Why England players have holes in their socks during Euros 2024 matches as fans baffled

Jude Bellingham
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

England supporters have been rather preoccupied with the players' legs during this Euros 2024, and it's not for their on-pitch performance - instead it's the strange holes in their socks that are causing a stir.

Are the England squad scrimping on socks, or is it a fashion statement? Eagle-eyed fans have noticed several of the Three Lions, including Bukayo Saka, Conor Gallagher, and Jude Bellingham, consistently sporting socks with cut-out sections at the Euros 2024, leaving many scratching their heads in bewilderment.

As Gareth Southgate's team prepares to face off against the Netherlands in tonight's semi-final with the victors set to challenge Spain for the title of European champions all attention should be on the match. Yet, it's evident from previous games that football enthusiasts can't overlook the peculiar sock situation.

One supporter queried: "Can someone explain to me why some England players have holes in their socks? " Another pondered: "What's the holes in the socks about, noticed a few players with bits cut out of their socks." A fan quipped: "Can't England afford to buy the players new socks, they have holes in them."

Meanwhile, another bemused fan suggested: "Please look for another sock supplier for the national team. These socks have holes in them." So, what's the reasoning behind this?

As many football fans will be aware, professional players typically wear long socks that cover their calves, mainly to keep their leg muscles warm and keep their shin guards in place. Despite their benefits, these socks can be somewhat tight and constrictive, potentially leading to issues with blood circulation and flow.

The sock cutting isn't a fashion error, but rather an ingenious tactic to help alleviate these concerns. Some players opt to cut holes in their socks during matches to reduce pressure and subsequently minimise injury risk.

Several players have been employing this strategy for years. In 2021, veteran squad member Kyle Walker explained: "The socks were actually too tight so it was causing pressure on my calves. It was just to release my calves - or release the tension. I just cut holes in them and all of a sudden I had a few alright games, and I was like, 'Ok, I'm keeping this now! ".

Backing up the scientific rationale behind sock slicing, Dr Stefaan Vossen, founder of Core Clinics, previously told The Mirror that footballers use fresh pairs of socks for every match, which often feel tight because they're brand new and not broken in.

He further explained: "As the match goes on, footballers' calves will swell as they fill with blood due to exertion. This can cause the socks to feel tight."

"The last thing players want to do is restrict blood supply in their legs, so over-tight socks could be a real issue. On the other hand, a level of compression can improve performance by reducing muscle fatigue."

To counter this, some footballers cut holes in their socks in areas where they feel tight or have had issues in previous matches. Discussing the physical benefits, Dr Vossen stated: "While there's likely to be genuine physical benefits of cutting customised holes in new socks there is also likely to be a psychological benefit."

"Footballers have extensive pre-match preparation rituals and whenever they find something that they feel improves their performance they'll want to repeat this."

Furthermore, Dr Vossen added: "The compression effect of socks can reduce fatigue during extended exercise and reduce post-exercise swelling. However, a badly fitted or over tight sock can reduce oxygen supply to the muscle, cause irritation during play, and increase the risk of thrombosis (the formation of a blood clot - a medical emergency)."

"By customising the sock with strategically placed holes footballers can achieve the ideal level of compression for their thighs throughout the match."