The Fairgrounds of the 16 Worst Football “Bad Boys”
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Football has brought about many legends. Some shining, others not so much. Some perfect role models, some not so much. Good guys and rude boys. And while the shining stars with the polished image always adhere to something boring, the bad boys are like a magnet pulling you in. Mysterious, unpredictable and always a little bit revolutionary and going against the current. Simply anarchists, unrestrained and disorderly people, that don’t live their lives by the rules. The fairgrounds of the 16 worst football “bad boys”.
Conflict is just one of their basic settings. This can range from regular tantrums on the pitch, to bad fouls, violence towards referees, escapades out of the pitch with lots of alcohol and other drugs as well as criminal offences like fraud and brawling. Pure drama.
Many of the villains had story book beginnings in their football careers – then came the slip ups and at one point, the bad boys swerved totally out of lane. Drunk on the pitch, brawls in the evening after the match, dealings and wheelings with local drug cartels, kung fu performances in the stadium and food as a projectile.
We have summarised some of the “worst” boys in football history in this article, explaining a bit about their backgrounds and what makes (made) these 16 bad boys so interesting and exciting. The fascination with bad deeds, combined with their skills and special attitudes, that only few could afford to have.We will start with an Arsenal legend, that counterfeited money, owned brothels and imported eccentric porn after his career ended.
We will report on a Schalke striker, that spent more than 20 years in jail for bank robbery, breaking and entering, cocaine dealing and bodily injuries. We will have a look at one of the attendees of the World Championships 2018, an old Mexican, that celebrated his biggest success in Spain and acts as a godfather of the special way he did it.
We will report on a Premier League professional, that got on the totally wrong side of the law, but who also made an incredible come back. And we will describe how a superstar sometimes liked to switch the type of sport he was doing in the stadium, kung fu of a very special sort.
16 stories all in all, that are worth telling. With no moralising fuss and always with a twinkle in their eye… Everything looks more interesting in hindsight…Peter Storey began his career in FC Arsenal’s youth team. In 1961 he became a part of the Gunners. 4 years later he debuted as central defense against Leicester City. A great Start.
Shortly after, “Sneaky Pete “became a regular player in London and due to this he was retrained to be a defensive midfielder. He won the UEFA-Cup with FC Arsenal in 1970 and also helped win the EFL Championship and the FA Cup once each. In 1977 he transferred to FC Fulham for £10.000. After only one year with Fulham he ended his active career. He played 19 times internationally for the English national football team. He debuted in 1971 against Greece.
1 × EFL champion with FC Arsenal: 1971
1 × English FA-Cup winner with FC Arsenal: 1971
1 × Inter-Cities Fairs Cup winner with FC Arsenal: 1970
That all sounds like a clean and organised career. But maybe the money just didn’t stretch far enough, for Storey to keep up the lavish lifestyle that he lived as a professional football player after he stopped playing. And how could he?
Taxes were also incredibly high in England in the 70s. In the year of 1974, the top income tax rate rose to 83%, which was the highest since the second world war. This was applicable to everyone who earned more than £20.000 and could be combined with a supplementary charge of 15% on “unearned” money (investment and dividends) adding up to a total of 98% for the marginal tax rate. In 1974 this hit around 750.000 people. Storey had a second career of a very special sort and this career choice led him off the straight and narrow. After his career ended he spent most of his time as a brothel owner, car thief, and importer of eccentric porn, as well as a forger of gold coins and bank notes. In 1980 he was arrested for forging coins. Three years in jail. Today the ex-national player is a taxi driver.Mickey Thomas played for Manchester United and Chelsea London and led an extravagant life.
First, he became famous, then he had to spend a long time on the down low. He trafficked women in the dark into changing rooms under the Stamford Bridge and was put into prison for 1.5 years for money laundering. “I still have problems, financial problems,’’ Thomas told an English reporter before continuing: “My life has had some highs and lows. I was a kid growing up on a rough council estate, we didn’t have much money and I was thick. I couldn’t spell – even my own name – so writing off for trials was hard. I had demons in my system.” Mickey Thomas showcases the somewhat typical person in the professional scene of the 70s and 80s of the 20th century.
He had a bad education, didn’t earn enough during his football career to be able to do nothing for the rest of his life, a wish to keep living with the same high standards that such a professional has, no chance of earning money in media or as a commentator or expert. Thomas summarised it like this later in life: “John Neal (trainer of FC Chelsea from 1981 – 1985) understood I had demons in my system. I used to hate walking the streets. I felt intimidated.
Although I came over happy, boisterous and cocky, I wasn’t. That was a front. On the opening day of one season for Wrexham, against Walsall, I had an outstanding match, but I couldn’t handle the pressure. I walked out. John found me and brought me back.’’ Today Thomas is a sought-after “after-dinner speaker”, a story teller. His standard gag: „So Roy Keane’s on 50 grand a week? Mind you, I was on 50 grand a week until the police found my printing machine! “Willi Kraus was born in the middle of World War 2 (on the 1st May 1943). He died on the 19th October 2008. The striker started out on FC Schalke 04’s youth team. He played there together with Stan Libuda among others.
Contrary to him, Kraus didn’t make it into the first team immediately, he played for the Dutch team Go Ahead Eagles Deventer for a year in 1963/64. After that he switched to Tennis Borussia Berlin, with whom he won the regional league of Berlin, but just lost in the play-offs for the national league. In 1966 Kraus returned to Gelsenkirchen to his original team Schalke 04. He became an important and well-known player in the national leagues in 1966/67 and 1967/68. In 36 national league matches he scored 16 goals. After he lost his football licence because of theft, he played for Eintracht Gelsenkirchen in the west regional league for one season in 1968/69. After the he ended his first career.
1962–1963: FC Schalke 04
1963–1964: Go Ahead Eagles Deventer
1964–1966: Tennis Borussia Berlin
1966–1968: FC Schalke 04
1968–1969: Eintracht Gelsenkirchen
Then his second career started. This was a career that didn’t need a licence or any additional training. This was because it consisted of bank robberies, breaking and entering, dealing cocaine, physical injuries and much more.
Though Kraus wasn’t great at this career either, as he got caught regularly by authorities. He spent more than 20 years in prison. Teammates looked back on the striker with a mixture of dismay and wonder. “In training camp Willi used to hide a pistol under his pillow”, Günter Herrmann remembers, national player in the 60s and a teammate from FC Schalke 04.
Ronald “Ronnie” Wallwork (born on the 10th September 1977 in Manchester) is a former English footballer of a very special sort.
He was trained by Manchester United to be a central defence and defensive midfielder. He just didn’t get the breakthrough he needed sports wise and after being on loan to different teams, he decided to start afresh in 2002 with West Bromwich Albion.After a fit of anger against a referee in the year 1999 while playing with Royal Antwerpen for a short time he was barred – up until a partial quashing by the Belgian court – for life.
After the season of 2007/08 Wallwork ended his football career at 30 years old. His biggest sporting success was in the season of 2000/01 when he won the EFC Championship with Manchester United and trainer Alex Ferguson put him in twelve Premier League matches.
His private life also contained a lot of violence. In 2006 he was attacked by his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend with a knife and in 2011 he was sentences to 15 months in prison for the illegal dealing of car parts. Police caught him as he was driving a stolen Mazda to the scrapyard.As a youth, Ralf von Diericke played with Schinkel 04, Osnabrücker SC and Blue-White Schinkel. He made the jump from amateur to professional in the amateur league of VfL Osnabruck and made his debut in 1980/81 in the second national league. After that he transferred to the third division of Nordrhein to Wuppertaler SV, where we were able to pick up and finish an apprenticeship to be a wholesaler, which he had originally quit to pursue football.
Playing in attack next to Jonny Hey, he was the best WSV scorer in the season of 1982/83 scoring 14 goals. After another transfer he played a total of 14 national league matches in the season of 1983/84 for Fortuna Düsseldorf. Towards the end of the season however, he was nothing more than reservist. Despite having a two-year contract with Fortuna Düsseldorf, he left and re-joined Wuppertaler SV. This breach of contract resulted in a six-month ban. On the 17th of February 1985 a masked man robbed the Wuppertaler SV office. He struck down a secretary, locked her in the toilets and robbed the income made from the ticket sales from a WSV vs FV Bad Honnef match, which was around 11.000 German mark, from the safe. After an investigation that lasted several weeks, von Diericke, who played as a midfielder in the afore mentioned match, confessed to giving an accomplice tips, a sketch of the layout of the office and even to standing lookout himself.
He also admitted to robbing an arcade in Wuppertal while masked and armed with a tear gas gun and stealing a total of 2000 German mark. He was sentenced to six years in prison for robbery with aggravation by the district court of Wuppertal in September 1985. As a striker in the jail team Diericke played a friendly match against VfB 06/08 Remscheid, that allowed him to catch their attention. After an expert’s report came back with a positive social prognosis, he was placed in an open prison in Remscheid-Lüttrighausen, where he played for the third division in 1987/88, where he also worked as the janitor. Subsequently he transferred, still as an inmate, to Union Solingen and he ended up playing 27 matches in the second national league in the season of 1988/89.
After he was released, he worked as a trainer for Rheinwacht Erfegen with teams such as Prussia Krefeld, Sportfreunde Siegen, the VfB Kleve, SV Straelen, Siegfried Materborn and District League B. After the end of his professional career he trained the U19 of the local league SV Hönnepel/Niedermörmter from 2006/07 onwards and is a salesman today.Jonathan Woodgates career began in FC Middlesbrough’s youth team and at 16 he transferred to Leeds United, where he was able to prove his talent and was later offered a position for the first time on the English national team.
Looking past his incredible talent at football, he often acted quite temperamentally. One of his biggest mistakes was committed together with his teammate Lee Bowyer.
In January 2000 he was out with Bowyer at a nightclub. They got into a brawl outside the club, where an Asian student got badly injured. After the first trial in April 2001 had to be ended early, Woodgate went through a second trial that lasted until December 2001, which meant his hours on the pitch were reduced a lot. He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and Lee Bowyer was let off.
The English football association banned Woodgate from playing any international matches, this meant that after his debut he was not chosen for many matches and missed out on a chance to play at the World Championships in 2002 in Japan and South Korea. Due to many injuries, his time spent playing for the team was relatively sporadic.Rafael Márquez debuted in the first team of Atlas Guadalajara at the young age of 17 and played his first match for the Mexican national team just before his 18th birthday.
At age 20 he made his way to Europe, first with AS Monaco and then to FC Barcelona. He played outstandingly, elegantly and reliably, could read the match like hardly anyone else could. He won the Champions League with FC Barcelona in 2006 and was the first Mexican ever to do so. Pep Guardiola, who was manager at FC Barcelona from 2008 onwards stated: “He only makes people better through the way he plays.” Márquez married a popular Soap actress, got divorced, got remarried, this time to a model. Then he made a decision that he would later describe as a huge mistake. In 2010 he transferred away from Europe to the New York Red Bulls. The New York Times referred to him as the “Einstein of football”, but then his career took a huge turn. He became more and more unpopular among the fans, the Mexican fouled, swore and started fights.
He missed more than half of all MLS matches. Sometimes he would be suspended by the club, other times by the MLS, then he was injured repeatedly, and sometimes it was unclear why he wasn’t there. When he left the club in 2012, everyone was relieved to say the least. In 2016 Márquez returned to his roots to Mexico and Atlas Guadalajara, where his career had begun and he wanted to continue playing in peace. This didn’t work out though, as American authorities informed him, that they had frozen all of his accounts because he had been involved in drug dealings.
A football school he had founded in the USA was also put on the blacklist. In a press conference he was spontaneously called up to on Guadalajara’s pitch Márquez stated: “This is the most difficult match of my life, but I will succeed in it.” He also denied ever having any contact with the drugs boss Raul Flores.Süleyman Koç started out as a D-junior before transferring to Tennis Borussia Berlin. In the season of 2007/08 he played in the north eastern third division with Berlin Ankaraspor 07, during the winter break, he joined his league competitor and later a team promoted to regional league Türkiyemspor Berlin, and in 2010 he went on to the third division to SV Babelsberg 03.
But on the 18th April 2011, everything changed for Koç when he was arrested by the police. He was charged with taking part in multiple raids that included serious robbery and bodily harm. In the legal proceedings, he was eventually charged with helping by being the getaway driver and was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison at the end of 2011. This meant that he wasn’t able to play any matches until July 2012. At the end of 2013 Koç was released early und was given a second chance by SV Babelberg.
The German-Turk was on his best behaviour throughout his contract period, he was well recognised in his group of teammates. All of the people involved in the board and the trainer team felt that he truly regretted any involvement in the crime he committed, and he was doing his best to be better, the Babelsberger Website states. Koç explained, that he was ready and grateful to be able to play with SV Babelsberg again.
After he was released, he ran multiple kilometres every day, but it is a totally different experience to train with a team and a ball. He put his past and his former gang behind him. He demonstrated this with his time with SC Paderborn as well, with whom he played in the national league.
Paul Dickov was a part of FC Arsenals youth team and was asked to join the first team in 1992 from there. Due to the huge competition, the young striker hardly played a match, and was instead loaned out to Luton Town, Brighton and Hove Albion.
In the end, Manchester City contracted him, and he became a regular player with the Citizens and qualified the Scottish national team for the first time. He stayed with Manchester City for six years, was a great support for the club and especially popular with the fans. After his time in Manchester, the Scot continued to play for the Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City, Leeds United and Oldham Athletic.
And together with Frank Sinclair and Keith Gillespie, who seemed to think while at a training camp with Leicester in the Spanish La Manga, that they had earned the right to commit an offence, Dickov managed to ensure for a great scandal. Three African ladies living in Germany stated that the three men had raped them. A total of nine players were taken into custody, the court of Cartagena only kept Dickov, Gillespie and Sinclair. According to the Spanish law, they could have faced up to twelve years in prison.
After spending seven days in jail, Paul Dickov, Frank Sinclar and Keith Gillespie were bailed out for a total of 288,000 Euros and flew back to England. They were glassy-eyed when they returned to Luton.Fan favourite, national player, alcoholic, double life, horrible fall from grace. The fans called Uli Borowka the axe, he was feared as a defender in the 1980s and 90s.
The defence player learnt things the hard way: As a young boy at Borussia Mönchengladbach, trainer Jupp Heynckes took him into the penalty area after the last official training session, hit crosses and taught the young boy every dirty trick that he had ever learnt in his career in long, hard training sessions. And Borowka could not wait to use his newly learned knowledge. From then on, he adopted a rigorous style, which led him to be voted the most unpopular player in the league multiple times by his football colleagues in the then still existing magazine “Kicker”.
Borowka, having the gift of the gab, also had a talent when it came to psychological warfare. Before one game against FC Schalke, he took the young star Olaf Thorn to one side and snarled: “Thon, today I am going to break your legs!” Borowka was crowned champion and won the DFB-Cup twice each and won the Europa Cup with Werder Bremen. He was a smash-hit hero among the fans. But he had a different side as well, he was living a double life.
Ulk Borowka drank regularly and sunk deeper and deeper into a hole. In the year 1996 he was so devastated that he tried to take his own life but survived. In 2000 Christian Hochstätter, a sports director at Borussia Mönchengladbach referred him to a clinic. Since then Borowka has been clean and even founded his own addiction support group.Sanel Kuljić whose parents are from Bosnia Herzegovina, spent his childhood in Salzburg and Grödig. His career began with the subclass SV Grödig, from there he transferred as a cooperation player to SV Austria Salzburg’s youth in 1991.
From there he was able to make the leap to the professional team and played as a squad player with them in the season of 1996/97, where he celebrated the victory of winning the Austrian championships. Kuljić couldn’t quite showcase his talent under trainer Heribert Weber and was handed to the regional league team PSV Black-White Salzburg.
Though a possibly great career seemed to end, Sanel Kuljić managed to get from the regional league to the second division, where he played with clubs such as SV Pasching, BSV Bleiberg and LASK Linz, and then went on to the first division and became an Austrian national player. In 2004/05 he became top goal scorer of the second division with a total of 34 goals scored, and after another promotion in 2005/06 he became top goal scorer of the Austrian national league with 15 goals scored.
In August 2014 however, things took a turn for Sanel Kuljić, because the legal proceedings for Austria’s biggest football scandal started in Graz. Kuljić, Dominique Taboga and Thomas Zündel, as well as seven other players were accused of manipulating 18 matches. Among other things the charges included commercial fraud, serious blackmail, coercion and forming a criminal gang – some of these only attempts. Many of the accused were later charged, among them Sanel Kuljić, who was sentenced to five years in prison.Kevin Großkreutz grew up in Dortmund in a district called Eving. He had a strong connection to the club Borussia Dortmund. At only seven years old he received his first season ticket. He even played in the BVB youth team, but in 2002 he had to leave Borussia, as he was classed as too slight.
In 2009 however, he returned to Borussia Dortmund and was very successful there, before leaving Dortmund in 2015 to go to Galatasaray Istanbul (though he never played for them) and then from there he moved to Stuttgart and Darmstadt.
His escapades began in 2014 after the DFB Cup final in Berlin, where he drunkenly stumbled into and urinated in a Berlin Hotel lobby. Another incident occurred in Cologne, where he allegedly threw a donner kebab at a fan.
Because of this incident, Kevin Großkreutz was on the British Guardians list of the most unfair sporting personalities at the end of 2004. Though Großkreutz appologised for his behaviour after the Cup game, Borussia Dortmund still had him pay a fee of 60,000 Euros. Großkreutz didn’t make any good or new friends with his derogatory posts on Instagram about different clubs.Outside of his football career, the tragic life of the talented German midfielder from the 90s almost went unnoticed. A hopeless football career became a miserable existence on the edge of criminality.
Andreas Sassen from Essen came to the national league in 1990 through Bayer 05 Uerdingen. He scored twelve goals in 66 leagues matches for the Krefeld team, which sparked Hamburger SV’s interest. In Hamburg, Sassen and Harald “Lumpi“ Spörl caused one of the greatest scandals in HSV history.
The two of them went on a drinking spree over the Reeperbahn with the cult box bar “Ritze” as their last stop, while on this tour they beat up a Turkish taxi driver. Sassen was punished by HSV by having to pay a fee of 6,200 Euros. “Taxi driving with Sassen” became a hit in the west curves of the old Volkspark stadium. After the scandal, Sassen only played one more season with Hamburg. Dynamo Dresden bought him for 350,000 Euros. But here too, “Vodka-Andy”, as the midfielder was called behind his back, couldn’t stay on the right lane. One bar crawl with Australian national goal keeper and World Championship participant Mark Schwarzer later, he was suspended from Dresden.
Trainer Horst Hrubesch kicked the, up until that point most expensive new entry, out in March 1995. After half a year in Ukrainian exile with Dnipro Dnipropetrowsk, Sassen returned to the, by that time second division, team SG Wattenscheid 09 – and caused another scandal. At the SGW training camp on the Algarve, he disappeared with a barmaid for multiple days. His team travelled back to Germany, where his wife had just borne a child, without him. Sassen never found a new club. Years later he robbed a pub with a tear gas gun. His last official job was as a gardening help at the parks department of Essen – he died on the 17th October 2004 after suffering from a stroke at only 36 years old.
John Terry, born in eastern London in Barking made his first few steps into the football world with a small club named Senrab FC. At 14 Terry became part of FC Chelsea’s youth team. There, he grew to be a robust midfielder, until an emergency had him play as a central defence.
His first game with the English national team was a friendly match against Serbia and Montenegro on the 3rd June 2003, and in the European Championships in 2004 in Portugal, he qualified for the English squad. From then on, his place on the English national team became permanent and on the 10th August 2006 Terry was named a successor of David Beckham, captain of the national team by England’s new trainer Steve McClaren.
But: John Terry was not always a model student, he had his moments. Like in February 2012. He was made to give up his role as captain by the association after he was accused of being racist by Anton Ferdinand. Mid July 2012 he was found not guilty of those charges.
This story is only the tip of the iceberg though, as Terry cheated on his wife Toni with at least twelve women in eleven years. Among these a teenager in the backseat of his Bentley and a lady on crutches in a nightclub toilet.Eric Daniel Pierre Cantona began his career with AJ Auxerre, then transferred to Olympique Marseille, as well as being loaned to a few small clubs every now and then. Despite his sporting success, no club wanted to have the Frenchman after the 1990s. This was due to many arguments with referees, trainers, club managers and the French association.
Cartona was ready to end his football career and hang up his shoes, when the French national trainer of the time convinced him to transfer to England and try his luck as a professional footballer there. So, in 1992 he transferred to Leeds United and won the championship with them the following summer. In November 1992 he transferred to Leeds, where his rapid advancement began, but his Image as a villain also came about. In 1994 at the World Cup in the USA, neither England or France were playing, but that didn’t stop Cantona from getting involved. He picked arguments with the American police and was arrested as an audience member. This made a great impression on his CV. This continued on into the years 1993 to 1995: he obtained four red cards in only two Premier League seasons. And then came the bitter night of 25. January 1995. It was just after 9pm. Matthew Simmons was sitting on the grand stand at the Selhurst Park Stadium in Crystal Palace. He was cold and needed to go to the toilet. So, he made his way 14 rows down.
On the playing field Eric Cartona had just received a red card from referee Alan Wilkie for beating up an opposite player Richard Shaw. Simmons reached the barrier just as Cartona was storming off the pitch angrily. A fateful meeting. From one second to the next Cartona was a fury. He jumped up, kicked Simmons and pounced on him. “He insulted my mother”, Eric Cartona later explained the worst freak out in English football history, “I couldn’t let him get away with that.” Simmons apparently called Cantona “racist insults of the worst type” (The Observer), wherein “French bastard” was apparently the tamest insult.
After Cartona and Simmons began fighting, Paul Ince also decided to join in, resulting in him joining Cantona in front of the court on charges of bodily harm. Harassed by the media, Cantona and Ince stayed in the Park Hotel in Croydon before the date of hearing. The next morning Paul Ince was faced with a surprise. Cantona was stood in front of his door wearing a suit, his shirt fully open. Ince: “I looked at him and said: Cantona, you can’t stand in from of court like that. He only said: I am Cantona, I can stand in front of court however I like.” Somehow Ince managed to convince his teammate to wear collar and tie to the hearing.Roy Keane came from a working-class family from Mayfield, a suburb of the town Cork. What made him so unique: the young Roy was an enthusiastic sportsman, who loved football and boxing, but had more talent for football.
After finishing school, Keane only took odd jobs, so he would have enough time for football. In the 1980s Eddie O’Rourke discovered him while working as a youth trainer for the Cobh Ramblers. He convinces Keane to transfer and the newbie quickly rose to play for the Irish first division.
He then went on the play for Nottingham Forest, where he played incredibly well and soon had a regular place there. His real breakthrough was when he began playing for Manchester United in the 1990s. He won multiple titles with Man U and continued to showcase his incredible talent. He was a driving force and Alex Fergusson’s right-hand man. Within the team he was a leading figure and an unchallenged alpha, that always made sure that the players were full of motivation.
He was infamous for his choleric outbreaks on the pitch. Many of his teammates felt the wrath of his outbreaks of anger, if they dared challenge his opinions. After the official Manchester United Champion celebration in May 1999, Roy Keane decided to head to Henry’s Bar at a late hour with David Beckham, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke and Gary Neville.Keane tried to flirt with two ladies there, but to no avail, which really got to him. He kicked one of the women, poured his beer over the others head and was eventually taken into custody by police, where he spent the night in a cell. He wasn’t charged for the incident.
Keane made a real enemy out of Alf-Inge Haaland. The story began in 1997 when Keane fouled in the Manchester-Derby. During a harmless duel between the two players, Keane tore his cruciate ligament. As he was lying in the ground, Haaland called him an actor. Not able to let this go, Keane fouled him on purpose the next time they played against each other. This time Haaland received a bad knee injury. Keane was barred for eight games for this incident and had to pay a hefty fee.