They say that football is not a hard man’s game any more and they may be right. Most of the Premier League’s notorious nutcases were from yesteryear. Here are the Premier League’s hardest ever players…
10. Neil Ruddock
Razor Ruddock’s Premier League career was spent with Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and West Ham United for just under 10 years, and in that time, Ruddock earned a reputation as being one of the league’s hardest players.
Famous battles with the likes of Eric Cantona and Patrick Vieira, as well as constantly being in the headlines for a number of incidents; drink driving, womanizing and weight issues to name but a few.
9. John Hartson
Hartson played in the top flight for five teams (Arsenal, West Ham, Wimbledon, Coventry City and West Brom), but is better known for his bad boy reputation than his clinical goalscoring abilities.
The burly striker had a number of training ground bust ups with teammates, notably kicking Eyal Berkovic in the face while at West Ham. The Welsh striker was sent off a number of times in his career and at one point, Alex Ferguson was close to signing him, but was turned by his psychopathic tendencies.
8. Nemanja Vidic
Nemanja Vidic is the most recent player in this list and was probably the hardest man in the Premier League of his generation ahead of the likes of Martin Skrtel and Vincent Kompany.
The former Manchester United captain is a determined individual who rarely let strikers get the better of him but when they do, as Fernando Torres did a few times, Vidic resorts to ferociously fouling them. The 31-year-old retired from the game after an unsuccessful spell with Inter Milan.
7. Thomas Repka
Yet another West Ham player, this time being former Czech Republic international defender Tomas Repka. The centre back signed for the Hammers in September 2001 for a club record £5.5m, being signed with his reputation as a hardman already well established.
Repka was sent off on his debut and then again on his third appearance for the club. Despite, his constant disciplinary problems and lack of self control, Repka went on to become a cult figure at Upton Park, famously leaving the pitch in tears on his final game
6. Patrick Vieira
Vieira is probably the finest midfield enforcer Arsenal has ever had and for ten seasons, the Frenchman was a dominant figure in the Premier League. Vieira matched his brilliant footballing ability, with uncompromising tackles and an occasional streak of madness.
The former Arsenal captain had a terrible disciplinary record with the Gunners and his brawl in the tunnel with Roy Keane prior to a match between Arsenal and Manchester United is worth a watch….
5. Stuart Pearce
It’s no coincidence that Stuart Pearce’s other name was “psycho”, the former England under 21 manager was a scary opponent, just being caught in his unflinching stare would frighten off most players.
Pearce could play a bit too and he made a name for himself as a solid, goalscoring left back. Yet, “psycho” is best known for his no nonsense style of play and famously waved away a stretcher after breaking his leg on the pitch.
4. Vinnie Jones
Even in Hollywood, Vinnie Jones can’t escape from his hard man reputation, normally playing ruthless bounty hunters or psycho sportsman in his now acting career.
As a player for Wimbledon though, Jones did not act as a hard man, he was one. As part of the “Crazy Gang” (representing the likes of fellow hardmen Dennis Wise and John Fashanu), Jones battered his way through opponents and in simplest terms, was a football hooligan punching and assaulting opponents.
3. Julian Dicks
Julian Dicks, or “The Terminator”, as he was also known, was the ultimate West Ham hardman, with the Hammers incredibly representing five players on this list. Yet, Dicks was the worst of them all and after one of his tackles, most strikers would stay away from him for the duration of the game.
Dicks was a key figure for the Hammers in 1990’s and his aggressive attitude was also seen in his phenomenal penalty taking abilities, where he would literally smash the ball towards a fearful keeper. Dicks once got three sending off’s in one season, simply atrocious.
2. Roy Keane
Roy Keane had a stare that could make Stuart Pearce blink. The former Manchester United captain was one of the most formidable opponents you could face in the history of the Premier League.
Keane wasn’t satisfied until he had battled with everyone; Patrick Vieira, Alan Shearer and, tragically, Alf Inge Haaland all came under Keane’s wrath. The Irishman seemed to have a problem with authority, causing troubles with both club and country throughout his career.
1. Duncan Ferguson
Roy Keane was arguably “harder” than Ferguson on the pitch, yet ‘Big Dunc’ continued his toughness off the pitch as well. The Scottish striker has four convictions of assault to his name, including one on a policeman.
As a player for Everton and Newcastle, Ferguson took absolutely no prisoners on the pitch and this was seen from his unacceptable disciplinary record. Adored by Everton fans, they somehow looked past that he was a liability to the side, as the danger of him getting a red card every game was notoriously high.