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Football Bad Boys

Since arriving at Eastlands Phil Taylor wannabe Mario Balotelli has put forward a great case for starting a stretch at Lancaster Farms Young Offenders Institution let alone making the starting line up for Manchester City.

Talent often overrides behaviour; Kait Borsay looks at a few examples of past footballing bad boys who came good… And those who didn’t…

Craig Bellamy

You’d have to be a bit mad for landing a challenge on fellow hard man and Inter defender Marco Materazzi, but that didn’t stop Bellamy picking up a three-game ban for the incident during Newcastle’s Champions league game against the Italians in March 2003. Whilst at the north east club he reportedly threw a chair at coach John Carver, accused manager Grahame Souness of lying about him and had to deny abusive text messages to Alan Shearer had been sent from his phone. It didn’t stop there, after moving to Liverpool the striker allegedly attacked teammate John Arne Riise with a golf club earning him the headline ‘The nutter with the putter’. The player moved to Man City and although there were murmurings of disquiet with Mancini, he’s definitely been much better in recent years, it’s clear joining Cardiff and the ‘older wiser’ thing suits him.

Lee Bowyer

Suspended by Charlton in 1995 for a positive drugs test, Bowyer was fined £4,500 by magistrates for throwing a chair at Asian staff in a fast-food restaurant in 1996. Although cleared of any charge, he was also caught up in the trial of a racially motivated assault on an Asian student in 2000. And in 2005 he enjoyed an on-pitch brawl with Kieron Dyer, his Newcastle teammate, for which he was heavily penalized.

But now enjoying the swansong of his career at Birmingham Bowyer’s behavior has been a lot more rosy, with contract talks for the 34 year-old due to resume at the end of the season.

Marlon King

This player takes the ‘footballing bad boy’ tag to it’s very extreme. There is a very valid argument that states that King should not be currently in the game at all after the former Wigan Athletic striker was given an 18-month prison sentence for the actual bodily harm and sexual assault of a woman in a Soho nightclub in December 2008.  After the trial it was revealed to that King had 13 previous convictions, several of which related to the poor treatment of women including possession of a stolen car for which he had done a 9-month prison stretch, at the age of 22. King was sacked by Wigan, and served his time in jail where it’s reported he converted to Islam. Upon release he eventually signed a one-year deal with Coventry and since appears to have been incident free.

Joey Barton

Barton has also served time, twice being convicted on charges of violence. Whilst at Manchester City he stubbed out a cigar in the eye of a fellow player, slapped a young fan who kicked him and allegedly punched a teammate who suffered from a detached retina. On the pitch he caused a 10-man brawl in a friendly with Doncaster Rovers and has earned himself several red cards. City manager Stuart Pearce sent him for anger management therapy. Whilst at Newcastle he admitted to being an alcoholic and served a 77-day prison sentence in 2008. Since then he’s earnt innumerable suspensions from the game and landed himself in hot water several times for being outspoken. This season, he’s already come in for criticism for behaviour towards Fernando Torres and Abou Diaby, the latter being sent off after pushing Barton to the ground following a heavy tackle from the midfielder. 

Marco Materazzi

Another Italian, just for good measure. The fact that fans and fellow players nickname Materazzi ‘The Butcher’, owing to his reportedly unpredictable personality and overly aggressive play, tells you a lot about this guy. Although most of career has been spent in Italy he did sign for Everton in 1998, getting sent off four times in just 27 games. Despite several reckless tackles and having courted much controversy he is perhaps most well known for a blow that he received by Zinedine Zidane in the World Cup final against France in 2006. Zidane was sent off for the head-butt but claimed he had taken action because of comments made by Materazzi about the French player’s sister.  

Who’s your top footballing bad boy? Thoughts please…

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