Gerrard, Keane, Scholes, Rooney: The Premier League's 25 dirtiest ever players ranked

  • Kobe Tong

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The Premier League is world famous for its physical brand of football where nothing short of getting down and dirty is good enough to survive.

With England’s top-flight having produced some of the dirtiest footballers this side of 1992, then you can’t be shocked at the sight of a massive tackle if you’re going to come good when things get hot and heavy.

Premier League hard men

Besides, the sight of two blokes going at it is common place in the Premier League whether the hard men are going in with their head, shooting from the hip or simply giving tongue to the referee.

However, if you’re going in hard without fully thinking through the consequences, then you’re making a rod for your own back and inevitably have to face down the consequences that might come your way.

And the very dirtiest of Premier League footballers have more than a few yellow and red cards to their name, which goes to show that having a large bodycount of players can be a risky business.

“Arsenal don’t miss Aubameyang at all!” (Football Terrace)

Amassing yellow and red cards

Either through eagle-eyed officials or the cameras of VAR, the nuts and bolts of England’s premier division is geared towards ensuring that any hint of dirtiness falling on the wrong side of unsafe is duly punished.

As such, the players whose numbers feature most often in the wallets of referees are almost certainly those who rank amongst the dirtiest footballers in Premier League history.

In fact, to put the conversation to bed, we’ve used Transfermarkt data to rank the 25 players who have notched the most yellow and red cards since the competition came to the fore back in 1992.

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Dirtiest Premier League players in history

With yellow cards registering one point, a pair of bookings warranting two and a dismissal posting three, their system allows us to expose those who have merely paid lip service to the competition’s decorum.

So, strap yourselves in as we rank off the 25 members of the Premier League’s most-penalised club of players where how much you get off on nailing the opposition is the only yardstick.

=25. Luis Boa Morte – 84

=25. Pablo Zabaleta – 84


=22. Steven Gerrard – 85

=22. Cesc Fabregas – 85

=22. Phil Bardsley – 85

21. Alan Smith – 86

20. Dennis Wise – 87


=18. Frank Sinclair – 88

=18. Phil Neville – 88

17. Robbie Savage – 90

16. John Terry – 92

15. Mark Noble – 99


14. Nicky Butt – 101

=12. Roy Keane – 102

=12. Kevin Nolan – 102

=10. George Boateng – 104

=10. Joey Barton – 104


9. Richard Dunne – 106

8. Patrick Vieira – 107

7. Kevin Davies – 108

6. Scott Parker – 110

5. Paul Scholes – 111


4. Wayne Rooney – 113

3. Lee Cattermole – 114

2. Lee Bowyer – 119

1. Gareth Barry – 139


Play dirty, but play safe

When it comes to red cards, you really do make a bed for yourself – and you jolly well have to lie in it.

The simple fact of the matter is that blowing your load without due care and consideration too often leads to watching a romping from the sidelines and not scoring big to wipe out a clean sheet.

So, the next time you channel your inner Vieira or Keane by going in all guns blazing and showing off your manhood, remember that you might not get the happy ending that you hoped for.


In that case, the best you can wish for is simply seeing white stuff spraying… on to the pitch… from the referee’s foam can… for a free-kick. Obviously. Come on, grow up.

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