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5 biggest football villains in history

Ned Walters
Top 5 / Top 10
2.87K   //    11 Jan 2016, 13:30 IST
Roy McDonough
Roy “Red card” McDonough in his playing days

When you look at players such as Diego Costa, Luis Suarez or Pepe, you can’t help but wonder how they stay on the pitch for 90 minutes. They are so aggressive and reckless in their tackles and behaviour, that they either start a fight or are in the news for all the wrong reasons.

But before Suarez, Costa and Pepe, there have been some much more infamous players in football history. These were players who could fight their way to titles and much coveted awards, just like those available on sites like Here are 5 of them:

5. Andoni Goikoetxea

Andoni Goikoetxea bears a name which is incredibly difficult to both spell and pronounce. Luckily for the the rest of the world, fellow players and rival team supporters had nicknamed him ‘The Butcher of Bilbao’. In his career he played as a centre back for both Athletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, and was known as one of the hardest tacklers of his generation.

He came very close to ruining a lot of careers, due to the severity of the injuries he caused, but two of his most famous tackles were those on Diego Maradona and Bernd Schuster. Both of them were truly remarkable players, but as talented and adept at playing football as they were, they were still no match for the butcher’s career ending tackles. In fact, his sliding tackles were so bad that Maradona spent three months on the sidelines, and Schuster’s knee was so damaged, that he was never the same player again.

And in true villainous fashion, the butcher still keeps the boot with which he injured the Argentine. He has it encased in a glass box in his living room and uses it as a good conversation starter.

4. Roy McDonough

Next on our list of over- enthusiastic tacklers is Roy ‘Donut’ McDonough. And he is here for a good reason. McDonough has been sent off 21 times in his playing career, 13 of which have been dismissals in the league, a record that no one has surpassed so far.

He played as a striker for Southend, Exeter, Colchester and Cambridge, and if he wasn’t as reckless in his tackles as he was, everyone would have probably forgotten he ever existed. 

3. Graeme Souness

Souness is most famous as being the captain of the legendary Liverpool team of the 1980s. He also played for Tottenham, Rangers, Middlesbrough and Sampdoria in his career. He was, as what is now known as the complete midfielder, and was considered as one of the most talented players in his generation.

However, for every good pass and tackle he made, he committed an equally bad two- footed leg-breaker. In fact, in his debut for the Glasgow Rangers his reckless tackle was the reason for a bar fight like brawl in which every player on the pitch was involved.

Even as a coach he has had a fair share of scandalous moments, the most notable of which occurred while he was the manager of Galatasaray and was taking on Fenerbahce in the Turkish Cup in 1996. In the game, he took a large Galatasaray flag and planted it in the centre of Fenerbahce’s pitch, which needless to say, sparked a riot, coming as close to hell on Earth, as you can imagine.

2. Dave Mackay

Dave Mackay was a Scottish international who played as a left centre half or as a sweeper for clubs like Heart of Midlothian, Tottenham, Derby County and Swindon Town. He also had a successful managerial career and won the First Division league title with Derby County.

He was a man’s man. He was never scared of a tackle, a brawl or a slide in the Scottish mud. He also never coerced a referee into giving a card to an opponent. He wasn’t so much of a dirty player as he was a man playing with ideals of how the game should be played. And if you ever wronged him he would resolve the dispute on the pitch, as Billy Bremner found out the hard way.

As you can see on the, now famous photo above, Dave had a problem with Billy and he tried to resolve it the only way he could, there and then. Apparently Bremner intentionally tackled Mackay on his already broken (twice) left leg, and what followed is best captured by the picture below. Billy looks like he stole a tenner from the younger brother of the school bully, and the bully now came back for what was his, and a little more. 

1. Miguel Ángel Nadal

We end this list with Miguel Ángel Nadal, Rafa Nadal’s uncle and an all round tough man. He played in both defence and midfield for clubs like Manacor, Mallorca and Barcelona and bore the nickname ‘The Beast’ which is pretty self-explanatory.

Miguel did the dirty work for manager Cruyff, while his Barca side was winning game after game. In his tenure there,  Miguel managed to win 5 league titles, 2 cups, and a European Cup, which says something about his football playing ability. However, as often is the case, his reputation as the hatchet man usually precedes him.

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