20 Footballers You Wouldn't Want to Get into a Fight with

Lawrence McNeelaContributor IIIOctober 25, 2011

20 Footballers You Wouldn't Want to Get into a Fight with

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    Let's face it: Most footballers are a bunch of whining, diving, overpaid wimps!

    Or, are they?

    Here are the 20 footballers you wouldn't want to get into a fight with—a rogue's gallery of rough, tough monsters of men.

    From Chopper Harris and Bites yer Legs Hunter to Duncan Disorderly and the Butcher of Bilbao, we take a look at the men who'd get away with spilling your pint or eyeing up your girlfriend.

    Michael Owen just missed the cut...

Chopper Harris

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    Who else could we begin with other than Chelsea legend Ron "Chopper" Harris?

    The tough-as-teak defender played in an era when kicking opposition wingers off the pitch was not just allowed, but positively encouraged. Football in England was then a working class sport dominated by muddy pitches, cold terraces and half-time pies.

    The fans loved nothing more than a hard man, and none came harder than Ron.

    He is perhaps most famous for the 1970 FA Cup Final replay against fellow tough-tacklers Leeds United. Modern referee David Elleray recently reviewed the match on television and said he would have issued six red cards and 20 yellows!

Andoni Goikoetxea Olaskoaga

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    Andoni Goikoetxea Olaskoaga is a bit of a mouthful in any language. Maybe we'll just refer to the former Spanish international by his nickname, "The Butcher of Bilbao."

    It was a well-deserved name.

    The tackle that broke a young Diego Maradona's leg helped the Argentine legend make up his mind that La Liga was not for him.

    Andoni later kept the boot with which he'd kicked Maradona in a glass case at home!

Tommy Smith

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    In the words of his manager, the great Bill Shankly, "Tommy Smith wasn't born, he was quarried."

    Like many hard men on this list, Tommy Smith was a very good player.

    Although he blotted his copy book somewhat with his comments about black players, he is fondly remembered by most as an uncompromising defender as happy to kick an opponent as the ball.

Joey Barton

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    Twit or Twitterer, QPR midfielder Joey Barton looks to be a changed man following his knocking booze on the head.

    Following city centre fights, training ground assaults and young players having cigars stubbed out in their eyes, that's probably a good thing!

Elizabeth Lambert

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    Who'd pick a fight with one-woman army Elizabeth Lambert? Not me, anyway!

    Having been suspended from the University of New Mexico soccer team, Elizabeth said, "My actions were uncalled for. I let my emotions get the best of me in a heated situation."

    You don't say, Lizzie!

Vinnie Jones

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    Former Wimbledon (the club no longer exists) hard man Vinnie Jones was the main thug in the so-called Crazy Gang of the 80s.

    The former hod carrier loved to play to the gallery, whether it be grabbing hold of Paul Gascoigne's crown jewels or boasting that he "took violence off the terraces and onto the pitch."

    Sent off 12 times in his career, and described by his chairman Sam Hammam as having the brain of a mosquito, Jones later carved out a fresh career as an actor.

Bites Yer Legs!

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    You had to be dirty to stand out in Don Revie's infamous Leeds United side of the late '60s/early '70s.

    But, Norman "Bites Yer Legs" Hunter managed just that. He was arguably the dirtiest player in history.

Franny Lee

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    Manchester City legend Francis (Franny) Lee was a stocky forward who scored 112 goals in 248 games for the Maine Road club. Upon retirement, he went into the paper recycling business and became a millionaire.

    He is included in this list for not only having the kahunas to pick a fight with Norman Hunter, but for decking the big Leeds man.

    Commentators and pundits love to tell us fans that fights like this have no place on the soccer field, but let's be honest, we love 'em!

Romeo Benetti

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    When a player is described on Wikipedia as brutal and spiteful, you know you've got a character on your hands. Such was Romeo Benetti, legendary hard man of Italian football in the 1970s.

    The Italian international played over 300 times for Serie A giants Juventus, AC Milan and Roma.

    According to The Sun, a fellow player at the time said this of the midfielder: "He was a right beast. Didn't matter whether he was standing up, crouching or lying flat on his face; if you got close, he'd always manage to clatter you."

Graeme Souness

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    Graeme Souness was once described as the perfect combination of skill and steel, although it is doubtful whether he would have gotten away with half of what he did had he played in the Premier League era.

    Anybody who took on the blue half of Glasgow by signing Rangers' first black and (gulp) Catholic players had to be a tough bastard. Souness was.

Ferenc Puskas

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    Admit it, you're surprised by this aren't you?

    Puskas was, after all, one of the greatest footballers ever to play the game.

    He was also a man to be respected off the pitch. A major in the Hungarian army (okay, so the title was honorary) Puskas proved his manliness after Hungary defeated Brazil in the 1954 World Cup semifinal.

    Trouble flared in the dressing room afterwards, and Puskas took on all comers with a beer bottle in one hand and a football boot in the other.

Willie Woodburn

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    Wee Willie who?

    Scottish football can be a tough place to play the beautiful game, and during the 1950s, it was often brutal. Therefore, Glasgow Rangers centre half Willie Woodburn must have been some hard man to have received a life ban from playing the game.

    He received a 14-day ban in 1947, a 21-day ban in 1953 and his life ban the following year after headbutting an opponent.

    The SFA disciplinary hearing to investigate his offence lasted just four minutes. I'm surprised they were brave enough to ban a man so well versed in the Glasgow kiss.

Marco Tardelli

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    For all of their technical skill and sophistication, the Italians love a hard man.

    With 81 caps and five Serie A championship medals in his collection, World Cup winner Marco Tardelli is the personification of this paradox.

    Jimmy Greaves once said, "Tardelli is responsible for more scar tissue than all the surgeons of Harefield Hospital put together."

Roy Keane

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    Roy Keane is one of the finest players ever to don the Manchester United shirt. He was also one of the dirtiest.

    His assault on Alf-Inge Haaland has gone down in history. Wanting revenge for an old injury, Cork-born Keane later described his actions in his autobiography in this way, "I'd waited long enough. I f*****g hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c**t. And don't ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries."

    A brilliant midfielder, Roy Keane could also be an angry, self-righteous thug. Not that I'd tell him to his face, you understand.

Chic Charnley

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    Back to Scottish football and journeymen, James "Chic" Charnley is a man sent off 17 times in a 20-year career.

    However, possessing the British record for most red cards isn't the sole reason he makes this list.

    Chic was reportedly attacked in a Glasgow park by two men wielding samurai swords. After a few harsh words in their direction, his attackers turned and fled with their tails between their legs.

    Now that's a hard man.

Nigel De Jong

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    There aren't many genuine hard men in football anymore. Dutch international and kung fu expert Nigel de Jong is one of the few left.

    Manchester City midfielder de Jong is one of the best enforcers in the modern game.

    How he survived a red card for "that" foul on Spanish artist Xabi Alonso during last year's World Cup final is a mystery known only to useless English referee Howard Webb.

Paolo Di Canio

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    Paolo di Canio once fought comedy referee Paul Alcock, pushing the hapless official to the ground after he had been shown the red card.

    The current manager of nothing club Swindon Town, West Ham and Lazio legend di Canio achieved further infamy by fighting with one of his own players, Leon Clarke.

The Animal

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    Nicknamed "The Animal," former Brazil international Edmundo had a bit of a temper problem.

    Angered by a Sao Paulo bench demanding he be sent off during a league match, he attacked three of their substitutes. The first was slapped, the second knocked out and the third kicked in the groin.

    When teammate and Brazil legend Romario later questioned his sanity, Edmundo hit him with a punch Mike Tyson would have been proud of.

Razor Ruddock

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    Neil Ruddock was a tough, uncompromising defender whose reputation sometimes overshadowed his footballing skills.

    He famously picked on French legend Eric Cantona, pulling the Old Trafford egotist's collar down during a Liverpool vs. Manchester United game. Seeing as Cantona had already served a suspension for kung fu kicking Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons, that was a brave act.

    He also broke Andy Cole's legs. When later asked how he felt about breaking the Manchester United star's legs, he said, "Am I allowed to say pleased?"

    Who outside Old Trafford can honestly say they disagree with that sentiment?

Duncan Ferguson

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    Everton legend Duncan "Disorderly" Ferguson loved a scrap. Whether it was throwing Paul Ince to the floor during the Merseyside derby or fighting a fisherman in Anstruther, Big Dunc and trouble were always close companions.

    He spent three months in jail following this Glasgow kiss on John McStay in 1994.

    Would-be burglars also felt the striker's wrath when they tried to steal from him in 2001. One managed to flee, but the other, who was successfully "detained" by the giant Scot, spent three days in the hospital.

    As they say in Liverpool, get in lad.

A Postscript

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    According to reports from the land of love and wine, former French international Tony Vairelles has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. The charge relates to a group of men who attacked nightclub bouncers in Nancy with baseball bats and a rifle.

    Clearly, we do not know at this stage whether the striker (who scored one goal in eight caps between 1998 and 2000) is guilty or not.

    All the same, we definitely wouldn't want to get into a fight with him!