There was a time when footballers could get away with acting like thugs and tackling like savages, and their brutal two-footed “reducers” were widely celebrated as part of the game.
Those days are over, which is why the majority of names on this list come from days gone by—the likes of Ron “Chopper” Harris, Stuart “Psyco” Pearce, Billy Bremner, Claudio Gentile and Miguel Angel Nadal, dubbed the “The Beast of Barcelona.”
The last of the great football warlords may very well have been Roy Keane, Manchester United’s combative, snarling midfielder, and a man who once ended an opponent’s career to satisfy a personal vendetta.
There are still some tough guys in the game—Pepe, Nigel De Jong and Gennaro Gattuso get a mention here—but largely speaking this is the age where physical contact is more likely to be followed by a dive, than a bout of fisticuffs.
B/R’s lead writers Will Tidey and Michael Cummings have a bit of fun with the subject and invite you to join in with your comments below.