Ranking World Football's 20 Biggest Prima Donnas: Ronaldo, Tevez or Zlatan?

Dan Colasimone@@ArgentinaFWContributor IMarch 15, 2014

Ranking World Football's 20 Biggest Prima Donnas: Ronaldo, Tevez or Zlatan?

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    Marco Vasini/Associated Press

    Sport at the highest level seems to attract its fair share of prima donnas, and football is no exception.

    Here is the definition of just what a prima donna is, according to Dictionary.com:

    1. a first or principal female singer of an opera company.
    2. a temperamental person; a person who takes adulation and privileged treatment as a right and reacts with petulance to criticism or inconvenience.

    It is that second meaning that we are obviously focusing on here and reading it has probably made readers immediately think of one or more high-profile footballers.

    Here we count down a list of the 20 most petulant and temperamental footballers, the ones with a sense of entitlement as large as their giant wage packages.

    Let us know in the comments if you can think of more.

20. Santiago Silva

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    Jorge Saenz/Associated Press

    Lanus' Uruguayan forward Santiago Silva is a unique character, even by South American football standards.

    The powerful striker is known for his bulldozing runs, sharp finishing and novelty goal celebrations, but when things don't go his way, he can tend to lose the plot a little bit.

    Silva's reaction when he was denied a penalty while playing for Velez Sarsfield against Boca Juniors was to scream in disbelief and begin slapping himself in the head. It was all rather childish, really, but certainly hilarious. 

19. Lionel Messi

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    This is an entry that is sure to raise a few heckles but hear me out.

    Lionel Messi may be a shy, retiring young fellow who is also a selfless team man on the pitch, but he does exert his influence, whether directly or indirectly, when it comes to Barcelona's playing roster.

    The Catalan club bend over backwards to keep the little Argentine content and various world-class forwards have been shifted out of their favored positions to ensure Messi is exactly where he wants to be.

    Samuel Eto'o, David Villa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were all asked to make concessions for the No. 10, with the giant Swede making his frustrations at the situation clear after leaving the club.

    Zlatan stated in his autobiography, as reported by the Daily Mail, that it was Messi's fault he didn't succeed at Barcelona:

    It was a childhood dream and I was walking on air.

    It started well but then Messi started to talk.

    He wanted to play in the middle, not on the wing, so the system changed from 4-3-3 to 4-5-1. I was sacrificed and no longer had the freedom on the pitch I need to succeed.

18. William Gallas

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    Perth Glory defender William Gallas is no stranger to temper tantrums. He has thrown plenty throughout his career.

    Here is a description of one from his Arsenal days, as described by Patrick Nathanson in The Telegraph:

    Arsenal captain William Gallas illustrated this point with his histrionics after Birmingham City's injury-time equaliser on Saturday.

    In the words of the Telegraph's Roy Collins, who was at St Andrews: "Gallas jumped up and down like a child refused an extra sweet when Gael Clichy failed to make a routine clearance and was then judged to have brought down Stuart Parnaby for the penalty, even though he clearly got the ball.

    At that, Gallas ran over to kick an advertising hoarding and ran off to the halfway line when the penalty was taken, instead of positioning himself on the edge of the box from where he could have run in if the spot kick had been saved.

17. Robinho

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    Dino Panato/Getty Images

    As a youngster in Brazil, Robinho was massively hyped and although his career has taken him to some big-name clubs, it is probably fair to say that he has never quite lived up to his potential.

    Much of that seems to be attitude-related. Though obviously extremely skillful, the Brazilian can spend entire matches looking uninterested. He can spend entire seasons looking uninterested.

    If the match situation doesn't suit him, or if his teammates aren't giving him enough of the ball, or if it's too cold, Robinho can often just switch off entirely. He could have been great. In the end, he was just okay. 

16. Gareth Bale

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Who trademarks a goal celebration? Especially when it is one that has been used by a number of players around the world for some time. 

    Gareth Bale, that's who.

    The Welshman trademarked his heart celebration back in March 2013, which definitely qualifies as prima donna-like behavior.

    If that's not enough to convince you, look what Harry Redknapp had to say about the player in his autobiography, as told by ESPN.co.uk:

    He drove me mad in training. Technically, he was outstanding but he always seemed to be playing with his hair.

    It was never right. He'd be flicking the fringe or wiping it out of his eyes and I would be going quietly mad, just watching. "Gareth, leave your barnet alone! Gareth! Stop touching your hair!"

    He was always getting a little knock in training, too. He'd go down then limp off and I always thought the physios made too much fuss of him.

15. Ashley Cole

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    One story about Ashley Cole really encapsulates why so many people dislike him.

    The account, taken from Cole's autobiography, My Defence, is relayed here in The Guardian:

    If ever a single moment was destined to reverberate down the ages as an emblem of the current era of the laughably over-remunerated footballer, this was probably it.

    Ashley Cole's response to his agent, recounted in his autobiography, to being told Arsenal were planning to pay him not £60,000 a week but a mere £55,000 has already passed into legend.

    "He [Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein] is taking the piss, Jonathan!", Cole fumed in My Defence, recalling also that he almost swerved his car off the road in shock.

    "I was trembling with anger. I couldn't believe what I'd heard."

14. Nicolas Anelka

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    The gifted Frenchman has pouted and smoldered his way through an up-and-down playing career, and it appears Nicolas Anelka's temperament has not improved with age. 

    As reported by the Guardian, Anelka sacked by West Bromwich Albion on Friday for "gross misconduct" after he took to Twitter to announce he was terminating his contract with the club.

    Anelka's unorthodox method of communicating his desire to quit, coupled with his conduct which instigated the whole affair in December, when he made a racially sensitive gesture on the field, meant his position at WBA was no longer tenable. 

13. Luis Suarez

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    The Uruguayan striker may be firing on all cylinders at the moment but just a few months ago Luis Suarez created a situation that was anything but ideal for Liverpool.

    Even after the club had supported Suarez, to the detriment of their own reputation, through the racism row with Patrice Evra, he decided he wanted to pursue his interests elsewhere and tried to engineer a move to Arsenal last August.

    Jamie Carragher, writing in The Daily Mail, spoke of how disappointing the 27-year-old's selfishness was for Liverpool:

    I never thought Luis would down tools in the way Fernando Torres did when he wanted to leave Liverpool – his attitude over the final 18 months became progressively worse – but now Suarez has given me reason to think again.

    To see it come to this is very dispiriting. A lot of good people have stood by Luis since he joined the club. Rodgers and Kenny Dalglish could not have done more for him.

    In the darkest times, we wore T-shirts to show we were standing alongside him, even if it was ill-advised.

    So it is laughable to hear he is unhappy with Liverpool for not letting him join Arsenal.

12. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    The arrogance of Zlatan Ibrahimovic seems to know no bounds. And that's why we love him.

    The giant Swede is one of the most gifted footballers on the planet, and he knows it. 

    Football fans everywhere rejoiced as the Paris Saint-Germain player opened up his own Twitter account, which has proven more fun than most anticipated. 

    Here's a sample of his Twitter work:

    Dear @Khaledsaifi. Zlatan used this simple thought process. #DareToZlatan pic.twitter.com/zshiqHl9eY

    — Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) March 10, 2014

11. Emmanuel Adebayour

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Things turned a bit sour for Emmanuel Adebayour during his time at Arsenal when he attempted to secure a move to AC Milan. He quickly went from fan favorite to a figure of derision, and his reputation has not improved since.

    Often to be found complaining about something, the Togolese star is especially fond of demanding regular first team football, even if he does not necessarily deserve it.

10. Neymar

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    When you get treated like a rock star in your homeland, it's not hard to see how you wouldn't start to believe some of the hype about yourself.

    Even when Neymar was an emerging idol at Santos, he already had enough clout to get his own manager fired after a feud.

    Stefan Coerts of Goal.com explained what happened:

    Brazilian outfit Santos have made the decision to sack head coach Dorival Junior with immediate effect. The Peixe have confirmed on their official website that Dorival Junior is no longer in charge at the club.

    The coach had a confrontation with star player Neymar last week when the young forward wanted to take a spot kick, but Dorival Junior told the attacker that Marcel would take the penalty. An affronted Neymar turned his back on the kick and afterwards angrily confronted Dorival on the Santos bench, needing to be restrained by the linesman as his coach looked away dismissively.

    Neymar afterwards apologised for his behaviour, but Dorival Junior still opted to punish the Brazil international by leaving him out of the squad for the Sao Paulo clasico against Corinthians on Wednesday.

    Santos' board of directors were far from happy with Dorival's decision though and have therefore axed the highly rated coach.

9. Wayne Rooney

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    Aside from the whole hair transplant thing, Wayne Rooney has shown himself to be rather self-interested by using every tactic in the book to secure better contracts.

    He has angled for a Manchester United exit not once, but twice, in recent years, only to end up signing an improved contract at the club.

    As with many prima donnas, his antics have paid dividends, so you can't really blame him.

8. Didier Drogba

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    For a burly, intimidating athlete, Didier Drogba can really act like a cream puff sometimes.

    Not only is he regularly accused of diving by fans of opposition teams, he is one of those players that is forever remonstrating with the referee and acting hard done by.

    The Ivorian's most famous hissy fit came after Chelsea were eliminated by Barcelona from the Champions League in 2009.

    Drogba attempted to confront referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after the game, swore at the cameras and generally lost the plot. 

7. Mario Balotelli

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    "Why Always Me?" said the shirt, which is a common question asked by narcissistic people.

    Mario Balotelli is one of football's great entertainers. He is a unique character who entertains fans with his unpredictable behavior, both on and off the pitch, even if he annoys plenty of people while doing it.

    He certainly has a huge ego, though. 

    In September of 2013, for example, he told Sunday Mirror (h/t Declan Warrington of the Daily Mail) that he rates himself as the third-best player in the game. And he's aiming to be No. 1:

    I want to be the best player in Europe and I want to prove that this season.

    I only rate Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo above me, but that can change this season.

    I am playing good football with Milan and I want to be number one in Europe. To do that, I must perform well in the Champions League.

6. Marcus Tulio Tanaka

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    Veteran Japan defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka has not mellowed with age.

    The long-haired 32-year-old is always looking to niggle his opponents, yet when he believes that some injustice has been committed against him (which is frequently), he behaves as though the whole world is out to get him.

    The best word to describe his general demeanor might be "immature."

5. Carlos Tevez

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    How's your form, Carlitos?
    How's your form, Carlitos?Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    Well-traveled forward Carlos Tevez took acting like a prima donna to a whole new level in 2011 when he went nuclear with one of his temper tantrums.

    The Argentine was famously accused of refusing to warm up when ordered to do so by then-Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini during a Champions League encounter against Bayern Munich.

    It was a situation that was worrying, but it could have been resolved within a week or so if all parties had agreed on a suitable punishment, or shaken hands and gone about their business. 

    Instead, Tevez absconded to Argentina for a golfing holiday without informing anyone at the club. It was an astonishing response to a tense situation and one that only a mega-rich footballer and/or his crafty agent could have thought of.

4. Nicklas Bendtner

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    A prima donna always thinks highly of himself and when it comes to thinking highly of himself, nobody does it better than Nicklas Bendtner.

    Here is what the Arsenal squad member had to say about Nicklas Bendtner to Matt Lawton of the Daily Mail back in 2010:

    If you ask me if I am one of the best strikers in the world, I say yes because I believe it.

    When I see that other strikers score a lot of goals, I realise I need to score those goals.

    But I think everything else in my game is right. Even if I believe I can still improve.

    But the goals are the last thing I need to add and when I do I believe I will be the player I want to be. One of the best.

    More recently, Bendtner reconfirmed his prima donna credentials by allegedly threatening a taxi driver and inappropriately touching a taxi. 

4. Antonio Cassano

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    When a word is specifically coined to describe your fits of petulant behavior, there's a pretty good chance you're a proper diva.

    Antonio Cassano's rap sheet is too long to go into here but let's just say since his former coach Fabio Capello invented the word "cassanata" to describe the player's frequent explosions, the term has become a byword for bad behavior in the world of calcio. 

2. Juan Roman Riquelme

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    Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Perhaps Juan Roman Riquelme should be given the nickname "Fall Out Boy," because he has caused rifts at almost every team he has played with throughout his career.

    The Boca Juniors No. 10 is a remarkable player. Some even say he is the last of his breed. He does, however, seem to rub an awful lot of people the wrong way. 

    Though a legend at Boca, Riquelme never got along with another club idol, Martin Palermo, even though the two spent years playing together. 

    He also quit the Argentine national team because he did not see eye-to-eye with Diego Maradona, when he was coach.

    The list of controversies surrounding the thin-skinned playmaker goes on and on. At least Boca fans will always love him.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

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    There are a few players who are so darn good that they can almost get away with prima donna behavior.

    Cristiano Ronaldo is one man who could be forgiven for his massive ego because he can actually walk the walk on the pitch. Many people don't forgive him, of course, and they prefer to make fun of him.

    But they're probably just jealous.

    Here's what Cristiano had to say about referees who allow opposition players to target him, via ESPN.co.uk:

    I think it's because I'm rich, handsome and a great player.

    They envy me.

    There's no other explanation.