Football's 11 most shocking tackles of all time

Pedro Mendes, Ben Thatcher

3. Ben Thatcher on Pedro Mendes

Portsmouth vs Manchester City, 2004

The heat makes us all do funny things: we get a bit irritable, a bit snappy. It seems to affect some more than others, however, and Ben Thatcher is a fine example.

In the late summer hum of 2004 he went mental. During Manchester City'™s pre-season tour of China, his elbow caused Yang Chungang to suffer a collapsed lung, and less than three weeks later he became the most hated man in English football with a horrendous assault on Portsmouth'™s Pedro Mendes.

As he and Mendes ran for a loose ball near the touchline, Thatcher intentionally led with his elbow, sending the Portuguese sprawling into the advertising hoardings and knocking him unconscious. Mendes needed oxygen at pitchside and suffered a seizure while being transferred to hospital, where he spent the night.

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The tackle was so bad that his own club issued Thatcher with a six-match ban on top of the FA'™s eight-game suspension. He was also served with a 15-match ban suspended for two years.

Portsmouth'™s Matt Taylor echoed the thoughts of the thousands watching, incensed by the referee'™s decision to only hand Thatcher a yellow card: "How can that not be a sending-off? What do you have to do, kill someone?" he fumed. 

2. Pepe on Javi Casquero

Real Madrid vs Getafe, 2009

There'™s seconds remaining in a clash with your local rivals, and you haul down one of the opposition inside the area. The scoreboard reads 2-2, and you could now be to blame for your side failing to pick up a point.

You'™re angry, and look around for something to kick – but all you can see is the opponent you felled, sprawled on the grass like a big blue piñata. So, you boot him several times and stand all over him before giving his mate a little smack in the face. Naturally.

Real Madrid'™s Pepe thought so, shown a red card and escorted from the pitch by team-mate Iker Casillas after his savage release of frustration all over Getafe'™s unlucky Casquero and his buddy Juan Albin.

Unfortunately for Pepe, the Spanish FA didn'™t agree and handed him an eight-game ban ruling him out for the rest of the season. And if you thought things couldn'™t get any worse for Pepe'™s plaything Casquero, his spot-kick was saved by Casillas before Gonzalo Higuain scored a brilliant winner.

Next page: Grand Final, grand pain