Which controversial footballers make our Bad Boy XI?
From knee-high tackles to prison terms for kidnapping, this is a group of footballers that you don't want to mess with.
Goalkeeper – Rene Higuita
Colombia legend Higuita was known as ‘El Loco’ – the madman – for his high-risk style of play that helped pioneer the ‘sweeper-keeper’ revolution.
While his nickname is obviously relevant, it isn’t his on-pitch behaviour that gets him the nod between the sticks in our Bad Boy XI.
In 1993, the curly-haired maverick was arrested on kidnapping charges after he received $64,000 for delivering ransom money to Pablo Escobar on behalf of another drug lord.
Higuita served seven months in prison before being released without charge, but was never far from trouble – he later served a six-month ban from football after testing positive for cocaine.
There is no goalkeeper more qualified than ‘El Loco’ to kick off our Bad Boy XI.
Right-back – Sergio Ramos
There are four facts which help illustrate why Ramos was a shoo-in to this team.
Firstly, he is the most carded player in the history of La Liga. Secondly, he is the most carded player in the history of the Champions League. Thirdly, he is the most carded player in the history of the Spain national team.
And, last but not least, he is a certified shithouse.
Admittedly, the Spaniard has played most of his career at centre-back, but his versatility means he lines up on the right instead.
Centre-back – John Terry
Terry’s long-standing reputation as one of football’s bad boys is unavoidable.
The list of controversies involving the former England captain is too long to print here, but charges of assault and affray, an incident of public urination and, of course, his extra-marital affairs all feature prominently.
Who better to kickstart our centre-back pairing?
Centre-back – Marco Materazzi
Most famous for his confrontation with Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final, Materazzi forged a career on getting under his opponents’ skin.
Granted, it didn’t always involve insulting their sisters, but the short-tempered, tough-tackling Italian was well-known for his underhand tactics.
Materazzi’s antics were not limited to the pitch, either – he was banned for two months in 2004 after following an opposition player into the dressing room, hurling insults at him before punching him in the face.
The best thing about it? Materazzi wasn’t even playing in the match.
Such incidents are exactly what we are looking for, so Materazzi slots in nicely as our left-sided centre-back.
Left-back – Ashley Cole
It is only fitting that Cole is the player to complete our defence. After all, he was teammates with Terry for eight years at Chelsea.
Cole is one of the best left-backs that the Premier League has ever seen, but the former Arsenal and Chelsea star will be remembered as much for his off-field antics as his footballing skill.
Much of that controversy surrounds his marriage to Cheryl, but let’s not forget the tapping-up scandal, the speeding, the drunk and disorderly, the #BUNCHOFTWATS Twitter storm.
Oh, and him shooting a work experience student at Chelsea’s training ground with a .22 calibre air rifle.
Defensive midfield – Vinnie Jones ©
Jones was the original Premier League bad boy, and for that he is the clear choice to captain this team.
A prominent member of the ‘Crazy Gang’ at Wimbledon, he was never far from a scuffle on the pitch and controversy off it.
For his role in presenting ‘Soccer’s Hard Men,’ a video in which underhand tactics and dangerous play were glorified, Jones was charged by the FA for bringing the game into disrepute. He was handed a record fine of £20,000 and a six-month ban, suspended for three years.
In response, he said: “The FA have given me a pat on the back. I’ve taken violence off the terraces and onto the pitch.”
His reputation for chaos was so widespread that he ended up forging a successful career in Hollywood, inevitably portraying criminals, villains and other bad-boy archetypes.
Right central midfield – Roy Keane
Weeks after being named captain of our legendary Six Nations XI, Keane lines up in midfield as part of this team.
Unlike many of his teammates, though, Keane’s bad boy image was cultivated solely on the pitch.
His nasty streak was most famously illustrated by his horror challenge on Alf-Inge Haaland, an act of revenge which many believe ended the Norwegian’s career prematurely.
Keane was initially handed a three-match ban and fined £5000 for the knee-high tackle but, after admitting in his autobiography a year later that he intended to hurt his opponent, a further five-match ban and £150,000 fine followed.
Keane’s comments on the incident show just why he is a crucial part of this team: “I'd waited long enough. I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there. Take that you cunt.”
Left central midfield – Joey Barton
Stubbing out a cigar in the eye of a young teammate. Fighting with a 15-year-old fan. Hospitalising a teammate in training-ground bust-up. Going to jail for six months for assault. Elbowing, headbutting and kneeing opponents on the pitch.
That’s just a small taste of Joey Barton’s long list of transgressions – he was never not going to get in this team, was he?
Attacking midfield – Eric Cantona
Cantona’s career was littered with controversy but, let’s be honest, he is in this team for one thing and one thing only: the kung-fu kick.
In January 1995, Cantona launched himself feet first at an abusive Crystal Palace fan after being shown a red card, following that up with several punches. He was banned for eight months and criminally charged with assault, serving 120 hours of community service.
Let’s not forget the iconic press conference that followed either, when the enigmatic Frenchman uttered a line that has gone down in football folklore.
“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”
Spoken like a true Bad BoyTM.
Striker – Luis Suarez
You love him or you hate him.
Suarez divides opinion more than any player in world football, making him the perfect candidate to lead our attack.
The Uruguayan first came to the attention of fans when his deliberate handball knocked Ghana out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but that was just the start.
A few months later, while playing for Ajax, he bit an opponent and was banned for seven games. Undeterred, Suarez would go on to bite two more players – once while playing for Liverpool and once for Uruguay – being banned for 19 further matches.
That is, quite simply, a record we cannot ignore. Welcome to the team, Luis.
Striker – Craig Bellamy
Lining up alongside Suarez is The Nutter with a Putter.
Bellamy, like everyone on this team, was a controversial figure throughout his career, but his crowning moment came in February 2007.
Following a bust-up with John Arne Riise ahead of a Champions League tie against Barcelona, Bellamy entered his teammates room with a golf club before aiming several swings at the Norwegian.
After apologising and accepting a fine of two weeks’ wages, Bellamy would go on to score against Barca and celebrate by mimicking a golf swing.
Such lunacy is more than enough to earn him a place in this XI.
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