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The Science Behind Andre Onana Using Vaseline on His Gloves

The Science Behind Andre Onana Using Vaseline on His Gloves

Goalkeepers have always been quirky, and the scene where they spit on their gloves is hardly new. But during Manchester United’s 2-2 tie against Liverpool, the Red Devils’ shot stopper Andre Onana did something that has sent social media into a frenzy. During the first half, he was seen applying Vaseline to his gloves. But why?

Onana saw a great amount of the ball in the first half, coming at him (chuckles). Apart from Luis Diaz’s opener, Onana was able to thwart the visitors on multiple occasions. So when he was seen applying the substance, it raised a few brows. 

Dissecting the Vaseline-gate

The match saw a heavy downpour as the visitors continued their attacking onslaught. Moreover, this was not the only occasion when a goalkeeper took to Vaseline. Earlier this season, Bayern Munich legend Manuel Neuer did the same against Hoffenheim. Jordan Pickford had also been doing this with regularity. 

Goalkeeping gloves have improved, just like other things, immensely through the decades. Manufacturers are using complex materials to improve the grip all the time. Therefore, applying Vaseline, which is known to be a slippery substance, seems counterintuitive. And no, this is not a TikTok trend. 

While the chemistry connoisseurs are yet to weigh in, according to social media users, applying Vaseline improves grip. While in normal circumstances, Vaseline or similar substances make no difference, in wet conditions, it helps the goalkeepers take the edge off the shot and grip the ball better. 

It is particularly famous among the goalkeepers who are good with their feet. Onana, Pickford, and Neuer- all of them are excellent passers of the ball and they often start attacks from transition. So they need to grab the ball better to distribute it with pinpoint accuracy. This should make sense, going by the trend. 

Who used Vaseline first?

While it is difficult to track down the ‘prime mover’. According to The Athletic, it was in fashion long before the Cameroonian came into vogue. 

During an interview with Coventry City shot-stopper, Ben Wilson in The SECRET Goalkeepers want to Keep…, the English goalie said that he had seen Joe Hart do it on multiple occasions as early as 2014.

The goalie-turned YouTuber said, “I remember the first player I saw do that was Joe Hart in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup.” When the former went and asked the then-Manchester City man had said, “Fozzy, honestly, it is a game changer.” 

Foster added that the difference was visible during the training sessions as well. “It’s hard to explain, but if we were in a training session, I could tell which one had Vaseline on their gloves, because as soon as you caught the ball, it does feel grippier.” 

Joe Hart being another exceptional ball-playing goalie, further strikes home the point we are trying to make. 

Is applying Vaseline actually good for gloves?

According to various sources, applying Vaseline to gloves might be an easy fix to improve grip but it is not good for gloves. The gloves are made of latex, which is originally a liquid substance, foamed and dried into shape. 

Applying vaseline, which de-moisturizes, repeatedly makes the gloves hard and dry. So, the bottom line is if you apply Vaseline or similar substances, it will ruin your gloves. We’re sure Onana is paid well enough to be able to afford a few gloves during the season but if your Sunday-league goalie is thinking about doing something similar, please stop them.