Why have the England players cut holes in their socks for the Euros?

By Lauren Taylor, PA

England are off to a winning start in the Euros 2024, with Jude Bellingham’s header securing a 1-0 victory for Gareth Southgate’s side.

But, what was going on with his socks?

Some viewers spotted that Bellingham’s football socks were sporting some rather confusing holes in the back of them.

Serbia v England – UEFA Euro 2024 – Group C – Arena AufSchalke
England’s Jude Bellingham (R) scored the team’s first goal on Sunday (Martin Rickett/PA) Photo by Martin Rickett

Midfielder Conor Gallagher and winger Bukayo Saka’s socks were also seen with lots of holes along their calves.

It’s not a fashion statement, but rather there’s a health explanation.

Players “want to maximise the blood flow to their muscles and in particular their calves”, says Nicki de Leon, physiotherapist and founder of Deleonphysio.

It’s usually done by sportspeople who have “well developed calf muscles” and “feel that if their socks are too tight, they will be acting like compression garments, which restricts the blood flow”, as the physio explains.

Serbia v England – UEFA Euro 2024 – Group C – Arena AufSchalke
England’s Bukayo Saka (R) with holes in his socks (Adam Davy/PA) Photo by Adam Davy

She continues: “They therefore feel that they’ll be maximising their muscle contraction without restriction – elite sports people will always try and get they little extra advantage.”

It’s not a brand new trend, either. England and Manchester City defender Kyle Walker has previously been seen with similar holes.

Back in 2021, he told SPORTbible: “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!'”

Chelsea v Manchester City – Community Shield – Wembley Stadium
Manchester City’s Kyle Walker with holes cut into the back of his socks (Mike Egerton/PA) Photo by Mike Egerton

Former Valencia player Ezequiel Garay was once forced to change his socks for a fresh pair after the referee deemed his had too many holes in them.

Instead of taking a pair of scissors to their kit, some professional footballers, like Manchester City’s Jack Grealish, who was not picked for this summer’s England squad, are known for wearing lower rise socks – which is said to be for the same reason.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester City – Premier League – American Express Stadium
Manchester City’s Jack Grealish (Zac Goodwin/PA) Photo by Zac Goodwin

In an interview with GQ in 2021, Grealish explained: “It began during one season when I was 15 or 16 and the socks in training kept shrinking. I had to wear them underneath my calves and that season I ended up playing really well.”

And it stuck.

He confirmed it means he has to wear children’s shin pads under his small socks too.