Whether it’s unusual celebration techniques, scandals off the pitch, or controversial fashion choices, there’s always one footballer or another who hits the headlines. Recently there’s been conflict between former footballer Gary Lineker and former F1 driver Martin Brundle, as the two share their votes on the oil protests taking part on car racing tracks. It would be fair to say that there’s no age limit on controversy in the football world. So, we’ve rounded up some of the most controversial footballers ever, including all of their juiciest moments.
Carlos Tevez will be high on any list of controversial players, not necessarily through riotous behaviour as you might expect from a young and successful player, but rather through a disregard for rules and regulations. The first time Tevez really found himself in the spotlight was when he was signed by West Ham who, it turned out, had contravened transfer rules in order to sign him. This mixup ended up costing West Ham £20m, a sum which would be costly for any footballer. After this, you might think that Tevez would keep his head down a while, but you’d be wrong. Just a few years later, after a stint at Manchester United, Tevez ditched them to play for their biggest rivals Manchester City. Instead of getting on with it quietly, Tevez antagonized fans hugely, sporting an ‘RIP Fergie’ banner during Manchester City’s title celebrations.
It would be another four years before Tevez hit the headlines again, this time after being signed by a team in the Chinese Super League. Shanghai Shenhua signed Tevez on a two-year contract, paying him an eye-watering £650,000 every single week. This made him the highest-paid player in history, yet Tevez didn’t seem too bothered about his new signing. Instead of putting in the hours at training and scoring unbelievable goals for the team, Tevez treated the whole thing as ‘kind of a holiday’.
Mario Balotelli is without a doubt one of the most eccentric sports players of all time. He’s been at the centre of many a controversy, but his incredible skills on the pitch, as well as his history of making generous charitable donations, have seen him escape most unscathed. However, he hasn’t escaped all of them. His former manager Jose Mourinho once described him to the Daily Mail as ‘totally unmanageable’, which for a manager as experienced as Mourinho is fairly incredible.
Balotelli is an emotional player, who is prone to receiving red cards on almost the majority of matches. This on-pitch behaviour is gold for tabloids, but so too is his penchant for overdoing it on nights out. Unfortunately for Balotelli, the media attention that he receives is almost always negative and, in an attempt to hit back at the tabloids, he famously wore a t-shirt sporting the words ‘Why is it always me?’ emblazoned across the front. Rather than getting the newspapers to be quiet, it had quite the opposite effect, only fuelling the media fire. Since then, he’s become better known for his endearing quirks, like his pet pig that he regularly posts about on Twitter,
John Terry rounds off our list as a player who has had an enormously long career, with highlights which include being the captain and the manager of Chelsea Football Club. His behaviour on the pitch has always been pretty good and, obviously, his footballing credentials speak for themselves. However, his behaviour off the pitch has been everything from ridiculous to appalling. One such example being the affair with his teammate, Wayne Bridge’s, girlfriend. The lady in question is Vanessa Perroncel, a former model from France. She and Terry snuck around for a while before she ended up getting pregnant. In an attempt to keep things quiet, Terry tried to serve a gagging order which, as it ended up, only stoked the embers, causing a media storm.
You would think that, after that, the final nail in the coffin would have been whatever his next negative headline was. Yet, when he was found attempting to sell a tour to Chelsea’s training ground, the club stood by him. It was alleged that Terry took £10,000 for a tour of Chelsea’s grounds, but as it didn’t stand up in court, the player walked away scot free.