'Nainggolan let me fly in every week!' - Meet HD Cutz, barber to football's big stars

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The man who cut the hair of Usain Bolt, Thierry Henry and Raheem Sterling talked to Goal about his experiences as the stylist to the football world

When Borussia Dortmund came to London to face Tottenham last month, they were visited by a mini-celebrity of the footballing world.

Except it wasn’t a player who came to their team hotel prior to the Champions League last-16 tie – it was a barber.

"That came from Jadon Sancho. I knew him from London," Sheldon Edwards, AKA HD Cutz, told Goal when asked how his visit to the Dortmund team hotel was set up. "When Axel Witsel moved to Dortmund in the summer, this intensified, because Axel has been a customer of mine for a few years. I have already visited him in his Belgian homeland.

"I had also met Manuel Akanji before. At the World Cup in Russia our relationship became solid. Through these acquaintances, I gradually added a few new players from Dortmund. Axel, Jadon, Dan-Axel Zagadou, Jacob Bruun Larsen and, for the first time, Raphael Guerreiro.

"If Marco Reus had not been injured and stayed in Dortmund, I would have had him as a client for the first time as well."

It is an impressive client list for Edwards and yet he’s had even bigger names before. Thierry Henry and Raheem Sterling have had their hair styled by the barber, as had sprinter Usain Bolt.

HD Cutz Sheldon Edwards

Jadon Sancho Borussia Dortmund 2018-19

So too did then-Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan, who was willing to finance the travel of the barber to give him personal attention in Italy.

"Mousa [Dembele] invited me to the Belgian national team at Euro 2016," he said. "That was when HD Cutz went crazy and the brand grew overnight.

"At first I got to know Nainggolan, who was playing at AS Roma. He was so excited that he let me fly in to Rome weekly for two years. Our relationship quickly became very close and soon I also cut the hair of other Roma players.

"At that point, I also started my social media activities, which quickly went viral. Suddenly I was recognised in Rome at the airport.

"Radja helped a lot. HD Cutz became much bigger and I became a travelling hairdresser who visited the stars on the spot."

But all of that started as the result of a meeting with Dembele.

"I immediately recognised him because I am very interested in football myself," he explained. "Mousa is a very demanding customer, even if you probably do not think that with his simple-looking hairstyle. He also liked my work. He called me again and a few weeks later I was already sitting at his house cutting.

"Of course that pretty much inspired me. We talked well and talked about the family, our children or life itself."

Michail Antonio West Ham 2018-19

Interestingly, it wasn’t the first footballer’s hair that Edwards had cut. London native Michail Antonio has been getting styled by Edwards for years – in fact, well before he was a professional footballer.

"I cut [Antonio’s] hair since he was ten years old," Edwards explained. "We also went to the same church together, he has long been a friend of our family."

And it was thanks to another Antonio that Edwards got to style the hair of players this past summer at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

One of his clients is Chelsea and Germany star Antonio Rudiger, who Edwards says pays attention to his haircut "like a model". The defender got his haircut every week before his matches with Chelsea, which is something Edwards notes has become part of many players' routine.

"Getting a fresh haircut the day before a game is now as important as decent football boots to many players," he said. "With a new haircut, many players just feel good in order to get the performance they expect.

"According to my own observation many also think: if I do not get my hair cut before the game, I do not feel sufficiently prepared for the game.

"The haircut has become part of the sport."

HD Rudiger

Naturally, players about to take part on the grandest stage wanted Edwards to have them looking their best as well. But only Antonio stepped up to make it happen.

"I talked to many players in advance about travelling to the World Cup," Edwards explained. "But no one took the initiative to get me there - except for Antonio.

"His people called me from Russia, took me to a hotel in the centre of Moscow and arranged everything for my first week. From there I drove or flew to other teams.

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"This shows that Antonio is a very caring and well-organised person. He is like a family member to me and one of my closest buddies."

With an impressive client list already, one might assume Edwards has it made. But the barber is still hoping to expand his clientele even further, landing some of the biggest names in the game.

"Preferably from Germany with Marco Reus or Mario Götze, because I love their style of play and they are great personalities," Edwards said when asked who he wanted to have as clients. "Otherwise, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Neymar would of course be a dream. I admire him as a player and would like to show him what I'm capable of."