15 Most Insane Footballers in History
Football would be a rather dull game if everyone on the field of play abided strictly by the rules.
No, as in all sports, and life in general, the round-ball game needs all sorts of different characters to often bring some much-needed joy and excitement to proceedings, and so we at the Bleacher Report are here to identify the 15 craziest operators on Planet Football, in no particular order …
Whether it be burping on national TV, sending off referees or playing a mock flute in the heat of an Old Firm contest, the former Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio and Glasgow Rangers midfield player had as many memorable moments without the ball at his feet as he did when dribbling through opposition defences.
A genius on the pitch, but also completely bonkers, too, as demonstrated when he tried to shoot members of the Argentinian press corps waiting outside his house in Buenos Aires, before then trying to also run them over in his car for good measure!
And that is before we even get on to his suspensions for drug taking, including for 15 months in 1991 for taking cocaine and then again three years later when he was sent home in disgrace from USA 94 after having tested positive for ephedrine.
His nickname of El Loco, "The Madman," probably gives you some idea about the character of the crazy Colombia keeper from the late '80s and '90s.
And boy, did he live up to his moniker, especially on the field of play when he would often spend more time dribbling past opposition attackers than he did keeping the ball out of his net.
He will always be best remembered for his scorpion kick against England at Wembley in 1995, which only a madman would have attempted.
“Why always him?” Well, because he is completely insane, that is why!
Where does one start with “Super Mario”, with the setting on fire of his bathroom with fireworks? Or his fondness for driving around Manchester with bundles of cash in his front seat? Or perhaps when he was so bored that he entered a women’s prison one day simply to “have a look around”?
Then there was the time that Mario paid a taxi driver to let him follow him all the way from Manchester to London because he did not know the way!! Take your pick ….! And who can forget his struggles when trying to put on his training bib?!
OK, fair enough, we know that all goalkeepers have to be just a little bit bonkers to take on the role in the first place, but Jens took this to a whole new level!
And none more so than when the TV cameras caught him taking an impromptu toilet break DURING an actual UEFA Champions League tie while keeping goal for Stuttgart against Unirea Urziceni, although he was forced to cut his visit short when the Romanians started attacking his goal!
El Hadji Diouf
Anyone who thinks that spitting on a group of Glasgow Celtic supporters is a good idea must immediately be classified as insane, and I mean completely and utterly mad in the head, as the Senegalese did in March 2003 while playing for Liverpool in a UEFA Cup tie at Celtic Park. Frankly, he is lucky to still be alive.
Well, where does one start with this Huyton-born terrier, and I am not even talking about his mad Twitter rants?
This is a player who has twice been convicted, and imprisoned, on charges of violence, while that is before we even get on to his training-ground assault on his Manchester City teammate Ousmane Dabo in May 2007.
And then there was his 12-match ban by The Football Association after he attacked three City players following his red card at Eastlands on the final day of the 2011-12 Premier League season. A proper bad boy, if ever there was one.
Paolo Di Canio
As soon as you mention the fiery Italian’s name, the very first thing that comes to mind is his push on referee Paul Alcock at Hillsborough while playing for Sheffield Wednesday against Arsenal in 1998, for which the forward was hit with a massive 11-match ban.
And now as a manager, he is equally as insane!
This one is fairly simple: anyone who thinks it is a sensible course of action to head-butt Joe Jordan, as the AC Milan midfield player did during a UEFA Champions League contest at San Siro in February 2011, must be on a different planet.
But that is Gattuso for you, a player with a volatile temper shall we say, to put it mildly!
The Uruguayan has made as many headlines with his bewitching and mesmerising skills as he has with some of his other less savoury actions on the pitch, with the attacker having now been hit twice with massive bans for biting opponents.
The first occasion was while playing in Holland for Ajax in December 2010, and more recently while as a Liverpool player when he bit the upper arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic at Anfield in April 2013 for which he was hit with a 10-match suspension by the FA.
A brilliant striker, but only when he is not going on strike, which happened in the aftermath of his refusal to properly warm up while on the bench for Manchester City in a UEFA Champions League tie at Bayern Munich in September 2011.
The little Argentinian then went to play golf back in his homeland while also accusing his manager, Roberto Mancini, of treating him like a dog! Wow!
It is hard to say what exactly was the more insane action: the Frenchman’s decision while playing for Manchester United against Crystal Palace in January 1995 to leap two-footed into the crowd at Selhurst Park having been sent off to take out his revenge on a home fan who had been bad-mouthing him.
Or his subsequent press conference when he tried to explain his actions with this perplexing quote: "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much." Genius, but still completely mad nonetheless!
Simply mention the Georgian’s name to anyone around Tyneside and they will immediately recall his bizarre, wild and really quite scary goal celebration after he had netted a last-minute winner against Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League at St James’ Park in 1998.
What a total loon bag, and that poor old advertising board!
Intense, angry, sullen and that was when he was in a good mood, the former Manchester United skipper just looked crazy with those veins popping out of his skull as he verbally abused yet another poor referee who had dared to give a penalty against United, or even Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira in the tunnel pre match.
However, perhaps his craziest action was to turn his back on captaining his country at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea in what would have been his final-ever international tournament for the Republic of Ireland after a row about the quality of the training pitches in the Far East.
And this after he had virtually single-handedly dragged his country to the finals in the first place.
If the Portugal international is not bad-mouthing an opponent on the pitch, or winding an opposition player up, he will be kicking them slyly behind the referee’s back, or even sometimes in view of the man in the middle.
This happened, of course, in April 2009 when he was suspended for a whopping 10 matches when playing for Real Madrid against Getafe and the defender decided to kick Javier Casquero and then punch Juan Albin, before also verbally insulting the officials as he was ordered off the pitch.
Crazy, absolutely crazy!