Football wouldn’t be football without a hardman. A no-nonsense brute of a player that isn’t so much a thug, but someone who just sums up the physical side of the game.
We’ve had plenty in the Premier League since its inception, while there have been several other high-profile ‘hot heads’ all across Europe.
But with hard men you sometimes get lunacy, which is what all five of the players below showed during their playing careers.
So without further ado, here’s FIVE of football’s most notorious hot heads…
The Italian rose to notoriety when he famously pushed over referee Paul Alcock after being shown a red card when playing for Sheffield Wednesday against Arsenal in September 1998. He was banned for 11 games and never played for Wednesday again.
He then went to West Ham where he went on to earn legendary status, but not without his famous episodes both on and off the pitch. He once wrestled with teammate Frank Lampard for the ball over an argument over who would take a penalty in a 5-4 win over Bradford. In the same game, he sat down on the pitch and refused to play on, asking the bench to be subbed, after being refused four clear penalty claims.
His managerial career took a similar turn with both Swindon and Sunderland, where he was regularly in the papers for controversial comments and scuffles with his own players.
Vinne Jones was a member of Wimbledon’s ‘Crazy Gang’ side that won the 1988 FA Cup Final against Liverpool.
The year before though, Jones was famously grabbing Paul Gascoigne’s crotch in the middle of a game, an image that has become synonymous with the type of player Jones was.
In 1992, Jones presented a show called ‘Soccer’s Hard Men,’ which resulted in the FA handing him a six-month ban for ‘bringing the game into disrepute.’
After a few more misdemeanors and brushes with the FA, Jones famously said: “The FA have given me a pat on the back. I’ve taken violence off the terracing and onto the pitch.”
The Scottish striker is arguably one of the hardest men to have ever played in the Premier League, and he wasn’t scared to show it.
Despite becoming a legend at Everton, he will also be remembered for a headbutt on Raith Rovers’ John McStay in 1994 while playing for Rangers, which was followed by a three-month stint behind bars.
He also left a man in hospital for three days after he attempted to burgle Ferguson’s house in 2001.
Towards the end of his career, and during his second spell at Everton, he was sent off for violent conduct against Wigan Athletic, which was eighth dismissal in the Premier League era. He received a seven-match ban and retired at the end of that season.
Still regarded as one of the greatest players to have ever played the game, there was also a ‘hot head’ side to Zidane that was so famously witnessed by millions of people across the world.
It was the 2006 World Cup Final between France and Italy and the stage was perfectly set for Zidane to play his last ever game before hanging up his boots for good.
The game went to extra-time with the game tied at 1-1, with Zidane putting in a brilliant final performance. But then, out of nowhere, he head-butted Italy defender Marco Materazzi in the chest and was SUBSEQUENTLY sent off.
It was later revealed that Materazzi had insulted Zidane’s sister, which is why he did what he did. Zidane late admitted: “I would rather die than apologise.”
Keane was always known as a no-nonsense midfielder throughout his career, but one incident perfectly sums up exactly the type of player, and indeed person he was.
Back in 1997, Keane suffered a cruciate ligament injury following a tackle on Leeds’ Alf-Inge Haaland. Haaland stood over Keane while he was in pain on the ground, accusing him of feigning his injury.
Four years later, with Haaland now playing for arch-rivals Manchester City, Keane sought revenge and delivered a late, knee-high challenge on the Norwegian defender.
The tackle ended the City player’s career and Keane later admitted: “I’d waited long enough. I f**king hit him hard… don’t ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries.”
Moral of the story? Don’t mess with Roy Keane.