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The Top 20 Least Lovable Players in World Football

Neri SteinFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 9, 2017

The Top 20 Least Lovable Players in World Football

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 23:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United looks dejected during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford on April 23, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Ima
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Footballers. For the most part, we love them. And what's not to love?

    They're talented, wealthy, some of them are good looking and they are all living out the childhood dreams of kids everywhere day after day.

    We love our team, and therefore we love our footballers. Sometimes, we even love the other guys as well because of how well they play or just because there's nothing not to love. 

    But then, there are the footballers who aren't as talented as they think, they spend their extraordinary paychecks in the most obnoxious and flashy of ways and they take for granted the fact that they get to live out the childhood dreams of kids everywhere day after day...and actually get paid to do so and become superstars for it. 

    These are the top 20 least lovable players in world football today. In other words, the footballers we all absolutely hate, and even their own fans can't argue.

    Let me know who you think was left out.  

20. Barcelona and Real Madrid

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    MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27:  Lassana Diarra of Real Madrid and Carles Puyol of Barcelona clash during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 27, 2011 in Madrid, Spain.  (P
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Excusing Lionel Messi, Victor Valdez and Iker Casillas, not one of the players for Barcelona and Real Madrid deserved to be on the pitch last week.

    El Clasico is supposed to be a matchup of the two best sides in the world (arguably). When it's in the Champions League semifinals, that's even better. 

    But the match on April 27 at the Bernabeu was a disgrace, except from the aforementioned players. 

    No more than three minutes could pass without a harsh tackle by Real Madrid which resulted in a Barca player writhing on the floor in agony for at least two minutes. Immediately after the foul, no fewer than five players from each team would run to the referee to protest and ask for a card.

    Dani Alves was an embarrassment to Barca and Brazil for his ridiculous antics, especially when he rolled around for several minutes, even after Pepe had already been somewhat unfairly sent off. True to form, seconds later, he was back running up and down the pitch after being miraculously cured.

    Barca captain Carles Puyol stayed on his feet, but his protests and arguments got extremely tiring, as did Gerard Pique's and Xavi's. And we'll get to Sergio Busquets later. 

    On Real's side, anti-football was the order of the day with hard tackles flying in from everywhere. Marcelo did his best to get Barca players booked while Sergio Ramos did his best to ruin the game even more than Jose Mourinho's tactics were. 

    Overall, it was a disgrace of a football match. Thank God for Messi's two moments of brilliance. 

19. Nigel de Jong

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 03:   Nigel de Jong of Manchester City in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Sunderland at the City of Manchester Stadium on April 3, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Everyone loves a good, tough-tackling, defensive midfielder. No one loves the one who keeps chopping off the legs of the other players. 

    Nigel de Jong is a good footballer, but he gets himself into too much trouble to be liked all that much by even his own fans.

    His karate kick on Xabi Alonso in the 2010 World Cup Final and his breaking of Newcastle's Hatem Be Arfa's legs a couple months later didn't help his reputation one bit. 

    His reputation precedes him now, so boos follow him at every away ground, whether he's playing for Manchester City or the Dutch National Team, and referees are usually pretty quick to card de Jong.

    He did just score his first Manchester City goal, however, so he's getting love from somewhere at least.   

18. Michael Owen

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 09:  Michael Owen of Manchester United applauds the fans after the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford on April 9, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Image
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Michael Owen is now hated by the Liverpool fans who used to idolize him because of the way the English striker left the club seven years ago. He always seems to think there's a bigger club out there, and that's where he belongs.

    Liverpool fans, however, do love the fact that Owen has not displayed anything close to his form for the Reds at Real Madrid, Newcastle and now with Manchester United. 

    His time at United has mostly been spent on the bench or the injury table, so he's getting no love from Sir Alex Ferguson and the United fans really couldn't care less. 

    He received quite a hostile welcome when he returned to Newcastle this month, and it was even worse last year at Anfield. And his hopes of ever playing for England again have been far gone for years.  

    He's a man without a country. 

17. Jose Bosingwa

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 06:  Jose Bosingwa of Chelsea runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on April 6, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Ge
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Jose Bosingwa isn't a star by any means, but he always puts himself at the center of controversies. 

    He was vital to Porto's success in the early 2000s but then fell out of favor almost immediately when his reckless driving led to a teammate needing to have his foot amputated.

    Chelsea's right back has got a temper, and it shows whenever he gets on the pitch, like it did at Anfield two years ago when he kicked (his now teammate) Yossi Benayoun in the back, making no attempt to play the ball.

    And he still has that ridiculous unibrow. Seriously man.   

16. Peter Crouch

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 09: Peter Crouch of Spurs gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City at White Hart Lane on April 9, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    You would think a 6'7" striker would be banging in the goals from everywhere, and everyone would love him. With Peter Crouch, that's not even close to true.

    Sure he scores goals, not as many as you'd like, but Tottenham isn't lacking in scorers. 

    It's more the fact that Crouchy only scores tap-ins after hard work from his teammates puts the ball at his feet. He doesn't even score with his head, which is at least four inches higher than everyone else's.

    Sure, he's funny every now and then, but he also looks like he's about the break in half with the slightest gust of wind. 

    His odd dance moves and looks also don't explain how he landed a model fiancée (that money thing might), and they did even less to explain why he was caught cheating on her last summer.

    There are some things to love with Crouchy but not a whole lot.  

15. Carlos Tevez

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 03:  Carlos Tevez of Manchester City in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Sunderland at the City of Manchester Stadium on April 3, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/G
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Carlos Tevez is a decent enough footballer, but don't tell that to Corinthian, West Ham or Manchester United fans.

    And don't repeat it to Manchester City fans in a year or so. 

    The Argentinian seems to have a pattern. He plays for a team for a couple years or so, gets tired of it and decides he wants to move on. That's not so bad, but usually, he complicates things by refusing to play or questioning his manager's decisions.

    Refusing to play for your club, like he did at Corinthians, or questioning your manager, Sir Alex Ferguson of all managers, are two of the most insulting things a professional footballer can do to his fans.  

    Then when he arrives at his new "home," he has nothing but disrespectful words for his former employers. Like those at Manchester United who, apparently, are good but not as good as Tevez.

    City fans love him now because he's been a great player for them, but knowing Tevez, that won't last much longer.  

14. El Hadji Diouf

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    GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - MARCH 20:  El Hadji Diouf of Rangers celebrates winning over Celtic during the Co-operative Insurance Cup final between at Hampden Park on March 20, 2011 in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Here are a few words to describe El Hadji Diouf: annoying, idiotic, out of his mind and most importantly, not good at football. 

    The last description is the reason why he's only No. 14 out of the top 20 least lovable footballers. He's easy to forget about. If he were talented at anything other than pissing people off, he'd easily be No. 1, and then some.  

    Diouf has been bounced around from team to team in his 13-year career and has played in France, England and now in Scotland with Rangers. And he's yet to find anyone who likes him (I'd guess his wife and daughter don't mind him much). 

    He's got to be one of the most arrogant footballers playing today, and his biggest contribution to his team will be that if there's a fight or argument of any sort, you can bet Diouf will get involved. Whether he's on the pitch to begin with or not.

    QPR manager Neil Warnock calling Diouf "lower than a sewer rat" is actually quite generous.   

13. Didier Drogba

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 20: Didier Drogba of Chelsea looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Birmingham City at Stamford Bridge on April 20, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Didier Drogba is a great all-around striker and is loved by his Chelsea fans, but, like most of his teammates, he doesn't get much love from anyone else. 

    Other fans see when Drogba's effort level seems to drop because he thinks the team isn't playing well enough for him. Everyone else sees his tendency to go down in search of a free kick or penalty, since he's so good at taking them. And then everyone sees his poor reactions when his vice-captain Frank Lampard decides to take on dead-ball duties instead.

    Not exactly conducive to teamwork. 

    Recently, Drogba has also not only had trouble linking up with his new strike partner, Fernando Torres, but there have been plenty of times where he's looked like he has no interest in linking up with Torres. 

    It's easy to love Drogba's skill but not so much Drogba. 

12. Nicolas Anelka

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 06: Nicolas Anelka of Chelsea runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on April 6, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Ge
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Nicolas Anelka has a chip on his shoulder, but for some reason, he doesn't use it as motivation to be a better player. He uses it to piss people off. 

    You can always tell when Anelka doesn't want to play for a team any longer. He simply stops putting forth any effort on the pitch and may even stop training, like he did at Real Madrid. 

    So on a good note for Chelsea fans, he probably wants to stay, based on his play this season, but Chelsea just may not want him.

    It's certainly a telling sign when the fans are the first to turn on you and they even nickname you Le Sulk, as Arsenal fans did when they believed Anelka was no longer playing with effort. 

    But Anelka's antics at last year's World Cup were the worst. Refusing to play for a team that is paying is you is beyond arrogant, but insulting your National Team coach and tearing apart your team at the World Cup is beyond insulting to the fans and disgraces your entire nation. 

    Just disgusting. 

11. Ashley Cole

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 23:  Ashley Cole of Chelsea runs with the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on April 23, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    There is no footballer more fun to hate than Ashley Cole. Mostly because he's been an idiot his whole career, and he just keeps getting better. 

    Cole has been getting booed by opposing fans since the moment he put on a Chelsea shirt, and even at Stamford Bridge, the away fans give him plenty of grief.

    Even though he's been one of England's most consistent performers in recent years, he still doesn't get love from anyone. 

    Maybe it has something to do with cheap fouls and constant complaining. Or the naked photos he texts to random, trashy girls. Or that he's one of the more outlandish footballers in the game. Or it could be the fact that he shot a Chelsea intern at the club's training ground a few months ago.

    Take your pick.  

10. Cristiano Ronaldo

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    MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid looks on during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 27, 2011 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Get
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Nobody hates Lionel Messi, but just about everyone can find at least one thing to hate about Cristiano Ronaldo. So with Messi looking more and more like the best player in the world and one of the greatest ever, that's one win for Ronaldo. 

    Ronaldo was born with incredible talent, but he wastes it by acting like a child on the pitch. His knack for falling all over the pitch has actually receded (Nani puts him to shame really, along with Dani Alves and Sergi Busquets), but he still feels the need to argue calls constantly and bicker with opposing players and even coaches

    However, he's currently Real Madrid's best player and definitely wasn't the worst player in the first leg of Madrid's Champions League semifinal with Barcelona.  

9. Emmanuel Adebayor

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    MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27:  Emmanuel Adebayor (L) of Real Madrid stands dejected backdropped by his teammate Lassana Diarra after conceding a goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Estadio
    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Emmanuel Adebayor was never a fan favorite on his own team, and he makes sure other fans dislike him even more. 

    Like when he scored against Arsenal for Manchester City in 2009 and ran across the pitch to celebrate in front of the visiting Arsenal fans. 

    Classy guy this one. 

8. Michael Ballack

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    VILLAREAL, SPAIN - MARCH 17:  Michael Ballack of Bayer Leverkusen reacts during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg match between Villarreal and Bayer Leverkusen at El Madrigal stadium on March 17, 2011 in Villareal, Spain. Villarreal won 2-1.
    Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

    The most aggravating thing about Michael Ballack is that he never gets penalized for the ridiculous things he does. 

    Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa were suspended for comments made about referee Tom Ovrebo after Chelsea was knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona in 2009, but Ballack didn't even get a slap of the wrist for this.

    He does a great job of getting the referee to both call cheap free kicks on the other team and to ignore them when he commits them.

    You never want to wish injury on a player, but you have to feel that a lot of fans weren't sad to see that Ballack would not be able to play in the 2010 World Cup and that Germany got to the semifinals without him.  

7. Marcelo

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    MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 30:  Marcelo of Real Madrid in action during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Real Zaragoza at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 30, 2011 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Marcelo is a disgrace of professional footballer, let alone a Brazilian who plays for Real Madrid. 

    The only thing worse than feigning injury or diving to get calls or to get players sent off is celebrating another player or team's misfortune. 

    He was more ecstatic when Peter Crouch was sent off in Madrid and Tottenham's Champions League first-leg quarterfinal match than he was for any of the four goals. 

    It was the same story when Marcelo won a penalty for Madrid against Barcelona in the recent 1-1 league draw. Diving to get a penalty is bad enough, but celebrating receiving a penalty is basically saying you don't even care to play the game.

    He feigns injury as well as anyone, but should a player from the other team do so, he'll be the first to confront him and tell the referee it's all a ploy.

    Seriously.  

6. Pepe

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    MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27:  Pepe of Real Madrid is sent off by Wolfgang Stark during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 27, 2011 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Liv
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Pepe has a reputation for being a very touch tackler thanks to him stamping Getafe's Javier Casquero, while he was on the ground and then shoving Juan Albin in the face as he had to be escorted off the pitch. 

    That reputation looks like it will be with him for a long time as every time he goes in for challenge, he's running the risk of being booked. 

    His red card against Barcelona in the 2-0 Champions League quarterfinal loss may have been harsh, but his past is at the front of the referee's mind before each game.

    Fortunately, he doesn't kick players on the ground anymore, but who knows what he's saying to them? 

5. Sergio Busquets

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 05:  Sergio Busquets of Barcelona runs with the ball during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on February 5, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won 3-0.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
    David Ramos/Getty Images

    Sergio Busquets is an embarrassment to football. It's beyond ridiculous the antics he pulls on the pitch game in and game out. 

    The worst part is he's certainly talented enough to make an impact on the game without falling over and clutching his face every few minutes. 

    No, the worst part is that his antics usually work. 

    Here's one of his most comical efforts, which worked to perfection. And fortunately, the referee in the recent El Clasico was wise to his act

4. John Terry

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 30:  John Terry of Chelsea celebrate following their team's 2-1 victory during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on April 30, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey
    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Oh John Terry. He's got to be a little upset that some of his England teammates have taken the shine away from him recently.

    Last year, he was easily the most hated footballer in the world, but he's apparently learned to behave himself. 

    No more sleeping with teammates' girlfriends, no more drunkenly mocking grieving American tourists a day after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, no more calling out his national team manager to the press or trying to stage a coup and for the most part, no more yelling at opposing players or officials every chance he gets.

    All of this has actually made his less lovable. He knew how to create a scandal that would spend months on the front pages better than anyone. 

3. Fernando Torres

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 20:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Birmingham City at Stamford Bridge on April 20, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    A few months ago, Fernando Torres wouldn't have been near this list. He's always been hated by Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea and Real Madrid fans, but if you're not hated by those teams after playing for Atlectio Madrid and Liverpool, you're doing something wrong.

    Torres was even a player other fans couldn't help but admire. 

    But his £50 million transfer to Chelsea on deadline day in January changed everything for the player who was once considered one of the greatest strikers in the world. 

    In one second, he went from a darling to a Judas on Merseyside, and starting at last summer's World Cup, he's gone from a world-class striker to a pansy who's always looking for fouls to a footballer only concerned with money. 

    He is roundly booed and mocked at away grounds in the Premier League, and the fact that he took what felt like a year to score his first Chelsea goal did not help one bit. Add on the fact that Liverpool was flying and he was looking like he forgot how to play football all together, and you've got the biggest joke in the game.

    If Torres can fit in with Chelsea and help the club win trophies, the Champions League in particular, hatred of him may subside, but it's likely he won't ever be the fan favorite he once was.   

    In the mind of Liverpool fans, he hasn't said anything right since his transfer, so Chelsea's trip to Anfield next season should be quite an experience for the European and World Cup winner. 

2. Wayne Rooney

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    GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - APRIL 26:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between FC Schalke 04 and Manchester United at Veltins Arena on April 26, 2011 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.  (Photo by J
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Just awful. That's the only way to describe Wayne Rooney—except for his football skills. 

    He's got one of the worst tempers in the Premier League today, and he obviously does not know anything about PR—and more. 

    His dalliances with hookers have been well-documented, but to be honest, you really can't blame him for that. 

    Then, in the midst of his second hooker scandal last fall, he requested a trade from Manchester United because they weren't ambitious enough and Manchester City apparently were. 

    And he apparently hasn't learned that cameras have microphones. He blasted England fans for booing the team in South Africa when in fact they were just wondering where Rooney was and why he chose to disappear from the pitch from the first kick on in each game. 

    Then he cursed into a microphone after scoring a hat trick against West Ham several weeks ago. And he thought that would be OK with the super uptight FA. 

    Rooney is incredibly lucky he's good at football because he's got absolutely nothing else to go on. 

1. Mario Balotelli

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 16:  Mario Balotelli of Manchester City in action during the FA Cup sponsored by E.ON semi final match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on April 16, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Ge
    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Mario Balotelli may turn out to be a bust or a star, but for now, he's the least lovable player in world football. 

    He's arrogant, selfish, foolish and he's only 20 years old. 

    He's not a team player, he gets into fights on the training ground and the pitch and he commits the silliest of fouls. He's started to get a bad rap from officials who are quick to book him now that his attitude is the most famous thing about him. 

    He has fantastic technical ability and can unleash a wicked shot given the slightest bit of time and space, but his attitude is holding him back at the moment.

    If he can get over himself, he could go on to become a great player no matter where he plays, but if he keeps going like he is, he's headed for El Hadji Diouf territory—but with talent.  

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