The Premier League has seen its fair share of controversies in recent seasons. Mario Balotelli was a constant source of entertainment last season, while the latest Luis Suarez incident only adds to the trail of destruction the Uruguayan seems intent on leaving.
However, both Balotelli and Suarez are tame compared to some of the ultimate bad boys. Here are the top five.
1. Lee Bowyer
The London-born midfielder was certainly an outstanding talent, impressing for Leeds United in particular. However, his single England cap suggests that there was something other than a lack of talent preventing him from establishing himself in the national squad.
He failed a drugs test whilst in the youth team at Charlton and was consequently dropped from the England Under 18 squad. Then, whilst at Leeds United, he was involved in a nightclub assault in Leeds that led to an infamous trial alongside teammate Jonathan Woodgate.
After a move from Leeds to Liverpool fell through due to a “lack of desire” according to Gerard Houllier, Bowyer joined West Ham. However, unconvinced of his attitude towards racism the fans protested his arrival.
As if that wasn’t enough, later on at Newcastle Bowyer had an on-field scuffle with teammate Kieron Dyer. He later verbally assaulted a West Brom fan whilst playing for Birmingham and he is widely regarded as holding the record for most Premier League yellow cards received. Bowyer truly deserves his tag as the Premier League’s ultimate bad boy.
2. Roy Keane
One player who does challenge Bowyer for the title though is Roy Keane. The former Manchester United hero focuses his anger more on the likes of Gareth Southgate on the pundit’s bench nowadays, but in his heyday Keane was a force to be reckoned with.
Several infamous clashes with Arsenal skipper Patrick Vieira were one thing, but there was an even darker side to Keane’s persona. A rash challenge on Alf-Inge Haaland ended the Norwegian’s career, something Keane later admitted was intentional due to Haaland’s tackle that injured Keane during the previous season.
Keane was also sent home from the 2002 World Cup after a public argument with manager Mick McCarthy. With seven Premier League red cards to his name, Keane is well deserving of a place on this list.
3. Joey Barton
How do you solve a problem like Joey Barton? The Liverpool native has shown during his career that he has the skill and tenacity to cut it at the top level, but his temperament has been a persistent issue.
He’s been convicted twice due to violence, including being sentenced to six months in prison in 2008 after an assault. He then assaulted teammate Ousmane Dabo in 2007, receiving a four-month suspended sentence.
Never one to shy away from a fight, he also punched Blackburn’s Morten Gamst Pederson during a match and then exploded with kicks and a head-butt during QPR’s final game last season.
Nowadays he’s found his way to France, picking up the accent almost instantly, and his Twitter account regularly berates some of the world’s finest players. Oh, and he also stubbed a cigar out in a youth player’s eye during his early Man City days.
4. Duncan Ferguson
Big Duncan Ferguson was a striking powerhouse for the likes of Everton and Newcastle, but it took a brave man to pick a fight with the Scotland international.
One man who did was Raith Rovers’ John McStay in 1994. He came off worse during the on-field incident and ‘Big Dunc’ was sentenced to three months in prison for assault – one of four criminal convictions for assault. One of the most well known Ferguson story involved two men attempting to burgle his house in 2001.
Ferguson caught one of the pair and beat him up to such an extent that he spent the next three days in hospital. Why someone would attempt to rob this man’s house is beyond me.
5. Lee Cattermole
Lee Cattermole’s position on this list could be considered unjust, but there is a reason. The Sunderland captain is still only 25-years-old and has made just under 200 club appearances.
He has missed long periods due to injuries, so when you consider that he already has six red cards to his name then you know something’s amiss. Seemingly unable to curb his “passion” on the field, Cattermole is often an infuriating liability to his manager.
His off-field behaviour isn’t much better and he was cautioned in 2011 following a car-vandalising spree in Newcastle with teammate Nicklas Bendtner.
Aside from that he has been arrested on numerous occasions, banned from the Stockton borough for three years and added to the Pubwatch blacklist of troublemakers. Quite the rap sheet for someone so young.
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