The 50 Most Controversial Soccer Players of All Time
Lionel Messi didn't make this list. I mean, does the guy even frown?
The only fans who could really find fault with Messi are Real Madrid fans, and they're just being typical Real Madrid fans (which is both understandable and expected).
The only thing I could say against Messi is he sometimes asks the official to card an opposing player. That's obnoxious.
So while you won't find Messi in the next 50 slides, you'll surely find a player or two he is often mentioned in the same breath as.
Football is the beautiful game, but players like Messi show that sometimes, beautiful is boring.
Dirt can be so much more entertaining, so here's a list of the 50 most controversial soccer players who have provided us fans with the most dirt all-time.
Some of these players have had one controversial moment that will be talked about for years to come, while some spent their whole careers causing a stir.
Let me know who you think was left out or who's in the wrong place!
50. Geoff Hurst
It wasn't so much Geoff Hurst who was controversial, but his goal, or lack thereof, is certainly one of the most talked-about World Cup moments in history.
Hurst's shot rebounded off the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and the official counted the goal.
England ended up winning this World Cup Final in 1966 over Germany 4-2, so this one goal didn't really make the difference, but it certainly set the Three Lions on their way to winning their one and only World Cup.
People still debate whether the ball ever crossed the line, but one thing is certain. This goal is a heck of lot less clear than Frank Lampard's non-goal.
Photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk
49. Gerard Pique
Gerard Pique isn't as controversial as most tough, hard-hitting center backs, but he's caused quite a bit of talk off the pitch.
He's recently started dating Colombian pop sensation Shakira.
Problem is Shakira had been with her previous fella, Antonio de la Rua, for over 11 years, and though she and Pique spent months denying a relationship, suddenly, in early 2011, Antonio was out and Pique was very much in.
There have also been plenty of rumors that Shakira really isn't Pique's type.
48. Alfredo Di Stefano
Alfredo Di Stefano is widely regarded as one of the best footballers of all time, but a guy who plays for Spain and Argentina (and a little stint with Colombia) has got to cause quite a few rifts in his time. He made more appearances for Spain, but he still scored for both teams.
He tried to be even more controversial in his club football. He moved to Spain in 1953, without the permission of his club Millonarios, but it wasn't even that simple.
He wanted to play for Barcelona and even signed a contract with the Catalan giants. The Spanish Federation and FIFA however, rejected this contract.
When Di Stefano arrived in Spain to play for Barcelona, Real Madrid President Santiago Bernabeu convinced him to sign with Los Blancos instead.
I'm sure he was very popular whenever El Clasico went down south.
Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org
47. Frank Lampard
One of England's "Golden Generation" but the one who's probably come out looking best. As a younger footballer, Frank Lampard caused quite a bit of stir.
He was featured in the 2004 documentary Sex, Footballers and Videotape, though it was footage of the footballer's escapades from four years previous.
He was also caught with several teammates in a Heathrow hotel on Sept. 12, 2001, drinking and mocking grieving American tourists.
In his personal life, he was caught cheating on his fiancée and mother of his two children, Elen Rivas, several times before she left him in late 2008.
He's managed to stay out of the negative spotlight for the most part since then and has let his England and Chelsea teammates take the front pages.
But the controversy will forever rage over why he can't play with Steven Gerrard.
Andy Carroll, take note from this one.
46. Arjen Robben
Arjen Robben is a fantastic player, so it's no wonder many fans beg the question why he spends so much time on the ground.
Brazil fans were certainly infuriated by the Dutchman's antics in the two countries' 2010 World Cup quarterfinal matchup.
It's not like he's bad on his feet, but if you're supporting the other team, he is extremely annoying to watch.
A famous incident was when Robben, as a Chelsea player, got into a war of words with Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina, and the Dutchman went down "well enough to win an Oscar," according to the Spaniard.
He's also been known to have quite the temper. Just ask his young teammate, Thomas Mueller.
45. John Harkes
John Harkes' own little controversy didn't come out until 12 years after the fact, but it still caused quite a stir for those in the know.
Shortly before the 1998 World Cup, then-captain Harkes was left off Team USA's roster due to "leadership issues," according to then-coach Steve Sampson.
It wasn't until February 2010 that Sampson and Harkes' former teammate Eric Wynalda revealed that those "issues" were that Harkes had had an affair with Wynalda's wife.
Somehow Harkes and Wynalda managed to work together for ESPN during the 2006 World Cup.
John Terry should maybe consider himself a bit lucky he at least got to go to South Africa.
44. Roy Keane
Roy Keane came out of the 2002 World Cup looking quite snobbish and completely foolish.
The training camp the Football Association of Ireland had chosen in Japan wasn't good enough for the Manchester United great, and then the coaches weren't as well-prepared as he was, so he decided to quit.
He was convinced to stay shortly after, but he did nothing to help his cause in the next few days.
He gave an interview detailing all the unsatisfactory things, in his mind, surrounding the Irish team.
Coach Mick McCarthy confronted him over this, and Keane, in public, unleashed a verbal tirade, full of expletives at his manager, and none of his teammates stood by him. After that, Keane was sent home.
But McCarthy was lucky. Sir Alex Ferguson had to deal with his antics a lot more often.
Players who go to the ground purely in an attempt to win a free kick or penalty have cast a rather dark cloud over the beautiful game. It's been happening for years, but Eduardo is the one who really brought it to the forefront.
His flop, which won a penalty, in Arsenal's eventual 3-1 Champions League win over Celtic was absolutely absurd, and he was the first player to really be punished for such an action.
He was charged with simulation and "deceiving the referee" and banned two European games, and though it was overruled, his career at Arsenal never really recovered.
And he'll likely never be able to banish this moment from his resume.
This act reopened the debate over flopping, and how to punish floppers in particular, in world football, so at least it was as theatrical a flop as you could hope for.
42. Bruce Grobbelaar
There's no doubting Bruce Grobbelaar was a fantastic keeper. But he knew how to get into a bit of trouble as well.
There was one incident when he physically and verbally assaulted his young teammate Steve McManaman (you can't blame Macca for running away), but his biggest indiscretion came in 1994, when he was accused of match-fixing.
He was caught on film discussing the matter but swore he was only gathering evidence for a police investigation. Some people bought that but not all, and he eventually went into bankruptcy trying to defend his name.
41. Sol Campbell
Sol Campbell started out doing the most controversial thing in football of all. He went from Tottenham to Arsenal, on a free transfer no less. A couple years ago, Campbell was named No. 1 on the Daily Mail's Football's Biggest Traitors. Take that, Fernando Torres.
The controversy didn't stop there.
When he was substituted at halftime during a game against West Ham, Campbell left the stadium and did not contact Arsenal for several days.
Playing for England, he had probably one of the dumbest-looking moments in many a footballer's career, when he scored what he thought was the winning goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup.
He ran off to the corner flag to celebrate, all the while missing the fact that a foul had been given, and Argentina had already restarted the game by the time Campbell turned around.
40. Dani Alves
Dani Alves is one of those players who's really into himself, and that always stirs some people up.
While at Sevilla, he didn't always get on with his manager Jose Maria del Nido, and he couldn't stop talking about a move to Chelsea, which is enough to annoy anyone who isn't a Chelsea fan. Then he went and joined Barcelona instead.
Even though he cried and said he'd return to Sevilla one day, it's pretty hard to believe him.
He's also got some of the most obnoxious tattoos in the business.
39. Eric Cantona
Eric Cantona was a fantastic player. He just did little things to ruin his image in the eyes of non-Manchester United fans.
Like spitting on fans. Fans of his former club Leeds United for that matter.
I'd rather be that Leeds fan though than the Crystal Palace fan he "kung-fu" kicked and then punched.
Whatever that guy said, it must've been really bad.
Real Madrid's Marcelo is a controversial footballer for one reason in particular. He looks happiest on the pitch when he's just gotten another player sent off or his side has won a penalty.
Real Madrid's Champions League Quarterfinal tie against Tottenham and Madrid's 1-1 draw with Barcelona recently both provide plenty of evidence of that.
He rarely celebrates actual goals as much as he does another player's misfortune. And he petitions referees to award cards and penalties more fiercely than most, even when he has nothing to do the incident.
Is that all he's playing for or something?
37. Patrice Evra
Patrice Evra was the teammate for Nicolas Anelka that Roy Keane never had playing for Ireland. When Anelka acted a complete fool, Evra did his best to match him.
After Anelka's deplorable actions for France in the 2010 World Cup (obviously more on that later), Evra, as captain, led a player revolt against the manager Raymond Domenech.
He and his teammates refused to practice after Anelka was sent home, and Evra himself got into a verbal spat with fitness coach Robert Duverne.
Evra was benched and stripped of the captaincy for France's final match of the tournament, a loss of course.
Former French coach Lilian Thurman said afterward that Evra should be permanently banned from the French National Team.
Nothing makes Robinho happy, now does it?
One moment, he praises a club, but the second his minutes started to decrease (because his productivity does), he wants out.
In September 2008, Robinho was Manchester City's first mega-purchase, and for a time he was the highest-paid footballer in the world. But less than a year and a half later, he wanted out.
Quite the complainer, this one.
35. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic played many successful seasons for Italian giants Inter Milan where he won plenty of trophies, except the Champions League.
So he was traded in 2009, for the second-highest fee and Samuel Eto'o, to Barcelona, and he finally scored a Champions League goal, but he did not get along with Pep Guardiola, and it ended as the Catalans' least successful season in several years.
After just a year in Spain, in which his former club had been extremely triumphant, he was loaned to his former arch rivals AC Milan, where he has still yet to beat an English opponent in the Champions League.
Despite all this, he still could win his seventh league title in a row, in three countries and on four teams. Just leave him off your European squad.
34. Michael Owen
Michael Owen in a Manchester United short should really say enough.
He was groomed by Liverpool, became an elite footballer, won the Ballon d'Or and scored over 100 Premier League goals for the Reds.
Then he decided he no longer wanted to wear Red and controversially refused to play in group stages of 2004 Champions League so as not to be cup-tied. He was sold to Real Madrid in August 2004, but Liverpool has had the last laugh.
Owen has been riddled with injuries, and even when healthy, he has been a shadow of his former self for Madrid, Newcastle, and Sir Alex Ferguson clearly snapped him up in 2009 just to spite Liverpool and Rafa Benitez. But he still hasn't recaptured any of his old form.
The only thing that could make him more controversial would be if he returned to Liverpool this summer.
33. Gennaro Gattuso
Of course, you want your defensive midfielder to be combative, but Gennaro Gattuso just takes that a little too literally at times.
The AC Milan midfielder has been known to slap opposing players and to get into all sorts of verbal spats with players, and he'll even run after opponents to taunt them.
This past February, he was caught on tape pushing Tottenham coach Joe Jordan in the throat and head-butting him.
In his defense, though, he was baited into it.
32. Peter Crouch
Peter Crouch is by far the oddest looking athlete in the world, not just footballer. He's 6'7", but controversially, even though he wins header after header, he rarely does anything with them.
His dancing exploits have caused many a laugh, as have some of the things he's said.
He's also, like many of his international teammates, been caught cheating on his girlfriend several times and has seen his personal life splashed across the front pages.
But the most controversial thing about Crouchie has got to be the fact that despite his size, he just does not score enough, except after hard work from his teammates presents him with an easy tap-in.
31. David Beckham
David Beckham is one of the most famous athletes of all time, and he's still the face of soccer internationally (Messi just isn't charismatic enough yet, sorry).
With England, his most controversial moment came when he kicked Argentinian Diego Simeone in the 1998 World Cup while on the ground, after having been fouled by Simeone.
Simeone admitted to trying to get Becks sent off, but the Englishman's petulance did not go down well back home.
And in club football, where do you even start?
His departure from his boyhood club Manchester United was not at all smooth after he had a falling-out with Sir Alex Ferguson.
And while at Los Angeles Galaxy, he's gotten into plenty of spats with fans over his loan spells at AC Milan and more.
We won't even get into his celebrity behavior.
30. Rio Ferdinand
Rio Ferdinand has never backed down from a challenge. And he is not afraid to tell an opponent how he feels.
But he's done that his whole career. Other stuff, he's learned to control.
Like drinking and driving, which he did in 1997. Or driving way over the speed limit, which he was caught doing in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
Or by failing to take a drugs test in 2002. And he wouldn't be an England footballer of this age if he wasn't at least accused of cheating on his wife.
He is well worth following on Twitter, though.
29. Javier Mascherano
Javier Mascherano is probably the most combative midfielder in the game today. And he tackles hard, too.
He also got to be one of the more frustrating players because of his actions, not when he's tackling but when his teammates are. Especially while at Liverpool.
He was sent off in a game at Old Trafford in 2007 because he protested Fernando Torres' yellow card. This wasn't enough as he finally had to be almost carried off the field by his teammates and manager and had to serve a three-match ban and pay a fine.
Possibly the worst thing he could do for his team.
His move from West Ham to Liverpool wasn't without controversy, either, and neither was his move from Liverpool to Barcelona, when he refused to play early in the season because he wanted to push through the move.
Many people have mentioned Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo in the same breath. However, it's most often because they're wondering why this skillful player keeps going down.
Ronaldo is allowed to do it, but Nani just hasn't proven himself enough yet.
There's also the fact that Nani feels like he needs to display just how hurt he is in an attempt to get players sent off.
Nani's usual goal celebration has caused some controversy as well. You'd have to think that Sir Alex Ferguson doesn't like seeing his playmaker flipping all over the field.
27. Luis Suarez
When Luis Suarez raised his hand to block Asamoah Gyan's shot right at the death and was subsequently sent off in last summer's World Cup, he became a villain. But you couldn't really blame him, could you?
Then he was seen deliriously happy over the Ghanaians penalty miss, and your sympathetic feelings went away.
Suarez boasted about his "hand of God" and didn't earn himself many admirers for it, especially after Uruguay sent Africa's sentimental favorite home on penalties in the quarterfinals.
Some fans praise him for doing everything he could to see his team win; others label him the ultimate cheater. Take your pick.
Ronaldinho is an extremely talented footballer who has sometimes just gotten a little too ahead of himself. He's also managed to play his way out of some of the best sides in the world.
At Barcelona, it was believed he was not fit enough much of the time, and he tried to get too involved in the non-footballing matters.
And once Lionel Messi came around, Ronaldinho was very much on the back burner. It didn't help that he wasn't playing too well, either.
His dips in form have long caused controversy, and he ended up playing his way out of the Brazilian side by the 2009 Confederations Cup.
But then, he found his old form while at AC Milan the following season but was still not included in the 2010 World Cup squad, probably because of his clashes with managers.
Whatever he's done, you have to say they guy's done it to himself.
Pepe rarely goes a match without getting into a spat with an opposing player or two, but he's proven himself an outstanding defender.
His most infamous incident came in April 2009 when he brought down Getafe's Javier Casquero in the area, in a tie game in extra time, and proceeded to kick and push Casquero into the ground and another player.
He was banned for 10 games and will have to work pretty hard to live that episode down.
24. Michael Ballack
Michael Ballack has got to be one of the angriest footballers, and he always seems to be at the center of controversy, but he never seems to get in too much trouble.
In Chelsea's much-debated Champions League semifinal tie with Barcelona in 2009, Ballack was seen chasing after official Tom Ovrebo and screaming at him for turning down a penalty appeal.
He's also been known to milk an injury or two when it will help his team, but he knows just how to dish out the pain as well.
But he never gets caught. He must be one of the most hated players among other players.
23. Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli hasn't even been on the scene for very long, but he's put himself right in thick of it almost immediately.
He's only 20 years old, but he behaves like he's been the star of the game for at least that long.
While at Inter Milan, he was constantly butting heads with Jose Mourinho (which in all honesty probably isn't that hard to do), and the Special One even warned Roberto Mancini and Manchester City about him.
His teammates couldn't stand him, and neither could his own fans.
He has the ability to unleash a spectacular goal at any moment, but he can lash out with a stupid foul and get sent off at any moment also.
22. Nigel De Jong
Nigel de Jong's tackling is probably one of the most talked-about topics in football today. One hard, careless foul in your career can taint your reputation, but numerous ones become your reputation.
First came de Jong's late challenge on American Stuart Holden last year, which fractured Holden's leg, in a friendly game no less.
De Jong's karate kick on Xabi Alonso in the World Cup Final last summer, which somehow only saw yellow, was one of the most talked-about incidents in the 2010 World Cup.
And his late tackle that caused a double fracture to Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa's leg early this season saw him subsequently dropped from the Dutch squad.
At some point, he really needs to learn what not to do.
21. Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard is quite the player, but he's come under quite a bit of scrutiny as well.
There were his two little dalliances with Chelsea a few summers back that caused Liverpool fans to burn his shirt in front of Anfield, after the Champions League 2005 triumph, no less.
There was that nightclub incident in late 2008, when he was accused of assault at a fray in a nightclub, though he pleaded not guilty and was later cleared.
He's also been accused of making crude remarks and gestures at officials at times but has gone unpunished.
And to be an England player, captain especially, it seems rumors about your personal life have to come out at some point. But for once, they seem to not be true at all.
He's also had trouble staying on his feet at times.
20. Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba is a fantastic all-around striker, but he's not everyone's cup of tea.
For one, why does a striker, who stands out because of his big, physical form, have to go down so easily when he's in a good area?
He's also known for his outbursts, the most famous of which came in Chelsea's Champions League semifinal tie with Barcelona.
He wasn't at all pleased with referee Tom Ovrebo's decision-making, and he let everyone know it by shouting expletives all the way down the tunnel and directly into a camera.
He's also been known to pout on the pitch a bit, when referees are wise to his antics or Frank Lampard won't let him take the penalty.
Now the controversy is how long the 33-year-old will stay at Chelsea now that Fernando Torres has arrived. Will they be able to play together, or will one have to be sacrificed?
19. Franck Ribery
It was at this time last year that Franck Ribery was first implicated in a prostitution ring. But that's legal in France, so what's the big deal?
Well, some of the girls were underage. Whoops.
Ribery didn't know she was underage, though.
In footballing matters, Ribery has clashed with coaches, like in 2005 when he unceremoniously left Galatasaray for Marsielle.
On the international side, Ribery actually did not come off looking too terrible at the fiasco that was France's 2010 World Cup. He even gave a public apology to the supporters.
But in footballing terms, he came out looking pretty pathetic, despite assisting on his team's only goal of the competition.
He even admitted, controversially of course, to intentionally freezing out teammate Yoann Gourcuff during the tournament.
18. Emmanuel Adebayor
Emmanuel Adebayor knows how to piss people off.
In his first match against Arsenal for Manchester City, the Togo international ran across the field to the visitor's section to celebrate his goal in front of his former fans.
He was also accused of deliberately stamping on his former teammate Robin van Persie's face during the game.
And then a year later, in true City fashion, he was on the outs and was loaned to Real Madrid, where he did his part for Arsenal by eliminating Tottenham from the Champions League.
17. Nicolas Anelka
France was never going supposed to make much noise at the 2010 World Cup, but Nicolas Anelka made them one of the top stories of the summer.
He launched a tirade at coach Raymond Domenech during halftime of France's 2-0 defeat to Mexico in the group stages over how he was played in the side and was subsequently sent home from the competition. Tirade is actually a nice word for what he said.
But that's just his most recent episode.
While at Arsenal early in his career, he was known as Le Sulk and was seen as disruptive in the locker room. While at Real Madrid, he was suspended for 45 days because he refused to train for three days because he didn't think manager Vicente del Bosque was playing him in the proper spot.
Then, when Chelsea lost the 2008 Champions League final to Manchester United, he launched a scathing attack on manager Avram Grant for putting him on late in extra time without having warmed up at all.
What a team player.
16. Paolo Di Canio
Paolo Di Canio is known for his fascist political views. That's not going to win you many admirers.
While playing for Lazio, the Italian created controversy by saluting Lazio fans and those of other left-leaning teams, and he was never at all apologetic. He's also expressed admiration for Benito Mussolini.
But it's worth noting that he did win the FIFA Fair Play Award while with West Ham in 2001 for giving up a goalscoring opportunity because he saw that Everton keeper Paul Gerrard had been injured.
And he's also said he is in no way racist.
15. Marco Materazzi
Marco Materazzi certainly isn't the most controversial player himself, but he caused one of the most controversial moments.
The most controversial part wasn't when Zidane turned around and headbutted Materazzi in the chest; it was how easily the hard-hitting Italian went down.
Materazzi also gained a bit of notoriety while playing for Everton in 1998-99 when he was sent off four times in just 27 games.
14. Steve McManaman
Steve McManaman was infamous for being a leader of Liverpool's Spice Boys in the 1990s, and those guys brought all sorts of controversy with them.
They partied hard and bedded plenty of women, but the one thing they didn't do enough of was win trophies. Macca himself was also criticized for being very creative but not scoring enough.
Macca also caused controversy with his extremely drawn out contract saga with Liverpool (but that's really no fun to talk about).
He has been called 'McMoneyman' by many spectators who saw money as the sole reason Macca wanted to leave Liverpool and then stay at Real Madrid despite not seeing much playing time.
He didn't endear himself to Liverpool fans in 2008 after he blasted some of them for protesting then-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, but he later realized he was in the wrong and is mending his reputation on Merseyside.
13. Robbie Fowler
Robbie Fowler was, without question, the supreme leader of the Spice Boys.
They were so named because of Fowler's rumored relationship with Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton, and he was the one who got in the most trouble.
One of his most controversial acts came when he celebrated a goal against Everton by using the white line to simulate snorting cocaine. In fairness, he was mocking the Everton fans' claims that he was using the drug.
Fowler was the biggest prankster of the bunch, including tearing up teammates' shoes and getting punched in the face for it. He was also prone to mooning opposing fans at any given moment.
Fowler also got in trouble for taunting his England teammate Graeme Le Saux (yes, English) and making homophobic jibes at him, despite them being unfounded.
Fowler was also assaulted around Liverpool several times, and he and Macca reportedly often went out drinking late on nights before games.
Fowler and Macca were then caught up in a sex scandal while at Manchester City in 2004, when they reportedly tried to lure, in a very rehearsed manner no less, a mother of three into sleeping with them.
12. Carlos Tevez
Controversy has followed Carlos Tevez since he first came on the scene, especially when it comes to his contract.
He started by refusing to play for Corinthians in 2006 and signing with West Ham. Because he was partially owned by his agents, Media Sports Investment group, this transfer didn't go down well with Premier League.
But with Tevez, it seems like a contract saga is never far away. In 2007, West Ham, Kia Joorabchian (his agent) and Manchester United battled it out for the Argentinean's signature, but then West Ham and Joorabchian couldn't agree over whether they were even talking.
He finally went to United, where he was successful, but that just wasn't good enough for Tevez. He wasn't getting enough time on the pitch and thought he was better than the club, so he moved to neighbors Manchester City in 2009.
And just over a year later, he wasn't happy there either and asked to be transferred. But then he changed his mind a day or two later.
For now, Tevez is one of City's best players, but controversy is never all that far behind him.
11. Thierry Henry
A player as talented and as world-class as Thierry Henry had to resort to the most blatant handball to send his team to the 2010 World Cup. And then they only embarrassed themselves once they got there.
He so clearly handled the ball twice to control it and then passed it to William Gallas to score the winning goal in the qualifier with Ireland.
In fairness to him, he stated that the fairest solution would be to replay the match between France and Ireland. He also claimed he nearly retired from international football and received death threats (personally, I would've aimed the threats at Sepp Blatter).
While Henry himself has, for the most part, been a model footballer, this one moment has caused quite a bit of controversy in world football. And it will certainly be hard for him to live it down.
Will the extra official do the trick? Would goal-line technology fix this? Should games be replayed?
Something tells me that because it's FIFA we're talking about, the most logical solution will be reached and then discarded.
10. Zinedine Zidane
Zinedine Zidane is one of the greatest footballers of all time, but his headbutt on Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup Final put quite a stain on his illustrious career.
The Italian was seen tugging Zidane's jersey, and shortly after the two confronted each other, Zidane abruptly headbutted his opponent in the chest.
The French captain was sent off with the score tied, and Italy went on to win on penalty kicks. Zidane said Materazzi insulted his family, and last year he stated we would "rather die" than apologize to the Italian.
You could argue that emotions got the better of Zidane, and it's nice to see athletes with emotions. On the other hand, how can you defend the man who cost his country the World Cup?
He retired after the match, and for such a great player, it's sad to see it end on such a controversial note.
9. Gary Neville
Gary Neville has a knack for getting on opposing fans' nerves.
He ran the full length of the Anfield pitch in 2006 to celebrate an injury-time winner, that he didn't even score by the way. Liverpool's Jamie Carragher called him out for it, and the police claimed it caused problems between fans after the game.
Given that and his comments about Liverpool, it's safe to say he wouldn't feel too comfortable vacationing on Merseyside.
He again antagonized the opposing fans after Michael Owen's late winner of Manchester City in 2009. A few months later, he was seen flicking off his former teammate Carlos Tevez after the latter had scored. Neville was on the bench for that.
His last game for Manchester United was even covered in controversy when he tackled Peter Odemwingie from behind and received no punishment.
There's almost no player opposing fans love to hate more than Gary Neville.
8. Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney said he would be a Blue for life, but then he left Everton for Manchester United.
When he was 18, he was caught paying quite a few visits to massage parlours and having a penchant for the older ladies.
His temper on the field has gotten him into all sorts of trouble. He was sent off in the 2006 World Cup Quarterfinals for pushing Cristiano Ronaldo (and for being sucked into Ronaldo's tactics).
His most controversial moments have come after arguably his best season, 2009-2010.
In the 2010 World Cup, he blasted England fans for booing their team, directly into the camera no less. In the fall, he was caught visiting prostitutes again, but this time while his wife was pregnant. Then, last October, he claimed Manchester United was no longer ambitious enough for him, and he would not be signing a new contract.
Two days (and a few death threats) later, United expressed their ambition by making Rooney one of the highest paid players in England. It still took him months to find his form though.
Most recently, Rooney was banned by the FA for two games for shouting expletives into a camera after he scored a hat trick against West Ham.
Rooney really has got to be one of the dumbest footballers out there.
7. Ashley Cole
On the list of most hated players, Ashley Cole has to be really close to the top.
He complains about fouls, but he's not the cleanest of players himself. He texts naked pictures of himself, to women other than his wife, and for goodness' sake, he shot someone.
Granted, it was a Chelsea intern, so he could've deserved to be shot with an air rifle, but it still makes you wonder what Cole was doing with a gun in his Chelsea locker.
Cole also wrote an autobiography when he was 25, which is incredibly presumptuous (Fernando Torres).
My Defence (clever...) sold 4,000 copies in six weeks, so you could probably find a copy in your local Goodwill or something.
6. Fernando Torres
If Fernando Torres hadn't finally scored on Saturday, he might've be even higher. But even though he's finally broken his Chelsea scoring duct, there's still plenty of controversy surrounding the British transfer record.
He was a little bit controversial starting at the 2010 World Cup when he just couldn't get anything going, and his penchant for flopping also came to the forefront. His frequent injuries at Liverpool did nothing to help his cause either.
But his January 2011 £50 million transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea is one of the most talked about transfers ever. The man, who just weeks earlier stated his commitment to Liverpool, put in a transfer request two days before the window closed and forced through a deal.
In a matter of hours, the darling of the Kop suddenly became the Judas.
He didn't help himself at all when he said a few days later he was excited to be playing at a big club and for big trophies. He also said it was almost like destiny that he would score his first Chelsea goal against Liverpool a few days later, but instead, he went on a slump for close to three months in which his drought was all anyone could talk about.
There was plenty of controversy over why Torres couldn't score. Did he fit into the Chelsea system? Was he purchased by Roman Abramovich and not Carlo Ancelotti? How long will they stick with him?
His former owner and former Liverpool players have called him out, and if this goal fails to spur him on, all that talk will come right back.
Just wait till Chelsea come to Anfield next season.
5. El Hadji Diouf
If anyone came think of a more obnoxious footballer, I'd love to hear it.
El Hadji Diouf has played for many teams in his time, and he's been unpopular at each one of them.
While at Liverpool, he was fined for spitting at fans and opposing players, and he was later charged with assault on a group of fans. When he was at Bolton, he was fined for spitting at an 11-year-old Middlesbrough fan and just a few weeks later, a Portsmouth player.
He also shouted racist claims at an Everton ball boy, claiming it was in retaliation to Everton fans throwing bananas at him, though there was no evidence of that.
Recently, Queens Park Rangers manager Neil Warnock said Diouf was "lower than a sewer rat" for mocking QPR player Jamie Mackie as he lay on the pitch with a broken leg.
And of course, he was sent off in the highly charged and controversial Old Firm Derby between Celtic and Rangers in January 2011.
None of this would be all that controversial if Diouf was any good at football.
4. John Terry
There is no footballer more fun to talk about than John Terry.
On Sept. 12, 2001, he was seen with several other teammates at a Heathrow hotel drinking and mocking grieving American tourists.
He's been in the tabloids numerous times for cheating on his wife. The most famous incident was in early 2010 when it was revealed he had an affair with his former teammate Wayne Bridge's girlfriend. Terry was subsequently stripped of the England captaincy for it.
However, he reportedly tried to stage a mutiny in South Africa last summer, but Fabio Capello, ever the disciplinarian, made sure his player knew who was in charge.
So Capello, controversially of course, handed Terry the armband back last month.
He ran over a security guard while leaving Stamford Bridge after a game.
He was also caught selling access to the Chelsea clubhouse and has been charged with assault several times.
His knack for controversy has rubbed off. His mother and mother-in-law were cautioned for shoplifting, and his father was allegedly caught selling cocaine.
The controversy just never ends with him.
3. Paul Gascoigne
Paul "Gazza" Gascoigne really set the bar high for the England footballers who would follow him.
When you admit to struggling with bipolar disorder, alcoholism and more, you can bet there's been some controversy surrounding you. Gazza has revealed that he has struggled finding things to do when not playing football, and boy has it cost him.
Gazza has admitted that he used to beat his ex-wife regularly, and their children revealed he beat them as well. He was also charged with assaulting a photographer in 2006, though the charges were later dropped.
His struggles with alcohol have long been known, as have his several failed stints in rehab.
He has been arrested for drunk driving several times, possession of cocaine and for destroying a hotel room. In November of last year, rather than face a prison sentence, he entered rehab but was seen buying liquor a day later.
He was given a delayed sentence of eight weeks in prison and is now facing bankruptcy as well.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
You can't argue over Cristiano Ronaldo's ability. He's a fantastic footballer. But plenty of people argue over whether or not he's better than Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo most likely hurts himself in this debate because of his diving antics and his tendency to bait opposing players, the most infamous of whom was Wayne Rooney in the 2006 World Cup.
He is seen as a villain by most clubs but his own because of his diving antics and his temper.
He's also been known to play with the media and spent a year saying how he would not leave Manchester United in the summer of 2009, only to do just that for the world-record fee.
In El Clasico last fall at Camp Nou, Ronaldo was seen pushing Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola for holding the ball, which incited a little riot among the players.
Messi may be the better player, but with Ronaldo, there's just so much more to talk about.
1. Diego Maradona
Cristiano Ronaldo is to Lionel Messi what Diego Maradona is to Pele. There's plenty of debate over who's the better footballer, but there's no question over who's the more controversial.
Diego Maradona is without doubt the most controversial footballer of all time, and he's definitely near the top of the list when it comes to athletes on the whole.
He was the definition of feisty as a player and manager, he had the original "Hand of God" against England in the 1986 World Cup, which he later admitted he did knowingly, and he battled drug addiction for much of his career.
In 1991, he failed a drug test for cocaine and was banned for 15 months. He was also sent home from the 1994 World Cup for a failed drug test.
In 1998, he was handed a suspended jail sentence for shooting a journalist with an air rifle (so Ashley Cole isn't all that original), four years prior.
As manager of Argentina last year, all of the media focused on him instead of why such talented players were not performing as well as expected, so if that was his plan, he executed it flawlessly. He used abusive language toward the press and was banned for two months by FIFA in early 2010, and Maradona was unceremoniously sacked after the World Cup, saying he did not want to stay if his staff could not.
He has tattoos of both Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and has also voiced support for Hugo Chavez.
He was a great player, but more than that he's a great player to talk about. Maradona is the prime example that being great is one thing, but to truly leave your mark, you've gotta have the talent and the dirt.
Or else, people will just lose interest.