40 Soccer Personalities Who Changed The Game

Darren - June 16, 2019

40 Soccer Personalities Who Changed The Game

Darren - June 16, 2019

Maybe Their Own Fans Will Love Them… But Almost Everybody Else Will Hate Them… 

Would anybody care about football if it wasn’t for the personalities in the sport? The players, the managers, the owners and the fans are what give the game a sense of identity. But not everyone is loved the same amount. In fact, some people are absolutely despised.

There are dirty players who are loathed for constant fouling and injuring opponents. There’s the arrogant superstar who would probably marry themselves if it was legal. We’ve got managers who rub everybody up the wrong way. And of course, every fan’s worst nightmare: bad owners who come in and destroy the fabric and identity of a club.

Here are the 40 most hated people in football throughout history. Some of them have recovered their reputations since retiring. Others will be hated forever. All of these footballing personalities have a story, so read on to find out who is number one!

Alan Pardew. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

40. Alan Pardew

That dancing alone is enough to make anybody hate you. Alan Pardew is one of the strangest characters in football. It often starts out well but it usually ends up in tears. Despite dressing like a London banker, Pardew is one of the most aggressive managers in the game.

He once headbutted Hull’s David Meyler. He cursed out Maurizio Pellegrini and pushed Arsene Wenger and Martin O’Neill. His managerial record doesn’t exactly save him either. Newcastle fans, in particular, hate their former manager after what turned out to be a less successful spell that saw them end up in the Championship.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

39. Kenny Miller

If you play for either Celtic or Rangers you can guarantee that at least half a city will hate you. The Old Firm rivals are notorious for sectarian violence and abuse. So, if you play for both, then you really are asking for trouble. And that’s exactly what Miller did. He played for Celtic between two spells at Rangers, enraging both sides of the divide.

Some sections of the Gers support will never forgive him for scoring against his debut goal for Celtic in an Old Firm derby against them. Meanwhile, Celtic fans will never forgive him for turning his back on them and going back to the enemy. It seems that the former Scotland international can’t please anybody.

Screenshot: Twitter.

38. Mike Dean

The premier league referee recently made news headlines for his wild celebrations when Tranmere defeated Forest Green Rovers in the League 2 play-off semi-final. Dean is notorious for enjoying the attention and it has made him a figure of mockery and is even hated by many fans.

Arsenal fans particularly despise the man who invented the no-look yellow card. They believe that he favours their most hated rivals Tottenham Spurs and resent the number of decisions against them that happen when he’s the main official. Dean is the definition of a celebrity referee.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY.

37. Silvio Berlusconi

The former Prime Minister of Italy, Berlusconi’s record as a human being is really quite amazing when you think about it. He’s been convicted of tax fraud, sentenced for accounting fraud, and been involved in trials alleging mafia collusion, embezzlement, false accounting, defamation and money laundering.

That’s not to mention that he went on trial for paying for sex with an underage prostitute and the ‘bunga bunga’ incidents. Berlusconi is a colourful and controversial character who is also obviously a terrible human being. He did turn AC Milan into a modern superclub, but his antics outside of football tarnished the club by association.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

36. Diego Costa

Costa is one of those players who constantly lives on the edge. The former Chelsea striker makes it his business to get into people’s faces and antagonize them. He’s been given bans for stamping, igniting brawls and spitting at referees. While with Chelsea he went AWOL after they refused to sanction a move to China despite not starting him.

His piece de resistance happened last season though for Atletico Madrid. He shouted “I sh*t on your whore mother” at referee Jesus Gil Manzano, when his side was losing 2-0 to Barcelona. That piece of social commentary landed the Brazilian born Spain international an eight-game ban.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

35. Steffan Effenberg

One of Germany’s most divisive footballing characters, Effenberg was a snarling, angry midfielder who courted controversy in his day. In the 90s he had an affair with fellow footballer Thomas Strunz’s wife which got a lot of tabloid attention. He was also found guilty of assaulting a woman in a nightclub.

Effenberg’s biography was notorious at the time as well. In it he launched sensational attacks on some of his fellow players, including Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus. All of that is before we even talk about what he was like on the pitch. His combative style meant that opposition fans did not like him one bit.

Stan Kroenke. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

34. Stan Kroenke

If you invest approximately $0 of your own money into the football club you’re supposed to own, then you can guarantee that supporters will hate you. That’s the case with American owner Stan Kroenke who really has got a lot of abuse from Arsenal fans over the last season-and-a-half.

He’s been accused of treating the club like a business – can you believe their naivety? Kroenke’s personal bank balance has swollen massively since taking charge of the London side. Too bad the club is enduring a spell of mediocracy. Kroenke doesn’t seem like he cares one little bit.

Diego Simeone. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

33. Diego Simeone

Standing on the touchline in his black suit, shirt, ties and shoes, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone looks like a James Bond villain and he played like one too. Indeed, his Atletico side is a reflection of himself; charismatic, combative, confident but also cynical and prone to moments of aggression.

Simeone’s most notorious moment as a player was getting David Beckham sent off at the 1998 world cup. The tackle by Beckham came after the Argentinian had himself come in with a dirty challenge of his own. He admitted to simulating injury so that Beckham would be punished. Simeone’s love of Diego Costa says a lot about his personality.

Diego Maradona. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

32. Diego Maradona

Nowadays Maradona is more loved than hated, but in his heyday, he was one of the game’s most controversial characters. The little Argentinian maestro was despised by English fans after the Hand of God incident at the 1986 world cup. He then added insult to injury by running half the pitch and beating five men to score one of the best goals ever.

Maradona is notorious for his drug use and his friendship with the former leader of Cuba Fidel Castro. Never one to shy away from the limelight, he’s definitely a Marmite personality. One of the greatest players of all time but maybe not the best role model for your kids.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

31. Mauro Icardi

One of the most controversial players on the planet right now, Mauro Icardi is a mercurial striker and capable of moments of brilliance. He’s also capable of seriously infuriating all of his fans. The Inter Milan Ultras hate him now because of comments he made in his autobiography and because he went on strike after being stripped of the captaincy.

He also got a lot of attention after marrying Wanda Mara, the former wife of his former Sampdoria teammate Maxi Lopez. That came after their affair was exposed. Icardi then made things even more strange by getting Lopez and Mara’s children’s names tattooed on his body. Yep, he went there.

Neil Lennon. Screenshot: Twitter.

30. Neil Lennon

One thing Neil Lennon can’t be accused of is being half-hearted. The Northern Irishman is as passionate as they come and that has got him in trouble a few times. The former Celtic captain is now in his second spell in charge of the Bhoys. So obviously he’s despised by the Rangers faithful.

He’s been the subject of multiple death threats. He’s been physically assaulted and left unconscious outside a pub in Scotland. However, while this inexcusable Lennon’s fiery passion and tendency to speak out and ignite shoving matches doesn’t help his case. The man is a walking touchline ban.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

29. Francisco Becchetti

Francisco Bachetti had just led a consortium to take over League One’s Leyton Orient just after they narrowly missed out on promotion after defeat in a penalty shootout. This could have been an omen for even darker things to come as Bachetti’s reign of horror began.

The club found themselves struggling in the National League after he inflicted three years of pain on the London side. They were there for the first time in their 112-year history. The scandals were endless: a winding up order, a failed reality show, and a six-game stadium ban for kicking his own team’s manager. Breathe a sigh of relief: he’s gone and Orient are back in the Football League.

Screenshot: Twitter.

28. Scott Brown

Celtic’s captain really is a master of the dark arts. Is there another player on this list more beloved by his own fans and more hated by the rest of his league? Brown is renowned for his passion. Since signing for Celtic in 2006, the club’s captain has clashed with players all across the league, including El-Hadji Diouf.

He’s been sent off multiple times and accused of having aggression without productive output. Despite his weaknesses and limitations, Brown is undoubtedly a Celtic legend and probably doesn’t care what people think about him, as long as the green and white half of Glasgow are behind him.

Eric Cantona. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

27. Eric Cantona

Cantona was arguably the Premier League’s first genuine superstar. He spent five seasons at Manchester United following his arrival from Leeds, but has any other player ever left such a dramatic imprint on a league like the mercurial Frenchman?

King Eric is one of those former players who is mostly loved now, but back in the day, there was a massive split in appreciation for the striker. Liverpool fans especially loved to hate him. Then when you add in his crazy Kung Fu kick attack on an admittedly vile supporter at Crystal Palace? Cantona was as divisive as they came.

Karl Oyston. Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

26. Karl Oyston

The Oystons make Mike Ashley look as generous as Santa Claus. Their reign in charge of Blackpool was like a horror movie. Karl Oyston took over the chairmanship of Blackpool from his mother, who had, in turn, inherited it from her husband, the convicted rapist Owen.

They suffered back-to-back relegations after dropping out of the Premier League. The Oystons were notorious for their asset stripping from the club into other businesses that they owned. This massively damaged Blackpool and irreparably destroyed the Oyston’s relationship with the club’s fanbase. The club had ten managers during Karl Oyston’s ill-fated reign as chairman.

Craig Bellamy. Mandatory Credit: Youtube.

25. Craig Bellamy

This is the man that once attacked his then-Liverpool teammate John Arne Riise with a golf club. Craig Bellamy is as controversial a figure as they come and has attracted criticism everywhere he has gone. A massive falling out with Graham Souness at Newcastle saw him move to Celtic.

Injury prone, he was attacked for being disruptive in different dressing rooms across his career. Former Wales manager John Toshack summed him up by saying: “A lot of managers have signed him, but a lot of managers have got rid of him as well.” A great player on his day but a hard man to keep happy.

Nigel De Jong. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

24. Nigel De Jong

It says a lot about Nigel De Jong’s style of play that his biggest highlight reel moment was that karate kick where he almost disembowelled Xabi Alonso. The Dutch midfielder literally karate kicked the Spaniard in his stomach and only Howard Webb knows why he didn’t send him off.

Alonso was lucky that he only got the wind knocked out of him. De Jong has done some serious damage to other players in the past. Stuart Holden’s career never recovered from the Dutch player breaking his leg. He also shattered Hatem Ben Arfa’s leg as well. De Jong is a player to keep away from.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

23. Harald Schumacher

When you are voted as worse than Adolf Hitler by the entire nation of France, you know that you’re not very popular. Schumacher might not be the most famous player on this list by modern standards but he earns this dubious honour for what he did to Patrick Battiston.

He collided in the air with Frenchman, knocking him into a coma. Battiston did wake from the coma but had suffered broken ribs and lost two front teeth in the incident. Schumacher courted more controversy by saying, “If that’s all that’s wrong with him, I’ll give him the crowns.”

Screenshot: Twitter.

22. Dennis Wise

Dennis Wise could play football very well. A lot of people forget that because he was also the sort of guy who could break a teammate’s jaw on tour. For some reason, he thought that his subsequent sacking by Leicester was a disgrace. Wise by name, not so wise by nature.

He played football like a Jack Russel terrier, snapping at the heels of other players, then hiding behind his centre-halves after sticking his studs into them. Oh and he’s a member of Mike Ashley’s despised Cockney Mafia. That alone would be enough to have everybody hate you.

Gary Neville. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

21. Gary Neville

One of England’s greatest ever right-backs, Neville earns his place on this list just by virtue of his toxic relationship with Liverpool FC. The Manchester United defender absolutely despised the Merseyside club and that went right back at him. Neville was one of the game’s most consistent defenders and brought the best out of David Beckham.

However, he would court controversy because of his confrontational personality. It brought him into conflict with many players and didn’t endear him to many fans. Nowadays he has a great partnership with Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports.

Screenshot: Twitter.

20. Vinnie Jones

Does anybody else think that Vinnie Jones is not as hard as he thinks he is? Sure he got sent off 12 times in his league career and was one of Wimbledon’s Crazy Gang, but he was also a bit of an idiot. He still holds the record for the fastest booking in English football history after just three seconds.

He’s attracted a lot of controversy in his time and was once banned for bringing the game into disrepute after the infamous show ‘Hard Men’ in 1992 which gave advice for budding ‘hard men’ in the game. Now he’s a reasonably successful Hollywood actor. He must have left his testosterone on the pitch.

Neil Warnock. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

19. Neil Warnock

A very successful championship manager, Neil Warnock has struggled every time he’s come up to the Premier League. He’s also struggled to get opposition fans to stop shouting abuse at him, but he might actually enjoy the hate. Warnock would literally fight his own mother, he’s that confrontational.

El-Hadji Diouf, Stephen Hunt, Gareth Southgate and even Hollywood actor Sean Bean have all been on the receiving end of his wrath. About Brexit, he said: “To hell with the rest of the world.” That seems to be his motto in life as its all about him and his club. Nothing else matters.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

18. Mike Ashley

Newcastle fans must feel like they exist in purgatory. Mike Ashley is entirely to blame for that. The controversial owner quite simply doesn’t care about the traditions or development of the club. It’s all about personal profit and for the Magpie’s fans, that’s just unforgivable.

His lack of investment in the club is outstanding. Right now he’s in a who’ll blink first stand-off with Rafa Benitez over transfer funds. As owners go, Ashley is up there with the worst. The Sports Direct chief executive is booed every time he goes near St. James’s Park.

Screenshot: Youtube.

17. Graeme Souness

The former Liverpool captain was properly aggressive. He was an exceptionally combative midfielder, lunging into tackles and smashing through opponents to get the ball, back in the days when you could get away with that sort of thing.

Souness’s is especially loathed by Fenerbahce fans. While managing their hated rivals Galatasaray, he ran onto the Fenerbache pitch and planted a Galatasaray flag in the centre circle. One fan said that if he did the same thing today he would be killed for it. His managerial style was described as authoritarian. It took years for Liverpool and Newcastle to recover from where he left them.

Screenshot: Twitter.

16. El Hadji Diouf

Former Senegal forward El-Hadji Diouf is loathed by Liverpool fans. They lost out on Nicolas Anelka because Gerard Houllier decided to sign Diouf and Salif Diao instead. That’s not why they hate him though. His transgressions are many. There are many spitting incidents during his time with the Reds and then with Bolton. The worst was when he spat on an 11-year-old boy.

He allegedly racially abused a ballboy at a match against Everton, although this was never proven. During a game against QPR, Diouf also stood over Jamie Mackie and laughed, when the other player had just suffered a broken leg. In Neil Warnock’s words, “He’s viler than a sewer rat.”

Joey Barton. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

15. Joey Barton

Capable of moments of extreme charm, Joey Barton has a Jekyll and Hyde personality. The Fleetwood Town manager courted controversy like a footballing Casanova. He once stubbed out a cigar in youth team player’s eye. That kind of says it all. He also served 74 days for common assault in 2008.

He’s been charged for violent assault by the FA three times – for assaulting Ousmane Dabo, punching Morten Gamst Pedersen and attacking three players on the final day of the 2011-12 season. Oh and then there was that ridiculous interview when he played for Marseille and decided to speak English with a French accent. Barton is controversial.

Screenshot: Twitter.

14. Pete Winkelman

Pete Winkelman is the man responsible for MK Dons existing. Described as the most hated team in England, they came into being after a bankrupt Wimbledon was relocated 60km from their home in South London. Winkleman basically renamed them, changed their colours and gave up all pretence of pretending to be Wimbledon.

Fans were heartbroken after the club dropped all claims to the history of Wimbledon, including historic moments like beating Liverpool in the 1989 FA Cup final. Winkleman was accused of buying a place in the Football League, with the new MK Dons the first franchise club.

Ashley Cole. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

13. Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole should be regarded as England’s greatest ever left-back, but unfortunately for the former Arsenal and Chelsea player, his reputation has been tarnished by his arrogance. Cole infamously turned down a new deal at the Gunners to move to nouveau-riche Chelsea. Even though it proved the right decision after he won a cabinet full of trophies, he was still regarded as selfish.

He’s had issues off the pitch as well. Cole once shot a work experience student with a pellet gun. His PR has been terrible as his money-grabbing persona spread like wildfire. Oh and he cheated on Cheryl Cole. Of all his bizarre decisions, that has to be the strangest.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

12. John Terry

In his prime, John Terry was the best defender in the Premier League and one of the best in the world. Adored by the Chelsea faithful, he was hated by other fans because of his arrogance and the many controversies he found himself in. There was that cheating incident with Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend. A racism scandal involving Anton Ferdinand that basically forced him into international retirement.

Those scandals aside, fans also can’t stand him because of his personality. He loves attention, as he showed by coming up to lift Champion’s League and Europa League trophies in full kit despite being suspended for both games. His final appearance for Chelsea resulted in him getting subbed in the 26th minute. His shirt number and his choice. Cringe.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter.

11. Sol Campbell

The Macclesfield manager has been labelled as insufferable in the past and his ego has been described as out of control. His personality has definitely been one of the reasons why many fans have struggled to like the former England international.

Clearly, though, the biggest thing that mobilised fans against him was his decision to move to Arsenal from their passionate rivals Tottenham Hotspurs. He spent 9 years at White Hart Lane so you can understand why Spurs fans felt betrayed by his decision to move to their closest rivals. Campbell has long been labelled a Judas by the Spurs support.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The man, the myth, the legend. There is only one Zlatan. The giant Swedish striker possesses more self-belief than anybody else in the game. For all his brilliance, Ibrahimovic is also an incredibly volatile personality. He once threatened to break both of Rafael Van Der Vaart’s legs after the Dutchman accused him of trying to injure him.

The Taekwondo black belt has punched, kicked, stamped and choked opposition players. So yeah, he’s been accused of being a dirty player in the past. Infamously a threw a kit box at Pep Guardiola while at Barcelona and was loaned out to AC Milan after he threatened to beat the Spaniard up. A lot of fans don’t like him.

Screenshot: Twitter.

9. Robbie Savage

Once labelled the dirtiest player in Premier League history, Robbie Savage has long rubbed fans up the wrong way. The former Wales international was absolutely loathed by fans of opposition clubs because of his outspoken nature and the number of fouls he would give away on the pitch.

Savage didn’t just get loads of yellow cards, he was also a master of diving. He was once chased across the pitch by Derby County players after successfully buying a foul. He also famously was headbutted by Dion Dublin. Now he continues to annoy some fans with his punditry. The ultimate love/hate figure.

Roy Keane. Screenshot: Twitter.

8. Roy Keane

Has anybody in the game ever possessed more intensity than Roy Keane? The former Irish international captained Manchester United to great success but lived life on the edge. His most notorious moment was when he admitted to deliberately breaking Alf-Inge Haaland’s leg, an admission that saw him hit with a big suspension.

Keane also annoyed many Irish fans after a fallout with Mick McCarthy in the infamous Saipan incident at the 2002 world cup. To this day it’s a divisive issue in Ireland, with many fans taking his side and others consider him to be a traitor.

Luis Suarez. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

7. Luis Suarez

The Uruguayan is a sensational player but he has a notorious dark side. He first came to prominence at the Brazil world cup when he handled Asamoah Gyan’s shot on the line to stop him scoring. He’s been involved in no less than four biting incidents and is prone to bouts of cynical fouling like how he forced Liverpool’s Andy Robertson off with an injury in their Champion’s League meeting.

While with Liverpool he also served a lengthy suspension after he was found guilty of racism. Suarez is the sort of player who loves to walk that thin line. When he snaps though, there’s definitely going to be drama. No wonder opposition supporters don’t like him.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

6. Cristiano Ronaldo

One of the greatest players of all time, Ronaldo might be appreciated by almost every fan but that doesn’t stop some from loathing him simply because of who he has played for. While with Manchester United he won the enmity of many opposing players and supporters because of his petulance and diving.

As a superstar footballer, he does have a tendency to make the moment all about him. This has seen him bear the scorn of many opponents. In 2006/07 he was infamously booed throughout the season after contriving to get Wayne Rooney sent off at the 2006 World Cup.

Jose Mourinho. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

5. Jose Mourinho

The Portuguese manager has a glittering CV. Champion’s League wins with Porto and Inter Milan. League titles in every country he’s managed. The creator of one of English football’s greatest sides during his first spell at Chelsea. But Mourinho is one of football’s most controversial characters.

Obnoxious towards journalists, he once infamously poked Barcelona’s coach Tito Vilanova in the eye. He hid in a laundry basket to avoid being caught by match officials in the dressing room during a touchline ban. And then there are those third season blues where he basically causes his club to go into meltdown. His controversies are endless.

Pepe. Mandatory Credit: Tim Groothuis, USA TODAY Sports

4. Pepe

For such a big man, Pepe sure does go down easily. The Porto man, formerly of Real Madrid where he was once Sergio Ramos’s partner, Pepe is one of the game’s most despised players. Who can forget him rolling around on the ground in ‘agony’ with Mark Clattenburg doing his lizard tongue above him?

On the international scene, he has been sent off for headbutting Germany’s Thomas Mueller. He also dived against Morocco when he was tapped on the back by Mehdi Benatia. That was labelled by pundits across the world as embarrassing. He’s a man that fans love to hate.

Sergio Ramos. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

3. Sergio Ramos

One of the game’s masters of the dark arts, Ramos is not actually always good at getting away with them. Opposition fans like Liverpool hate him because of his cynical challenges like the one that injured Mohamed Salah in the 2017/18 Champion’s League Final.

Ramos has the most sendings off in La Liga history with a grand total of 25. He was also hilariously given a two-game ban by UEFA for deliberately getting a yellow card. That meant he missed a knockout game as well as the dead rubber he was hoping to clear his record by missing.

Luis Figo. Screenshot: Twitter.

2. Luis Figo

The reason is Luis Figo is this high up the list is because he literally had a pig’s head thrown at him. Nobody else in this dubious company can claim anything like that. If you google his name, the first thing that will come up after it is ‘pig’s head.’ And all because he moved clubs.

But when you swap Barcelona for mortal enemies Real Madrid, there will be consequences. The Catalans have a passionate hatred for the main threats to their domestic dominance. While the pig’s head has been immortalized, it wasn’t the only thing thrown at the brilliant Portuguese. A bottle of whiskey and many other items were lobbed at him, causing a 16-minute break in play.

Sepp Blatter. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports.

1. Sepp Blatter

The former President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter is possibly the most hated man in world football today. Forced into retirement after an ongoing corruption scandal in 2015, he’s currently sitting bitterly on the sidelines. He was also investigated in 2013 by a FIFA Ethics Committee for potential involvement in illegal payments across football.

While he was cleared of wrongdoing, he is despised by the majority of fans for epitomising the greed of FIFA in the modern era. He was heavily involved in Qatar receiving the 2022 world cup. He is currently serving a ban until 2022 after an eight-year suspension was dropped to six. Not many people miss him at all.