The Premier League has seen many footballers best known for their silky skills, but plenty of others are notorious for different reasons.
This week, we are counting down the top 50 Premier League bad boys. Several criteria to lay out first: football-related misdeeds rather than outright criminality is prioritised; individual moments of badness are relevant, but more weight is given to career-long infamy; this is not a list of top 50 hard men, but being tasty in the tackle earns points. Also, this is an objective list compiled by the author, so you will almost certainly disagree with the entirety.
With that out the way, here is part three, counting down numbers 30 to 21…
30. Stan Collymore
A star for Liverpool in the 1990s, Collymore was one of the Spice Boys – the first celebrity players of the Premier League era – however by the end of the decade he had chosen to retire by the age of 30.
Barely a game would go by without Collymore getting involved in some sort of scrap or disagreement. It was a case, unfortunately, of natural talent gone largely to waste.
Barely a game would go by without Stan Collymore getting involved in some sort of scrap
29. Dimitri Payet
In the 2015-16 season, Payet was almost unplayable in the colours of West Ham United. He was their player of the year and fired them into Europe.
However the following season, former club Marseille took an interest and Payet lost his. Manager Slaven Bilic went public in saying how Payet no longer wanted to play for the club, and he got his return to France in the ultimate display of player power.
A West Ham security guard protects Dimitri Payet’s mural from vandals after he went on strike
28. Pierre van Hooijdonk
Van Hooijdonk was in many ways the precursor to Payet – after a spectacular season, he wanted to leave. When his club – Nottingham Forest – refused to do sell, the striker went on strike.
The Dutchman did not play from the start of the season until November, by which time Forest were bound for relegation. A nadir was reached when van Hooijdonk scored against local rivals Derby, and his team mates refused to celebrate with him.
Pierre van Hooijdonk celebrates alone after team-mates ignore his equalising goal vs Derby
27. Dele Alli
It is easy to forget that Alli is still only 21; so many of his controversial moments could be partially attributed to the impetuosity of youth. However there is no questioning the bad boy streak within him.
His punch to the stomach of Claudio Yacob ruled him out of the end of Tottenham’s 2015/16 season, and he played a part in costing them their Europa League place last season for his terrible tackle on Gent player Brecht Dejaegere.
Dele Alli was retrospectively banned after video footage showed him punching Claudio Yacob
26. John Terry
Captain, leader, legend to Chelsea fans; words somewhat less printable to fans of other Premier League clubs. Few English footballers have as successful and divisive as Terry.
While captaining the Blues through their most successful spell, Terry also got a reputation for questioning refereeing authority. He missed the 2012 Champions League final for a needless knee to the back of Alexis Sanchez, and while he was found not guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, he was banned by the FA in a sorry incident which damaged his reputation.
John Terry was found not guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, but he was still banned
25. Chris Armstrong
Armstrong represented Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur with distinction during the early years of the Premier League, but unfortunately is remembered for setting an unwanted Premier League first.
He was the first in the current league era to fail a drugs test, after in March 1995 he tested positive for cannabis. The month he missed as a result cost Palace dear – he scored 18 goals that season, but Palace were relegated by a three point margin.
Chris Armstrong was the first Premier League player to fail a drugs test whilst at Crystal Palace
24. Ashley Cole
Cole, in his heyday, was arguably England’s greatest ever left back, who was part of Arsenal’s Invincibles and won the FA Cup more times than any other player.
However he lost the love of Arsenal fans forever after offering himself to Chelsea without the Gunners’ permission, and his attitude towards referees did not endear him much more to fans of other clubs.
Ashley Cole agitated his way out of Arsenal and rarely gave a referee an easy game
23. Robbie Fowler
Another ex-Liverpool Spice Boy, Fowler managed to make more of his talent than Collymore and is held in especially high regard by Liverpool fans, but had very controversial moments.
In 1999, Fowler celebrated a goal against Everton by sniffing the white touchline in front of the away fans at Anfield, miming cocaine use. He was also fined for homophobic taunting of Chelsea player Graeme Le Saux
In 1999, Robbie Fowler celebrated a goal against Everton by sniffing the white touchline
22. Franck Queudrue
Part of a clutch of players to have been sent off six times in the Premier League, Queudrue found himself taking an early shower an average of once every 16 games – at least twice a season.
Most of these came in his first full season in English football at Middlesbrough, where he picked up five yellows and three reds in 2002/03. At Birmingham City, then owner David Sullivan claimed: ‘We bought a pile of rubbish last season and Franck Queudrue has disappointed me the most.’
Franck Queudrue received five yellow cards and three reds in his debut Boro season
21. Kevin Davies
Bolton Wanderers under Sam Allardyce could best be summed up with words that also applied to Davies – strong, successful, uncompromising, likely to figure in the referee’s notebook.
From 2004 to 2007 he committed more fouls than any other Premier League player (in 2007/08 it was the second most), and in total more than 1,000 fouls while at the Trotters, the most of any player in the competition’s history.
Kevin Davies committed over 1,000 fouls while at Bolton Wanderers, more than anyone else