Not everyone can be a role model for the future generation of sporting stars out there, but perhaps being a role model is the last thing on the mind of a professional footballer the moment he steps onto the pitch.
There are, however, a select few who have really had zero disregard for those watching or indeed for their opponents over the years, and they ought to be singled out for their often reckless and ultimately cold-blooded actions.
These actions have even garnered respect from many onlookers, such has been their complete lack of consideration for those on the receiving end of their unsportsmanlike conduct.
Here is the ultimate shithouse starting XI.
They line up with a 3-5-2 formation because, let’s be honest, these were players who always got their own way, and they certainly wouldn’t even consider being nice enough to settle for a more traditional 4-4-2.
GK – Jens Lehmann
German clubs Schalke and Borussia Dortmund enjoyed the eccentric goalkeeper’s acrobatic displays for several years, but it was with Arsenal that Lehmann really made a name for himself.
The 6’3” shot-stopper was undoubtedly one of the more traditional number ones, with his performances in all 38 games of the club’s ‘Invincibles’ season sure to live long in his memory. That didn’t stop him from bullying opposition strikers when he got the chance, however.
CB – Sergio Ramos
The one true pantomime villain, and one that continues to get even the tiniest advantage over his opponents by any means necessary, legal or illegal.
Ramos certainly has his admirers, but an even longer list of haters includes the entire Liverpool and Barcelona fanbases, namely for his rugged dealing of Mohamed Salah and Lionel Messi respectively.
CB – Pepe
From clattering into opponents, rolling around on the floor and just about aggravating all those who he came up against, Pepe truly epitomizes what it means to be the ultimate shithouse.
What’s much worse, however, is the fact that he’s spent the majority of his career alongside Ramos at Madrid, forming a truly detestable duo at the back. He’s still annoying players, fans and referees at the age of 37.
CB – Marco Materazzi
The Italian’s physical stature certainly helped him out when attacking the opposition box, but it was also put to use when attacking opposition players, with his 6’4” frame often seen confronting terrified individuals who he deemed had crossed the line.
Perhaps a touch of rough justice was served when he was on the receiving end of a Zinedine Zidane headbut in the 2006 World Cup final, but it was Materazzi who had the last laugh, scoring in the penalty shootout to help his side clinch the trophy.
CDM – Mark van Bommel
Crunching tackles and ruthless displays in the heart of midfield were very much the name of the game for the former Dutch international.
He will be remembered for a successful career at several top European clubs and indeed for his national team, playing his part in the latter’s unforgettable yet ultimately disappointing 2010 World Cup final clash with Spain, where he was one of 14 players to be carded by referee Howard Webb.
LM – Craig Bellamy
Perhaps the word ‘hothead’ is the best possible description for the former Wales winger. His temperament reportedly led to fallouts with several high-profile managers, including Graeme Souness and Roberto Mancini.
The pacey attacker also managed to clash with a handful of his team-mates, including former Liverpool left-back John Arne Riise, who was on the receiving end of a flying golf club after an alcohol-induced argument before a Champions League meeting with Barcelona.
CM – Scott Brown
Scottish football’s most hated man, and one that has wound up just about every opponent he has faced with his off-the-ball antics, with his famous celebration certain to haunt Rangers fans for eternity.
Add in his crunching tackles and his appetite for a yellow card then you really do have one of the meanest midfielders out there, with Brown genuinely not caring what anyone else on the pitch or indeed off it thinks of him.
CM – Joey Barton
Rangers’ attempted answer to Brown, but Barton falls some way short in comparison. His shithousery, however, will be best remembered in English football, where he retired with 78 yellow cards and six red cards to his name.
Various gambling offences and nightclub incidents behind the scenes simply furthered his bad-boy reputation, and he is now winding up opponents in the dugout at Fleetwood Town.
RM – El Hadji Diouf
Another former Liverpool man, but one whose actions away from the ball will be remembered far more than his actions on it. His spells in France, England and Scotland were all filled with different controversies.
It was, however, the FA who bore the brunt of the misdemeanours, with several separate spitting incidents taking up most of their time with the Senegal man. He ended his journey in the Premier League with more yellow cards (58) than goals and assists (53).
FW – Luis Suarez
The Uruguayan will undoubtedly be remembered for his stunning strikes and incredible abilities with the ball at his feet, but off-the-ball incidents have ensured his career hasn’t been 100% glamorous.
A 2010 World Cup quarter-final hand-ball against Ghana and several suspensions for biting opponents certainly won’t be forgotten about for quite some time, with Manchester United fans certain to never forgive the striker for his remarks over the years.
FW – Diego Costa
Partner Costa with former Liverpool man Suarez and it really is an attack that would terrify even the meanest of defences, but sadly their time at Atletico has just recently come to an end, with the Spaniard deciding to terminate his contract prematurely.
There arguably isn’t a defender out there who hasn’t felt the wrath of the striker, with L’Equipe naming Costa as the world’s most hated footballer back in 2015. Could a return to England be on the cards for one of the maddest men in the game?
Who have we missed out on in this ultimate shithouse starting XI?