Soccer: Javier Hernandez and the 15 Most Awkward, Yet Successful Players Ever

Saqib Ahmed DadabhoyCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2011

Soccer: Javier Hernandez and the 15 Most Awkward, Yet Successful Players Ever

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    When 22-year-old Javier Hernandez joined Manchester United in the summer of 2010, fans quickly learned of his natural goal-scoring knack for "being at the right place at the right time."

    Though he did not fail to impress on that front, it became increasingly clear as the season wore on that it really was all "Chicharito" could do. Besides his poaching abilities, the young Mexican seemed really average at pretty much everything else on the field.

    On the flip-side, though, a strikers main duty is to score goals. And with an impressive tally of 15 in a league-winning season, Chicharito has proved to be an effective buy, despite his glaring weaknesses. 

    The following slides will list a number of players who, despite either their average abilities or personal problems, somehow forged a successful career.

Ray Parlour

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    Ray Parlour may currently be plying his trade as a TV presenter, but he will always be remembered as an Arsenal legend by those that watched football more than a decade ago.

    The iconic midfielder makes the list as he was never known as an "outstanding" player that individually changed games. He wasn't overly gifted with natural ability or talent, nor did he look particularly "pretty" on the ball.

    What he was noted for, however, was his hardworking ethos, one that eventually paid off as he lifted a succession of trophies during his time with The Gunners.

    Ray Parlour's example of seeming extremely average, yet somehow experiencing the sort of career that he did, grants him a spot on our list.

Emile Heskey

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    Despite his age (33), Emile Heskey is still going strong in the English Premier League, having plied his trade with Aston Villa for the last two years.

    And though his contribution, and general footballing ability, is continually questioned by fans and analysts alike, the imposing Englishman boasts a pretty impressive trophy collection.

    Still, the fact that he is a striker that has managed to only rack up 38 goals in more than 200 appearances over the last three seasons makes him an awkward "top flight" striker.

    What's even more mind-boggling for English fans is his continued national selection.

    In all, Emile Heskey is a shoo-in candidate for this sort of list.

Nikola Zigic

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    Nikola Zigic stands half an inch taller than Peter Crouch, making him the tallest player to grace the English Premier League.

    Zigic recently came into the limelight with his 2010 transfer to relegation-battlers Birmingham City, but it wasn't just his height which garnered him the sort of attention that he received.

    Striking similarities to Peter Crouch meant the Serbian forward had to contend with descriptions such as "uncoordinated" and "lanky."

    Still, his Carling Cup winners medal in 2011 gets him on the list of awkward (yet successful) footballers.

Marouane Chamakh

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    Marouane Chamakh's case is truly a mind-boggling one.

    The imposing Moroccan attacker can hold up play, pass the ball and even pick out a run fairly well for a forward. However, Chamakh seems to struggle when it comes to doing the one essential thing a striker is paid to do—score goals.

    Despite his dismal career-long goal scoring record, Chamakh was a fan favourite at his former club Bordeaux, where he helped them win numerous titles by way of hard on-field work ethic. 

    Still, his frustrating tendency of being unable to score a goal, despite being a striker, grants him a spot on our list of awkward yet successful footballers. 

Javier Hernández AKA Chicharito

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    When 22-year-old Javier Hernandez joined Manchester United in the summer of 2010, fans quickly learned of his natural goal-scoring knack for "being at the right place at the right time."

    And though he did not fail to impress on that front, it became increasingly clear as the season wore on that it really was all "Chicharito" could do. Besides his poaching abilities, the young Mexican seemed really average at pretty much everything else on the field.

    On the flip-side though, a strikers main duty is to score goals. With an impressive tally of 15 in a league-winning season, Chicharito has proved to be an effective buy, despite his glaring weaknesses. 

Andrei Arshavin

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    Unlike other inductees on this list, Andrei Arshavin can be described as a successful, yet "awkward", player for several reasons.

    The diminutive Russian captain seems to put in an impressive shift every time he dons the national team shirt, yet completely goes missing while playing for Arsenal.

    He's also one of the few players that can play admirably and horribly in the same game, as he seems to spontaneously come alive and then go missing in key matches.

    His recent form following his impressive arrival on English soil also makes him that "awkward" player on the pitch, one that seems uninterested at the wrong times.

    However, his winners medal collection with former club Zenit St. Petersburg means he's one of those "awkward" players that are deemed to have had a successful career.

Jaap Staam

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    Jaap Stam will be remembered as an "awkward" footballer, but not because of his ability on the field.

    It's his whole career, one filled with premature exits, which really makes his case one of a kind.

    In truth, he was a well accomplished centre-half. The problem really was his inability to recover from his achilles injury and subsequent surgery.

    The one time most expensive defender in the world went from being an automatic starter to a player who was too "slow" to cut it in the Premiership.

    Perhaps what makes Stam's case even more awkward is the fact that he continued to perform at the highest levels following his infamous departure from Manchester, where he was, admittedly incorrectly, deemed persona non grata by Sir Alex Ferguson.

    It was a move the manager has since regretted, as Stam continued a career filled with ongoing success.

Nwankwo Kanu

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    Despite playing for a handful of clubs during his illustrious career, Nwankwo Kanu will always be more fondly remembered by Arsenal supporters than, say, Portsmouth ones.

    The Nigerian captain is one of those extremely tall, yet technically gifted footballers that scored more with his feet than his head.

    It was his speed and creativity which caught the eye of many supporters and helped Arsenal to numerous titles and trophies. 

    Still, Nwankwo Kanu's overall demeanour means he's a shoo-in for this list.

Sergio Busquets

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    Sergio Busquets is currently that Barcelona player everyone just loves to hate.

    Whether it's because of his on-field acting antics, or his apparent inferiority to those world-class players surrounding him is yet to be seen.

    What is certain to most fans, though, is that Busquets is a cut below most other Barcelona players, as he seems to be extremely average.

    Unlike fellow slideshow inductee Ray Parlour, however, the tall Spaniard doesn't seem to be as interested when it comes to "hustling" for the team. Simply put, he doesn't even have the work-rate or ethic to make him stand out.

    The reality of the situation is, however, that at the tender age of just 23, Sergio Busquets has been able to establish himself in a hugely successful Barcelona midfield.

    This, combined with his perceived limited ability on the ball makes him an awkward yet successful footballer.

Peter Crouch

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    Peter Crouch may currently play his trade at the Britannia Stadium with Stoke City FC, but he really made a name for himself during his spells with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.

    He was also freakishly tall—6 feet and 7 inches to be exact—but that didn't stop him from gaining a reputation of a technically-gifted striker that, oddly enough, scored more with his feet than his head.

    An awkward outcome for a player naturally built to be a out-and-out "target man."

    In any case, Peter Crouch successfully won both the FA Cup and Community Shield during his time at Merseyside with Liverpool.

    Essentially, his overall "uncoordinated" and lanky demeanor has granted him a spot on our list of the most awkward players.

Luca Toni

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    Luca Toni may currently be struggling on his return to the Serie A with Juventus, but he is a striker that really has very little left to prove on the world stage.

    The Italian was always seen as possessing a very unorthodox style of play. Similar to fellow list inductee Peter Crouch, he wasn't exceptionally gifted technically, nor was he overly creative.

    Simply speaking, he wasn't a conventional modern-day striker.

    His strength and power, coupled with his knack of sniffing out a chance, enabled him to establish himself as one of the Serie A's most deadly strikers of the last year.

    In all, despite his glaring weaknesses and lack of flair, Luca Toni managed a relatively successful career during his peak years with Bayern Munich, Fiorentina and Palermo. 

Paul Gascaoigne

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    Paul Gascoigne, despite possessing bags of talent, was an awkward footballer both on and off the pitch.

    His struggles with weight problems, coupled with erratic bursts of spontaneous mood swings and an unstable off-field life marked him out.

    What made him an awkward footballer on it, though, was his stocky, powerful build and his tendency to jump into tackles recklessly—a characteristic not commonly found in players, particularly midfielders, at that time.

    Perhaps most awkward, though, was his ability to mix flair with "hustle" to produce an unprecedented style of football.

Eric Cantona

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    The term "awkward" can mean different things. In Eric Cantona's case, it simply has to.

    "King Eric" wasn't awkward in the conventional sense. He had an unparalleled air of arrogance, coupled with a sense of overconfidence that truly made him stand out amongst other talented footballers of that time.

    Perhaps the thing that most typified Cantona as an "awkward" footballer was a kung-fu style kick on a Crystal Palace fan, after being sent off in an away game.

    Again, bags of talent, but highly erratic and spontaneous. Still, despite being a highly controversial figure, a glittering career with Manchester United makes him an obvious choice for this list.

Per Mertesacker

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    Per Mertesacker inclusion on this list is one that requires little explanation.

    His lack of pace, slow reaction time and perceived uncoordinated approach singles him out as an awkward player in an age where the aforementioned traits should be mandatory for any centre-half.

    Yet somehow, the giant German has managed to establish himself as part of the world's elite group of defenders, as he continually gets chosen for a national team where chances aren't easy to come by.

    Simply speaking, Per Mertesacker, despite seemingly lacking the basic traits of every defender, coupled with a lanky frame, is looked upon as an experienced centre-half with international pedigree. 

Diego Maradona

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    Diego's Maradona's inclusion on this list is another one which requires little to no explanation.

    Undoubtedly a player with immense ability and talent, Maradona goes down on our list simply because he's one of the few players to have reached both all-time lows and highs on and off the field.

    A player heralded as one of the greatest in history will unfortunately also be remembered for his infamous "Hand of God" incident vs England, and being sent home from the 1994 World Cup on drug use charges. 

    In truth, Maradona will be remembered as an awkward player mostly due to both his brilliant yet cynical approach to the game.

    Agree or disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or tweet/follow me @saqibddb