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Soccer's 20 Most Disruptive Players

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterOctober 11, 2012

Soccer's 20 Most Disruptive Players

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    Football wouldn't be football nowadays without tantrums, fights, dives and strops.

    Bleacher Report takes a look at some of the most disruptive players in recent years to relive some of their more comical, or concerning, moments.

    This list isn't just about thuggery on the pitch, so players like Roy Keane don't feature. Attacking a teammate with a golf club, however, gives you automatic qualification.

Mario Balotelli

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    Where to begin with Mario Balotelli?

    His first and perhaps most controversial stunt from a footballing point of view was wearing an AC Milan shirt on live television while employed by bitter archrivals Internazionale.

    Roberto Mancini probably hoped that moving to Manchester City would be a fresh new start for Balotelli, but it became clear that the Italian wasn't growing up anytime soon.

    He got caught throwing darts at City's youth players, was fined and substituted for messing around in a preseason friendly, set off fireworks in his bathroom and tried to punch Jerome Boateng.

    He's also allergic to Ukranian grass.

Dennis Wise

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    According to Sir Alex Ferguson, Dennis Wise could start a fight in an empty house. High praise for the former Chelsea midfielder who gained a large following of haters during his playing career.

    1995 saw Wise assault an elderly taxi driver, and while the three-month prison sentence was retracted on appeal, the blemish on his record stays.

    Then, in 1999, he allegedly bit Marcelino Elena of Real Mallorca. He also sat 15 games out during that domestic season due to suspension.

    His stint at Leicester was short, as he broke teammate Callum Davidson's nose and jaw during training.

Joey Barton

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    It gets to the point where you have to question the sanity of anyone willing to hire Joey Barton as an employee.

    He's been given chance after chance, and he's blown each and every one of them. Three violent conduct charges, one suspended prison sentence and 77 days spent in the Big House are just some of the achievements listed on his resume.

    He's beaten up fans, punched Morten Gamst Pedersen, assaulted Ousmane Dabo and throttled Gervinho.

    How do you "manage" that?

Ashley Cole

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    Although a lot of hostility towards Ashley Cole comes exclusively from Arsenal fans after a protracted transfer saga, he seems to become less and less docile as the years go on.

    In 2011, the England left-back managed to accidentally shoot a work experience student at Chelsea's training ground with a loaded air rifle.

    A year later, the English Football Association essentially branded him a liar in their John Terry investigation, leading to a famous tweet (h/t Metro) that was later taken down: "Hahahahaa, well done #fa I lied did I, #BUNCHOFTW**S."

Arjen Robben

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    We all knew that the Netherlands' strop-free 2010 World Cup in South Africa was an anomaly.

    As things started to go south for Bert van Marwijk's team in Poland and Ukraine this summer, Arjen Robben pulled out his secret weapon.

    No, it wasn't a stunning left-foot strike to level the match against Germany. Rather, he produced the angriest exit from a football pitch in many a fan's lifetime, vaulting an advertisement board, ripping off his Dutch shirt in front of his own fans and walking the long way around to the substitutes bench.

    This is only the most prominent example of Robben's antics, as his career is filled with immature outbursts. I wonder what he's like at the dinner table when he doesn't get his chicken nuggets?

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    It's never easy managing a player like Cristiano Ronaldo. While most would crumble under an £80 million price tag, he probably thought he was worth even more.

    It's been typically easy to wind the Portuguese forward up over the last five years. Constant jibes from opposing fans would refer to Lionel Messi's winning of the Ballon d'Or, sparking a furious reaction from Real Madrid's No. 7.

    His latest in a long line of strops is his current desire to land a new contract. He's already earning more than the average house value on a weekly basis, but perhaps the fact that Messi and David Beckham earn more than him (via IBNLive) doesn't allow him to sleep at night.

Carlos Tevez

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    It's a genuine shock to see Carlos Tevez still donning a Manchester City shirt.

    Roberto Mancini exiled the Argentinian from his club in 2011 after he refused to come on as a substitute in Bavaria, as the Citizens currently trailed by two goals to Bayern Munich.

    After a three-month absence in which the striker did almost nothing of note, he apologised unreservedly, paid a huge fine, forfeited his bonus and helped his team the title.

    It may not have been such a close-run race with Manchester United, though, if he just did his job.

El Hadji Diouf

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    After Neil Warnock had previously labelled El Hadji Diouf a "sewer rat," it was surprising to see him sign the player for Leeds United.

    Then again, it's a wonder that the Senegalese striker has convinced no less than seven managers to give him a chance, let alone one.

    He seemingly spits at everyone he sees and has been charged and fined several times for this. Diouf also allegedly levelled racist abuse at a ball boy at Goodison Park and taunted Jamie Mackie on the pitch as he sustained a broken leg

    In 2011, Diouf went missing and didn't bother to show up for preseason training with Blackburn Rovers. How is this man still employed?

Adriano

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    Of all footballers' careers that have been marred by off-field issues, Adriano's is perhaps the worst.

    At Internazionale, he received two cautions for extravagant partying and skipped training due to a hangover the morning after his birthday.

    He's been sent back to his native Brazil twice on unpaid leave, landing in trouble in his homeland too. He narrowly escaped an 18-month ban after headbutting a Santos player in 2008 and was consistently late for training.

    His three-year contract at AS Roma was terminated after only seven months, and he was released early in 2012 from Corinthians for a "lack of interest" (via Globoesporte.com).

Marco Materazzi

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    When you think of Marco Materazzi, you think of him famously goading Zinedine Zidane. The resulting headbutt may well have cost France the 2006 World Cup, and the Italian defender was widely blamed for it.

    But he wasn't just a one-hit wonder, as his career has been plagued with bad tackles, aggressive reactions and malconduct.

    He's thought to have received over 25 red cards in his career, including four in one season for Everton in 1998.

    This is a truly unbelievable compilation of violence.

John Terry

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    If you had to pick a single player to use as the definition of "disruptive," it's probably John Terry.

    Alleged assaults and underhand training ground tours are just a starter in a three-course meal for the Chelsea defender, as his supposed affair with then-teammate Wayne Bridge's girlfriend laid the very foundations in ridiculing the mandatory pre-match handshake.

    His latest saga has seen him found guilty of using racist words on a football pitch, a self-imposed retirement from international football and a rather annoyed Ashley Cole call his bosses a "bunch of tw**s."

Jody Morris

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    And now to John Terry's partner in crime, Jody Morris.

    He, too, has been involved in alleged sexual assaults and nightclub brawls. His penchant for drunk-driving saw him banned for four years after he was discovered driving the wrong way down a one-way street while intoxicated.

    Perhaps his most disruptive moment in football was, although only alleged, when he caused a cruciate ligament injury to Michael Essien in preseason training. Morris had been invited along to help keep up his fitness.

Lee Bowyer

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    Lee Bowyer's off-field incidents marred what was seen as some fantastic displays early on in his career for Leeds United.

    Aside from his on-pitch brawl with teammate Kieron Dyer with Newcastle United—an act which saw both players sent off and Aston Villa win comfortably—a forced apology to a West Brom supporter and several vicious acts, Bowyer's headline story is his dodging of GBH charges.

    He received an abnormal amount of yellow and red cards in his career, garnering hate from almost every fanbase in the UK.

Luis Suarez

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    It must be getting to the point where even Luis Suarez's teammates want him to stop diving around in such a foolish manner.

    Marco van Basten, the Uruguayan's coach at Ajax, found it difficult to work with him due to his tendencies to pick up silly yellow cards, but that's the least of his concerns now.

    He is still followed by the ghost of the eight-game ban he received for racially abusing Patrice Evra, but he doesn't help matters by claiming Manchester United conspired evidence against him.

    He is currently vilified by referees and receives absolutely no penalty decisions in his favour due to the unfortunate reputation he's garnered for himself.

    Also, he once bit a guy.

Nicolas Anelka

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    Nicolas Anelka has had an awful lot of clubs, hasn't he? Is that a clue?

     During the 2010 World Cup , the Frenchman rather infamously told Raymond Domenech to "go f*** himself" and labelled him a "son of a wh**e." Supposedly, he wasn't happy with how the boss was using him on the field.

    Things went from bad to worse, as the French team had a bust-up with the coaching staff, some refused to train and Anelka received a 18-game ban.

    After moving to Shanghai Shenhua, the UEFA Champions League winner refused to bow to travelling fans and got involved in a "heated exchange" as a result.

Diego Maradona

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    Diego Maradona's £5 million move to Barcelona was far from the fairytale everyone hoped for.

    Constant disputes with Barca officials saw him transferred to Napoli, where his cocaine addiction picked up again, making him frequently late or miss training.

    On the pitch, he was massively successful, but things got complicated in Italy. He was allegedly friendly with the mafia in Naples and faced questions over a potentially illegitimate son.

    He was fined an absurd amount of money for drug use and received an 18-month global ban for the detection of cocaine in his test.

Paolo Di Canio

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    Paolo Di Canio is infamous for pushing referee Paul Alcock over in 1998, resulting in an 11-match ban and a £10,000 fine.

    Later, during his time at Lazio, the Italian made fascist salutes to the club's right-wing fans.

    Turning to his time as a manager, Di Canio had an on-pitch altercation with his own player, Leon Clarke of Swindon Town. When he was first appointed, Swindon lost support from some financial backers due to their new manager's openly fascist views.

Craig Bellamy

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    Craig Bellamy has always had a little difficulty getting along with some people—and by that, we mean referees, opposing fans, teammates and managers.

    So far, the Welshman has managed to dodge all convictions of assault, but the "alleged list" is pretty hefty.

    He's seen trouble in Cardiff, Manchester and, perhaps most notably, in the Liverpool locker room. He also approached then-teammate John Arne Riise with a golf club maliciously once, apparently.

Kevin Muscat

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    Kevin Muscat was once dubbed "the most hated man in football."

    He threatened to break Ashley Young's legs, sparked a 21-man brawl on the field and destroyed poor Matty Holmes' leg, which cost the offender £750,000 in a court of law.

    By 2005, England on the whole had had enough of him. Carted to the Australian A-League, he decided to bring that league into disrepute as well.

    He picked up several fines and bans for elbows and bad tackles, and on his return from one suspension in 2011, he committed the horrendous tackle above.

    What do you say to a player like this in training, and how, as a manager, can you tolerate it?

Eric Cantona

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    Eric Cantona's career is a catalogue of controversies. It's a good thing he was such a fantastic player, or no manager in the world would have put up with some of the stunts he pulled.

    The talented Frenchman racked up four months' worth of bans in his home country for incidents such as throwing the ball at referees, hitting a teammate in the face with a stud boot and punching Bruno Martini.

    In England, Cantona spat at Leeds fans, then kung-fu kicked a Crystal Palace supporter, which landed him an astonishing eight months' worth of global suspensions.

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