Being tough and aggressive is good, to a certain extent. Here are six guys who have seen the referee show them red more than anyone else in the Premiership’s history. And no, Joey Barton is still not on this list. On the other hand, Alan Smith is.
Richard Dunne, Aston Villa, 8 Red Cards
The Irish international began his playing days way back in 1996 with Everton. He spent most of his career with Manchester City (2000-2009) which included one season in the Championship, then called division 1. He was signed by Aston Villa early last season. Dunne is one of three players to get sent off eight times since the Premiership began, with two his personal best – in 2008-2009 and the season before that. He has managed to keep it clean, shall we say, since moving to Aston Villa.
Duncan Ferguson, Retired, 8 Red Cards
The Stirling born striker began his Premiership career in 1994 with Everton. He already spent three months in jail back in Scotland for headbutting a player during a match, resultin in assault charges, so you knew sparks would fly in England as well. Ferguson played for Everton and Newcastle in the Premiership, managing 8 sending offs, including two in his debut season. In 2005-2006 he got sent off after a scuffle with Paul Scharner, resulting in a seven match ban.
Vinnie Jones, Retired, 7 Red Cards
One of the toughest and more violent SOB’s to roam the pitch in England, Jones is somewhat of a movie stars these days, or he used to be for a short while. Mostly known for his time with the Crazy Gang at Wimbledon, Jones is lucky we’re only counting Premiership red cards. He was very proud of his ways and released a video, “Soccer’s Hard Men”, glorifying “dirty play”. Jones “peaked” in 1995-1996, managing three red cards that season.
Roy Keane, Ipswich Manager, 7 Red Cards
This is what Roy Keane wrote in his autobiography about his famous tackle on Manchester City’s Norwegian player, Alf-Inge Haland “I’d waited long enough. I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you cunt. And don’t ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries.” And if you weren’t sure he has no regrets… My attitude was, fuck him. What goes around comes around. He got his just rewards. He fucked me over and my attitude is an eye for an eye.
Keane saw this as revenge for getting injured while trying to tackle Haland a few years earlier, severely injuring his cruciate ligament. Haland stood over Keane and suggested the Irishman was faking it. Keane was one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe during his time, and also one of the most feared for his sometimes violent play.
Alan Smith, Newcastle United, 7 Red Cards
The first and only proper Englishman on this list. Well, not quite proper. Smith, 30, now with Newcastle, began his career with Leeds United but bolted when the ship started sinking to Manchester United. When he started sinking, he found himself in the Northeast. His more aggressive days seem to be behind him, as 5 of his 7 red cards were during his time with Leeds. Funny thing is he plays as a midfielder these days, but he did more damage, both positive and negative for his team and himself, while he was up front.
Patrick Vieira, Manchester City, 8 Red Cards
If there was one player from Arsenal’s title winning days a few years back Wenger would love to have, with the 2002-2004 ability, it’s Vieira. Or maybe Henry. But Arsenal need toughness, and there are few tougher than Vieira, maybe the best DM in Europe over the previous decade. Ability aside, there’s no surprise he and Roy Keane were pretty much arch-rivals and got in one or two tangles and more during the United-Arsenal clashes. Vieira, slowly fading away with Manchester City these days after spending the last of his quality in Italy with Juventus and Inter, is the first player in the Premiership to get sent off eight times. Still, it last happened in the 2003-2004 season.