel to it. Chains and bracelets that are delicate in weight, but valuable in their meaning fit this criteria. This new trend of jewelry with sentimental value also explains why stars like Drizzy recently grabbed Tupac’s ring (before Karim Benzema got a chance) and Pharrell’s chains at auction. Expensive or cheap – we’re ready for ballers to follow suit.

Heavy On The Denim

If you haven’t been under a rock these past few months, you’ll agree that the jorts – or jeans shorts – trend has been going crazy amongst players. From LV print carpenter shorts to knee length and baggier three-quarter styles, the variety made it an easy summer staple for the likes of Leão and style heavyweight Trevoh Chalobah.

Looking ahead to the 23/24 season, it’s time to turn the denim trend up a notch. After all, jorts can’t be the move in the upcoming colder weather. Brands like Givenchy, Gucci, Loewe, Diesel, Y-Project and JW Anderson are dropping so many denim options back to back that we’re now spoilt for choice. But these aren’t the overly ripped, super bleached or distressed types we’ve been used to.

These are jeans in their purest form, with a heavy-weight look to them: a sign of quality. Whether that be 90s-looking light blues, mildly stonewashed grays or darker-dyed options, good denim is a vibe right now. Jeans that look sturdy & hefty, straight fit and slightly wide (but not ridiculous). We’ve had promising glimpses of this already, but we’re definitely praying to see more across the league. Less of the overdone & typical flashy jeans, more of the traditional, tastefully finished stuff. Alright, the Denim Tears and Chrome Hearts jeans can stay too…

Tales From The Far East 

South Asia has recently provided top-notch hospitality within football over the summer. Hosting the Barcelona boys in Tokyo and welcoming Manchester City in South Korea on their pre-season tours. But it’s Asia’s contribution to fashion that ballers and fashion fanatics should be most grateful for.

We know the Japanese don’t play when it comes to quality design and individualistic 1-of-1 drip that’s made to last a lifetime. Their creation & use of materials is globally respected, as their dyeing & “boro boro” reuse/upcycling process is one that’s been perfected for generations. For those looking to bring different vibes and have a fashion advantage, we recommend locking in & seeking out the rising fashion brands & trends coming out of Asia this season. You’re bound to find unseen archive pieces, crazy silhouettes (again, like Kenzo) and second-to-none textiles & detailing. This is the boundless creativity and freedom football has been needing; Asian fashion and excellent craftsmanship overseas will play a big part.

Brands like Thug Club out of South Korea – already supported by the likes of ASAP Rocky, SZA and Central Cee – are bringing new interpretations of streetwear with fire designs. Their double denim sets are embroidered with their futuristic-looking star & moon “TC” logo are too hard to pass up. And the caps, tees and hoodies? A must-cop! 

Standout designers like Seoul-based Andersson Bell & LVMH prize nominee Juntae Kim are ones we hope to see featured amongst Barca’s tunnel fits & rocked well at the Netherlands’ national team camp. Bell knows ball, since recently the brand hosted Trevoh Chalobah front row at their Milan SS24 show. The new collection features crazy style linkups like doubled-up hoodies & leather pants patched with cargo pockets. The latter brand Juntae goes equally as hard with cropped bomber jackets and immaculately creased denim that give a two-tone effect. Phenomenal. 

Of course, long-standing luxury Asian brands like WooyoungMi & Japanese brand Sacai – most known over here for the Nike Vaporwaffle – could do with some more love in the league. Sacai’s on a different level since their recent collaborations with Carhartt, which is all about upgraded workwear and fits inspired by the great outdoors. Their multi-functional dungarees and pocketed puffers, bombers, long length parka jackets with asymmetric openings would be a perfect fit for a style maverick like Michy Batshuayi. 

This one ain’t just a trend, it’s a movement. Get tapping into the endless brands coming out of Asia! 

Belt Buckle-Mania 

The bigger the buckle, the better! Musicians like Travis Scott & Kendrick Lamar have been rocking custom belts the size of WWE titles and we’re feeling it. Seeing the strong connection between sport and music, it won’t be long before we see ballers tighten up and catch onto the bucklemania effect. You won’t have trouble finding your own, since Gucci has brought back the legendary double G buckle and Loewe have released belts big enough for Wild West cowboys. 

Let us know which trends you’re looking out for ahead of another wavey year in the football x fashion space.

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