10 Biggest Headcases in World Football History

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterApril 9, 2012

10 Biggest Headcases in World Football History

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    Over the years we've seen some real headcases grace the game of football and continue their mad rampages once they retire.

    They're always in the media and they're always surrounded by controversy. I guess that's what makes them so interesting to both watch and read about!

    I've compiled 10 current and former players who have shown consistently, throughout their careers, that they belong on this list.

    Enjoy the slideshow! 

Mario Balotelli

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    It's difficult to know what to believe thanks to the countless Mario Balotelli rumours in existence, but what we can judge is what we see on the pitch.

    The Italian recorded his fourth red card on Sunday against Arsenala tally that is simply too high no matter who you are or what position you play.

    He is prone to angry or violent outbursts and is a liability to his team. He's also set his own house on fire by letting off fireworks in his bathroom.

Vinnie Jones

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    Infamous hardman and honorary member of "The Crazy Gang," Vinnie Jones is the epitome of the word "headcase."

    He was sent off 12 times during his professional career and holds the record for the fastest booking in English football (three seconds).

    Fondly recalling the moment in his autobiography, Jones stated, "I must have been too high, too wild, too strong or too early, because, after three seconds, I could hardly have been too bloody late!".

Kevin Muscat

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    There aren't many who have a good word to say about Kevin Muscat. It's absolutely beyond me why clubs continued to pay to acquire his services.

    His record is blighted by numerous fights, red cards and horror tackles. He has also been branded "the most hated man in football."

    Ashley Young revealed that, during a pre-match warmup, Muscat threatened to break his legs should he try to take the ball past him in the game. Unsurprisingly, he didn't get the chancehe was sent off before Young came on as a substitute.

    Finally, is this one of the worst tackles your ever likely to see?

Joey Barton

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    In actual fact, the 2011/2012 season has been tame compared to his usual standards, but no one can erase the blemished history of Joey Barton.

    The lowest point of his career so far is definitely his arrest for drunkenly assaulting someone outside a McDonald's restaurant.

    He's received numerous red cards for thuggish acts, but he's also gotten away with a lot of bad conduct.

    Punching Morten Gamst-Pedersen and stamping on Dickson Etuhu are acts that didn't receive appropriate punishment.

    To add insult to injury, Barton takes to Twitter after every controversy to plead his innocence or laugh off the guilt.

El-Hadji Diouf

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    El-Hadji Diouf has had a tumultuous career in which he's never been able to settle due to his antics.

    Whilst playing for Sunderland, Diouf reportedly threatened to stab his own teammate Anton Ferdinand. Also, he allegedly racially abused a ball boy during a Premier League game.

    Perhaps the most famous incident, however, involves Neil Warnock (surprised?). He labelled the Senegalese striker "lower than a sewer rat" after supposedly aiming abuse at Jamie Mackie after his leg was broken.

Paul Gascoigne

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    Whilst playing for Lazio, Paul Gascoigne was interviewed prior to an England-Norway international fixture. When asked if he had a message for the people of Norway he responded with "Yes. F**k off Norway."

    He then ran off, giggling. This epitomises "Gazza" as he was affectionately known.

    It is also rumoured that he left his role at Boston United in 2004 because they refused to let him go on a TV show "I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!."

    Gazza has run into serious alcohol- and gambling-related problems over the last few years and came close to being declared bankrupt despite being worth an estimated £14 million at one point in his life.

Michael Chopra

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    Michael Chopra is one of the quieter and less heard of headcases in football but his story is truly eye-opening.

    In 2011, the former Sunderland striker admitted he was gambling up to £20,000 per day and had holed himself into a £2 million debt.

    He even revealed he would play through injuries just to receive the appearance bonuses in his contractbonuses all used to pay off his crippling debts.

    Chopra is a Newcastle fan and joined Sunderland simply because the signing-on fee paid off a large chunk of the money he owed.

Craig Bellamy

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    Craig Bellamy is a talented player...but he's got a bit of a reputation.

    He's always been a hothead on and off the field and his disciplinary record has never been stellar. Nigel Reo-Coker recently admitted he has absolutely no respect for the man.

    He's been cleared of assaulting two women after a five-day trial and was arrested in Cardiff after an alleged assault in which two men suffered facial injuries.

    On a hilarious note, the Welshman once threatened John Arne Riise with a golf club. The situation was resolved in seconds, though.

Antonio Cassano

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    "Cassanata" is a word used in Italy to describe antics on the pitch or any act of petulance.

    Why? Because Antonio Cassano's curriculum vitae is maligned by several scuffles and refusals to come out onto the pitch.

    It was the disciplinarian Fabio Capello who coined the phrase and it's crazy to think one's behaviour is so bad your surname becomes slang for miscreant.

    He has, at least, calmed down at AC Milan as age brought on maturity.

Eric Cantona

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    Eric Cantona once drop-kicked a fan in the stands whilst playing for Manchester United.

    That is all.

    Follow me on Twitter: @stighefootball for a daily world football dose.