Neil Ruddock, Neville Southall, the Brazilian Ronaldo, Jan Molby, Micky Quinn, Maradona and John Hartson were all excellent examples of what the bigger man could achieve in football. Upper body strength and not being easily knocked off the ball are traits not to be sniffed at. But the rotund footballer is something of a rarer breed in today’s era of super athletes and rigorous pre-match fitness tests. However Football FanCast has endeavoured to bring you a top ten list of current players who show, with varying degrees of success, there is still a role for the fuller figure in the game.
The former Inter Milan striker is known for his ill-discipline and party lifestyle when occasionally sojourning back in Brazil. But Adriano (above) previously told La Gazetta dello Sport, “I eat much (salad), but above all I eat little.” His new club Roma will no doubt be anxious to ensure he sticks to a strict salad diet.
Another temperamental striker plying his trade in Serie A, Cassano is known for self-indulgence. The former Roma and Real Madrid rebel who claims to have slept with over 700 women says that his appetite for sex is outweighed only by food. In his autobiography he revealed he routinely gorged on four or five pastries at night. “Sex plus food: a perfect night,” he wrote. Cassano is sporting a slimmer look these days having been instrumental in Sampdoria’s successful push for Champions League qualification last season.
For a 27-year old the Egyptian forward has had more clubs than most. His travels have allowed him to sample some of the world’s finest cuisines. He joined West Ham on a short-term loan earlier this year, armed with a token salary barely sufficient to cover the weekly shop. Despite fighting talk Mido was clearly not in peak physical condition, leaving Upton Park with no goals.
Mido’s former team-mate at West Ham, McCarthy has seen his waistband hit the headlines in the past week. The 32-year old who joined from Blackburn Rovers in January has been criticised by the shapely David Sullivan who has threatened to fine the striker if he does not shift the pounds soon. McCarthy’s body fat soared to 24.2% in May thereby wrecking his chances of representing South Africa at the World Cup. The former Porto player has said he eats well but that his body and bone structure is to blame.
McCarthy’s weight was of concern at Blackburn where he was in good company with David Dunn. The creative midfielder who once caught the eye of former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson has periodically struggled for match fitness in his career. But for Dunn looks can be deceptive: “I’ve got big legs and a big backside, so I probably look fatter in my kit than I actually am!”
The veteran defender who was once built like a rock has hit the headlines this summer for his love handles. Some Newcastle fans labelled Campbell “fat belly” after recent pictures of him in the club’s fetching training wear. The former Arsenal man called those fans “pathetic” and provided this explanation: “I am naturally a big guy, but I cannot rush my conditioning.”
The Irish, guitar playing midfielder cuts a portly figure in the red and white stripes of Sunderland. Possessor of a cultured left-foot, he has excellent crossing ability and set piece expertise. A few less pints of the black stuff may be in order but Reid capably ambles around the left flank like a man half his size.
The Chilean striker who plays for Mexican side Monterrey was loaned to Real Zaragoza for the latter half of last season. On arrival he was clearly carrying some excess baggage making him an instant target for the Spanish media and the club’s fans. Yet after a slow start the oddly shaped player scored timely goals to help the Aragon side’s quest to beat the drop.
“Feed The Beast and he will score,” is a regular chant from the Preston North End fans reserved for their well-proportioned 6ft 4in centre-forward. Parkin is a classic British style forward who proves too much to handle for some Championship defences. Responding to comments regarding his size he said, “It’s something I have to put up with – it’s just the way I am.”
A rightful contender to Parkin’s nickname is the humongous Burnley goal-keeper Brian Jensen. The great Dane is an imposing figure and the club’s longest serving player. Whilst making the odd unfortunate error in the top flight last season the keeper’s giant frame meant he was unnervingly effective at distracting strikers who were clean through on goal.