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Top 10 greatest 'hardman' footballers of all time

Footballers of today will seem soft when compared with these brutal hardmen of footballing history!

Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League : News Photo
Diego Costa is one of the dirtiest footballers at present 

The Premier League has Chelsea's Diego Costa sitting pretty at the top of the goalscoring charts, which is quite a surprise despite his quality. But that's never been in doubt about the Brazil-born Spanish international - what's really surprising this season is that he's actually managed to play all 11 games so far.

That's right - no suspensions for that characteristic stamp, kick, bite or mouthful at the referee. Will injury curtail that amazing run from one of football's most hardcore characters? Let's see. What we do know is that while opposition fans may despise him, most ex-pros love Diego's style.

Champions like Gary Neville & Martin Keown have already expressed their love for the tough Spaniard's no-nonsense physical style, as a tribute to the older, wilder days of football. His international team-mate (and ex-derby-rival) Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid is another player to adopt a brutally physical style on the pitch to great effect.

With that in mind, we've decided to go back into the annals of football history and look at other players who would have given the likes of Sergio Ramos & Diego Costa a good run for their money on a football pitch. It's time to go back in time and find out who we've picked as our top 10 rough-and-tumble hardmen in professional football!

#10 Duncan Ferguson

duncan ferguson
The rise of ‘The Incredible Dunc’

One of the most famous men to ever don the Everton shirt, word on the street is that they don't call him 'Big Dunc' for nothing. Duncan Ferguson has proved his worth as a true street fighter on and off the football pitch plenty of times!

Where do we even begin? Some might say his first 'Big' moment came back in 1994 when he was playing up top for Rangers in his home country of Scotland. During a routine 4-0 rout of Raith Rovers, John McStay was to feel the full wrath of 'the Dunc' as he was headbutted in full force by Ferguson. Somehow (a testament to the rough-and-tumble nature of Scottish football back then) he was only yellow-carded. Upon review, however, Duncan Ferguson was charged with 3 months in jail for assault - on top of a 12-match ban!

That was far from the end of that, however. The 1.93m tall number 9 was right back at it wearing the Evertonian colours, bringing his goalscoring prowess and lucha libre style to the English Premier League. There, he amassed a fearful 8 red cards, with the final one being the most famous.

After a huge melee with Wigan during his 2nd spell at Everton, the incident ended in a punch for Paul Scharner and another vicious headbutt on Pascal Chimbonda. He earned himself a 7-match ban for that, cementing his record as 'the Diego Costa before Diego Costa'!

Off the pitch, he garnered a total of 4 counts of assault and even beat up 2 very, very stupid robbers who dared come into the house of 'the Dunc'! He managed to 'disarm' one of them with his trademark style (the robber ended up in hospital for 3 days) before the police caught the other. In 2003, just 2 years later, another thief got so badly beat up he tried to press charges on the striker - for assault!

"Hand on heart, I never started anything, never once. That’s the truth. I finished a few." – On his notorious tendency to fight.

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