Sometimes it’s just a media spin, but some players are more hated than others, be it by the fans or other footballers. Manchester United, with Wayne Rooney or the diving Ashley Young, Real Madrid with the obvious Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe or even Barcelona, with the always diving Sergio Busquest usually get most of the negative attention.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
The pose, the oozing confidence and arrogance. But it’s more. Being the best in the world and actually acting like it never goes well with a lot of people, especially when Ronaldo is always associated with the dark side – Manchester United and Real Madrid. He constantly dives or tries to fool referees with his gestures and hand signals, and although he has been able to control his temper, he’s had his cases of on field violence which resulted in a few red cards.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG
A big man with a black belt in taekwondo is always going to stir up some trouble. Ibrahimovic, despite his incredible talent, can’t always keep those demons and dark urges to hurt someone at bay, and he has been known to violently foul someone, simply coming out of nowhere, and then spend a few weeks in the stands to think about it.
John Terry, Chelsea
Long before his racial abuse (which went unpunished eventually) against Anton Ferdinand, Terry was never very popular among non-Chelsea fans. Screaming at the referees and being regarded as one of the dirtiest players in the league, using his hands and elbows just as much as he used his legs and head to stop opponents.
Wayne Rooney, Manchester United
Being the best English player in the land hasn’t helped Rooney in terms of popularity outside of Old Trafford. Growing up with Everton but always kissing the Untied symbol when he scores at Goodison Park. Rooney has a bit of a dirty/violent streak when too much blood comes rushing up, and is one of those who complains about every call by yelling profanities at everyone around him, including referees. His ‘wisdom’ sharing on twitter hasn’t been exactly helpful.
Arjen Robben, Bayern Munich
Another player who gets most of his bad reputation for simply diving every chance he gets, whether there was any contact or not. It doesn’t really matter. Robben’s off-the-pitch behavior doesn’t usually earn him a lot of followers and friends, even among teammates. Being kind of a choker in big moments (World Cup final, Champions League final) is also kind of a minus to his resume.
Didier Drogba, Shanghai Shenhua
Drogba will probably fade away in China from the the current list of notable players, deciding to leave European football on a high, winning the Champions League with Chelsea, the only club title he was missing in the trophy room. But it’s not going to be all fond memories from Drogba, who has left endless defenders and markers bruised and battered from confrontations with him, although Drogba probably swears he’s never harmed anyone. And that’s before we’ve even gotten to the diving and time wasting, which got a bit more embarrassing every year. Oh, and there’s his occasional tabloid appearance that doesn’t do any good as well.
Sergio Busquets, Barcelona
Diving, feigning injuries and those little cheap shots that the referee always misses. Every great team, even the most elegant, need bad boys. Busquets is a fantastic and versatile player, but he loves spending his time rolling on the grass, just waiting for the referee to take notice and win fouls by cheating.
Pepe, Real Madrid
Never the gentlest of players, Pepe cemented his reputation in the worst possible way in 2009 after fouling Javier Casquero of Getafe, before doing the unexplained, beginning to kick Casquero while he was on the ground and then attempting to stomp on him. Since then, you probably get some dirty moment from him in every single match, but the camera doesn’t always catch it. His problem is that Clasico matches are carefully examined from every angle, and Pepe never holds back on Barcelona players. Some animals can’t be tamed. His behavior on the pitch can be a bit embarrassing at times.
Rio Ferdinand, Manchester United
Having an opinion about pretty much everything that goes on around you and expressing it without actually thinking doesn’t serve a person’s reputation that much. The twitter age has made Ferdinand available and vocal about everything regarding him and others. Being one of those players that’s in opponents’ face at all times while being one of the master whiners of the Premier League probably hasn’t helped elevate his popularity numbers.
Joey Barton, QPR
The Ron Artest of the English Premier League. Barton has talent and was having a relatively quiet and successful season with QPR before his all-out onslaught against Manchester City on the final day of the season – Elbowing Carlos Tevez, Kneeing David Silva and attempting to headbutt Vincent Kompany. QPR haven’t given him a squad number for this season.
This adds up to his ix months’ imprisonment for common assault and affray during an incident in Liverpool City Center, serving 77 days in prison, his assault on teammate Ousmane Dabo in 2007 and punching Morten Gamst Pedersen in the stomach. No matter how much time goes by, the violent thug inside him always comes out to play.
Ashley Young, Manchester United
When Alex Ferguson, who never admits anyone on his team did anything wrong, said that Young isn’t doing himself any favors by going down so easily, you knew it was a case of a bit too many pathetic dives. Young always had a bit of a reputation for going down easily before his United tenure began, but playing for the Red Devils guarantees more attention. The problem for Young is he got caught cheating by the public (god forbid the refs would see it) on TV in two very close matches – once against QPR and once against Aston Villa, winning penalties for United twice.
Nigel de Jong, Manchester City
When you’ve done this in a world cup final, people are going to expect this every match. Problem is that De Jong, always the enforcer when he’s on the pitch, is never shy of physical contact, especially when it means piling it on another player. Breaking Hatem Ben Arfa’s leg is another example of De Jong simply being out there to deliver punishment to whoever stands in the way.
Ryan Shawcross, Stoke City
Shawcross represents something. Even if he didn’t mean to break Aaron Ramsey’s leg, Shawcross represents the kind of football Stoke City play. Hard, aggressive, brutal, violent. For some reasons, referees usually get caught up with the whole atmosphere at the Britannia stadium and neglect to blow the whistle a few times every match Stoke play at home, that might be a red card in any other stadium.