World Football's 10 Biggest Bad Boys

Max TowleAnalyst IApril 18, 2013

World Football's 10 Biggest Bad Boys

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    We all love a bad boy, don't we?

    World football is full of larger-than-life characters—men who never seem to be too far away from the back pages for all the wrong reasons.

    Some have lost their discipline numerous times on the pitch, others numerous times off it.

    This article will seek to round up the 10 most well-known bad boys and hold them accountable for their crimes against football.

    (Oh, and if you're reading this, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, please don't hunt me down.)

Joey Barton

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    Joey Barton's rap sheet reads like he's a mid-level enforcer for Vito Corleone.

    The English midfielder has been sent off numerous times, sparked mass brawls, stubbed a lit cigarette out in a teammate's eye, broken the leg of a pedestrian with careless driving, been charged with assault and punched an opponent in the ribs (via The Guardian).

    The 30-year-old has been banished from the British Isles and currently plies his trade in Marseille, where he can develop his best 'Allo 'Allo! accent.

    He most recently called Brazilian defender Thiago Silva an "overweight ladyboy" on Twitter (via The Guardian).

Felipe Melo

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    The red mist has been known to descend on Felipe Melo from time to time. When it does, I pity the opponent who gets in the fierce Brazilian's way.

    He has fashioned a nickname for himself over the course of his career: "I'm the team's Pitbull, I run, I chase down and I bite my opponents" (via Football Speak). Though not literally, of course.

    Melo is perhaps most famous for losing his cool in a World Cup quarterfinal and receiving a red card for stomping on Arjen Robben.

    He has also previously seen red for kicking then-Parma player Massimo Paci in the face in a Serie A match.

Mario Balotelli

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    Everyone knows Mario Balotelli is just a big, overgrown child. Perhaps we could forgive him his past misdemeanors?

    The Italian striker has let off fireworks in his bathroom, thrown darts at youth-team players, crashed another club's press conference, crashed a women's prison and engaged in a bout of fisticuffs with his manager (via Yahoo).

    To call him an enigma would be an understatement—Balotelli is beyond needing professional help.

    Some seem to think he has finally settled down at AC Milan. Let's just wait and see.

El Hadji Diouf

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    There are few more hated players in the game today than El Hadji Diouf.

    The Senegalese forward has been engulfed in controversy since first moving to Britain in 2002.

    He has spat at both fans and players, been charged with assault, broken an opponent's leg then berated him immediately afterwards, but perhaps worst of all, he has dared to criticise his former Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard (via The Independent).

    "Everyone hates him," says Diouf regarding Gerrard. Pot, meet kettle.

Nigel De Jong

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    Nigel De Jong's flying kung fu kick on Xabi Alonso in the last World Cup final may just be the worst tackle in the tournament's history.

    The referee of that game, Howard Webb, later admitted he was wrong to just book De Jong: "I should have red-carded him" (via The Telegraph).

    Not long after that game, De Jong was caught on camera stamping on Leicester's Richie Wellens' hand during a game.

    The Netherlands international has a reputation for being a notoriously poor tackler who regularly causes bodily harm.

Luis Suarez

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    Liverpool forward Luis Suarez is another divisive player you either love or hate.

    The Uruguayan's career has been checkered with negative moments dating right back to when he bit another player while playing for Ajax.

    Since then, he has been accused numerous times of diving, committed a rather blatant handball in a World Cup quarterfinal and was engaged in a very unsavoury war of words with Patrice Evra where he was accused of racially insulting the Manchester United defender.

    His talent is undeniable, but then so is his ability to court controversy.

Carlos Tevez

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    Carlos Tevez may have scored plenty of goals for Manchester City, but he has also treated the club disgracefully in the past.

    In both 2010 and 2011 he demanded to leave the Blues and handed in transfer requests. He later fell out with manager Roberto Mancini and absconded for months in protest at his not being sold.

    During City's open-top bus parade celebrating their Premier League title win last year, he held up a banner which red "RIP Fergie" (via Daily Mail).

    Trouble has followed the forward around for most of his career, and one can never be too sure when it's next going to rear its ugly head again.

Marlon King

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    It is any wonder Marlon King is still playing football.

    The Birmingham City striker is a decent goalscorer, but a none too decent human being.

    He has committed several offences—namely headbutting a teammate, theft, criminal damage, fraud, drink driving, several cases of assaulting women, receiving stolen goods and sexual assault.

    King was once accused of "Chasing two women along a road with a belt and buckle wrapped around his right fist and then approaching a woman for 'no apparent reason' and spitting at her" (via The Guardian). 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    In an interview with CNN a little over a week ago, Zlatan Ibrahimovic rejected claims that he was one of football's bad boys.

    "It's enough that someone in a newspaper says I have a bad character and then everybody jumps on this train. If people judge me like that, it's fine by me, because this is part of the game," he said.

    But how can a man who has fought with a teammate, threatened others, stamped opponents, was sent home from a World Cup qualifier for breaking a curfew and openly criticised former boss Pep Guardiola in a tell-all book not be considered so?

    Granted, Zlatan's level of bad boy-osity is a different kind to that of say Marlon King or Joey Barton, but a bad boy he remains, whether he likes it or not.

John Terry

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    John Terry may be one of the most talented defenders of his generation, but his life off the field has only cast shame on the game.

    He has drunkenly mocked Americans in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, was charged with assault, urinated in public, accused of racial abuse on multiple occasions and cheated multiple times on his wife, Toni Poole (via Soccer Lens).

    But his most notable indiscretion was his four-month affair with the mother of former teammate Wayne Bridge’s child.

    His career has provided the British tabloids with endless ink for all the wrong reasons.


    Who else would be worthy of gracing this less-than-prestigious list? Who might be the No. 1 bad boy in football?