Put yourself in this scenario. You’re a barber looking for a break and you also happen to be a massive Chelsea fan. You’re idly sharpening a pair of scissors (or whatever it is that barbers do in their downtime) when, suddenly, the phone rings. Withheld number. Who, in an ideal world, would you like to be on the other end?
“One day I got a phone call from John Terry and he was like, ‘Heard a lot about you, mate. Can you come down and cut the lads’ hair every Thursday?’”
To be fair to Ahmed Alsanawi, this wasn’t just some bolt from the Blues. Having gone to college and come away with an art diploma, he was looking for an outlet for his creative talents. Fed up with recurring disappointment at the barbers (“They used to mess my hair up all the time”), he decided to buy himself a pair of clippers and get practising. Dad, brother and neighbours were his guinea pigs, before he got himself a job at a shop in his local village of Cobham in Surrey. Three years later he opened his own place nearby – the first iteration of A Star Barbers.
The Cobham location had one key benefit: it was just around the corner from Chelsea’s training ground. Soon the youth players were lining up for a new ’do – and that’s how the then club captain got to hear that there was a first-class coiffeur in town.
“I was like, ‘Flipping heck!’ Proper starstruck and everything,” says Alsanawi of the first time he stepped up to chop first-team Chelsea barnets. “I knew I would deliver, but the pressure was on. Honestly, that dressing room: we had Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Cesc Fàbregas… it was like crazy, crazy. That was the year  that we won the league, when José Mourinho came back.”
The next phone call came from up north, courtesy of a player who was tipped off by friends among the Chelsea squad. “Paul Pogba rang me. Now his haircuts, they’re not very… they’re not your short back and sides, put it that way. They’re all colours and patterns.” On this occasion, Pogba wanted ‘#equal’, shaved into his head, in preparation for his appearance at an event for UEFA’s Respect campaign. “Going back to why I started this – with the art and everything – that’s the sort of thing I love to do. He posted me on Instagram, that went viral and it’s been a snowball effect since then.”