World Football's 25 Most Self-Centered Figures
'When you're that good, you're allowed to be arrogant.'
'You're just jealous of his good looks/money/success.'
'He's not self-centered, he's just misunderstood.'
These are just a few of the defenses fans make for players on their team who have earned a reputation as being a bit egotistical, self-centered, arrogant, and/or selfish.
Such arguments are most often used because we do not want to admit that someone who plays on our favorite team could actually have such an unlikeable personality. Yet, as soon as that player changes teams, we are more than willing to admit their many faults.
Want proof? Check out how some Arsenal fans defended Robin van Persie to the death just six months ago, but are now willing to erase him from the club's records.
See how defenses for Carlos Tevez jump from fan base to fan base for as long as he plays well at that club.
We may not like it, but many of the top footballers in the world have big egos, often too big to manage and, many times, so great that it gets them into trouble.
What follows is not just a list of egotistical people, it's a categorization of 25 self-centered players.
These 25 stars are divided into groups based on why fans—usually of rival teams—think these players have big egos.
You will notice immediately that many of the best players, coaches and teams are represented here and that is no coincidence.
After all, as the cliche defense goes—and will almost certainly be repeated on this column—many of us would be this self-centered if we had the talents on display by these guys.
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Let's start with some self-centered personalities in football who are not players, but whose comments are too great to ignore for this list.
Greatness does not have to be the enemy of humility.
1. Jose Mourinho
This is pretty self-explanatory. The Real Madrid manager labelled himself 'the Special One' years ago before deciding last month that he should be known as 'the Only One.'
The Brazilian is one of the godfathers of football and he knows it. He has never shied away from a chance to talk about how many goals he scored or explain why he is the greatest footballer in history. If anyone has earned that right, though, it is Pele.
3. Diego Maradona
It would be unfair to list Pele without mentioning his media rival. The only reason Pele is not the greatest in history is because of the Argentinian legend, at least according to Maradona himself.
The Money Men
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Players change teams all the time, there is nothing wrong with that. Many even go to rival teams as that is just part of the sport.
But sometimes, comments or actions are made from players that shows they are thinking too much about themselves and/or money and not enough about the game itself or the fans.
There is nothing wrong with that of course. A man's number one priority is his own well-being, isn't it? That doesn't save them from fan criticism, however.
4. Emanuel Adebayor
After it had been rumored that the Spurs striker may not finalize his move to London because of his unwillingness to take a pay cut, fans took to Twitter to express their frustration. Adebayor's response?
"[Fan's name] at least I got paid for sitting on the bench and chilling. And you nothing for sitting in your sofa and watching like a fool."
Well played, sir. You proved that you are better than a fan because you make more money than him.
5. Ashley Cole
Leaving Arsenal a year after making the Champions League final in order to make more money is a bit self-centered. Calling the great Cesc Fabregas a featherweight after leaving is being a bad teammate.
But writing his own memoirs at just 26 years of age makes it hard for people not to think Ashley Cole has an excessive ego.
6. Samuel Eto'o
Not at all a traitor, but certainly motivated by money. Unlike Didier Drogba who chased cash to China this summer, the Cameroonian striker was nowhere near the end of his career.
When Eto'o moved to Russia, he was still one of the best strikers in football—still is great, in fact—and allegedly had offers from various top clubs to play for them.
In the end, he chose to focus on money and became the highest-paid player in the world instead. Can we really blame him?
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There are some players who, as great a teammate as they can be on the pitch, are a little too focused on themselves off it.
These three stars seem to think too much of the world revolves around them.
Some people are just too hard to please at times. CR7 has money, women, fame, good looks and massive success. But he recently bolstered his reputation as a self-centered player by saying he was sad.
Maybe he needs to feel loved, maybe wants the support of all his teammates. Neither is asking too much. If Wayne Rooney is to be believed in his upcoming book, it seems Ronaldo even needs plenty of mirrors.
Robinho is a player that seems to think he is special. He believes he deserves special treatment in order to be kept happy and, as a result, to perform well.
Here are a couple of famous quotes from the forward: “I am Brazilian and I can’t offer my best performance if I’m not happy in every aspect of life."
"I am a special footballer and I need to be happy when I'm playing."
9. Carlos Tevez
Absolutely tireless on the pitch, but as he showed last season, getting him happy enough to play can be a problem. Special treatment is hard to figure out for a man with little team loyalty.
So what that his team needs him? If Tevez doesn't get the treatment he wants for the prestige he has earned, he cannot be forced to play.
It seems the Argentinian believes his team and organization should revolve around him.
The Not so Selfless Teammates
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Many great players have shown incredible loyalty and humility despite their unrivaled talents. Paul Scholes and Lionel Messi are two players who usually come off as very giving, down-to-earth players even though they are two of the very best.
They may, in fact, be very arrogant when they aren't being shy in front of the media or donating millions to charity, but they at least never publicly cause problems for their teammates or their team
These four players should take a few notes.
10. Mario Balotelli
It's a good thing Tevez is setting such a great example for his teammates. Now he can learn that he is above the team and more important than his teammates because... well, just because.
Of course, Balotelli's disrespect was present before his move to England. Inter fans and players will never forget the arrogance shown by the striker when he appeared on TV wearing a Milan jersey.
11. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ibra has caused waves with teammates almost everywhere he's been. He's kicked Oguchi Onyewu, Kevin-Prince Boateng says he's self-centered and arrogant and he never seems to have the full support of fellow players.
Well, 'He is Zlatan'.
12. Arjen Robben
Speaking of players who have problems with teammates, this Dutchman is notoriously selfish on and off the pitch.
Whether it's getting in fights with other players or failing to pass the ball in the final third, Arjen Robben has a reputation as being very self-centered, even amongst his own teammates.
13. John Terry
'Same old John Terry, always cheating'.
When a married man cheats on his wife with a teammate's girlfriend (or ex-girlfriend), he is only thinking about one person—himself. He is a great leader on the pitch at least—although has recently gotten into a bit of trouble.
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There is nothing wrong with supporting your team and showing loyalty to the ideas of your club. In fact, it should be encouraged, especially in today's football where players trade one side for a rival almost habitually.
However, there are times when it can go too far.
There are certain players and people who go from showing pride to simply being too inward-looking, too self-centered, even if it is regarding their club rather than themselves. Here are a few comments from such people.
14. Sandro Rosell
Yes, Barcelona is the best team of this generation and the standard for the football of this era. But that does not mean there is no talent outside of Catalunya.
When responding to news that Cristiano Ronaldo had reacted angrily to being jeered by chants of 'Messi, Messi,' Rosell had the following to say:
"Cristiano Ronaldo is not the second-best player in the world, he is the 12th," he told Spanish newspaper AS. "The first 11 are the Barcelona players."
That sort of arrogance has trickled down to some of the players as well.
Too often when Barcelona fails to get the deserved results, Xavi's response is that the loss or draw is 'unfair.' He believes that since his team was better or, sometimes, simply played better football, they should have gotten all three points.
Xavi may be the best midfielder of his time and has become the player to whom all midfielders are compared, but his views about what is enjoyable and what warrants deserved points are not shared by everyone.
16. Florentino Perez
There is no question about the legacy of Real Madrid. They have long been one of Europe's elite and most storied clubs.
Los Merengues' current has used that legacy—which he did create himself, by the way—to demean current and past players whenever they did not sufficiently bow to the wishes of the current regime.
Madrid had allegedly been in the driver's seat to land Neymar in 2011 before the two-time president lost the player due to what Santos called "arrogant and shameful behavior."
It is believed that Perez told Neymar—one of the brightest prospects in recent times—that he would not start, but should still feel lucky to have a chance to pay for Madrid, the best team in the world.
This was not the first time Perez took shots at a great player. During his first term, he talked about the great Claude Makelele as just another replaceable player at the great club:
"We will not miss Makélelé... Younger players will arrive who will cause Makélelé to be forgotten."
The 'Best' in the Business
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These three footballers are very talented, but are not quite as good as they imply or say they are.
17. Nicklas Bendtner
Juventus' new striker said he was humbled by his recent move. Let's see how true and lasting that comment is. After all, this is a guy who was accused of saying he is one of the world's best strikers. He later denied making the comment.
The Dane also once said he 'was not impressed with anyone at Arsenal.' Perhaps he couldn't see the players well enough from the bench.
18. Joey Barton
Joey Barton is the best English midfielder in football and should never have to play behind teacher's pets like Gareth Barry. Don't believe me? Just ask him.
"Honestly, I think I’m the best. I’m English and I love playing for my country. Maybe the people at the top have a problem with me. I don’t know"
"[Barry] is like the guy who sits in the front row and listens to the teacher. I certainly don't lose any sleep when I play against him."
19. Lee Chun-Soo
Lee is, in his mind, the Korean Zinedine Zidane. He has never said that, but he certainly gives off a similar persona.
After missing out on a move to Wigan when the English club pulled out, Lee took his frustration out on his club and proceeded to act as though he was too good for the club and would not play until sold.
"Ulsan has to promise to help me get a transfer to Europe in July," he said to the press.
"If they don't, I may just rest for the next six months."
Those Who Let Their Egos Do the Talking
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Lots of players are a bit critical when speaking to the media. Many times, footballers just have to vent their frustrations and that is not self-centered, necessarily.
Other times, people let their egos through by allowing their tongue to be a bit too loose. Here are three players who have earned quite a negative reputation simply by not controlling their mouths a bit more.
20. Antonio Cassano
Is it a coincidence that teams are so willing to let Cassano go despite being so talented? Probably not. His mouth gets him in even more trouble than we hear about, I'm sure.
Whether it's thinking he is bigger than managers such as Fabio Capello or bragging about the hundreds of women he has slept with, Cassano seems to have no control over himself sometimes.
21. Samir Nasri
"People at Arsenal tried to make out that I came here for the money. I hope they are watching me now, collecting my Premier League winner’s medal. I believe they have not won a trophy for many years now."
Apparently Nasri had no thanks to give his former supporters—and understandably so after being labelled a traitor.
Perhaps ditching Arsenal—the team Nasri himself failed to help win any trophies—would have been easier for fans to take if a bit more humility and respect had been shown.
22. William Gallas
I have to give Gallas credit. He puts his foot in his mouth without even speaking sometimes. Not one of the greatest locker room presences, this one.
In the past he has blasted his teammates for failures he was partially responsible for, isolated himself on and off the pitch and even forced himself out of the Emirates because he thought he—and only he—deserved better.
The beauty of his words is in the hypocrisy.
Gallas once said he was not worried about defending Cristiano Ronaldo, but then blasted the Portuguese and his Manchester United teammates for their arrogance. He has also called out the youngsters players today for being selfish and arrogant.
Pot, meet kettle—even if it is an honest kettle.
Too Good for Their Team
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It makes sense that two of these guys play for two of the world's greatest teams in Barcelona and Manchester United. They certainly know how worthy they are of doing so.
Mido is apparently too good for his national team. This is not an assumption made by the way he carries himself or judged by what teammates say, it's proof from his own mouth.
"In Egypt they are amateurs. The manager is an amateur, the team are amateurs, the association are amateurs," he told the Daily Express.
"They think they know everything. People can call me an arrogant Premiership player. The fact is that I am a Premiership player and they are amateurs.”
24. Ibrahim Afellay
The Dutchman was one of a few players specifically called out for Holland's terrible showing at the Euros due to poor chemistry on the team.
Dutch journalist Johan Derksen accused Afellay of having a poor attitude and big ego that stopped him from being part of the team.
"Afellay is hated in the Dutch camp and he came across as ‘I play for Barcelona, who do you play for?’"
25. Robin van Persie
Derksen said the same of RVP. The writer claimed that Van Persie never joined the group and always isolated himself.
This poor chemistry was evident every time either RVP or Afellay played, so the report is very believable. I'm sure Arsenal fans will have little trouble agreeing that their former star has quite an ego.
Please comment below and let us know which stars think are some of the most self-centered in football.