The 50 Most Intimidating Players in Soccer

Dan PattersonContributor IApril 25, 2011

The 50 Most Intimidating Players in Soccer

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    You almost feel sorry for whoever he is looking at
    You almost feel sorry for whoever he is looking atJamie McDonald/Getty Images

    The act of intimidation is to cause a person with otherwise "normal" sensitivities to crap their pants and be thrown off their stride. While this may have a greater effect in the NFL, Rugby League or ice hockey due to the physical nature of those sports, it is nonetheless a factor in soccer.

    While the game has moved past its roots of physical, almost gladiatorial combat, there are still those who are able to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition.

    Sometimes this is simply due to the way they look. Other times because of the physical nature of their style of play. And don't forget, some players are just dirty, sneaky players who will get under your skin no matter what you're made of.

    History has seen many such figures, and some are still playing the game today.

    These can be managers who terrorize players in the dressing room and the dugout. Goalkeepers who are so unnerving as to throw forwards off their game. Defenders who will chop your leg off as soon as tackle you. Midfielders whose idea of a 50-50 challenge is to come in with their studs aimed at your head. Forwards who smash anything in their path to get to the ball.

    In order from the dugout to the spearhead of attack, here are 50 imposing figures from history that have left their mark on the game, as well as in the conscience.

    I welcome your comments! 

Don Revie: Creator of the Dirtiest Team in Soccer

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    The architect of the dirtiest team in the game
    The architect of the dirtiest team in the gameGetty Images/Getty Images

    Position: Manager

    Nationality: England

    Club known for: Leeds United

    Years active: 1944-1962 (player) 1961-1985 (manager)

    Cherished by Leeds United fans in England, Don Revie led his team to win eight trophies, gaining promotion from the Football League Second Division in 1964 and topping the First Division on two occasions.

    Revie moved on to manage England, but after failing to reach any major tournaments spent the rest of his career managing the Middle East.

    Revie's Leeds were the ultimate bullies who played a fast, pressing game designed to strip the opposition of possession through whatever means necessary.

    Arsene Wenger would surely have flown into a fit of rage if ever forced to play against the man, who puts Sam Allardyce's former club Bolton to shame. His players kicked, pinched and play-acted their way through games and when faced with criticism of his style Revie would reference that the "Italians" were playing in the same way.

    Eventually teams copied Leeds' style of play, and so began an era in English football of tough, physical play that say many a career end due to injury.

Sir Alex Ferguson: Unleashing the Hairdryer Treatment

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    Position: Manager

    Nationality: Scotland

    Club known for: Manchester United

    Years active: 1957-1974 (player) 1974-present (manager)

    Love him or hate him, Sir Alex Ferguson (or "Fergie") is the most successful living manager in English soccer. When managing Aberdeen in Scotland, Ferguson was one of the few to break the "Old Firm" stranglehold on the title, beating out both Celtic and Rangers to first place.

    With Manchester United he's one title away from winning the club's record 19th Premier League trophy, beating out fierce rival Liverpool's tally of 18.

    In an era of player power, primadonnas and Cristiano Ronaldo, Ferguson stands alone as he remains the most powerful person at Manchester United.

    During his career he has shown no mercy in shipping out some of his best players in the form of David Beckham, Ruud van Nistlerooy or Ronaldo himself when they have outlived their usefulness (or command an insane transfer fee). The Scotsman is supreme dictator of the club and his word is absolute law.

    In 2003 Ferguson famously kicked a boot at David Beckham in one of his infamous post-match rages after losing out to Arsenal in the FA Cup. The player required stitches and was soon shipped out to Real Madrid. 

Harald Schumacher: Hated in France

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    Position: Goalkeeper

    Nationality: German

    Club known for: FC Köln and German national team

    Years active: 1972-1996

    A tough, uncompromising goalkeeper who played most of his career in Germany, Schumacher won the 1980 European Championship with West Germany but lost out in two World Cup finals. He was a pioneer of the "one-armed" throw, able to launch a ball into the opposition's half of the pitch.

    Ultimately, he is known primarily for his mis-timed tackle on Patrick Battiston when Germany took on France at the 1982 World Cup. The Frenchman was played through on goal and Schumacher came out to knock him senseless. The player slipped into a coma on the field, losing teeth and damaging his vertebra. No foul was called on the play.

    The results of a French newspaper pole ranked Schumacher ahead of Adolf Hitler as the least popular man in the country.

"Mad" Jens Lehmann: He'd Be in a Nuthouse If He Wasn't so Good

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    Jens Lehmann leads out VfB Stuttgart
    Jens Lehmann leads out VfB StuttgartJohannes Simon/Getty Images

    Position: Goalkeeper

    Nationality: German

    Clubs Known for: Schalke 04 and Arsenal

    Years active: 1988-present

    Fact: Jens Lehmann was voted UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year on two occasions for the 1996-97 and 2005-06 seasons. Fact: Jens Lehmann hols the record for the most red cards for any goalkeeper in the German Bundesliga. At times insane at other times simply brilliant, Lehmann is a character that just can't stay away from the game, having signed a 1-year deal with Arsenal at the tender age of 41.

    His disciplinary problems are many and just add to his fearsome reputation. In 1999 he gave SC Freiburg's Soumailia Coulibaly a boot for his troubles after a collision in the penalty area. In 2007 Lehmann was involved in a diving competition with Didier Drogba in a game against Chelsea. When playing for Stuttgart Lehmann stole an opposing player's shoe and tossed it into his own net.  

    But this certainly takes the cake. In 2009 Lehmann took a quick break from the field to relieve himself on the other side of the advertising boards. Madness.

Oliver Kahn: The Scariest Goalkeeper in History?

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    Oliver Kahn rips into his teammates
    Oliver Kahn rips into his teammatesStuart Franklin/Getty Images

    Position: Goalkeeper

    Nationality: German

    Club known for: Bayern Munich and German national team

    Years active: 1987-2008

    You'd be hard-pressed to find a more terrifying yet consistently brilliant goalkeeper in the game of soccer than Oliver Kahn. "King Kahn" has collected 23 trophies in his career and is the only goalkeeper to be awarded the Golden Ball at a World Cup which he earned in 2002 despite losing out to Brazil in the final.

    Equally intimidating to team-mates and opponents alike, you'd be forgiven for not going for a cross when Kahn came charging out to collect it. Although he never managed to score a goal, Kahn would not think twice about getting into the penalty area if his team was down, and even earned a second yellow card for punching the ball into the net when Bayern Munich lost to Hansa Rostock in 2001.

    Kahn came back from England's 5-1 demolition of Germany in 2000 to lead his team to the final of the 2002 World Cup. He played through injury against Brazil and was faulted for Ronaldo's first goal but shone throughout the tournament.

Andoni Goikoetxea: The Butcher of Bilbao

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    Position: Center back

    Nationality: Spain (Basque)

    Club known for: Athletic Bilbao

    Years active: 1974-1990 (player) 1996-present (manager)

    Goikoetxea won 4 trophies with Bilbao before the Real Madrid and Barcelona teams of the present put their stranglehold on Spanish football. He was a tough, uncompromising center-back whose rash tackling and indifferent attitude to opponents earned him the nickname the "Butcher of Bilbao".

    During a 1983 league match against Barcelona, he went in hard on new arrival Diego Maradona, breaking the Argentinian's ankle which would be the last match the great one played in Spain. As if this wasn't enough, Goikoetxea enshrined his right boot in glass at his house, preserving "the boot he had used to destroy Diego Maradona's ankle ligaments".  

Claudio Gentile: The Least Gentle Defender in Italy

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    Gentile walks away from another dirty tackle
    Gentile walks away from another dirty tackleGetty Images/Getty Images

    Position: Center back

    Nationality: Italy

    Club known for: Juventus

    Years active: 1971-1988

    Claudio Gentile won 8 trophies with his beloved Juventus, and is considered to be the greatest defender the club has ever had. While nothing near a smooth, technical player such as Paolo Maldini, Gentile had his own way of beating away opposing attacks, which usually involved tackling through players.

    Former English midfielder Gordon Hill commented that Gentile "would stand on his grandmother's head to get the ball". During the 1982 World Cup Gentile was on a one-man mission to prevent any skilled opposition players from playing their game. He racked up 23 fouls against Diego Maradona in the group phase, then got so tight on Brazilian Zico that he ripped his shirt in half. 

Elizabeth Lambert: Taking Matters into Her Own Hands

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    Position: Defender

    Nationality: United States

    Club known for: New Mexico Lobos

    Years active: unknown

    In the space of 90 minutes, New Mexico defender Elizabeth Lambert managed to pull off one of the dirtiest performances in the history of the modern game. The fact that she managed to stay on the field is a mystery and you have to wonder what would have happened to a Premier League footballer had he attempted the same.

    She apologized but was later suspended for her actions on the field as the cameras caught her punching, kicking, and ponytail-pulling her way through he match. You could say that it was all for naught as BYU won that match but future opponents may want to wear their hair a little differently when coming up against Lambert. 

Jaap Stam: One Man You Wouldn't Want to Meet in a Dark Alleyway

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    26 Apr 2000:  Portrait of Jaap Stam at the Puma Cellerator Respira press launch in Brussels, Belgium. \ Mandatory Credit: Graham Chadwick /Allsport
    Graham Chadwick/Getty Images

    Position: Center back

    Nationality: Netherlands

    Club known for: Manchester United

    Years active: 1992-2007

    While he was no dirtier or physical than most other defenders, Jaap Stam is on this list simply because he is one scary-looking man. At 6ft 3in the Dutchman won 6 trophies during his short 3 years in Manchester before being replaced by Laurent Blanc. Technically skilled and excellent in the air, he was sold to Lazio for £16.5 million, a move which Sir Alex Ferguson made due to allegations made in Staam's autobiography.

    He was big and he was hard, and Ferguson later admitted that selling the center-back was the biggest mistake of his career. It takes a special player to elicit that sort of response from Fergie, and the player went on to win a trophy with Lazio, as well as make it to the 2005 Champions League final with AC Milan.     

Kevin Muscat: The Leg-Breaking Specialist

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    Facing the press after another poor tackle lands Muscat in hot water
    Facing the press after another poor tackle lands Muscat in hot waterMark Dadswell/Getty Images

    Position: Center back

    Nationality: Australia

    Club known for: Wolverhampton Wanderers

    Years active: 1989-2011

    Kevin Muscat arrived in England in 1996 to help Crystal Palace achieve promotion to the Premier League. A solid if unspectacular defender, Muscat was known for his fiery temper and ruthlessness on the pitch in both England and his native Australia. Repercussions for his actions on the field didn't stop at bans, as he was forced to pay over £250,000 in a settlement for Charlton Athletic player Matty Holmes after a Muscat tackle left Holmes needed four separate operations on his leg.

    He's left a string of littered bodies in his wake, the likes of Craig Bellamy and France international Christophe Dugarry among them. Most recently however Muscat was suspended for eight matches following his challenge on Melbourne Hart's youngster Adrian Zahra where he made absolutely no attempt to play the ball. Dubbed as one of the worst tackles in the history of the game, Muscat received a second red card in as many starts.

Marcel Desailly: He's Won All There Is to Win

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    22 Apr 2002:  Marcel Desailly of France during the Adidas Kit Launch of the new French national kit in Govent Garden, London. DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: John Gichigi/Getty Images
    John Gichigi/Getty Images

    Position: Center back

    Nationality: France

    Clubs known for: AC Milan, Chelsea and the French national team

    Years active: 1986-2006

    Marcel Desailly earns his place on this list not because of overly physical play, dirty challenges or an imposing visage. Simply put the Ghanaian-born French international was one of the finest defenders of his day. He amassed trophies wherever he played, and among the 13 counted in his cabinet stand 2 Champions League winner medals as well as a World Cup and European Championship medal.

    Aside from this Desailly is a genuine man, working as a UNICEF ambassador as well as a soccer pundit in England. He's commanded respect and genuine admiration wherever he has played, and there's unlikely to be many players past and present who would have a negative thing to say about him. That is, except for opposition forwards who had the tough task of beating him to the ball.

Marco Materazzi: Scape-Goat, Scumbag and All Round Bad Apple

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    ROME - MAY 05:  Marco Materazzi of Inter Milan celebrates during the Tim Cup final between FC Internazionale Milano and AS Roma at Stadio Olimpico on May 5, 2010 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Position: Center back

    Nationality: Italy

    Club known for: Inter Milan

    Years active: 1993-present

    It is an unfortunate fact that Materazzi will be remembered for quite a decorated career that includes 5 Serie A titles and a winners medal in the Champions League and World Cup. Above all else of course, he has forever etched his name into history as the man who caused one of the greatest players the game has seen to lose his cool in the World Cup final. On a higher note, that incident has led to some of the greatest internet fan-made videos ever.

    But before this ever happened Materazzi was well-known in Italy for his over-the-top challenges better suited to a karate dojo on the likes of Andrei Shevchenko especially. Afterwards he would often genially trot past the referee as if nothing was wrong. A softer side was apparent upon Jose Mourinho's tear-filled departure from Inter but that doesn't make this Italian anything less than the psycho that he remains.

Martin Keown: Arsenal Legend

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    Martin Keown gives van Nistlerooy an earfull
    Martin Keown gives van Nistlerooy an earfullShaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Position: Center back

    Nationality: England

    Club known for: Arsenal

    Years active: 1984-2005

    Looking at this current Arsenal team you'd be forgiven from not believing that Arsenal at one point boasted the stingiest defence in the Premier League, with the 1-0 their hallmark. Keown patrolled Arsenal's defence alongside his partner in crime, Tony Adams for almost 10 seasons, and remains at the club as a part-time scout and defensive coach.

    Dependable, rarely injured and always 100% committed to the cause, Keown flourished after joining Arsenal and was a stoic member of one of the best defences of the 1990s. In 2003 Keown and Arsenal teammate Ray Parlour lost their cool at Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistlerooy after he struck the bar on a penalty kick for the manner in which he attempted to get Arsenal captain Patrick Viera sent off.

Nemanja Vidić: Captain Fantastic Deserves All His Plaudits

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    MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 10:   Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the City of Manchester Stadium on November 10, 2010 in Manchester, England. (Ph
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Position: Center back

    Nationality: Serbia

    Club known for: Manchester United

    Years active: 2000-present

    Manchester United's captain was plucked from relative obscurity by Sir Alex Ferguson in Janurary 2006 from Spartak Moscow for only £7 million. As Fernando Torres will attest to Vidić is not the fastest, nor is he blessed with sublime ball control. Vidić relishes a physical battle with opponents, and is rarely beaten in the air or on the ground. He is considered the best center-back in the Premier League, and alongside Rio Ferdinand one half of one of the most effective defensive pairings in the modern game.

    In the summer of 2010 there were rumours circulating regarding a potential big-money move to Real Madrid but as the defender mentioned earlier this month that was never going to happen. Given the captain's armband by Ferguson this season Vidić has continued to go from strength to strength, often paired with a younger, faster Chris Smalling due to Ferdinand's injury troubles. The entire Premier League uttered an audible groan of frustration when the Serbian declared he wanted to see out his career at Old Trafford.  

Norman "Bites Yer Legs" Hunter

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    LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 10: Norman Hunter kisses his medal, presented by Prime Minister Gordon Brown for representing his country in the 1966 World Cup  on June 10, 2009 in London England. When England lifted the World Cup it was customary that only
    WPA Pool/Getty Images

    Position: Center back

    Nationality: England

    Club known for: Leeds United

    Years active: 1962-1982 (player) 1980-1988 (manager)

    The dirty Leeds side under Don Revie needed a talisman at the back to marshal their forces and Norman Hunter was more than happy to oblige. Although he was one of the toughest tacklers in the game, Hunter was also the owner of a cultured left-foot and was more than able to play the ball out of defence when required. He played over 500 games for Leeds but was kept out of the England squad due to the partnership between team-mate Jack Charlton and Bobby Moore.

    Even those that hated Leeds admitted that there were dirtier players on the team than Hunter, but he was never one to shrink from a tackle. Despite this, when Leeds trainer Les Crocker was informed that Hunter had broken a leg, his immediate question was "whose was it?"

Paolo Montero: An Uncompromising Hard Man

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    SYDNEY, NSW - NOVEMBER 16:  Paolo Montero of Uruguay in action during the second leg of the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying match between Australia and Uruguay at Telstra Stadium on November 16, 2005 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Image
    Adam Pretty/Getty Images

    Position: Center back

    Nationality: Uruguay

    Club known for: Juventus

    Years active: 1990-2007

    Montero earned his reputation at Juventus alongside the likes of Ciro Ferrara, Lilian Thuram and Fabio Cannavaro during his 10 years with the club. He was fierce in the tackle but also blessed with skill on the ball, and was part of the Juventus team that captured 11 medals in Italy and in Europe, but were losing finalists in the Champions League on 3 separate occasions.

    In a league that spawned the likes of Gattuso and Materazzi, Montero amassed 15 red cards in his time at Juventus, a Serie A record and more than even Roy Keane himself. No small amounts of dirty little punches, extremely late leg-chops, and other fouls have earned the player the right to call himself one of the dirtiest players in Italian soccer.   

Pepe: A Red Card Waiting to Happen

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    VALENCIA, BARCELONA - APRIL 20: Xavi Hernandez (r) of Barcelona and Pepe of Real Madrid competes for the ball during the Copa del Rey final match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on April 20, 2011 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel
    Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

    Position: Center back/defensive midfielder

    Nationality: Portugal

    Club known for: Real Madrid

    Years active: 2001-present

    Pepe could lay a claim-to-fame before he even kicked a soccer ball in anger in a Real Madrid shirt. In the summer of 2007 the Spanish titans splashed out €30 million on a player that wasn't a forward- imagine that? The Brazilian-born defender has gone on to forge himself a reputation for Madrid as a the defensive bite that the team has been missing since the departure of Claude Makélélé.

    He has never been far from the headlines in Madrid, whether its fighting with a teammate or stamping on Getafe's Javer Casquero after bringing him down in the penalty box. Jose Mourinho has used him to great effect as a hold midfielder against Barcelona in La Liga and the Spanish Cup. Additionally, it was reported that Pepe sacrificed his salary in order to force a move to Madrid, and until he signed a new deal he was earning a paltry €1.8 million a year. Poor guy!  

Ron "Chopper" Harris: Harder Than John Terry

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    LONDON - FEBRUARY 15:  Former Chelsea player Ron Harris poses with the FA Cup ahead of this weekend's fourth round of the FA Cup at a Nationwide branch on February 15, 2006 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Position: Center back

    Nationality: England

    Club known for: Chelsea

    Years active: 1961-1985 (player) 1984-1985 (manager)

    While Leeds United had their fill of tough-tackling players, there was one man at Chelsea who could have taken the lot of them, and that man was Ron Harris. Filling the role of center back as not only a pitiless tackler but also inspirational leader, Harris played 655 times for the London club in a career that spanned almost two decades.

    The 1970 FA Cup Final pitted a "flamboyant" Chelsea side against Leeds United at their peak, and after four hours Chelsea came out 2-1 winners after a 2-2 first leg couldn't separate the two sides. Harris went in hard on Leeds play-maker Eddie Gray in the second match which saw him gingerly complete the game as a passenger thanks to the "Chopper". 

Terry Butcher: The Iconic English Defenseman

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    1989:  Terry Butcher is left bloodied and scarred after the World Cup Qualifier  match against  Sweden played in Sweden. \ Mandatory Credit: David Cannon /Allsport
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    Position: Center back

    Nationality: England

    Clubs known for: Ipswich Town and Rangers

    Years active: 1976-1993 (player) 1990-present (manager)

    Looking back into English soccer history there is perhaps no more iconic an image than Terry Butcher's murderous gaze while his shirt and headband is stained with blood seeping from his burst stitches. England fans wish for every defender to be an uncompromising lion is personified best by Butcher, and is seen as the reason why English ball-playing defenders are a rarity.

    Butcher captained Ipswich, Rangers and also England was he won the UEFA Cup and 3 Scottish League titles among other trophies. Known for his leadership, aerial ability and courage, he is everything than John Terry aspires to be. When he was assistant to George Burley on the Scottish national team, Butcher famously refused to shake Diego Maradona's hand before a friendly with Argentina in 2008. Perhaps a legacy of Butcher's failed attempt to stop Maradona's tap-in against England in 1986. 

Tommy Smith Wasn't Born, He Was Quarried

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    Undated:  Martin Chivers of Tottenham Hotspur takes on Tommy Smith of Liverpool during a match at Anfield in Liverpool, England. \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Position: Defender

    Nationality: England

    Club known for: Liverpool

    Years active: 1962-1979 (player) 1978 (manager)

    In a day before shirt sponsorships, Smith played over 600 times for a Liverpool side that dominated the game in England and in European competition. He played in the center of defence but later as a full-back when the likes of Phil Thompson emerged through the ranks at Anfield. Smith scored Liverpool's winning goal in a 3-1 victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach in the UEFA Cup,his first goal of the season and coincidentally his final for the club.

    His physical style was legendary in England but he was not the dirty player many make him out to be. He only received three yellows and one red in his long career at Liverpool, and he'll be the first the tell you the red was for dissent. He famously warned Tottenham's Jimmy Greaves of the treatment he was going to receive at Anfield. Smith handed the man a piece of paper, "Just open it" he said, and it was the menu from the Liverpool infirmary. Bill Shankly put it best: "Tommy Smith wasn't born, he was quarried." 

Dennis Wise: "He Could Start a Fight in an Empty House"

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    29 Oct 2001:  Dennis Wise of Leicester City argues with referee Russell Styles during the FA Barclaycard Premiership game between Blackburn Rovers and Leicester City at Ewood Park, Blackburn. Mandatory Credit: Alex Livesey/ALLSPORT
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Position: Central midfield

    Nationality: England

    Club known for: Chelsea

    Years active: 1985-2006 (player) 2003-2008 (manager) 2008-2009 (director)

    Before being eclipsed by John Terry, Dennis Wise was the most successful captain that Chelsea had ever had. At Chelsea he was a firecracker both on and off the pitch, narrowly avoiding a three-month prison sentence after assaulting a taxi-driver in London. At Leicester City he was sent home from the team's pre-season tour in Finland after breaking the jaw of team-mate Callum Davidson. Sir Alex Ferguson famously commented that the midfielder could "start a fight in an empty house".

    Dennis Wise spent just over a year as a Director of Football at Newcastle under owner Mike Ashley and quickly fell out with fans over questionable signings (after seeing them on YouTube), the sale of James Milner to Aston Villa as well as a perceived lack of interest in happenings at the club. Newcastle fan's joy at having Kevin Keegan managing at the club was tempered by Wise and Ashley making a mess in the boardroom.

Dunga: Go Ahead and Make Fun of His Hair, I Dare You!

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    14 Oct 1989:  Portrait of Dunga of Brazil before the Bologna Friendly match against Italy in Bologna, Italy. Brazil won the match 1-0. \ Mandatory Credit: David  Cannon/Allsport
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    Position: Defensive midfielder

    Nationality: Brazil

    Club known for: Fiorentina and Brazil national team

    Years active: 1980-2000 (player) 2006-2010 (manager)

    When fans think of Brazilian legends it is often those of a more samba persuasion that are given mention, but the legacy of Dunga is as important if not more so than Ronaldinho.  Given the captain's armband at the 1994 World Cup after Raí was dropped, the midfield general went on to lead his country to glory. Four years later, although he was currently playing his club soccer at Júbilo Iwata in Japan, Dunga once again captained Brazil to the finals where they lost out to Brazil.

    Although Dunga was as hard as they come, he was known for his superb positional play, rarely needing to stretch into last-ditch challenges as he was on hand to intercept a pass at the right moment. His passion for victory was second to none, as evidenced during a breif scuffle with team-mate Bebeto in the first round of the 1998 tournament against Morocco. Dunga was derided by Brazilian fans when he managed the team in South Africa due to its negative style of play, but many would have given them a better chance against Spain in the final if they hadn't lost out to two fluke goals against the Netherlands in the semis. 

Edgar Davids: He's Currently a Free Agent so Open Your Check-Books

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    TURIN, ITALY - MAY 14:  Edgar Davids of Juventus holds off a challenge from Zinedine Zidane of Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League semi final second leg match between Juventus and Real Madrid on May 14, 2003 at the Stadio Delle Alpi in Turin, Ita
    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Position: Defensive midfielder

    Nationality: Netherlands

    Club known for: Juventus

    Years active: 1992-present

    "The Pitbull" is probably one of the most easily recognized players in recent history due to his dreadlocks and safety goggles. Small but mighty, Davids was fearsome in the tackle and didn't shy down against anyone, labelled "my one-man engine room" but Juventus manager Marcelo Lippi. When Juventus were struggling mid-table in 2004, Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard brought him over on loan for half a season and was credited as the catalyst that propelled them to dominance in the early 21st century.

    Davids was in and out of the Dutch national team as his outspoken temper landed him in hot water with coach Gus Hiddink saw him sent home from Euro 1996 after he had commented in a radio internet that "Hiddink should stop putting his head in some player's asses".

Gennaro Gattuso: He'll Throw a Tantrum If Things Don't Go His Way

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    MILAN, ITALY - MARCH 13:  Gennaro Ivan Gattuso of AC Milan gestures during the Serie A match between AC Milan and AS Bari at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on March 13, 2011 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
    Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

    Position: Defensive midfielder

    Nationality: Italy

    Club known for: AC Milan

    Years active: 1996-present

    If you've never seen Gattuso blow a gasket at an opposing player or a referee then you've likely never watched AC Milan play for 90 minutes. The little Italian has made it his lifelong mission to win at all costs and alongside Andrea Pirlo he is a dominant force for Milan in Serie A and the Champions League. In his autobiography, Steven Gerrard commented that Gattuso's "bark is worse than his bite" and there's certainly no love lost between these two players.

    After Tottenham knocked out AC Milan from the Champions League this past February, Gattuso was involved in a touchline fracas with Spurs coach Joe Jordan after the game. He had been hankering for a fight the entire game thanks to the London side's resolute defending. Gattuso was handed a 5-match Champions League ban for his troubles.

Graeme Souness: Mighty as a Player, Not so Much as a Manager

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    1979:  (Left to right) Graeme Souness, Alan Hansen and Kenny Dalglish of Liverpool hold the trophy after the Charity Shield match against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in London. Liverpool won the match 3-1. \ Mandatory Credit: Allsport UK /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Position: Central midfielder

    Nationality: Scotland

    Club known for: Liverpool

    Years active: 1970-1991 (player) 1986-2006 (manager)

    Souness and his moustache were a key figure in Liverpool's dominance under Bob Paisley as he counts 5 League Championships, 3 European Cups and 4 League Cups as trophies won. Brought in along with Alan Hansen and Kenny Dalglish in the 1977-78 season, Souness slotted quickly into Liverpool's midfield and he was awarded the captain's armband for the 1981-82 season. At a time when the Reds conquered all comers, Souness was the grit and engine in midfield that let team play the way they wanted.

    As a player/manager then full time manager at Rangers, Souness was never far from controversy as he frequently clashed heads with the Scottish FA such as overcoming touchline bans by naming himself as a substitute. Souness' tenure at Liverpool as a manager was disastrous compared to the illustrious managers in the past. He earned the ire of Liverpool fans by giving an interview to the hated Sun after an,  FA Cup victory in 1992, something the Scot apologized for only in February this year.

Javier Mascherano: A Face Only a Mother Could Love

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    "It wasn't me ref I swear!"
    "It wasn't me ref I swear!"Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Position: Defensive midfielder

    Nationality: Argentina

    Club known for: Liverpool

    Years active: 2003-present

    When Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez arrived at West Ham in 2006 there was a sense of uncertainty in the Premier League. Neither player were particularly well known but with all due respect to West Ham it was certain that both would move on relatively quickly. Rafa Benitez brought the fierce Argentinian to Anfield and alongside Xabi Alonso formed the best midfield partnership that Liverpool had seen in some time.

    While his decision-making was questionable at times, nobody could doubt Mascherano's commitment to the cause and soon enough he was flying around making tackles and stifling opposition creative players. In the 2009-10 season he had the worst disciplinary record of any Premier League player with seven yellow cards and two red. Now warming the bench at Barcelona Mascherano has been asked to play a little more technical football and even at center back at times, but he has lost none of his fire. 

Joey Barton: Considers Himself the Best Midfielder England Have

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    Barton dishes out the orders at Newcastle
    Barton dishes out the orders at NewcastleMichael Regan/Getty Images

    Position: Midfielder

    Nationality: England

    Club known for: Manchester City

    Years active: 2002-present

    Joey Barton has never been far from the headlines, and always for the wrong reasons. As early as 2004 he allegedly put out a cigar in a team mate's eye. If that wasn't bad enough, during a pre-season tour in Thailand Barton had to be restrained after he attacked a 15 year-old Everton supporter. In 2008 he served 77 days behind bars after a scuffle outside a McDonald's restaurant in Liverpool. CCTV footage showed him punching a man 20 times.

    Despite his antics off the field, Barton is still plying his trade in the Premier League with moderate success at Newcastle. He stuck with the team when they were relegated, and started their new campaign back in the top flight with an altercation with Blackburn's Morten Gamst Pederson, resulting in a 3-game ban. Never one to back down in an argument, Barton will likely continue to rack up his card tally as his career goes on. 

Johnny Giles: A Creative Hub in a Questionable Leeds United

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    LONDON - APRIL 27:  Terry Venables of Queens Park Rangers gives orders to his team-mates as Johnny Giles of Leeds United looks on during the League Division One match held on April 27, 1974 at Loftus Road, in London. Leeds United won the match 1-0. (Photo
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Position: Midfielder

    Nationality: Republic of Ireland

    Club known for: Leeds United

    Years active: 1957-1983 (player) 1973-1985 (manager)

    Leeds manager Brian Clough commented in his autobiography that "Giles could grab hold of a match, tuck it in his back pocket, and carry it around with him. He didn't need to find space, it was as if space found him." Alongside Billy Brimner in Leed's midfield, Giles was at the heart of a dominating force in English soccer at the time, winning seven trophies with the club.

    The "Dirty Leeds" team under Revie was criticized widely for their bullying tactics, but it was players like Giles that game the team a sauntering talent to match. Now a pundit with Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Giles is never afraid to air his opinion, such as his disdain for the UEFA Cup

Patrick Vieira: Arsenal's Rock in Midfield

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    LONDON - JANUARY 23: Patrick Vieira of Arsenal is tackled and fouled by Lee Bowyer of Newcastle, during the Barclays Premiership match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at Highbury on January 23, 2005 in London, England.  (Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Im
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Position: Central midfield

    Nationality: France

    Club known for: Arsenal

    Years active: 1993-present

    Close your eyes and imagine you will, an Arsenal side that is composed, hard to break down, and in possession of a mental toughness strong enough to shatter the will of any opposition. A team that couldn't be bullied off the pitch like their modern-day counterparts. For only £3.5 million, Arsene Wenger brought in a future captain that was a mainstay of the North London's Premier League dominance in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

    Enormous and imposing, Vieira nonetheless had a loping fluidity to his game, able to win possession then move the ball intelligently forward or to the flanks. The Frenchman had some truly epic battles with then Manchester United captain Roy Keane from incidents in the tunnel to all out war on the field. The great rivalry between Arsenal and Manchester United was almost evenly balanced at this time, and Vieira was right in the thick of things.   

Paul Scholes: Most Schoolboys Could Tackle Better Than Him

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 12:  Paul Scholes of Manchester United argues with referee Chris Foy during the FA Cup sponsored by E.On Sixth Round match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on March 12, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo
    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Position: Central midfielder

    Nationality: England

    Club known for: Manchester United

    Years active: 1994-present

    While Ryan Giggs continues to impress it seems that age has finally caught up with Paul Scholes, who has been a faithful servant of Manchester United for his entire career. He was the heart of Sir Alex Ferguson's dominant side that has swept all before them in the Premier League since the mid-90s. The fact that Barcelona's midfield magician Xavi rates the "wee ginger" as the best midfielder of the last 20 years speaks volumes of the no. 18's talent.

    With all the plaudits comes an asterisk however, as simply put Scholes can't tackle. He has been booked 32 times in the Champions League, more than any other player in the competition, and is the third most booked player in Premier League history. If Scholsey is coming in for a tackle, you better get out of the way or end up a crumpled heap on the ground. Arsene Wenger commented that "there's a darker side in him, sometimes, that I did not like", as time and time again Scholes would rip through Wenger's Arsenal. 

Robbie Savage: So Much More Than Just a Pair of Studs and a Ponytail

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    DERBY, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 23:  Robbie Savage of Derby County looks on during the the FA Cup Sponsored by E.on fourth round match between Derby County and Nottingham Forest at Pride Park on January 23, 2009 in Derby, England.  (Photo by Laurence Grif
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Position: Central midfield

    Nationality: Wales

    Club known for: Leicester City

    Years active: 1993-2011

    Rated as the "dirtiest player in Premier League history" in 2008, Robbie Savage was notorious for his style of play which usually involved opposition player's ankles more than the ball itself. In a career hampered by injury, Savage would often feel the need to finish tackles regardless if he was first to the ball or not. The Welshman has been booked almost 90 times in his career.

    Curiously, Savage has only been sent off twice in his career, which leads one to believe their is a cold and calculating shrewdness behind all those challenges. Now a regular pundit on BBC's match of the day and other programs, Savage's outspoken and honest opinions are a welcome entertainment. Just check out his Twitter

Roy Keane: As Fearsome to Team Mates as He Is to the Opposition

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    Position: Defensive midfielder

    Nationality: Republic of Ireland

    Club known for: Manchester United

    Years active: 1989-2006 (player) 2006-2011 (manager)

    If given the choice, Roy Keane would be no. 1 on anyone's list of players you would want to be out of the team the day you played his Manchester United side. After the departure of Eric Cantona from Old Trafford, Keane took up the captain's armband until right before his departure in November 2005 after a spat with Sir Alex Ferguson. Keane had gone on a rant about United's young arrogant players who weren't performing up to his high standards.

    There have been few harder hard-men in the history of soccer. Never afraid to criticize his own players or fans, especially regarding a poor atmosphere at Old Trafford and prawn sandwiches. After being called out for play-acting by Manchester City's Alf-Inge Håland, Keane promptly ended the Norwegian's career. He executed a brutally high revenge tackle, then calmly walked off the pitch following an expected red card. Roy Keane made no apologies for this act in his autobiography: "He f**ked me over and my attitude is an eye for an eye".  

Stefan Effenberg: Unfairly Labelled as a Giant Blonde Nazi on Many Occasions

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    1 May 2001:  Stefan Effenberg of Bayern Munich controls the midfield during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final first leg match against Real Madrid played at the Bernabeu, in Madrid, Spain. Bayern Munich won the match 1-0. \ Mandatory Credit: Stu Forster
    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Position: Central midfield

    Nationality: Germany

    Club known for: Bayern Munich

    Years active: 1987-2004

    The one man that could have matched Oliver Kahn in a staring contest on his Bayern Munich team would be none other than Effenberg. Paired with German legend Lothar Matthaus, the player Bayern fans referred to as "Big Boss" would tear into opponents who attempted to get the better of his skilled team mates. When he retired from the game he had amassed 109 yellow cards in his career, the highest in Germany at the time.

    But Effenberg was by no means a common thug, and his fearless and inspirational play led to a glut of trophies at Bayern including 3 league titles and a Champions League winner medal. He played 30 times for the German national team and was a central figure before the time of Michael Ballack. Manager Ottmar Hitzfeld claimed that "when other players are looking for a hiding place, that's when Effenberg steps forward". 

Vinnie Jones: Yes, at One Point He Was a Professional Soccer Player

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    Vinnie Jones scares the living daylights out of somebody
    Vinnie Jones scares the living daylights out of somebody

    Position: Midfield

    Nationality: Wales

    Club known for: Wimbledon

    Years active: 1984-1999

    Better known for his acting career in the Western world, Vinnie Jones won the FA Cup with Wimbledon in 1988 as one of a group of players dubbed the "Crazy Gang". Jones was sent off 12 times in his career, and holds the record for fastest booking at three seconds. His below-the-belt squeeze on Pail Gascoigne is an iconic image of a dirty player who would stop at nothing to put his opponents off their game.

    In 1992 Jones released "Soccer's Hard Men", a video that featured footage of the player and other "hard men" as well as tips on how to play the game in their image. He was fined £20,000 and banned for 6 months for bringing the game into "disrepute". Never one to back down, Jones was vocal in defence of his playing days, claiming that "I've taken violence off the terracing and onto the pitch". 

Zinedine Zidane: The Greatest Player of the Modern Era

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    NARITA, JAPAN - JULY 27:  French football player Zinedine Zidane waves to fans as he arrives at New Tokyo International Airport, on July 27, 2004 in Narita, Japan. Real Madrid is in Japan to play friendly games with local teams as part of a pre-season tou
    Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

    Position: Central midfield

    Nationality: France

    Clubs known for: Juventus and Real Madrid

    Years active: 1988-2006

    Zidane needs no introduction, a man that was the premier Galactico amongst a constellation of talent at Real Madrid and an inspirational captain for the French national team. It seemed that the ball simply did what it was told when under the spell of Zidane, as no other player has been able to match is effortless grace, vision and technique on the field. His goal to clinch the 2002 Champions league final is one of the finest displays of skill ever seen in the game.

    Zidane has won an astounding 15 medals at club level, and a further 2 with France after he led them to the 1998 World Cup and subsequent 2000 European Championship. He was not a player that would shy from a tackle either and his talent was coupled with a ruthless streak that landed him in hot water on several occasions, winning the Golden Ball as player of the tournament in the 2006 World Cup despite being sent off in the final. 

Pierluigi Collina: Who Would Ever Want to Be a Referee?

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    LISBON, PORTUGAL - JUNE 4:  Referee Pierluigi Collina watches the 2006 World Cup, Group 3 qualification match between Portugal and Slovakia at the Estadio da Luz on June 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Position: Referee

    Nationality: Italy

    Club known for: N/A

    Years active: 1988-2005

    What does it mean to be regarded as the greatest referee of all time? Consistency, an eye for detail, as well as one of the scariest faces in soccer. In 2005 the Italian Referees Association attempted to overturn Collina's attempt at resignation, they wanted him that badly. Many professional players would actively pursue to have Collina officiate matches, as he was known to be the fairest man in the game.

    He earned the hatred of Juventus official Luciano Moggi during the 2006 Italian Football Scandal which saw Juventus and AC Milan relegated to Serie B. Moggi was caught on tape attempted to persuade Collina to make calls that favored his Juventus team, but the man in black had none of it. Moggi called Collina "too objective" which in itself striking praise for a man that gave officiating a good name.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Love Him or Hate Him You Certainly Can't Ignore Him

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    VALENCIA, BARCELONA - APRIL 20: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring during the Copa del Rey final match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on April 20, 2011 in Valencia, Spain. Real Madrid 1-0.  (Photo by Manuel Qu
    Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

    Position: Forward/winger

    Nationality: Portugal

    Clubs known for: Manchester United and Real Madrid

    Years active: 2001-present

    Ronaldo was derided as a show-pony that will never amount to much when signed by Sir Alex Ferguson by United in 2003. His terrible haircut and play-acting earned him ridicule by both opposition fans and United faithful alike, but Ronaldo would go on to become one of the most potent players the Premier League had ever seen. A return of 42 goals in the 2007/08 season was a ridiculous tally that saw United force their way past all who stood in their way.

    The Portuguese player has been successful not just because of his skills and trickery but also because of his sheer size and power. When told by Ferguson to work on his aerial game Ronaldo became one of the most lethal headers of the ball in the Premier League, both scoring goals and clearing the lines when forced back into defensive duty. Ronaldo strikes genuine fear into the hearts of his opponents with his pace, strength and bag of tricks, and he isn't even at his peak yet. 

Zvonimir Boban: Don't Mess with the Sideburns

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    3 Sep 1995:  Portrait of Zvonimir Boban of Croatia during a European Championship qualifying match against Estonia in Croatia. Croatia won the match 7-1. \ Mandatory Credit: Ben  Radford/Allsport
    Ben Radford/Getty Images

    Position: Midfield

    Nationality: Yugoslavia/Croatia

    Clubs known for: Dinamo Zagreb and AC Milan

    Years active: 1985-2002

    Being a footballer in the former Yugoslavia usually meant that politics always seemed to creep onto the pitch no matter what. In 1990 Zagreb played fierce rivals Red Star Belgrade and the game was interrupted by a charge of police forces to break up fan unrest. Upon seeing a Dinamo supporter being set upon by a the police, Boban ran to his aid and attacked the officer. This image later became a symbol of the uprising against a 70-year Serb domination of Yugoslavia.

    Boban was influential in the heart of AC Milan's midfield, winning 5 Serie A titles as well as the 1994 Champions League. He captained Croatia to third place at the 1998 World Cup, even though it was his mistake which let France score and eventually consign Boban's team to play for third. Interestingly, his country never lost a match in which Boban scored.  

Alan Shearer: The Most Boring Goal Celebration in Soccer

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    STOKE, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 11:  Alan Shearer interim manager of Newcastle United looks thoughtful prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Newcastle United at the Britannia Stadium on April 11, 2009 in Stoke, England.  (Photo b
    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: England

    Clubs known for: Blackburn and Newcastle

    Years active: 1988-2006 (player) 2009 (manager)

    There is probably no greater love in the game than that of Newcastle fans' adoration of Shearer. The quintessential English forward, Shearer was impossible to shift off the ball, dominant in the air and was one of the most accurate finishers in soccer. 49 of his 206 goals for Newcastle were scored with his head, and he amassed 59 yellow and 2 red cards in his career.

    He had a cool head on those broad shoulders, as his composed reaction to Roy Keane's hysterics shows. Not one to take annoying fans lightly, Shearer was single-minded in his pursuit of goals and trophies. In the 1994/95 season dovetailed with fellow forward Chris Sutton at Blackburn, leading them to the Premier League title, the first instance of a team winning that wasn't Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea. You'd think that after scoring so many goals he could have improved upon his very one-dimensional goal celebration. I guess not.

Didier Drogba: In the Twighlight but Still Better Than Fernando Torres

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    MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 12:  Didier Drogba of Chelsea scores his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on April 12, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo
    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: Côte d'Ivoire

    Club known for: Chelsea

    Years active: 1998-present

    When Chelsea paid £24 million for a 26 year-old from Marseille whose fans adore him after playing there for only one season, there was uncertainty over such an unknown name commanding such a large transfer fee. At his best, Drogba personifies the perfect striker. Enormous, quick, a deft first touch and enough power in either boot to rip the net off the goal posts. Drogba's goals and attacking threat has been one of the main reasons that Chelsea have been able to succeed to the extent they have under Roman Abramovich, despite the Russian owners attempts to replace him with first Andrei Shevchenko and now Fernando Torres.

    The only thing that Drogba lacks is a cool head on his shoulders, as evidenced by his outburst against a Champions League referee Tom Henning Øvrebø following Chelsea's elimination at the hands of Barcelona. Unfortunately, while he is one of the biggest, strongest players in the Premier League he is notorious for his diving and play-acting, feigning injury at a challenge that wouldn't harm a butterfly. 

Duncan Ferguson: An Absolute Nutter

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    VILLARREAL, SPAIN- AUGUST 24 : Duncan Ferguson of Everton celebrates a goal before it is disallowed during the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, second leg match between Villarreal and Everton at Madrigal Stadium on August 24, 2005 in Villarre
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: Scotland

    Clubs known for: Rangers and Everton

    Years active: 1990-2006

    Duncan Ferguson was an absolute handful as a center forward. Standing 6t 4in and built like a bull he was an absolute battering ram who favoured his forehead as a main weapon. The Scotsman was on the recieving end of 9 red cards during his career which was brought short due to persistent injuries. In 1994 he served a 3-month jail sentence for head-butting Raith Rover's John McStay in the Scottish Premier League.

    While leading the line for Everton against Wigan Ferguson was shown straight-red for punching Paul Scharner in the stomach. The Austrian had sworn at the Scot in his native tongue and received a hit for his troubles, which Scharner later described as a "nice punch". Ferguson was banned for seven matches. In 2001 two burglars attempted to rob Everton's no. 9, and while one got away cleanly Ferguson caught the other who had to spend 3 days in hospital after being "detained" by the striker.

Eric Cantona: The Man, the Legend, the King

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    12 Dec 1995:  Eric Cantona of Manchester United is surrounded by the fans after an FA Carling Premiership match against Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. \ Mandatory Credit: Ross  Kinnaird/Allsport
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Position: Forward

    Nationality: France

    Club known for: Manchester United

    Years active: 1983-1997

    There are few players who are more notorious and genuinely well loved than Eric Cantona. Even those who hate Manchester United with a passion have a soft-spot for the former captain who set the Premier League alight with his fiery talent and arrogance, before retiring out of the blue well before his time. In 2001 he was voted Manchester United's "Player of the Century" for his service to the club in scoring 64 goals in just 144 games.

    His karate kick against a Crystal Palace fan (who probably deserved it) earned him a 4-month suspension and 120 hours of community service. His legendary post-match press conference left reporters scratching their heads as he said: ""When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much" before getting up and leaving. He retired in 1997, claiming that he no longer possessed the passion for the game that he once did.

Ferenc Puskás: A Goalscorer Without Equal

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    Position: Striker

    Nationality: Hungary

    Club known for: Real Madrid and Hungarian national team

    Years active: 1943-1966

    When you score 514 goals in 529 games during your club career, as well as 84 in 85 international matches, safe to say you're one of the greatest goalscorers in the history of soccer. Puskás partnered Argentinian legend Alfredo di Stefano in attack at Real Madrid, having joined the club at the ripe age of 31. Their 7-3 hammering of Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 European Cup final saw Puskás net 4 goals to di Stefano's 3.

    Puskás was the foundation of the "Mighty Magyars", a Hungarian national team that played 32 consecutive games unbeaten, becoming Olympic champions in 1952 but losing out to West Germany in the 1954 World Cup. In the modern game it is ridiculous to imagine a top-flight player scoring the amount of goals that the striker managed, yet the record of Puskás is there for all to see.

Jan Koller: He's Really Big

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    DUBLIN, IRELAND - OCTOBER 11:  Jan Koller of Czech Republic celebrates scoring the equalising goal with Tomas Rosicky during the Euro2008 Qualifier between Republic of Ireland and Czech Republic at Lansdowne Road on October 11, 2006 in Dublin, Ireland.  (
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: Czech Republic

    Club known for: Borussia Dortmund

    Years active: 1994-present

    Jan Koller stands 6ft 7.5in and is one of the biggest men in the modern game. He is the all-time leading goalscorer for the Czech Republic with 55 goals, but has since retired from international soccer. Koller was prolific during his time in Germany, scoring 59 goals in 138 appearances for Dortmund. But none of that is why he's on this list. Koller is an absolute giant, and that's about it.

    In the 2002/03 season, after Jens Lehmann had been sent off Koller took up the goalie gloves and played keeper for the remainder of a game against Bayern Munich. He ended up keeping a clean sheet despite facing more than a few shots from Michael Ballack.

João Vieira Pinto: Cause for Controversy at the World Cup

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    7 Oct 2000:  Joao Pinto of Portugal breezes past Mark Kinsella of Republic of Ireland during the World Cup 2002 Group 2 Qualifying match played at the Stadium of Light, in Lisbon, Portugal. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. \ Photo taken by Nuno Correia \ Ma
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: Portugal

    Clubs known for: Benfica and Sporting CP

    Years active: 1988-2008

    Pinto was a handy goalscorer in his native Portugal, his speed and ball control led him to be praised as "The Golden Boy" of Benfica. While his prowess in scoring is what he'll likely be remembered for, Pinto was notorious for his poor tackling and aggression. He had an ongoing feud with Porto's Paulinho Santos, which led to several scuffles when the two linked up for international duty.

    At the 2002 World Cup, Portugal faced off against the Republic of Korea. Pinto let his anger get the better of him and during a particularly nasty period of play the striker flew into the back of Park Ji Sung, earning himself a red card. He allegiant struck out at referee Ángel Sánchez and was banned from international soccer for 4 months.

John Fashanu: Leading the Crazy Gang from the Front

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: England

    Club known for: Wimbledon

    Years active: 1978-1995

    The Nigerian-born striker is Wimbledon's second all-time leading goalscorer with 126 goals. He was an aggressive and bullish striker, something that was indeed a requirement to play in a more physical era but taken to another level by Fashanu. As a part of the "Crazy Gang" that beat Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup, the striker was the club's top scorer on several occasions.

    While his career was never one that hit the heights of the household names, Fashanu will be remembered for all the wrong reasons after his challenge with Spurs defender Gary Mabutt left the defender with a broken skill and eye socket.

Lionel Messi: He's Still Only 23 Years Old

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 05:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona reacts during the la Liga match between Barcelona and Real Zaragoza at the Camp Nou stadium on March 5, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    Position: Forward

    Nationality: Argentina

    Club known for: Barcelona

    Years active: 2005-present

    While Cristiano Ronaldo tries as hard as possible to remain the center of attention, Messi has been quietly going about being the best player in the world in the best team in the world. He required growth-hormones as a kid as his tiny stature was a cause for concern but it hasn't stopped the forward from lighting up European competition with his unbelievable array of talent. Messi has scored 50 goals in 49 appearances in the 2010/11 season, and it isn't even finished yet.

    Take your pick of Messi moments. His 4-goal salvo against Arsenal in last season's Champions League stands out in recent memory. His goal against Getafe was almost a carbon-copy of Maradona's against England, dribbling through an entire team to score. No big deal. He has rarely suffered from extended injury problems in his short career so far, meaning opposition defenders have had little respite when facing Barcelona. Yet to shine on the national stage due to the lack of a "Messi-centric" game plan, surely its only a matter of time before he takes a World Cup by the scruff of the neck.

    When asked about being the best player in the world, Ronaldinho commented that he wasn't even the best player at Barcelona, and Messi hadn't even broken into the first team yet.

Thierry Henry: No Mercy to Opponents of Mighty Arsenal

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    LONDON - NOVEMBER 01:  Thierry Henry of Arsenal prepares to take a corner during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Arsenal and CSKA Moscow at The Emirates Stadium on November 1, 2006 in London, England.  (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: France

    Club known for: Arsenal

    Years active: 1994-present

    During his peak at Arsenal, it was almost unfair to other teams that had to play against the North London side. Able to use either foot equally well, and possessing a turn of speed that would leave anyone in his dust, Henry took the Premier League by storm after initially struggling to adapt to English soccer. The striker's trademark was speeding along the left-flank before cutting inside and side-footing into the far right corner. Henry hit over 20 goals in 5 separate seasons for Arsenal.

    What was it about Henry that set him apart from other strikers? Yes he was fast but it seemed that Henry would try things that others wouldn't imagine possible. A flick and feint one way before dashing off another could cut defences apart while the striker was equally adept at smashing or caressing a shot into the back of the net. His blatant handball against the Republic of Ireland in qualification for the 2010 World Cup was a necessary evil in dragging France to the competition although the made sure to be home on the next flight back after a dismal campaign. 

Wayne Rooney: Wazza Cannot Be Stopped

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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

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: England

    Club known for: Manchester United and England national team

    Years active: 2002-present

    In 2002 a teenager from Liverpool came out of nowhere to smash an unstoppable drive past David Seaman that gave Everton a much-needed win against Arsenal. Wayne Rooney had officially arrived in the Premier League. Fast forward today and he's netted 101 times for Manchester United in 212 appearances. Possessing an unfair amount of natural talent, Rooney's early years were marked with a seemingly limitless appetite for the game as his youthful exuberance lifted both Manchester Untied and the English national team by their ears.

    Wild an unpredictable, he posses an edge to him that has overflown into madness on the pitch. At Euro 2004 he was goaded into lashing out at Ricardo Carvalho, stamping the Portuguese defender in the crotch. He was sent off and England's hopes in the tournament faded with his exit. Earlier this season he felt the need to give the camera a piece of his mind after a victory over West Ham. In a largely disappointing season for the striker, he has lost none of his passion. 

Paolo Di Canio: Madness and Brilliance Rolled into One

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    LONDON - SEPTEMBER 28:  Paolo Di Canio of Charlton Athletic looks on from the substitutes bench during the FA Barclaycard Premiership match between Charlton Athletic and Liverpool held on September 28, 2003 at The Valley, in London. Charlton Athletic won
    Christopher Lee/Getty Images

    Position: Striker

    Nationality: Italy

    Clubs known for: West Ham and Lazio

    Years active: 1985-2008

    In an extraordinarily long career spanning Italy, England and Scotland, Paolo Di Canio has been a goal-scorer and fire-starter wherever he has played. The self-proclaimed "fascista" has always held Mussolini in high regard and has gotten in trouble on numerous occasions for giving a fascist salute to fans. He was as hard as he was talented, famously flattening referee Paul Alcock after being sent off.

    While he will be remembered for being a play of questionable moral character, he holds the privilege of scoring one of the most beautiful goals in the history of the Premier League. Honing in on a cross from the right-flank, Di Canio jumped to scissor-kick in a spectacular volley for West Ham against Wimbledon. He even intentionality stopped a game after an injury to an opposition goalkeeper in a sporting gesture which he was subsequently recognized by the Premier League for.


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