The on-field genius with a screw loose.
The creator and the destroyer enveloped in one.
The make-or-break factor that carries a club to dizzying heights, or causes the same club to spiral out of control.
More often than not, the player is an attacking midfielder or forward with mesmerizing skill, but a tragic flaw that can drive the player to inspiring brilliance or cut him off at the knees.
These players are infamous for their magnificence and petulance.
From the "modern" age (2000 and on) we can name such players as Francesco Totti, Adriano, Ronaldo Luiz Nazário de Lima, Wayne Rooney, Antonio Cassano, David Beckham, and most famously, Zinedine Zidane.
These players, all outsanding talents in their own rights, have infamous shortcomings that have pushed them over the edge on various occasions.
From Totti's spitting incident with Christian Poulsen, and Adriano's double-fisted punch on Luis Fabiano, to Ronaldo's incessant partying, and Zidane's legendary temper, there is plenty of evidence that these temperamental geniuses are often their own worst enemies.
The tragic flaw is not a product of the modern environment, but rather a characteristic of legendary footballers through the ages. Going back through time, such players as Eric Cantona, Diego Maradona, and Edmundo were all famed for their mental lapses, snapping on players, fans, even animals.
Such reprehensible behavior would not be tolerated from these players if they didn't produce such remarkable displays of footballing prowess and beauty.
For every double-footed stamp by Totti, there was a mazy run from inside his own half.
For every reckless tackle from Zidane, there was his graceful pirouette and slide-rule passing.
These players' exquisite play comes with a price, but for such fantastic displays, I (and most fans of the beautiful game) deem it worth it.