There are certain players who live on in infamy, Roy Keane, 'Chopper' Harris and the like had reputations as no nonsense players by their fans, and reputations as dirty players by everyone else. Sometimes its not one player though, sometimes a whole team will gain this reputation and this is a countdown in tribute to the infamy of the worst.
I had a small moral argument with myself regarding adding the Dutch to this list, after all they are not generally known for their tough play, but their tactics during the last World Cup final were criminal. De Jong, the main offender, offered this karate kick into Xabi Alonso's chest in front of Howard 'doesn't give red cards in cup finals' Webb, alongside several other bad challenges and was only cautioned. Mark Van Bommel, Bayern's midfield warhorse could also have seen red for his violent and dangerous tackles. It is a small miracle/bad officiating that Holland only finished with one man sent off, as every Dutchman on the pitch was swiping at every passing Iberian with intent.
It is not easy to have Sam Allardyce accuse you of dirty football, but Wenger's endless crusade against dirty play caused Big Sam to reminisce the Arsenal of old as being one of the dirtiest teams ever. Younger readers will only be familiar with subtle Arsenal sliding the ball around the pitch, and being "bullied". This Arsenal side did not get bullied. The likes of Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Viera and Tony Adams could take it in, and more importantly could dish it out in large amounts.
As the attached photo suggests, the Wimbledon 'Crazy Gang' had a robust sense of humour, indeed their off pitch antics would have been hard to overshadow with anything on-field, but the 'Crazy Gang' managed it. As one might imagine, any teams containing the likes of Dennis Wise and Vinnie Jones would have been a tough one, but the 'Crazy Gang' battled, kicked and fought their way to moderate success, including the FA Cup final where they beat Liverpool, following infamous scenes in the tunnel. As the teams lined up to come onto the pitch, the gang began to howl and screech, beating their chests and mentally subduing the technically superior Liverpool side.
Before the comments section is inundated with counter arguments to this claim, people should bear in mind that while Argentina produced greats like Maradona and Ardiles, they also produced players like Passarella and Rattin, a player who, upon receiving a red card refused to leave the pitch for over twenty minutes. Tarantini played in England for Birmingham City, and infamously hit Jimmy Greenhof of Manchester United, leaving him sprawled on the turf. Upon being questioned by the referee as to why Greenhof was prone on the floor, Tarantini intimated in broken English that Greenhof had looked tired all game and was probably just resting. Perhaps unsurprisingly his English career ended when he waded into the crowd to hit a heckler in the face.
The 1990 Argentine team has been credited with creating the modern 'Anti-Football', as that team kicked, cheated and dived to the final, only to be beaten by a dubious penalty won by Juergen Klinsmann which many saw as poetic justice.
Its hard to choose just one, but there must certainly be Argentine representation in this list.
"Dirty Leeds", the refrain screamed from terraces up and down England during Revie's reign and since. Probably the most hated team in England, indeed when my father saw what I was writing over a shoulder, he immediately said that the list should read "Leeds, Leeds, Leeds, Leeds and Leeds". Undoubtedly some of the dislike comes from their success, but the Leeds team which feature in the novel "The Damned United" were thugs, the likes of Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter (who was followed by a sign in the stands which read "Norman Hunter Bites Your Legs"), Johnny Giles and Jacky Charlton were players who did not suffer fools, except their definition of fools included any opposition with the ball, or anyone not quick enough to get out the way. A dirty team, well suited for the dubious honour of topping this list.