Football is one hell of a game. A wonderful sport that draws a lot of attention from fans every day due to the great things we see our favorite players do on the pitch. Throughout its over 100 years of existence, football has given us plenty of extraordinary moments, but not everything is good in this sport.
We always try to remember the good things we lived and saw about this game, but it has a dark side that makes people cringe when they remember the things that have taken place throughout football history. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the moments that made fans say ‘what the…?’ in more than one occasion.
This top is not about the good plays Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo do every Sunday, this is about the 10 most bizarre moments that took place in football games.
Honorable Mention: Luis Figo gets a pig head thrown at him when he comes back to Camp Nou (2002)
10. Mwepu Ilunga find the weirdest way to stop a free kick (1974)
We start off with an interesting and equally sad story. Back in 1974, Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, became the first black African nation to qualify for a World Cup finals and they did so to play in the World Cup held in West Germany.
After failing to beat their first two rivals in the group stage, Scotland and Yugoslavia, Zaire had the not enviable ‘fortune’ to play against the current holders, Brazil, with the country’s leader, Mobutu Sese Seko informing the players that if they lose by four goals or more to the Little Canary, there will be bad consequences.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, Brazil were up 2-0 when they got a free-kick on the edge of the box. With Rivelino set to take the free-kick, the referee blew the whistle and Zaire defender Mwepu Ilunga stormed out of the wall and boot the ball up the field. He later claimed he was trying to get sent off in a protest to the country’s dictator, but only got a yellow card for his actions.
9. Marcelo Bielsa forces his team to let rivals score (2019)
This happens a couple of months ago during an English Championship match between Leeds United and Aston Villa. Leeds took the lead of the game after Mateusz Klich scored a controversial goal. While rival players were standing by waiting for medical assistance for one of their teammates, Klich didn’t stop playing and took his chance to score.
The aftermath of the goal came instantly, with Aston Villa players and coaching staff getting angry with Klich actions. Marcelo Bielsa, seeing how bad his player acted, demanded his team to let the Villains score the goal that drew the scoreboard. In the end, the game finished 1-1, but ‘El Loco’ demonstrated why he’s so special around the football world.
8. Eden Hazard kicks a ball boy (2013)
These aren’t the type of things we’re used to seeing Eden Hazard doing on the pitch, but yes, he did something questionable during his first days with Chelsea. Before he became one of the best players in Europe, Hazard made it to the headlines for the wrong reasons.
During an FA Cup match against Swansea City back in 2013, the midfielder was trying to get the ball back from a ball boy who was lying on top of the football with no apparent intentions to give it back to the Belgian. Eden ultimately decided to kick him in the side to force him to relent. He earned a red card and a lot of criticism for his actions. Good thing he grew up and now is one of the best footballers in the continent.
7. Eric Cantona kicks a Crystal Palace fan (1995)
Who doesn’t know the King, Eric Cantona? Well, if you are one of those unaware of the existence of one of the fiercest, most talented and temperamental strikers in football history, we’re going to introduce him to you with the most famous story about the so-called ‘King of Manchester’.
The French striker was always known for his difficult personality, to say the least, starring some polemic episodes during his stay in England. However, when he landed in Old Trafford, he took things to a different level. During a match against Crystal Palace back in 1995, Eric decided he had enough of a fan who was shouting racist slurs at him and hit him with a kung-fu kick that you only get to see in movies. Cantona was sent off and suspended for several months of the game.
6. Referee Stuart Atwell awards the craziest phantom goal ever (2008)
It’s well known that referees don’t have an easy job, but when you see the mistakes some of them make, you just want to see all of them burning. Back in 2008, during a game between Watford and Reading, Stuart Atwell made sure to inscribed his name in the book of history. Bad history.
During the match between the two sides, Reading were awarded a corner and they took it. The ball made its way to the box, there was a scramble within the area and out of nowhere the assistant referee awards a goal to the Royals that only him could see. This remains as one of the worst mistakes made ever by a ref. We would have avoided this with the VAR.
5. Ali Dia makes it to the Premier League with no experience (1996)
Alright, now we’re entering the big league of bizarre moments. This whole thing started as a prank, no doubt about it, but it could have gotten further if the prankster put more attention to the details.
In 1996, Graeme Souness and Southampton made one of the worst signings of all time when they get Ali Dia, a "Senegalese international" expressly recommended to the Saints by none other than the Ballon d’Or winner George Weah, or that’s what they thought at least. The person pretending to be Weah convinced the Saints to sign Dia.
Without making any research about the players’ past at all, Soton landed Dia and even made him play one game, but that’s when things fell apart for the team and they found out some people were mocking them with this Ali Dia. This has to be one of the most embarrassing moments for any professional football club.
4. Newcastle players fight each other (2005)
While discussions and brawl are something typical these days, it’s hard to find players from the same team turning on each other. Back in 2005, Newcastle pair Kieran Dyer and Lee Bowyer did exactly what we’re talking about, leaving one of the worst images football fans have seen in recent times.
It’s still unclear what exactly happened in the prior moments to the fight, but as a cross made his way from Newcastle to Villa’s field, the two players went at it in front of the shocked fans. Even rival players had to help to break the fight, so you know how weird and bizarre this was, and still is nowadays.
3. Zinedine Zidane headbutts Marco Materazzi (2006)
You can say the 2006 FIFA World Cup was a weird tournament. Ever since the group stage, we got to see strange moments from players, referees and coaching staffs, but the things we saw in the final game of the cup were quite astonishing. This is a worldly-famous moment, but in case you don’t know, we’re going to present one of the weirdest moments in modern football.
The 2006 World Cup final was played by France and Italy, who were tying the game with 10 minutes to go in extra time, when one of the best players in the history of the game, Zinedine Zidane, did the unthinkable and hit Italy’s defender Marco Materazzi with his head, sending the Italian to the floor and getting the red card, in the game that was his last one as a professional footballer.
Definitely one of the weirdest and sad moments in the history of football.
2. Kuwaiti Prince enters the pitch and disallows a goal (1982)
The 1982 FIFA World Cup hosted by Spain saw a lot of bizarre moments, but the one we’re about to see absolutely beats the others. During a game between the French and Kuwaiti national sides, with the Frenchmen absolutely dominating the game, Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who happened to be the Kuwait FA president, decided to protest against the fourth goal Les Blues had recently scored.
He claimed his players didn’t do anything to stop the score because ‘they heard another whistle’ and threatened with abandoning the match unless the goal was removed. Eventually, the referee disallowed the goal thanks to the Sheikh’s protest, but France didn’t lose time and still scored a fourth goal to take the victory by 4-1.
1. Graham Poll shows three yellow cards to the same player in a single game (2006)
Ok, we saw big players fighting with others, teams letting rivals score goals for the fair play and more, but now we’re getting to the top of the football weirdness. It doesn’t get more bizarre than this. We already stated that the 2006 FIFA World Cup was a bizarre tournament and this is the ultimate confirmation for those claims.
During a group-stage match between Croatia and Australia, Premier League official Graham Poll ended his international career with one of the worst performances ever seen from a referee. He pulled one of the most bizarre moments in World Cup history when he booked a player, Josip Simunic, not one or two but three times in a single match.
He showed Simunic his first yellow card for a foul on Harry Kewell in the 61st minute. Then he was shown his second yellow card in the 90th minute, but surprisingly wasn’t dismissed, driving everybody crazy. Ultimately, when Tim Cahill appeared to have scored a winner for Australia, Simunic lost it and angrily confronted Poll, who didn’t hesitate and showed him his third yellow card before finally send him off with the red card.