After Diego Costa and Gareth Barry clashed at the weekend, it got us thinking of the dirtiest bastards in football right now.
There’s been plenty over the years, and nearly every team has had one despicable hacker in their ranks at all times.
They’re the players who the opposition fans love to boo, and the ones the FA have in the ‘favourites’ bar of their emails.
To avoid this list from being made up of defensive midfielders who make a living from booting people, we thought we’d make an actual starting XI from players who are still playing – so there’s no room for King of the hackers, Roy Keane.
For all you keen formation lovers, it’s a 3-5-2 system, with one bloke crammed into a slightly unnatural role on the left wing.
Without further ado, here’s who makes the cut:
Goalkeeper: Volkan Demirel (Fenerbahce)
While not the biggest household name in England, rest assured that the Turkish goalkeeper is one absolute nutter.
He’s played over 300 games for Fenerbahce, and makes this list purely for his clash with Galatasaray midfielder Lincoln in 2008.
The Turkish league isn’t one that lacks passion, especially when those two teams play.
So when it all kicked off, Demirel went mental and thrust his knee into Gala midfielder Lincoln’s private area, causing the Brazilian some pain.
So yeah, he’s our goalkeeper.
Centre Back: Pepe (Real Madrid)
An obvious inclusion in the defence, Pepe is probably one of the dirtiest defenders in world football right now.
He genuinely scares strikers into giving him the ball and when they don’t, he smashes them.
A regular recipient of red cards in the Spanish league, Pepe is one of those players who doesn’t seem good enough at actually defending to play for Real Madrid, but gets by on pure aggression.
In 2009, Pepe was given a red card for bringing down Getafe midfielder Javier Casquero inside the box.
He wasn’t done there though, as he kicked the player twice while he was on the floor, before pushing his face into the turf and stamped on him as many times as he could before being dragged away.
If we went through his career of misdemeanours, we’d be here all day, but they don’t get any less serious.
So Pepe makes it in.
Centre Back: Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)
This is undoubtedly the only time Shawcross will ever get in the same team as Pepe.
Shawcross is sometimes described as a ‘typical English defender’, which basically means he’s overly aggressive and isn’t particularly good.
His ‘tackle’ on Aaron Ramsey in 2010 is what he’ll be remembered for for the rest of his career, and it still sickens everyone to this day.
Shawcross has made a career out of hacking away at talented strikers, meaning he’s one of the most unpopular defenders in the Premier League – except among Stoke fans, who still sing about his tackle on Ramsey regularly.
Centre Back: John Terry (Chelsea)
Chances are, you probably guessed this guy made the team.
One of the most despicable characters in English football, Terry makes the team thanks to his reputation as one of the dirtiest defenders to play the game.
Remember his knee into the back of Alexis Sanchez for no apparent reason? Yeah, Terry’s had a few clashes that make him an obvious choice for this team.
Never mind that he’s a quality defender, he’s a dirty git so he’s in.
Centre Midfield: Lee Cattermole (Sunderland)
Somehow, Cattermole has crafted a career in the Premier League.
The Sunderland captain has made a life out of kicking the more talented centre midfielders that share the pitch with him, and picking up plenty of bookings along the way.
He’s one of those players that would rather hack down an opponent than try and tackle him legitimately, and averages a card every two games for his club.
Despite him probably being the worst player in this team, he makes it in.
Centre Midfield: Cheick Tiote (Newcastle United)
Completing the North East pairing in centre midfield, Tiote deserves his place.
When he signed for Newcastle from FC Twente back in 2010, the Ivory Coast international looked a handy player in the middle of the park.
But his effectiveness came at a price, namely a tonne of yellow cards.
It got to the point where Tiote might as well have had a direct debit set up to pay fines to the FA. In 50 games, Tiote picked up 25 yellow cards and one red.
He did calm down eventually, but it affected his game and he’s now normally seen on the treatment table at St James Park, or hanging out with one of his two wives or his mistress (seriously).
Centre Midfield: Nigel de Jong (LA Galaxy)
If one of your nicknames includes ‘The Lawnmower’, it’s a safe bet that you’re a bit of a dirty bastard.
Everyone remembers his famous ‘Kung Fu’ tackle on Xabi Alonso in the 2010 World Cup, a challenge that sums up de Jong nicely.
While at Manchester City, de Jong broke Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden’s leg, causing the American to be sidelined for two seasons.
Not content with that, he also broke Hatem Ben Arfa’s tibula and fibula (both of the bones in the shin) while in the Premier League, causing the Newcastle man to be stretchered off.
Now plying his trade in America, de Jong has swapped hacking down some of Europe’s best players to kicking lumps out of lesser talented Yanks.
Nice of him to spread his talent.
Right Midfield: Joey Barton (Burnley)
Anyone who’s spent time in prison is always going to be a strong shout for this team.
During his career, Barton has assaulted former team mate Ousmane Dabo, stubbed a cigarette in a team mate’s eye, and caused more fights than you can care to remember.
One of the most famous was during QPR’s famous 3-2 defeat to Manchester City, when Barton floored Carlos Tevez and then Sergio Aguero, before causing a mass brawl as he was sent off.
Vincent Kompany and Mario Balotelli also squared up to him, which would have been the end of Barton’s life had the scrap not been broken up.
He later said that he was trying to take one of City’s players with him, but it just proved that he’s a pre-meditated dirty bastard.
Left Midfield: Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United)
OK, we know that Fellaini has never played on the left of midfield, but he had to make this team.
That’s because he has a disgusting tendancy to elbow people, and generally hack his way through games to make up for his lack of ability.
Watching the Belgian play is like watching Bambi on ice at times, except with a giant afro and swinging limbs.
His latest clash – with Liverpool’s Emre Can – was classic Fellaini, using his physicality to level the playing field against opponents that have easily contained him.
Centre Forward: Luis Suarez (Barcelona)
While he may have started to prove that he isn’t such a bellend any more, Suarez is still an obvious choice for this team.
His tendency to bite defenders will never be forgotten, and it’s because of his willingness to chomp on an opponent that he’s in.
Giorgio Chiellini will testify that he’s not the nicest striker to play against, while Patrice Evra isn’t exactly on his Christmas card list.
Suarez’s career has been littered with controversies, although he has seemed to calm down lately after signing for Barcelona.
But still, he’s definitely in.
Centre Forward: Diego Costa (Chelsea)
Quite possibly the world’s biggest footballing bastard.
Costa could start a fight in an empty room, so when you put him up against 11 other blokes who are trying to stop him scoring, a scrap is never far away.
Every time he hits the floor, his team mates and fans hold their breath as they wonder if Costa is going to spring up and go face to face with the man that’s just decked him.
He usually does, and his weird incident with Gareth Barry last weekend was classic Diego.
His willingness to down tools when it’s not going his way also makes him distinctly unlikeable, so he’s a certainty to round off this team.