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Les Miserables - Top 5 horrible performances in football

Vineet Varma
Modified 17 Jan 2013, 18:51 IST
Top 5 / Top 10


As Stoke City’s Jonathan Walters endured a miserable time in the 4-0 defeat against Chelsea on Sunday(netting two own goals and missing a penalty late on in the match), the writer can’t help but recollect players who have had similar such horror shows in the past.

Sunday’s game gave Walters the dubious distinction of being only the fourth player in the Premiership to have scored a brace of own goals(after Gary Breene, Jamie Carragher and Michael Proctor).

So inspired by Walters, the writer has come up with a list of players who have similarly had some really unfortunate moments  in the past, in games which they would like to forget as soon as possible!

1. Martin Palermo vs Colombia(1999)

Argentina were playing Colombia in the Copa America in 1999 and striker Martin Palermo, who had scored a brace in the previous game against Eucador, looked in fine touch.

Argentina won a penalty just five minutes into the game and it was Palermo who strode on to take the kick.

But it went horribly wrong as the veteran blasted his kick against the crossbar, handing Colombia a lifeline.

Colombia later took the lead through an Ivan Cordoba penalty and also had Hamilton Ricard missing one.


In a match of twists and turns, Argentina won a second penalty fourteen minutes from time with Palermo taking it again, looking to make amends for his earlier miss.

But the veteran striker missed once again as he hit his shot over the crossbar and squandered a chance to get his side level.

Colombia, who scored quickly through Edwin Congo and Johnnier Montano to take a 3-0 lead, later gifted Argentina a third penalty in the dying moments of the game for a supposed handball, with Palermo once again striding forward to take the spot kick.

And it was yet another miss as Palermo had his shot saved by keeper Miguel Callero, prompting celebrations amongst the Colombian players as the veteran striker walked off in despair after a hattrick of misses!

2. Jonathan Woodgate vs Athletic Bilbao(2005)

Woodgate had a horror debut for Real Madrid in which he first scored an own goal and was later sent off!

Real Madrid had signed Jonathan Woodgate from Newcastle United in 2004 and the young centre-back was already being hailed as the next Fernando Hierro by sections of the Bernabeu faithful.


Woodgate didn’t play a single game in 2004 due to injuries and only made his debut the following season in a league match against Athletic Bilbao.

Though he was given a warm reception by fans at the onset, it turned out to be a night to forget for the defender as he first scored an own goal and was then sent off at the hour mark for a foul on Joseba Etxeberria.

But his sending off didn’t matter much as Madrid won the tie 3-1, thanks to a brace from Raul Gonzales.

Woodgate’s debut was probably the worst ever in footballing history. The Englishman later quit Madrid due to injuries(he played only nine league games!) and made a move back to the Premier League with Middlesborough!

3. Jamie Carragher vs Manchester United(1999)

Carragher scored twice at the wrong end against Manchester United in 1999!

Carragher scored twice at the wrong end against Manchester United in 1999!

This is one match which Liverpool old boy Jamie Carragher would want to forget.

A young Carragher scored not one but two own goals in a hotly contested tie against old rivals Manchester United at Anfield.


The first one came in the 3rd minute itself after Carragher tried to head a Ryan Giggs cross clear but instead, deflected it past keeper Sander Westerveld to gift United the opener.

Though United later scored through Andy Cole in the 18th minute, Sami Hyypia pulled one back for the Reds five minutes later with a fine header.

But United virtually won the game just before halftime when the unlucky Carragher scored a second own goal by deflecting in a David Beckham freekick to make it 3-1 for the ‘Red Devils’.

Liverpool did score through Patrick Berger later on as the game progressed but United did enough to hold on to a 3-2 lead and complete a night of misery for Carragher and the Reds!

4. Rio Ferdinand vs Leicester City(2000)

Ferdinand looked out of sorts against Leicester in 2000;seen here with teammate Matthew Jones

Ferdinand looked out of sorts against Leicester in 2000; seen here with teammate Matthew Jones

Everyone knows how good a player Rio Ferdinand is after his admirable displays over the years for both Manchester United and the English national team.

Ferdinand, though now a stellar figure in English football, had a torrid debut for Leeds United against Leicester City in 2000, when a three goal blitz in the first half from the ‘Foxes’ had the young defender and the Whites’ defence looking completely out of sorts.


Ferdinand, who was at that time bought from West Ham United for a record 18 million pounds, looked all at sea against a strike force comprising of Robbie Savage and Ade Akinbiyi.

Though Leeds scored a consolation goal later on through Mark Viduka and lost the match 3-1, Ferdinand was subjected to taunts of ‘What a waste of money!’ from the disgruntled ‘Whites’ supporters.

But the English defender has since silenced critics with his innumerable match-winning displays for both the club and the country and has become one of the Premier League’s all time great defenders!

5. Ciaran Clark vs Chelsea(2013)

Clark had a dismal game in the 8-0 defeat against Chelsea

Clark had a dismal game in the 8-0 defeat against Chelsea

This one’s from the ongoing season.

Chelsea hosted AstonVilla at Stamford Bridge in December, with new coach Rafael Benitez expected to get the Blues back in the Premier League title race.

Villa came into the game on the back of a six match unbeaten run and were hoping to revive a sagging season so far.

But it all went awry from the 2nd minute itself when Villa centre-back Ciaran Clark was outpaced by Fernando Torres, who gave Chelsea the lead through a fine header.


Chelsea later ran riot through the entire Villa defence, with Clark particularly being outrun and outwitted by Torres and the impressive Eden Hazard.

The Irish defender had a nightmarish game against the Blues in which he couldn’t win a single tackle nor header and also gave away a second half penalty by bringing Oscar down in the box.

The only positive for both Villa and Clark was the save by keeper Bradley Guzan off the resulting spot kick from striker Lucas Piazon in a match which the Blues dominated from start to finish.

Chelsea routed Villa 8-0 with Clark and his teammates wondering as to what really hit them!

Though there have been many such instances of players failing miserably in an odd game or two like Sunderland’s Michael Proctor, who scored a brace of own goals quite funnily against Charlton Athletic in 2003, the writer feels the above mentioned players are definitely worth a mention in the top 5 list!

Published 17 Jan 2013, 18:50 IST
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