10 Most Talented Jerks in Soccer

Daniel Fitzgerald@@skiponsportsContributor IINovember 30, 2012

10 Most Talented Jerks in Soccer

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    Cristiano Ronaldo is onto us. He knows that the vast majority of soccer fans regard him as a bit of an ass, and he seems to think that's what has cost him the plaudits he so richly deserves.

    "I have bad image on the pitch... because I'm too serious, but if you really know me, if you are my friend, if I leave you inside my house, if you share the day with me, you will know I hate to lose," he told CNN World Sport recently.

    "I'm a competitive man and sometimes people interpret that in a different way, which is a pain on me because I don't like it, but I have to live."

    Quite a philosophical chap, it appears.

    Some guys are immensely talented. Some guys are jerks. And sometimes the stars align and you get a tremendously talented footballer who you'd put at the top of your starting lineup, but not your Christmas card list. Here is our top 10.

Luis Suarez

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    Even though he'd been banging in goals for Ajax for a few years by 2010, many soccer fans' first exposure to Suarez was his last-minute deliberate handball to deny Ghana the win in the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup. The move paid off and Ghana were eventually eliminated, but the image of Suarez obnoxiously celebrating as Gyan's missed penalty denied the sentimental favorites a fairytale victory stayed in many people's minds.

    But even that wasn't enough for most of us to damn him. Hey, that was a desperate, albeit cynical attempt to keep his team in the tournament. Should we blame him for being ecstatic that it worked?

    However, his racial abuse of Manchester United star Patrice Evra, his pathetic attempt to pass it off as ethnocentric banter and subsequent refusal to shake Evra's hand in a later game truly revealed him as one of the game's great jerks.

    Which makes it all the more frustrating, as he plays so brilliantly for Liverpool.


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    Yet another exceptional talent whose main problem was knowing just how good he was.

    At the national level, he was sublime, and his unwavering ability to find the net helped carry Brazil to the 1994 World Cup title. But there was a reason he never settled at any club for too long: attitude.

    Romario could play, but he ended up battling with every coach he ever had, at one point declaring to the management at Flamengo that either the coach went or he would.

    Also, his stubborn pursuit of 1,000 career goals—even going so far as to include goals from junior matches—marked him out further as a bit of an egomaniac.

Paolo Di Canio

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    DiCanio is absolute YouTube gold for the right and wrong reasons.

    Despite spending much of his career at middling clubs (cough, Wednesday, cough), he was clearly a sublime talent, and a good sport to boot.

    However, one cannot ignore the fact that DiCanio is an avowed fascist, even going as far as to describe Mussolini as "basically a very principled, ethical individual" who was "deeply misunderstood."

    He hasn't earned too many gold stars as a manager either, with this incident involving Leon Clarke highlighting a lack of the equanimity every gaffer needs.

Mario Balotelli

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    Balottelli marked himself out as something of an enfant terrible after making his debut with Inter at the age of 17. Sure, he was so difficult that even Jose Mourinho called him arrogant, but we all thought he'd mature after a while, right?

    Wrong. Balotelli wasn't a prodigious talent thrust into the public eye too soon. Later transgressions off the field (throwing darts at a City youth team player was one lowlight) and on the field revealed that he was just a run-of-the-mill jerk who also happened to make his debut at an early age.

    Why always you, Mario? Because you won't shut up about yourself.

Stefan Effenberg

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    Some of you may not be familiar with Stefan's work. Which would probably crush his spirit a bit, because nobody was more enamored of Stefan Effenberg's skills than Stefan.

    When he wasn't flipping off spectators or hooking up with ex-teammates' wives, Stefan was telling the press what a fantastic player he was.

    He was actually a decent player, but not nearly as good as he made out. Upon arriving at Fiorentina, he declared that he was going to take them to the Champions League for the first time that year. They got relegated.

    He did go on to be voted one of Bayern's 11 greatest ever players, but he also belongs in our top 10.

John Terry

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    Leaving his alleged racial abuse against Anton Ferdinand aside (still a subject of some contention), Terry also hooked up with his teammate's ex-wife. Major violation of the bro code, jerk.

    He also happens to be one of the finest defenders of his generation, and perhaps England's best ever. But you wouldn't want him chaperoning your missus.

Diego Simeone

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    England fans know him as the man who got David Beckham sent off at the 1998 World Cup. But even before this moment, Simeone was renowned for being a niggly crybaby who went down too easily and harassed referees at every turn.

    An integral part of the albiceleste who first surpassed Diego Maradona's record for most caps, Simeone could always be relied to frustrate his opponents, and anyone forced to watch him.

Paul Ince

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    Ince was one of the foundation players in Alex Ferguson's Man United dynasty, in addition to being one of the few Brits to ply his trade in Serie A without being a abject disappointment (although he did return back to Blighty after only two seasons at Inter).

    But Ince was also derided as a "Big-Time Charlie" by Sir Alex upon his departure from Old Trafford, and perhaps better remembered as one of the game's foremost whingers: hounding referees and opponents alike when things weren't going his way.

    He was also accused of repeatedly directing homophobic taunts against (straight, married) Graeme Le Saux. Pathetic.

Kevin Muscat

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    I'm showing my nationality a bit with this one, as Muscat never came close to equaling the achievements of the other players on this list. He was, however, one of Australia's brightest talents over the last 20 years, and a stalwart at clubs like Wolverhampton and Millwall.

    He's more famous for being an unrepentant thug, though, who stomped, elbowed and studded opponents with almost gleeful abandon.

    His playing career ended with what The Sun described as possibly "football's worst ever foul," a flying two-footed knee-buster which put his younger opponent out for the rest of the season. In typical Muscat style, he immediately abused the referee for having the gall to show him the red.

    Muscat could play, and deep down, every A-League fan would have loved to have him on their team's roster. But he was also an incredible jerk.

Cristiano Ronaldo

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    What is it about this guy? It's not anything he does off the field, that's for sure. And he is one of the best attacking players of his time.

    But the moment he laces his boots, he turns into an unrelentingly petulant child who dives, whines at his teammates and referees and who reacts to every loss without the faintest trace of humility and grace.

    His pathetic, repeated insistence that he should be considered better than Lionel Messi doesn't help his cause much either.

    Yes, Cristiano, your personality has cost you plaudits. Because it sucks.