Any soccer fanatic knows that this sport has a way of rousing the emotions within us—either while talking about the sport, watching it on television, or most commonly, while playing it. Though this may be far truer for some of us than others, we’ve all experienced these feelings, ranging from elation to rage, or have an Italian friend who does it for us and a hundred others all on his own.
This article focuses on those rage-fit moments, highlighting some of the most noteworthy moments in which soccer brought the worst out of the greatest players and teams.
While, unfortunately, soccer also contains its fair share of full-fledged battles on and off the field, this article doesn’t focus on those events, but rather on the temper tantrums of individual athletes. Here are ten of those moments in video, in no particular order.
10. The Battle of Santiago
This 1962 World Cup match is considered one of the most brutal games in World Cup history, and it was provoked by a couple of Italian journalists who decided it was their job to poke fun on the country hosting the tournament, which had just suffered a massive earthquake. In the end those journalists had to be quickly taken outside of the country for their own safety.
Ironically enough, Ken Aston, the referee who “pretended” to referee this match was the same person that would go on to introduce the usage of yellow and red cards.
9. The Battle of Nuremburg
And how those cards would come in handy 44 years later in a game between Portugal and Holland, where 16 yellow cards and 4 red cards were issued in an ugly match that featured foul after foul and not much else. The only thing more amazing than the amount of cards issued in this game (a World Cup record) is the fact that Portugal actually managed to score a goal somewhere in between all those fouls.
8. The Battle of Old Traffod I
Even though in 2004 Arsenal became the first team to finish an entire English season unbeaten since Chuck Norris sometime in the 70’s (citation needed), this accomplishment didn’t come without its price, as can be seen by this bitterly-fought draw they achieved against Manchester United.
7. The Battle of Old Trafford II (aka the Battle of Buffet)
A year after the first match, Manchester United beat Arsenal 2 – 0 to take away Arsenal’s unbeaten record, and once again, brawls between the players broke out after the final whistle. This time the brawl evolved into a food fight in the exit tunnel, which is where the name came from.
Both clips show a bias to the opposing team, with one clip siding with Manchester United, and the other with Arsenal, but the simple fact is that both sides went out in search of a fight, and both sides got it.
6. Marquez Out for Revenge
Once it became apparent that the United States would come out the winners from their rivalry clash against Mexico in the 2002 World Cup, Mexico’s captain, Rafa Marquez, decided to let out his frustration with a mid-air headbutt, and that way get his marching orders. (watch from minute 1:52)
5. Wayne “Watch-Your-Knackers” Rooney
In this instance, Wayne Rooney had had enough of the rough play the Portuguese defenders were using to defend, and let out a kick that made every man in the audience wince and guard his groin.
4. Eric Cantona..Nope, I’m Not a Fan
This legendary Eric Cantona Kung-fu kick to one of United’s own fans would go down as one of the greatest example of this star’s temper.
3. Dyer vs. Bowyer – Friendly Fire
While most players frustrated with their team’s defeat will look to the opposing team with enmity, Newcastle players Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer let out their anger at each other instead, both getting red cards and not helping their team’s chances whatsoever.
2. Gattuso’s Entire Career
Gennaro Gattuso is a guy that exhibits his passion for soccer in every tackle he has ever made and has a fuse the length of a match. You do not want to mess with the little Italian man with the beard.
1. Zidane’s Infamous Headbutt
Even a player like Zidane, characterized for his composed brilliance, could lose his head every once in a while, and he sometimes chose the biggest stage of all, a World Cup final, to show the world his angry side.