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5 famous instances when cool players lost the plot

Francesco Totti
Totti and Balotelli as friends this time
ANALYST
Modified 10 Mar 2016
Top 5 / Top 10

Juan Mata was sent off against West BromHave you ever seen a player sent off the pitch and wondered, seriously? That's what Manchester United (and probably Chelsea & Valencia) fans must have been saying as Champions League winner Juan Mata trudged off the pitch in the 26th minute at the Hawthorns last weekend.He's built up a reputation as one of football's nice guys, but when the red mist descends, it makes anyone crazy. Even those select few legendary footballers who've become beaming, benevolent guardian angels of the beautiful game, believe it or not.Since we're so accustomed to stereotyping the modern footballer as an arrogant, flashy individual, fans tend to warm to players who display a sort of humility and groundedness. They can become cult heroes even without displaying the level of talent possessed by more expensive and more effective players.But out there in the fervour of a feisty derby or the dying embers of a knife-edge final, pressure or anger can suffocate anyone. Let's take a look at the days some of football's favourite sons got a little bit naughty.As Liverpool great Bill Shankly put it, "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that".

#5 Francesco Totti

The Italian capital club's walking totem is renowned throughout football for his class and conduct on the pitch. His goalscoring exploits and leadership and passion will last much longer than his remarkable 2-decade career at the top-level. With 309 goals, he is the 7th highest scoring Italian in history. At his club, he’s the best.

Considering all that, Roma fans would’ve been quite forgiving when he was sent off for a frustrated, angry kick at Mario Balotelli in 2010. As Jose Mourinho’s ruthless Nerazzurri marched on to a Diego-Milito inspired Coppa Italia triumph, Francesco Totti sighted a 19-yr-old Balotelli's legs.

Frustrated and chasing the game, the Roma hero swung at Balotelli from behind and earned himself an 88th minute sending off, having come off the bench in the first place.

He was later quoted as saying, “I kicked him because of what he said on the pitch, and for what he did at San Siro”, in reference to some over-the-top celebrations from Mario Balotelli in a bombastic 3-3 draw at Inter’s home ground.

Talk about a good guy gone bad!

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Published 10 Mar 2016, 13:49 IST
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