Football. The world’s favourite game. A game of skill, flair and dazzling talent. A game that reduces grown men to tears. A game of passion. A game of drama. The Beautiful Game…
But, every now and then, the beauty of football takes a backseat and in its stead arises the mentally deranged lunatic. The crazed psychopath. The hard-as-nails nutjob. The loco wrong’un. The sort for whom a nine-match suspension for elbowing a fellow professional in the ear will be treasured as dearly as a Ballon d’Or.
Football has always been littered with them. Gennaro Gattuso, Vinnie Jones, Roy Keane, Graeme Souness, Paolo Montero, Stuart Pearce, Julian Dicks and Billy Bremner to name but a few. They are unglamorous, uncelebrated players. But not this day.
Today we doff our collective caps to players who, for one reason or another, aren’t quite right in the head.
5) Mario Balotelli
It’s probably best to let Super Mario’s list of crimes and eccentricities speak for themselves.
- Car impounded 27 times while at Manchester City
- In training ground fights with Kompany, Tevez, Boateng and Richards while at City
- Was arrested while ambling the grounds of a women’s prison because he ‘wanted to have a look around’
- Went on live TV wearing a Milan shirt with his name printed on the back while playing for Inter
- ‘Why always me?’
- Caused £400,000 worth of damage to a rented house after setting fireworks off in the bathroom
- Paid a total of £300,000 in club fines while at Manchester City
- Threw darts at a youth player from a third story window while at Manchester City
Oh Mario… You really are the maker of your own misfortune.
4) Pepe/Sergio Ramos
Real Madrid’s bad cop/bad cop defensive combo. They’re the niggly, cheating hot-heads you’d hate to play against and would love to have on your side when the going gets tough.
They remind you of a pair of provincial nightclub bouncers with an inferiority complex and a proclivity for beating up those who can’t defend themselves. A pair of ugly schoolyard bullies who pinched your lunch money. The ruffians from the ‘round the block with whom your mum never allowed you to play after they ‘gave Billy from next door a good kicking’.
Pepe’s an uncomplicated character. A dirty cheat and a thug. The sort who’d push a man to the ground, kick him while he’s down (twice), knee him in the back and then punch someone who comes to the stricken man’s aid.
Meanwhile, Sergio Ramos is on a one man crusade to receive the most red cards in football history. At the age of 30 he’s on a stunning 21. Godspeed Sergio. Godspeed.
3) Joey Barton
No definitive list of the crazed footballer would be complete without Joey Barton getting a mention. A serial tweeter of the quotes of Nietzsche, Orwell, Brunel and Morrisey. A Philosophy student and guest star on BBC politics show Question Time… And a violent maniac.
He once beat the sh*t out of fellow Manchester City player Ousmane Dabo, left him unconscious and received a six-game ban, a criminal charge of assault and a suspended prison sentence. Then there was the time he was caught on CCTV throwing 20 punches, leaving a second man unconscious and breaking the teeth of another, resulting in a six-month spell in prison. And who can forget the time he lost his marbles on the final day of the 11/12 season, received a 12-game ban and fines of more than £500,000?
Other offences include assaulting a 15-year-old, stubbing a lit cigar in the eye of a youth prospect and an on-pitch punch on Morten Gamst Pedersen. It’s a deserved place for Barton on our list of nutters.
2) Luis Suarez
He was banned for seven games for biting whilst at Ajax, banned for 10 games for biting while at Liverpool, banned for 12 games for racially abusing Patrice Evra and banned from all things football for four months after a third biting incident at the World Cup in 2014.
Suarez’s oral fixation has led to him earning the nickname Cannibal in Holland, Barcelona insisting on a ‘no biting’ clause in his contract’ and international calls for the Uruguayan to wear a muzzle while playing.
Has he simply developed a taste for man-flesh? Is he a vampire? Or is he still suffering from the symptoms of childhood teething. Given the size of the poor fella’s gnashers, the latter is a distinct possibility.
1) Duncan Ferguson
This list is supposed to be limited to crazy current footballers. The fact that Ferguson is 10 years retired makes no difference. He is still the toughest footballer in the world.
Depending on where you are in the world, you may never have heard of Duncan Ferguson, aka Big Dunc, aka Duncan Disorderly.
But rest assured, he is harder than any man you’ve ever met. In fact, the only reason he is on this list is because my life could well be danger if he doesn’t get a mention… Staring this man in the eye is enough to induce a psychological breakdown in even the most stable of beings.
You think Barton is hard? Ha! Duncan Ferguson. You think Pepe can handle himself? Ha! Duncan Ferguson. You think Conor McGregor is dangerous? HAHAHA! Duncan Ferguson.
He received only nine red cards in his career. But don’t let that convince you that Duncan Ferguson is anything other than the scariest footballer ever. The 6ft4 Scottish brute served served months in jail for an on-pitch head-butt in 1994 and yet didn’t even receive a yellow card for the incident. Why? Would you be brave enough to send off this man?
Here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few of Big Dunc’s nutty outbursts.