Premier League's Biggest Egomaniacs
With all the money, fast cars and adoration that come with Premier League status, there are plenty of reasons why a top-level footballer might get big-headed.
That’s not to say the trait is any more acceptable, and it’s a sad reflection of the sport when we find ourselves admiring a player just because they seem grounded, congratulating them for keeping some sense of normality.
But there are those whose feet are nowhere near the ground.
An egomaniac is defined as someone with an “obsessive preoccupation with the self,” and that relate to a player's personal life or on-pitch manner.
The following candidates have all shown these tendencies in their careers, some ranking a little more selfishly than others.
10. Phil Bardsley
Phil Bardsley finds his Sunderland career in jeopardy as a result of a few moments of madness that serve as a perfect example of just how the evolution of social media has risen to inhibit, as much as benefit, the modern footballer.
Back in May, as the 2012-13 campaign was coming to a close, the 28-year-old was pictured lying in a heap of £50 notes, per the Daily Mail’s Rik Sharma.
For the former Manchester United defender, it was just a picture of one man celebrating his casino winnings. To the masses, it could be interpreted as another arrogant footballer with too much cash.
Black Cats' boss Paolo Di Canio seemed to think so and proceeded to axe Bardsley from his final matchday squad of the season, and the full-back has yet to feature under the Italian.
Whatever his intentions, Bardsley’s actions gave the impression of self-indulgence and it would have been wiser to leave the camera well alone.
9. Raheem Sterling
A relatively harmless offence, but an offence nonetheless, Raheem Sterling recently committed fashion suicide.
And unless the Liverpool starlet comes out to say that his recent change in appearance was in fact a preseason dare, there’s simply no excuse.
As the Liverpool Echo’s Neil Macdonald explains, Sterling showed up for this summer’s preparations with a fairly unfortunate tuft of hair upon his bonnet.
The most disappointing thing? It wasn't accidental.
Just one season into his professional career and already Sterling feels he has the right to attempt new trends.
The operative word there being “attempt.”
8. Ravel Morrison
Manchester United are one of the biggest football clubs in the world and the opportunity for any teenager to play for the Red Devils is one that quite simply can't be turned down—even if it means making a little sacrifice to fulfil one’s dreams, right?
The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor explains some of the misdemeanours which blighted Ravel Morrison’s time at Old Trafford, including accusations of selling the property of first-team players and gang-related offences.
Following Morrison’s sale to West Ham, Goal’s Greg Stobart quotes Sir Alex Ferguson as saying of the player:
He simply couldn’t be tamed, despite all the chances he was given. Whether it’s absenteeism, intimidating victims of street robberies or throwing his girlfriend’s phone out of a window; Morrison has showed no signs that he has learned.
It’s a shame for United that Morrison couldn't knuckle down and appreciate what he had at the time, as he now seems to be fulfilling some of his potential at Upton Park with Premier League rivals West Ham.
7. Emmanuel Frimpong
Another youngster muddled up in the off-field fame and fortune, Emmanuel Frimpong is adored by some and disliked by others for the way in which he carries himself.
Not many youngsters with just 10 Premier League starts to their name would be as cocky as Frimpong, but that doesn't seem to stop the Arsenal academy product.
Building up a healthy Twitter following thanks largely to his collaborations with cousin and UK grime artist, Lethal Bizzle, Frimpong’s net is cast wider than simply football and stretches into the music industry.
Setting up his “DENCH” clothing label and featuring on some of Bizzle’s material, it’s inevitable that this potent mix of money, football and rap produces a fairly egomaniacal character, especially one as young as 21 years of age.
6. Peter Odemwingie
The politics of football has become as much a part of the sport as football itself these days.
Over the course of the year, players and managers will use different tactics in the media, say certain things and refer to certain people in an attempt to get what they want, sometimes a transfer.
However, in January 2012, Peter Odemwingie took matters into his own hands and thought instead of beating around the bush, he would simply become judge, jury and, most importantly, executioner of his own transfer saga.
The West Brom striker was alleged to have heard that Queens Park Rangers were interested in his services, even though no official transfer request had been completed or fee agreed.
So, as you do in his situation, Odemwingie chose to drive to QPR’s Loftus Road ground in an attempt to tie up the deal, only to be told that the Baggies hadn't given permission for Odemwingie to talk to the Hoops.
As a result, the forward was left in the QPR car park for some time before eventually giving up the short pursuit of a move.
Following the spectacle, the Guardian’s Stuart James quotes West Brom manager Steve Clarke as calling Odemwingie’s acts “total lunacy.”
In an age where footballers have more power than ever, Odemwingie took it to the next level and ultimately got his ego bruised a little as a result.
5. Liam Ridgwell
Another social media-inflicted wound, Phil Bardsley isn’t the only player whose fraternisation with cash has landed them in hot water.
In December 2012, Twitter unveiled images of West Brom defender Liam Ridgewell,making terrible use of his Premier League salary, choosing to replace his two-ply toilet roll with a wad of £20 notes.
According to the Daily Mail’s Tom Bellwood, Ridgewell’s defence was that the photo was part of a private joke and was never intended for public use.
Well, it didn't remain private and public is precisely what it became.
Even amongst friends, pretending to use money earned in a high-profile career in such a way is never a good idea.
4. Wojciech Szczesny
In football as much as any sport, players are sometimes thrust into the spotlight from incredibly early ages.
That was the case for Wojciech Szczesny, who made his professional debut for Polish giants Legia Warsaw at just 15.
Speaking with the Arsenal stopper 12 months ago, Matt Fortune of the Daily Mail quoted Szczesny as admitting his arrogance increased as a result.
Szczesny is one of the more amicable players on this list, and acknowledging his shortcomings is at least a humble gesture.
Despite being just 22 at the time of the interview, the goalkeeper was already brimming with confidence, saying:
The responsibility is what I love about it. Do I find it hard to cope with? Not really. Everyone makes mistakes, you just have to focus on what is coming and make sure they don't always happen. A big part of being a professional goalkeeper is learning from your mistakes and not letting them get to you.
There are past examples of Szczesny’s arrogance beaming through his ability, however, not least on the player’s Twitter feed.
3. Dimitar Berbatov
One of two Fulham players on this list, Dimitar Berbatov has always maintained a cool and nonchalant approach to football. He's a striker infamous for his apparent lack of movement, but class when he does get the ball.
Last season in his first campaign at Craven Cottage, the Bulgarian took that demeanour to new heights after scoring against Southampton in December.
A message which obviously took some preparation, Berbatov’s actions earned him a yellow card for his troubles, but also gave those watching a laugh in the process.
Regardless, the stunt goes down as one of the most pointless in celebration history.
2. Emmanuel Adebayor
Were it not for an ego that matches his towering 6’3” frame, Emmanuel Adebayor may well be appreciated much more than he is.
An inflated image of himself has caused the Togolese forward’s career to take some unsavoury turns over the years.
The striker has clocked up over £30 million worth of transfer fees, featuring for Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid and his current side Tottenham.
With such world-class clubs on his checklist, it might be understandable that a player finds it tough to stay grounded.
However, there’s only so many excuses a player can make for their actions before they are considered a bit of a lost cause.
Whether it’s running from one end of the pitch to another just so that you can crudely celebrate in front of the fans of your former club, or incurring a £300,000 fine for not turning up to training, per the Daily Mail’s John Edwards, Adebayor has done it.
According to Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail, 2009 saw the forward call a press conference to announce that he would be leaving Arsenal, assuming a dream move to AC Milan was complete.
It was not.
Then, at Manchester City, there was tension resulting from a scrap with teammate Kolo Toure, per Mark Ogden of the Telegraph.
There are simply too many instances in Adebayor’s career when he appears to have been concerned with nobody but himself—classic signs of the egomaniac.
1. Adel Taarabt
Adel Taarabt was reintroduced to England’s top flight this week when BBC Sport confirmed that Fulham had completed a season-long loan for the QPR midfielder.
Having emerged in the spotlight over the last three years, the Moroccan wasted little time painting himself as a controversial figure.
It’s a pity that Taarabt’s superb dribbling skills and technique are matched by a sometimes intolerable personality.
Last summer, Taarabt told the QPR hierarchy that they had an ultimatum on their hands—he no longer wished to play alongside Joey Barton, per the Evening Standard (h/t Daily Mail).
The playmaker put his club in a difficult situation, but was happy as long as his needs were met.
There was also the infamous bus stop incident of 2011, per Laura Williamson of the Daily Mail, when Taarabt was pictured waiting outside Craven Cottage in full club clobber moments after being substituted against Fulham.
Being unhappy at getting hauled off is one thing, but to storm out of the ground while your side continues to play beggars belief.