From Balotelli’s bib to Rooney’s rant: A silly sulks XI

In recent weeks, we’ve seen the more petulant side of Premiership footballers. While such tantrums have seen more coverage in recent weeks, such hissy fits have been commonplace in Premiership football for many years. But what if such volatile characters all played together? Here’s a team made of some of the more annoyingly hilarious players to grace England’s top flight.

Goalkeeper: Jens Lehmann: The veteran stopper’s return to competitive football with Arsenal has had fans reminiscing about the career of one of football’s more unpredictable characters. A Premier League-winning, German international, Lehmann is equally remembered for incidents such as the hilarious exchange with Didier Drogba, with both men scratching and clawing before diving like an explosion scene in an action movie, as well as the hilarious shot to the face from Cristiano Ronaldo, in a game against Manchester United in 2006, shortly after the comical incident, Lehmann was accused of kicking a water bottle into the United crowd. Welcome back, Jens.


Wayne Bridge: As allegations surfaced in 2010 regarding his ex-girlfriend’s alleged indiscretions with a certain friend and ex-teammate of Bridge, the left-back kept his head down as fans eagerly anticipated his City side’s clash with John Terry’s Chelsea. As the players lined up for the customary fair play handshake, the world held its breath as Bridge refused to acknowledge his former captain. While many commended Bridge’s dignified response, some may say this was an opportunity wasted, a chance for a moment of comedy gold; has Bridge not seen the Gerrard/Chelsea mascot schoolboy video? Just saying…

William Gallas: In 2008, Arsenal drew 2-2 away at Birmingham City, in a game known more infamously for Eduardo’s horrendous injury, a broken leg would see the forward miss a year of competitive football. While Birmingham’s Martin Taylor was duly sent off for the challenge, having dropped two points from a winning position, Arsenal captain Gallas refused to take it lying down. He took it sitting instead. As his teammates and opponents left the field, Gallas refused, opting to stage a one-man, sit-down protest. As Gallas set about creating a media sensation, only the re-emergence of manager Arsene Wenger, like an embarrassed parent in the supermarket, convinced Gallas to put the toys back in the pram, the dummy back in his mouth, and leave.

Gary Neville: The recently retired Manchester United right-back has never been far from controversy. In 2006, he provoked the Liverpool fans, prompting an FA fine as well as criticism from the media, footballing figures, and even the police. In 2010, he was alleged to have made an obscene gesture toward ex-teammate Carlos Tevez, but his greatest hit, came after Rio Ferdinand’s eight-month ban for missing a drug test in 2003. Neville was said to be recruiting England teammates to go on strike, in a protest at Ferdinand’s severe punishment. Neville’s plan never made it to fruition, with apparent opposition to Neville’s plan lead by close friend and international captain, David Beckham, which was great news, because how would the FA have ever found another eleven men willing to pull on the shirt and represent their country on the football pitch?

Glen Johnson: England’s current right back is often described as a brilliant attacking full-back with inconsistent defensive attributes. When Arsenal legend and TV pundit Paul Merson highlighted this in that special way only he can, Johnson took exception to Merson’s comments, with a personal, below-the-belt attack via his Twitter page. Johnson said “Comments from alcoholic drug abusers are not really gonna upset me and who is Paul Merson to judge players, he was average at the best of times,” the Liverpool man ranted. “The only reason he’s on that show is coz he gambled all his money away. The clown!” Don’t blame yourself, Glen.


Temuri Ketsbaia: Remember him?  The little Georgian scored for Newcastle United in 1999 and gave us one of the most bizarre goal celebrations of all time. He began after removing his shirt and trying (and failing) to remove his boot, he proceeded to kick two of the advertising hoardings behind the goal. Take that fast food and sporting giants! But it could have all been so different; in today’s game, removing a shirt and kicking equipment in an excessive goal celebration, would have possibly been two bookable offences. Also, what if the boot had come off? Now that could have arguably been even better.

Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer: We return to St James’ Park for another moment of cringe worthy comedy. In 2005, with Newcastle 3-0 down at home to Aston Villa, like a playground kickabout, the pair became embroiled in a scuffle, apparently over refusal to pass the ball. Once Gareth Barry had led the peace mission, both players were duly sent off. In a sign of the masculinity of the “fight”, Bowyer retreated to the dressing room with a torn shirt, before both were dragged before the cameras to sheepishly shake hands like humiliated schoolboys.

Javier Mascherano: Never short of a few words during his time in England, Mascherano certainly had people talking when Liverpool bought the Argentine out of his third-party agreement with Kia Joorabchian’s Media Sports Investments and took the midfielder from West Ham to Merseyside. While the world poured scorn on the player and the circus surrounding them, Mascherano celebrated his first Liverpool goal against Reading in 2008, by running to the crowd repeatedly screaming a certain, two-worded obscenity. An expression of frustration? Or his first words in English? What we do know is, it certainly wasn’t his last controversial outburst.


Mario Balotelli: Manchester City’s 20-year-old striker certainly knows how to sulk. Having arrived in England with undoubted ability rivalled by his undoubtedly volatile character, Balotelli has made a mixed start to life in England. So far he has amassed six premier league goals; the same number of cards he has received throughout his 16 appearances. While he has been linked with several off-field incidents since his summer transfer, his finest came on the night of city’s Europa League exit away at Dynamo Kiev. During the warm up, is desperate fight to escape his training bib became an overnight, internet sensation. His misery snowballed however, as Balotelli was shown a red card as City crashed out of the competition at the final-16 stage. Oh well, keep smiling, Mario.

Wayne Rooney: Oh Wayne, when will you learn? Another player known almost as much for his questionable temperament as his unquestionable talent, Rooney’s latest public outpouring of emotion to television equipment looks set to land him in hot water just months after his pot-kettle-black criticism to the England supporters after England’s World Cup draw with Algeria. After his latest outburst, a public outpouring to an interpretable, but ultimately, faceless recipient, has all the hallmarks of a teenage girl’s Facebook status, but it keeps us talking. And laughing. Cheers, Wayne.

Daniel Clarke-

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