When we talk about football we often tend to think about the dribbles, the goals, the good passes and every good thing this sport has to offer us. However, just as in life, you can find anything in football, as there is a dark side of this sport that not so many people like to discuss.
You have players like Diego Maradona or Cristiano Ronaldo who enchant and enchanted everybody on a weekly basis while there were others who drove everyone crazy with their questionable performances that earned them a bad reputation and the honor to be on the list of the hardest players in soccer history.
Not everything is good plays and lots of skills in this sport and today we’re going to take a look at those hot-head players who took things further when it came to defend and tackle for the ball. Here are the 10 roughest players in the history of football.
Honorable Mention: Patrick Vieira - 12 red cards
10. Vinnie Jones - 12 red cards
Vinnie Jones knew he was a villain even years before becoming an actor, as the British footballer earned a reputation during his day as a professional footballer. This midfielder had a temper that unleashed every game, gaining hate from rival fans and footballers.
He was famous for committing early fouls, even when there were seconds on the clock and the match had just begun. Vinnie was a part of the Wimbledon Football Club that people started to call the "Crazy Gang" and was able to beat Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup Final alongside his teammates.
9. Roy Keane - 14 red cards
Keane was the Vinnie Jones of the late ’90s and 2000s since this midfielder was always involved in controversies. He was a very hard player and showed that several times throughout his career, not wasting chances to leave his mark in matches or even players. There have been other Premier League players who played really hard, but there has been none other like Keane.
Keane racked up a total 14 red cards during his 17-year career, becoming a loved player at Old Trafford and one of the most hated for the rest of teams. His biggest incident was the one where he ended the career of Manchester City’s asset Alf-Inge Håland, admitting later that he would do it again if necessary. There is no doubt that this guy was very talented, as well as one of the craziest to ever play the game.
8. Felipe Melo - 14 red cards
Felipe Melo had to be on this top, as the Brazilian has done nothing but collect controversies through his career. Many people wonder how this guy went to play for big clubs like Juventus or Galatasaray, but the truth is that he did and made sure to leave his mark in each club where he played, earning 14 red cards during that time.
Now playing in Brazilian giants Palmeiras, Melo has kept his manners and has seen himself involved in more than one controversy, including the fight against Uruguayan Peñarol in one of the craziest fights in recent history of the Copa Libertadores; he also starred a brawl with Lazio players when he was part of Inter’s squad and made one of the headlines of the last Copa Libertadores, when he had an argument with Boca Juniors’ captain Pablo Perez.
Melo is one of those guys that even his own supporters can’t stand some times, as he doesn’t keep it together during a full match, so he’ll always make a play to upset everybody.
7. Yannick Cahuzac - 17 red cards
Nobody likes to talk about the ruthless some footballers show during games and that’s probably why nobody knows anything about this guy, Yannick Cahuzac, a French midfielder who accomplished something remarkable in the 2016/17 Ligue 1 season when he received three red cards in four matches.
Cahuzac has tallied 17 red cards so far in his career and he doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. Every time he goes for the ball, he gives his everything, sometimes giving too much. Right now he plays for Toulouse, where people wait to see when he will see his next red card.
6. Pablo Alfaro - 18 red cards
Alfaro was one of those players you didn’t want to face because of the hard play he used to show on the field. The former Sevilla player was seen as the dirtiest player in the La Liga back in his days and right now he’s considered as one of the dirtiest in history.
He made a duo with Javi Navarro during his days in Andalucia that shocked everybody every weekend. Alfaro didn’t hesitate to put his elbow on the rivals’ mouths, was really fierce when fighting for the ball and with tackles. It’s not a coincidence that he was sent off 18 times through his career, gaining fear and hate at the same time.
5. Paolo Montero - 21 red cards
If you’re a football fan, you have to know that Uruguayan players have a different style to play, something they call “La Garra Charrua” and that makes them give the extra they need to get the goals, wins, and titles. However, there have been certain cases where that extra push has made players to take things a little bit too far, like Diego Lugano or this guy, Paolo Montero.
Montero was very successful in European football, as well as criticized for his hard tackles and the way he showed his desire to win games. He currently holds the record for most Serie A red cards with 21; he once said: “Sometimes you have to do anything to win and this is my nature.” He really proved he would do anything to win, even hurting his colleagues.
4. Alexis Ruano - 22 red cards
The La Liga players had to be happy when this Spaniard central midfielder took his “talents” from Alaves to the Saudi Pro League last year, as Alexis Ruano wasn’t seen with good eyes in Spain seeing the impressive record of red cards he racked up during his days in the Spanish top tier.
Ruano earned this spot on our list thanks to his 22 dismissals during his 16-year career. He had a temper that could release very easily and even Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic got to know about that a couple of seasons ago. Now Ruano is making troubles in Al-Ahli Saudi FC, as nobody misses him in the Spanish football.
3. Sergio Ramos - 25 red cards
At the end of his career, Sergio Ramos might be sitting on the second spot of this top, as the Spaniard center-back doesn’t know how to control himself sometimes, and that has made him see plenty of red cards throughout his successful career. Ramos is very respected and loved in Real Madrid, but on certain occasions, even Los Blancos fans have called him out for his actions, even more in important games.
Ramos has racked up 25 red cards, the most recent one taking place in February against Girona. He was also involved in controversy during Madrid’s clashes with Barcelona in the Copa del Rey, even though he didn’t get expelled. At his pace and seeing his facility to get in troubles with innocent fouls, Ramos can surpass the 30 red cards barrier in next years.
2. Cyril Rool - 27 red cards
Cyril Rool is a total stranger for the biggest majority of football fans, but today we’re going to see the second-most expelled footballer in history. This retired central midfielder had a 17-year career full of polemics and criticism due to his actions on the pitch, where he used to take things too far.
Rool spent his entire career in French football, where he was able to get 27 dismissals, becoming the second player with most red cards in football history. He was known for starting brawls, going to tackle as if the rival player was his biggest enemy and giving karate kicks to opponents.
1. Gerardo Bedoya - 43 red cards
Now, this is something that will hardly be surpassed, we’re talking about the big leagues of red cards and this league only have one player. Colombian defensive midfielder Gerardo Bedoya was worldly known for his way to play and how incredibly ruthless he was on the pitch, collecting 46 dismissals during his 20-year career shared in Colombian, Argentinian and Brazilian football.
Bedoya was always trying to destroy his rivals, going to tackle blindly, like his life actually depended on it. No one would break his record in the near or far future, as this guy really left his mark in football history. To make things worse, during his first game as Colombian side Santa Fe was expelled. It seems like he’s more comfortable with a red card in front of his face.