Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride – the seven deadly sins of mankind. Day in, and day out, we see people guilty of these – we ourselves often fall prey to them. So in the wide, crazy, world of football. How hard is it going to be find a list of footballers that match each of them?
Not very, is the answer.
Here’s a few people who have never shied away from committing a sin, or two – (do take this in the right spirit! *hides behind my desk*)
Lust – John Terry
When the Good Book says Love thy Neighbour, it doesn't mean you go around lusting after thy Neighbour's wife! Someone forgot to tell that to John Terry, though!
There is a reason Wayne Bridge didn't shake hands with his former teammate and captain when he returned to Stamford Bridge and it has nothing to do with Terry's personal hygiene. While teammates and defensive partners to boot (Terry at LCB and Bridge at LB), Terry got it down with Bridge's girlfriend of the time – a French lingerie model named Vanessa Perroncel. He also got her pregnant. To make things even worse, Veronica and Terry's wife Toni were good friends at the time!
There have also been allegations that Terry had an affair with an unnamed model while Toni was pregnant with the second of their kids – as if all this could get any more sordid.
Great player he may be, but John Terry fights off some stiff competition (hello Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Mauro Icardi amongst so many others!) to win the tag for Lust
Gluttony – Antonio Cassano
This could have very well filed under Lust, but the former Italian wunderkind walks away with the gluttony tag for his incredible love of pastries!
I'll let Cassano explain what I mean -
"I had a friend who was a hotel waiter. His job was to bring me three or four pastries after I had sex. He would bring the pastries up the stairs, I would escort the woman to him and we would make an exchange: he would take the girl and I would take the pastries. Sex and then food, a perfect night."
Ah. Tony, you wasted talent you. Once called the “most technically gifted footballer I have seen” by none other Francesco Totti (incredibly high praise coming from one of the world's most technically gifted footballers) his insatiable appetite for pastries and other dessert condiments meant he grew overweight and led to Real Madrid fining him for every gram he was overweight!
The bundle of madness soon toned down, and cut down on the gluttony after marrying water polo player Carolina Marcialis – but it is hard to think of another footballer who threw away his undeniable talent for the love of some sweet, sweet, cupcake.
Greed – Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole was an excellent footballer in his prime, easily the best left back in the English League and arguably the best in the world at the time.
But for neutrals, and Arsenal fans, the world over he will be synonymous with the tag that the furious Arsenal faithful gave him – Cashley Cole.
A youth player at Arsenal who raised through the ranks, he was one of those who vindicated Arsene Wenger's trust in youth, and he soon became a bonafide superstar – especially after his exploits for England in Euro 2004 got him named in the team of the tournament.
And soon, the troubles started. He met with Chelsea in secret, behind Arsenal's back, in an incident that saw him fined £ 100,000 (later reduced to £25,000), Chelsea £300,000 and Jose Mourinho £200,000. Keen to tie down their young star, Arsenal offered to double Cole's wages to £54,000 but the left-back wanted a minimum of £60,000.
Eventually, Cole was offloaded to Chelsea for £5 million – with a £90,000 -a-week salary.
"I know full well that I'm not a greedy person. I've not come here for money," said Cole "I've come here because I want to win things and I have a good chance of winning things at Chelsea”
Yeah, sure... Cashley.
Honourable mentions – Graziano Pelle who ditched European football for the Chinese Super League and a reported £250,000-a-week deal. Also Samuel Eto'o – who signed on for Anzhi Makhachkala for, and I kid you not, $52,000-a-day!! And Lionel Messi – PAY YOUR TAXES, DAMMIT!
Oh and Arjen Robben – pass the ball for once, Arjen!
Sloth – Mario Balotelli
“I don't care”
If one man could personify this most infuriating of statements – it would be Mario Balotelli.
He had the talent – still has, if what he is doing at Nice is anything to go by – but his head's not always been in it. While his unexplainable maverick-ness has played a hug part, sloth is arguably the one thing that has held the volatile Italian back is sloth. Sheer, unadulterated laziness.
This one story from his calamitous Liverpool career proves my point.
It was September 2014, and at the club's Melwood training facility Brendan Rodgers was put his men through a number of training exercises. One of those involved working on defending corners. Rodgers called all of them and instructed them on where each player should stand, and what they should do. Except, there was one player missing.
Looking around he saw Balotelli lolling about up the pitch, and the coach shouted at him to get back. Mario's response was typically Mario -
When Rodgers demanded an explanation, he said -
“'I don't come back for corners, I'm a striker”
No wonder Klopp asked him to pack his bags.
Wrath – Zinedine Zidane
Hold on, HOLD ON, don't throw your mobile/laptop/monitor at the wall – bear with me here.
While Pepe, Diego Costa, Roy Keane, Kevin Muscat, Vinnie Jones (I could go on here, couldn't I?) exemplify the sin of wrath – there is something to be said about Zinedine Zidane.
The great Frenchman cloaked it under a veneer of aloof-ness that was almost angelic, and a footballing ability that was greater than anyone else playing the game at the time.'
But every now and then, his inner anger would rise in a most vicious manner. Thuggish and brutal at times, Zidane's anger often surfaced when least expected.
The most famous is of course when Marco Materazzi's constant badgering got under the Marseillaise's skin and out came the headbutt – a moment of pure wrath that cost France the World Cup. But he has history – he missed most of World Cup '98 after an ugly stamp in the match against Saudi Arabia and he has been sent off before for a headbutt too – and that in the Champions League!
Underneath all that brilliance, there was a bubbling well of pure fury that gets the ethereal genius the tag for Wrath
Envy – Terry Butcher
From what transpired with Terry (who coveted his friend's girlfriend) and Giggs (who coveted his brother's *throws up a little*), it is clear that many footballers could lay claim to the tag of Envy, but here we go with one of the breed that generally seem to envious of everything around them – football's so called 'hardmen'.
This includes people like Bolivia's Yasmani Duk, who was so infuriated at being nutmegged that he nearly elbowed Neymar Jr.'s head clean off. It was ugly, the only way many people can respond to people who are infinitely more skilled than them; and while it reeks of brutality and thuggery more than anything else – a strong underlying current of envy is common to most of these kinds of fouls.
Terry Butcher, English hardman and the man designated to mark the Argentine superstar in that '86 semifinal booted, elbowed and generally bullied Diego around for the vast majority of the match but all to no avail. Maradona then went on to score the two most famous goals in the game's history, and etch his name alongside Pele as the finest of all time; but Butcher never really got over that first goal – the Hand of God When the two met in 2008 - Maradona as Argentina's manager, Butcher as Scotland's assistant – there was no love lost between the two. Butcher expressed his desire to punch Maradona in the face and had a face of thunderous fury as Diego took his seat in the opposition dug-out.
That, of course, may also be due to the way Maradona responded when he was told what Butcher wanted to do with his face
“Who is Terry Butcher?”
Honourable mention – Every football 'fan', ever
Pride – Cristiano Ronaldo
When we talk about pride as a sin – we are generally talking about hubris.
Hubris - Excessive pride or self-confidence; Hubris – Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese Superstar is as synonymous with pride and hubris as he is to the word great.
Yes, it may have helped propel him to greatness, but it doesn't make any of what he has done any less hubristic.
He has a museum in his hometown dedicated to himself which is filled with the trophies and medals he's won (most people have trophy cabinets, Ronaldo does things a touch differently though). He has a statue of himself standing in that iconic 'I am going to blooter this freekick into orbit' pose in front of said museum.
One of his ex-girlfriends once complained that he spent more time on his looks than she did – and she was a model, looking good was her job.
He doesn't celebrate teammates' goals, and he celebrates his own (however trivial) with that stupid, but very catchy, DragonBall Z imitation-thingy.
Why take my word for it? Once, in 2013, he was asked about whether he deserved to win the Balon d'Or that year. Kicking all traces of false modesty, and nonsense PR Talk out of the window, he replied candidly -
“If I deserve it this year?
I deserved it last year, and the year before that… I deserve to win the Ballon D’Or every year.”
Hard to say he doesn't deserve the ones he did win, though – or that he deserves to win it this year!