Aggression XI: Football's hard men

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In the recent history of football there have been players you would not want to come up against on a regular basis due to their ill-discipline and temperament. 

Similarly, some have been feared because of their no-nonsense approach, taking no prisoners and leading the way on the pitch.  

With that in mind, it would be hard for any team in the world to win against this XI . . .

Goalkeeper: JENS LEHMANN

Arsenal legend Jens Lehmann is one of the most fearful personalities in modern football. 

Lehmann, Germany's number one during the 2006 World Cup, has been labelled as aggressive, arrogant and downright crazy.

The 40-year-old has an atrocious disciplinary record and has often seen red for attacking opponents. 

He famously urinated during a Champions League game for Stuttgart behind an advertisement board on the pitch, and was lucky to avoid punishment as the referee did not see the incident.

Despite all the controversy, Lehmann was brilliant in goal for both Arsenal and Germany.

Right-back: SERGIO RAMOS

Sergio Ramos has been key to Real Madrid and Spain’s defence in recent years and has won many trophies that most players can only dream of. 

The 26-year-old is a threat going forward and can hold many of the best wingers of the world at bay. 

Currently, he is one of the best defenders in the world today, but he has a dark side too.

Ramos has been received many red cards and has shown his frustration on the field on numerous occasions.

Centre-back: RIO FERDINAND

In his prime, Rio Ferdinand was extremely difficult to play against. 

The England international has, at times, been sent off because of his rage and uncontrollable frustration. But the 34-year-old has scored some vital goals for Manchester United and his passion to play for the club is quite evident in his attitude. 

Ferdinand is a commanding figure in the heart of defence and because of him, United's front line can attack safe in the knowledge that their rearguard will stand strong.

Centre-back: PEPE

The 32-year-old Portuguese defender is famous for his bad temperament and is also feared by the opponents because of his unpredictable behaviour. 

Pepe has been sent off many times for stamping on other players, and his disciplinary record continues to be his biggest downfall. \

In 2009, the Real Madrid stalwart was banned for 10 matches for brutally kicking the Getafe forward Javier Casquer.

Left-back: ASHLEY COLE

The England international has been a phenomenon for both Chelsea and the national side. He has been one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League and has earned the respect of his colleagues and coaches. 

Cole has had his fair share of controversies too, highlighting his dark side. The 32-year-old has a very aggressive approach to defending that nullifies the attacking threat of his opponents. 

Wingers fear to play against him because of his speed and his experience in reading the game, and he has cemented his position as one of the best English left-backs of all time.

Right-midfield: JOEY BARTON

Joey Barton is never far from the back pages, more often than not for the wrong reasons. 

He has had many lows in his career, and is capable of tricking us into watching him veer between the extremes of a thinker and a thug.

The 30-year-old has undoubted ability however, and is a good passer of the ball, a tough tackler and as committed as they come. On occasion, Barton can lead by example. 

But the Englishman is also hot-headed, rash, and his temperament can be more hindrance than help to the team's cause.

Centre-midfield: ROY KEANE

Roy Keane is the second most feared person in Manchester United’s history, just after Sir Alex Ferguson. 

The former Red Devils skipper had a big presence behind the scenes and was an inspirational leader. On the field, he was loud, commanding, visionary and an intimidating player. 

Keane is regarded as one of the best captains in United’s history, and was always a tough opponent to play against - you'd rather have him on your team than face lining up against him.

Left-midfield: GENNARO GATTUSO 

Gattuso is arguably the most aggressive player that has ever played football. 

The former AC Milan legend has won two Champions League titles and many other accolades. 

Gattuso is an aggressive, hard tackling player and in his prime, was widely regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. 

During Milan's Champions League game against Tottenham at the San Siro, Gattuso pushed Tottenham coach Joe Jordan away by the throat during touchline bust-up.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been an exemplary player for many strikers in the world. He scores goals whereever he plays, and 'Ibra' has played for some of the world's biggest teams. 

The Swedish international is without a doubt one of the best players in the world and with his build he commands the forward line effectively. 

The Paris Saint-Germain striker can be quite irrational and is prone to letting his temper get the better if him, although there's no doubting his undeniable ability. 

The skipper of the national side, Ibrahimovic can give nightmares to even the most resolute of defences.


Francesco Totti is widely regarded as the King of Rome. He is a kind of player, who doesn’t dive into tackles and is one of the most respected players in the world. 

The 36-year-old is a big player, but has also lost his cool at times. In 2010, the Italian legend kicked fellow countryman Mario Balotelli from behind and was sent off late in the second half as Roma lost 1-0 to Inter. Totti received a three match ban for his actions.


Balotelli is a menace to play against, but is a great entertainer for the fans.

Often referred to as 'Super Mario', the former Manchester City striker has shown signs of brilliance in big matches, although he is better known for his string of controversies. 

Balotelli is criticised for a poor and immature attitude which often leads to him grabbing the headlines for his off-field antics, rather than his exploits on it.


DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeFootball Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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Joey Barton
European News
Ashley Cole
Jens Lehmann
Roy Keane
Mario Balotelli
Rio Ferdinand

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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