Below Football FanCast brings you all the violence, tantrums and protests that makes this list the top ten most controversial moments in Premier League history.
10. Dyer/Bowyer bust-up- 2.4.05
Midfield duo Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer were both sent off after exchanging punches with one another, amazingly both playing for the same team. The dozy pair had a bust-up after Newcastle conceded the third goal in a 3-0 home defeat to Aston Villa in 2005.
Bowyer was fined six weeks wages and banned for seven games over the incident after admitting he had sparked the brawl after Dyer had refused to pass to him earlier in the game.
9. Fergie’s flying boot- 16.2.03
Sir Alex Ferguson launched into one of his infamous tirades after being knocked out of the FA Cup courtesy of a 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal in 2003. Fergie then kicked a discarded boot in anger, unfortunately catching England superstar David Beckham above his left eye.
Beckham made little attempt to hide the scar on his way to training two days later, however Fergie dismissed the incident, claiming it was a ‘freak’ accident:
“If I’d tried it 100 times or a million times, it wouldn’t happen again. If it did, I would carry on playing.”
8. Diouf’s spitting shenanigans- 27.11.04
Senegalese international El Hadji Diouf failed to learn from his past mistakes after pleading guilty to spitting in the face of Portsmouth defender Arjan de Zeeuw in 2004. Diouf, previously found guilty for a similar incident involving a Celtic fan while playing for Liverpool, was banned for three games and ordered by manager Sam Allardyce to see a sports psychologist.
The attacker later apologised for the incident, saying:
“My behaviour showed a lack of moral responsibility to the public who support me and I’m deeply sorry.”
7. Gallas’ sit-down protest- 23.2.08
After French youngster Gael Clichy conceded an injury-time penalty which was converted by James McFadden for Birmingham in February 2008, Arsenal captain William Gallas sat down at the other end of the pitch, refusing to move.
The resulting goal cost Arsenal a win and left them six points off the top of the table. The former Chelsea player remained on the pitch long after all his team-mates had headed to the dressing room. and was heavily criticised for his actions after the game. He was finally coaxed off the pitch by his manager Arsene Wenger. Not the actions you would normally associate with an Arsenal captain.
6. Robbie Fowler’s white line celebration- 3.4.99
Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler caused outrage with his goal celebration in 1999 after equalising from the penalty spot against rivals Everton. Falsely accused by Everton fans of drug use, forward Fowler knelt down and used the white line of the penalty area to pretend to sniff cocaine.
Despite manager Gerard Houllier claiming it was an African grass-eating celebration he learnt from team-mate Rigobert Song, the ‘Toxteth Terror’ received a four-match ban for the incident.
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5. ‘Pizzagate’- 24.10.04
After Manchester United ended Arsenal’s 49 game unbeaten record at Old Trafford in 2004 Gunners boss Arsene Wenger allegedly called Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy a ‘cheat’ in the tunnel after the game.
The forward then went into the home dressing room explaining to his furious manger what Wenger had said. The two men reportedly squared up to each other at which point an Arsenal player flung a pizza at Ferguson which hit him straight on the head.
Ashley Cole wrote in his autobiography: ‘This slice of pizza came flying over my head and hit Fergie straight in the mush.”
4. Adebayor’s wild celebration- 12.9.09
Manchester City forward Emmanuel Adebayor nearly caused a full-scale riot after running the full length of the pitch to celebrate his goal against former club Arsenal in front of the away fans.
The former Togo international was playing against Arsenal for the first time since his £25m move in 2009 and was eventually fined and given a suspended two-game ban for his over exuberance.
3. Di Canio’s Push- 26.9.98
Italian ace Paolo Di Canio was given a whopping 11-game ban in 1998 after shoving referee Paul Alcock to the ground after being sent off while playing for Sheffield Wednesday against Arsenal.
Di Canio went on to further success at West Ham and Lazio while Alcock is currently the manager of a shopping centre in Maidstone after retiring in 2002.
2. Keane’s tackle on Haaland- 21.4.01
Roy Keane entered the first Old Trafford derby of the new millennium intent on settling a four-year old score with Norwegian defender Alf-Inge Haaland. With five minutes of the game left, Keane viciously planted his studs on Haaland’s right knee-cap
Keane admitted later in his autobiography that the tackle was a pre-meditated attack after the Irishman seriously damaged knee ligaments fouling the Norwegian at Elland Road in 1997. Haaland had not believed at the time that Keane was injured. Haaland believes the tackle ended his career as he never again played another full 90 minutes of professional football.
1. Eric Cantona’s kung-fu kick- 25.1.95
After being sent off for Manchester United at Crystal Palace in January 1995, French maverick Eric Cantona delivered a kung-fu kick to an away fan in the stands that had used threatening language towards him.
Cantona was suspended by his club for the rest of the season and was sentenced to 120 hours community service. The Frenchman does not regret the incident however and in 2007 said,
“I have a lot of good moments, but the one I prefer is when I kicked the hooligan.”