Given the recent criticism of Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United side by former great Andrei Kanchelskis, it is worth questioning the reputation of modern-day footballers as being robotic and lacking spontaneity.
This can be applied both on and off the pitch, as teams continue to operate within increasingly tactically-disciplined systems while also living more restricted lives off the field.
Times have certainly changed, with football far less explosive and unpredictable than in previous generations. For example, hedonistic 1970’s star and Cardiff forward Robin Friday marked his penultimate game by kicking Liverpool star Mark Lawrenson in the face and stealing his kit bag.
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This type of behaviour is rare in contemporary football, but there are still a number of entertaining and controversial stars who have dominated headlines throughout their career. Here are three of our favourites:
Anyone who regularly refers to themselves in the third person usually offers good entertainment value, whether we are laughing with or at them.
Paris St. Germain and Sweden legend Ibrahimovic has certainly entertained on and off the field during his career, from his creatively titled autobiography ‘I am Zlatan’ and constantly self-congratulatory references to his brilliantly incisive put-downs.
Take his response to criticism from Norwegian forward John Carew, for example, who went to great lengths to articulate his issues with the Swede.
Zlatan was typically effortless and cutting in his response, claiming: “What Carew does with a football, I can do with an orange”. This type of comment is what separates the Swede from his peers, while he has joined a select band of greats commonly referred to by their first name.
Once touted as the apparent heir to Thierry Henry at Arsenal, Adebayor was a quick and powerful striker with a wonderful finish.
This promise quickly petered out, however, as the former Togo captain has become little more than a controversial journeyman who is more entertaining off the field than on it.
Whether demanding a pay rise while being out of the first-team, running the length of the pitch to celebrate a goal in front of your former fans, or suddenly rediscovering his goalscoring touch during contract negotiations, Adebayor courts interest like few others in the modern game. Now a virtual outcast at Tottenham, it seems just a matter of time until his next controversy.
Perhaps the only top flight player in history who has missed more than 30 competitive games through biting his opponents, Suarez is a headline-generating machine that is always great value for money.
He is also an incredibly talented forward, whose dribbling skills, strength and guile make him almost unplayable on his day. With the dark comes the light, however, and Suarez is besieged by demons that have haunted his career.
His recent indiscretions include biting both Branislav Ivanovic and Giorgio Chiellini, while his shameful engineering of a move away from Liverpool also provided captivating viewing (unless you are a dedicated Reds fan).
Since, He started seeking counselling for his unpredictable moments of madness, but the former public enemy number one of the Premier League continues to offer great value to fans.