World Football's 15 Most Famous Insults

Charles LawleyContributor IMarch 1, 2013

World Football's 15 Most Famous Insults

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    In what is a rare occurrence for media darling and national treasure Joey Barton, he has been making headlines...but not for footballing reasons.

    This week, when Barton’s Olympique de Marseille took on Paris Saint-Germain in a Coupe de France game, after a clash with PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he seemed to comment on the size of Zlatan’s nose.

    In fact, if my lip-reading skills are up to scratch, I would suggest he calls Zlatan:

    “A big ******* nosed *****.”

    Before eloquently reminding him:

    “You’ve got a big nose.”

    When people told you to “do your talking on the pitch”, Joey, this wasn’t what they had in mind.

    So what are football’s other most famous insults?

15. David Beckham vs. Spanish Linesman

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    During the early part of his Real Madrid career, squeaky voiced, wouldn’t-harm-a-fly, might-harm-Diego-Simeone, David Beckham was sent off for insulting a linesman, saying:

    “Hijo de puta.”

    Which, roughly translates as “son of a prostitute.”

    Beckham later apologized, saying he didn’t know what it meant and had heard his teammates say it.

    That excuse didn’t work for me dropping the F-bomb when I was 10, David, and it doesn’t work for you insulting a linesman’s mother when you were 29.

14. Freddy Shepherd vs. Alan Shearer

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    Former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd once said of Geordie Jesus, Alan Shearer:

    “Alan Shearer is boring; we call him Mary Poppins."

    Shepherd later apologized for being so disrespectful to Miss Poppins.

    Shepherd would go on to be proven ahead of his time as, years later, Match Of The Day viewers across the globe would also be made painfully aware of just how boring Alan Shearer is.

13. Giovanni Trapattoni vs. Paolo Di Canio

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    I don't need to tell you that Trapattoni vs. Di Canio is a very fiery encounter indeed.

    When asked questions over whether Di Canio would be included in Italy manager Trapattoni’s 2002 World Cup Squad, he responded:

    "Only if there's an outbreak of bubonic plague."

    Di Canio didn’t go the World Cup because, unfortunately for him (and fortunately for everyone else), there wasn’t an outbreak of bubonic plague.

12. Tommy Docherty vs. Lorenzo Amoruso

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    In 2000 Tommy “The Doc” Docherty was asked for his opinion on Lorenzo Amoruso, to which The Doc replied:

    “Somebody compared him to Billy McNeil [ex-Celtic captain], but I don’t remember Billy being ****.”

    This probably had nothing to do with Amoruso playing for Rangers at the time and Docherty starting his career at Celtic.

11. Arrigo Sacchi on Steven Gerrard

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    Arrigo Sacchi won back-to-back European Cups with AC Milan and took Italy to a World Cup final, so he has earned the right to criticize some of the world’s best players.

    And he fully exercised that right, when talking about Steven Gerrard, Sacchi said that Gerrard:

    “Lacks what I call knowing-how-to-play-football.”

    Which isn’t the most complimentary thing you can say about someone whose job it is to actually play football.

10. George Best vs. David Beckham

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    One famous Manchester United No. 7 was never always a fan of another famous Manchester United No. 7.

    The late, great George Best once said of David Beckham:

    "He cannot kick with his left foot, he cannot head a ball, he cannot tackle and he doesn't score many goals. Apart from that, he's all right."

    Oh, that’s OK then.

9. Sir Alex Ferguson vs. Alan Wiley

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    Some people claim that every referee’s favorite club is Manchester United.

    I doubt that’s the case with Alan Wiley, after Sir Alex Ferguson said of his refereeing performance in 2009:

    “The referee was not fit enough. The game demanded a referee who was fit. He’s not fit. You see referees abroad who are as fit as butcher’s dogs. He was taking 30 seconds to book a player then having a rest. Ridiculous.”

    Wiley retired in 2010.

    Was it something he said?

8. Roy Keane vs. Mick McCarthy

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    Anyone who has read an article by me will know that I need no encouragement to include football’s answer to Caligula, Roy Keane, in a list.

    During an argument over Ireland’s 2002 World Cup campaign, Keane said to Republic Of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy:

    "You were a **** player, you are a **** manager. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are manager of my country and you're not even Irish, you English ****. You can stick it up your ********."

    Oh, Roy, you charmer.

7. Dave Jones vs. Carlton Palmer

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    When Dave Jones was Southampton manager, he signed Carlton Palmer in 1997. He once said of Palmer’s talents (using the word “talents” loosely):

    “Carlton covers every blade of grass on the pitch, but then you have to if your first touch is that crap.”

    Words of encouragement from the gaffer, there.

6. Brian Clough vs. Martin O’Neill

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    When current Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill was playing for Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, he was suffering a poor run of form, so Cloughy dropped him.

    O’Neill asked why he was playing in his second team, to which the late Mr. Clough responded:

    “Because, Martin, you are far too good for my third team.”

    Turbo-burn from B-Clizzle! 

5. Paolo Di Canio vs. David James

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    When he’s not wishing the bubonic plague on his countrymen, Paolo Di Canio can mostly be found making absurd statements to the media.

    When playing for West Ham United, Di Canio once said of England goalkeeper David James:

    “David James must have a brain the size of a pea! I called him a cretin a year ago, so it has taken him a whole year to find out the meaning of the word. My two-year-old daughter could learn quicker than that.”

    Imagine Di Canio’s face when David James joined West Ham six months later!

    This slide has a happy ending, the pair made up soon just took James a year to realize it.

4. Jimmy Greaves vs. Vinnie Jones

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    You’ve got to be a brave man to insult Vinnie Jones.

    And it seems English football legend Jimmy Greaves is a very brave man.

    Greaves commented, when Vinnie Jones was found to be eligible to play for Wales through a grandparent: 

    "Well stone me! We’ve had cocaine, bribery and Arsenal scoring two goals at home. But just when you thought there were no surprises left in football, Vinnie Jones turns out to be an international player."

    Don’t worry, Jimmy, Vinnie Jones is known for taking statements like that really well.

3. Eric Cantona vs. Didier Deschamps

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    Football philosopher Eric Cantona once insulted Dider Deschamps by saying his main duty was to pass to more talented players, saying:

    “He will never be anything more than a water carrier.”

    The “water carrier” nickname has stuck with Deschamps to this day as, annoyingly for him, "World Cup 1998 And Euro 2000 Winner" and “Youngest Ever Captain To Be A European Cup Lifter” just weren't as catchy. 

2. Diego Maradona vs. Humanity

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    Diego Maradona is a man with a lot to say.

    And a good percentage of it is insulting.

    On his rival contender for the best footballer in history, Pele:

    "Pele should go back to the museum."


    This is maybe due to old age affecting such comments [about Messi not being as good as Pele]. You can’t blame the guy, he hasn’t been doing anything for the past 20 years. I haven’t even seen him in a supermarket – I don’t know what he does. Usually, when you see him these days, it’s only at award ceremonies next to the president of Fifa and looking like a doll that’s being moved by remote control.


    "They need to change the medicine they are giving to the idiot."

    On Michel Platini and the entire nation of France:

    "We know how the French are and Platini is French and he thinks of himself as being more than the rest of the world. I've never paid him any attention and I won't do it now."

    On his own children:

    "My legitimate kids are Dalma and Giannina. The rest are a product of my money and mistakes."

    On every player who played in France '98:

    "The players have all got square feet. They are like Robocops, they have more need of lubricant than massage. I don't believe the tournament could be worse."

    On the United States Of America:

    "I hate everything that comes from the United States. I hate it with all my strength.”

    On the cameraman he has just run over in his car:

    "What an a****** you are. How can you put your foot under the wheel, man?"

    And on people who doubted his Argentina side's ability to qualify for the 2010 World Cup:

    "To those who did not believe: now suck my **** - I'm sorry ladies for my words - and keep on sucking it. I am either white or black. I will never be grey in my life. You treated me as you did. Now keep on sucking *****. I am grateful to my players and to the Argentinian people. I thank no one but them. The rest, keep on sucking *****."


1. Marco Materazzi vs. Zinedine Zidane

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    When an insult leads to a headbutt that leads to a red card of the greatest player of his generation’s last-ever football match in a World Cup final, you know someone has felt the burn.  

    In fact, the headbutt was even commemorated by a statue in Paris. 

    In the 2006 World Cup final between France and Italy, Marco Materazzi was tugging on Zinedine Zidane’s shirt, so Zidane sarcastically offered to give him his shirt. To which Materazzi replied.

    “Preferisco la puttana di tua sorella”


    "I prefer the whore that is your sister."

    Zidane, didn’t take it too well, and headbutted Materazzi in the heart.

    Italy went onto win the game and the World Cup and Zidane got to keep his shirt.