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Football's bad boys: Top 10 bad boy moments

The final instalment of the football bad boys series will end with a look back on their top 10 bad boy moments. Whether its head-butts, two footed leg crunchers, team brawls or referee punches it will be covered in the concluding feature of the series.


Felipe Melo seemed to be getting his career back on track after horrendously stomping on Bayern Munich’s Dutch winger Arjen Robben while playing for Brazil.

Melo once again let his side down in January 2011 when Juventus faced Parma. Melo was challenged by Parma player Massimo Paci and the Brazilian reacted furiously and when he fell to ground, kicked Paci in the face.

The referee had the perfect view of the incident and immediately produced a red card. Juventus lost the match 4-1 with Parma midfielder Sebastian Giovinco on loan from Juve scoring two.

Melo was later shipped out to Turkish side Fenerbache on loan.

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A tense encounter in Argentina between fierce rivals Claypole and Victoriano Arenas ended with the red card being used 36 times and tempers were high from the start with players pushing and shoving.

At half-time two players had already been dismissed including one for bad behaviour during the interval which is becoming common in the English game.

With Claypole winning 2-0, the game exploded with players lunging into each other and squaring up to one another. Typical of a derby match but what happened next is not something you’ll see when Manchester United play Manchester City!

A mass brawl erupted as managers, coaches and technical staff ran onto the pitch with the fists clenched. By that time, one supporter jumped the barrier and hit a player with an elbow to the side of the face.

The manager from one of the teams begged police to lock the raging opposition’s players into the dressing rooms to prevent further violence.

Victoriano Arenas manager Domingo Sganga said “They wanted to kill me” while the opposing manager, Sergio Micielli, said the referee over-reacted to the incident in Buenos Aires. Referee Damian Rubino reported in his match review that he had sent 36 people off including players and staff. The local football association is assessing his report thinking about over-ruling his decision after saying that “it sets a dangerous precedent moving forward.”

The previous world record for the amount of red cards was in Paraguay where a referee dismissed 20 players in 1993.

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During a feisty Champions League clash between AC Milan and Tottenham, Italian midfielder Gennaro Gattuso decided to heat-butt Tottenham first-team coach Joe Jordan when tempers flared at the San Siro on Tuesday 15th February.

Gattuso and the 59 year old Scot clashed earlier in the match following a hard tackle from Matheiu Flamini on defender Vedran Corluka which left the Croatian on a stretcher. The Frenchman only received a yellow card despite the challenge being two footed.

The Milan skipper, Gattuso, was suspended for the second leg of the tie on his 450th Milan appearance after he was cautioned for a lunge on Steven Pienaar. Gattuso also confronted Peter Crouch during the game.

At the final whistle, Gattuso removed his shirt and headed straight for Jordan, hurling abuse at the coach before lashing out with his head.

He was restrained by team-mates before embracing with William Gallas and following Jordan down the tunnel. Massimiliano Allegri slammed Gattuso’s actions but thought his actions were due to receiving a hard foul which was not seen.

Harry Redknapp said that Gattuso was not wise to pick a fight with Jordan, who had previously had playing spells with Leeds and Manchester United, as his money would be on the scot.

Gattuso later apologised for his actions and received a four match ban.

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Andres Iniesta finished off Holland in the 2010 World Cup final as Spain were victorious 1-0 in South Africa and crowned world champions.

However, during the game Manchester City midfielder raised eyebrows as he slammed his studs into the chest of Real Madrid talisman Xabi Alonso.

Surprisingly Howard Webb only issued the Dutchman a yellow card. Alonso received lengthy treatment and was in visible pain throughout the game with a suspected broken rib.

Xabi Alonso said “It was one of the worst tackles I have ever suffered. That challenge was really hard. It was one of the most painful tackles in my life and it was hard to play on.”

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El Hadji Diouf has had a history of controversies many including spitting.

In a UEFA Cup game for Liverpool, Diouf spat at one Celtic fan during the 1-1 draw in Glasgow. Celtic supporters reacted angrily and the Scottish club was fined £2,300 for the conduct of their fans.

Diouf was fined two weeks wages by the Merseyside club and despite UEFA threatening to suspend the Senegalese international for four games but he received a two game ban. Diouf was fined £5,000 and Liverpool also offered to donate £60,000 to a charity of Celtic’s choice.

An incident of spitting when at West Ham early in his career wasn’t proven as police could not provide sufficient evidence but more controversy unfolded at Bolton.

Diouf was banned for three games after pleading guilty to spitting at Portsmouth’s Arjan De Zeeuw. The Trotters fined Diouf two weeks wages and sent him to a psychological councillor. After becoming a free agent, Diouf went on trial with Doncaster Rovers and became embroiled in a spitting row once again. Blackpool’s Gary Taylor-Fletcher claimed Diouf spat at goalkeeper Matt Gilks during the 3-1 win at the Keepmoat Stadium.


Roy Keane and Alf-Inge Håland’s long lasting feud is well documented from when Keane tried to tackle Håland and injured his cruciate ligament. Håland stood over Keane and accused him of trying to hurt him and was feigning injury to avoid punishment.

But in 2001, Keane got his revenge as he fouled the Norwegian Manchester City player high in his knee. Keane was sent off and the tackle for Håland ended in pre-mature retirement. Keane received a three match ban and was fined £5,000 but was further punished following statements in his autobiography.

Keane said in an explicit rant, “I waited long enough, I ******* hit him hard, the ball was there (I think). Take that you **** and don’t ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries.”

Admitting to the tackle was pre-mediated assault, the FA fined Keane £150,000 and suspended him for five games. Keane however kept it in his autobiography and responded to critics by saying “My attitude was, **** him. What goes around comes around and he just got his reward. He ****** me over and my attitude is an eye for an eye.

Håland said he still feels twinges in his knee when taking charge of his 13 year old son’s local football team in Norway.

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Ben Thatcher left little remorse after knocking Portsmouth’s Pedro Mendes into the advertisement boards with a fierce elbow.

The Manchester City defender led with his elbow as he raced towards Mendes with no intent to reach the ball. His vigorous challenge left Mendes unconscious.

The Portuguese midfielder needed oxygen on the field and suffered a seizure while on the way to hospital where he spent the night.

Dermot Gallagher only drew a yellow card but Thatcher was later banned for six games, two of which were suspended and was fined six weeks wages by Manchester City. The FA implemented a further eight game ban and a suspended fifteen game ban for future incidents.

It was the second time in three weeks that Thatcher’s elbow hospitalised an opponent, when on a pre-season tour of China his challenge caused a career threatening collapsed lung to a 20 year old Shanghai Shenhua player.

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On 25 January 1995, Eric Cantona received his marching orders for lashing out on Crystal Palace’s Richard Shaw after he pulled the Frenchman’s shirt.

When leaving the field, Cantona launched a Kung Fu kick towards Palace fan Matthew Simmons before landing a flurry of punches towards the supporter.

Cantona was arrested and convicted of assault resulting in a two week prison sentence. The decision was over-turned following an appeal and he was sentenced to 120 hours of community service.

Cantona was suspended for eight months and received a £30,000 fine. He was stripped of the France national team captaincy and claimed the fan was racist towards him and threw a missile at him prompting the attack.

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Newcastle pair Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer were both sent off in disgrace as the two brawled in the middle of the pitch against Aston Villa.

Dyer and Bowyer exchanged blows minutes after Villa had gone 3-0 up. The pair was separated by Villa goal-scorer Gareth Barry and several team-mates after Bowyer’s shirt was ripped.

Both players appeared next to Graeme Souness later in the day to apologise for their mis-conduct but did not say sorry to each other.

Bowyer received an automatic three game ban but the FA charged him £30,000 and imposed an additional three game suspension and fined him a further six weeks wages. Dyer was not fined as it was Bowyer who threw the first punch. He was also charged by Northumbria Police and was fined £600 and ordered to pay £1000.

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In extra-time of the 2006 World Cup final, living legend Zinedine Zidane shocked the football universe when he head-butted Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the chest.

In his last game before retirement with the game tied at 1-1, Zidane turned round and head-butted Marco Materazzi after Materazzi said something which offended the former Real Madrid player.

Zidane was sent off immediately and left the field without a question. France went on to lose the game 5-4 on penalties to the Italians with neither goalkeeper making a single save in the shoot-out.

It was later revealed Materazzi’s exact words which were “I prefer the w**** that is your sister.” Zidane also admitted he did not regret his actions and said he would ‘rather die’ than say sorry.

Zidane passed the World Cup trophy on his way to the dressing room and it was a saddening end to a wonderful career. Zidane is Madrid’s new sporting director at the Bernabeu and his violent head-butt takes top spot in our top 10 football bad boy moments.

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By Marcus Banks

To view our feature on football bad boy Craig Bellamy click here

To view our feature on football bad boy Joey Barton click here

To view our feature on football bad boy Carlos Tevez click here

To view our feature on football bad boy Mario Balotelli click here

To view our feature on football bad boy Luis Suarez click here

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