Prem cult hero who’d put on jogging bottoms admits ‘I by no means wished to be a mannequin’

Premier League cult hero Gabor Kiraly has spilled the beans on why he donned his iconic jogging bottoms throughout his playing career.

The 48 year-old had a top-flight career spanning 25 years, with most of it spent in Germany and England. British football fans might remember Kiraly from his time at Crystal Palace, West Ham United, Aston Villa, Burnley and Fulham – but it was his unique look, more so than this performances, that really turned heads.

The Hungarian goalie moved to the Premier League in 2004 after clocking up 198 appearances for Hertha Berlin. He then switched to Palace where he kept guard between the sticks for the Eagles 104 times.

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Subsequent stints at other Premier League clubs were less fruitful for the tracksuit-bottom-wearing keeper, but he later found success at 1860 Munich where he was a regular for the Germans for five years. Despite playing for several Premier League clubs, perhaps the most memorable aspect of Kiraly’s career was his choice of kit when standing between the posts.

His preferred grey jogging bottoms made him a standout among all other Premier League keepers and, despite being Palace’s first-choice goalie for much of the 2004/2005 season, his getup often resembled someone playing five-a-side in the local park, rather than a player turning out at the likes of Old Trafford and Anfield, reports the Mirror.

Chatting with OLBG, the goalie legend revealed that he never intended his trousers to become a fashion statement, saying: “For me, wearing long bottoms was the same as wearing my gloves or boots. I never wanted to be a model for the good of the public, I just wanted to work and do my job whether it was in long bottoms or shorts.”

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Gabor Kiraly

Kiraly’s love affair with his joggers started back in his homeland with Haladas, where he claims the rough pitches made them a necessity. He explained: “I started because in Hungary I would often play on bad pitches.”

The keeper also shared that he rocked the joggers for an astonishing 23 years, crediting them for his safety and performance: “Growing up on bad pitches it was for my protection, for the best of my performance. During my 26 year career I played for 23 years in long bottoms.”

But there was a twist in the tale when Kiraly, playing for Crystal Palace, faced Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2005. In a rare move, he ditched his trademark joggers for shorts only to let in four goals against the Blues.

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Not one to tempt fate twice, he quickly switched back to his trusty trousers. Much to the fans’ delight, he even donned his famous grey bottoms during Euro 2016 while setting a record as the oldest player to grace the tournament.

After making a quartet of starts for Fulham in the 2014/2015 season, Kiraly then had a dream finale to his career when he made a comeback to Haladas, clocking up over 100 appearances. He declared his retirement from the sport in May 2019.