Ranked! The 50 most hated people in football
10. John Terry
On the pitch, the former England captain is the kind of player every fan would love to have in their side: an exceptional, brave and bold defender, willing to stick his head in where it could hurt to an almost ridiculous degree.
Chelsea fans love him because he is the living embodiment of their club. That could be why everyone else absolutely despises him, and why ‘the slip’ in 2008 provoked such glee. There have been fights with bouncers, affairs with team-mates’ ex-girlfriends, and the abuse of Anton Ferdinand which cost Terry the England captain’s armband. On top of that, there’s the slightly nauseating stuff – changing into full kit to participate in the trophy ceremony when he missed the Champions League final through suspension, or the 26th-minute guard of honour he got in his last Chelsea game.
No matter what good he does – and Terry is reportedly quite the philanthropist – in the eyes of many football fans, he will be remembered as the kind of man who would park his Range Rover in a disabled bay to go and pick up a kebab.
Words: Amit Kawala
9. Pete Winkelman
Winkelman's occupation, as per Wikipedia, lets you know what you’re in for. ‘Property developer, football chairman,’ it reads – and at a time when both of those job titles tend not to engender much public sympathy, Winkelman's reputation is that of a man who embodies the worst of both worlds.
He is, of course, the man who engineered Wimbledon's move to Milton Keynes (and subsequent name-change to MK Dons). While it can easily be argued that much good came from that in the form of a triumphant AFC Wimbledon, that doesn't render Winkelman's role in the shameful saga of a new club essentially buying a place in the Football League any less, well... shameful.
Words: Alex Hess
8. El Hadji Diouf
Trying thinking about Diouf without breaking into a smile. Try it.
It’s not a benevolent smile, of course, more of a weary, roll-of-the-eyes type of expression. He dived, he spat at opponents and he seemed to adore being hated. According to Jamie Mackie, he was also partial to the taunting of seriously injured players.
He hasn’t mellowed in retirement, either, and seems terribly fond of re-writing his own Liverpool history. Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher in particular continue to attract his ire which, given their relationship and service at Anfield, neatly surmises the quality of his judgement.
And you know what’s interesting about those barbs? Nobody ever bothers to return fire. Less a footballer, more of a cartoon villain.
Words: Seb Stafford-Bloor
7. Luciano Moggi
In the 2004/05 Serie A season, Juventus had Gianluigi Buffon, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alessandro Del Piero and absolutely no need to cheat. But that’s exactly what their general manager Luciano Moggi did, repeatedly, when he sought to influence the selection of referees for Juventus matches – part of the infamous Calciopoli scandal.
Moggi had previous. He’d also been implicated in an attempt to manipulate the transfer market and has previously spoken out against gay footballers.
His actions saw the Old Lady booted down to Serie B, and he was banned from football for life – although that doesn’t stop him commenting on it in a newspaper column.
Words: Amit Kawala
6. Cristiano Ronaldo
If the defining battle of Ronaldo’s career has been against Lionel Messi, the other has been against public perception. Put simply, lots of people – be it opposition fans, neutrals and even on occasion his own supporters – haven’t taken to a man who even Sepp Blatter once derided as self-absorbed.
The windows into the less endearing facets of character are neither subtle nor infrequent, be it his pre-rehearsed muscle-man pose after scoring the fourth in a 4-1 Champions League final win he had barely contributed to, or pausing mid-celebration at last year’s Euros to check himself out on the stadium’s big screen.
While few are under any illusions as to his greatness, plenty are put off by his ludicrous narcissism. Of course, he wouldn’t have one without the other, and while his ego is clearly a product of his brilliance, you sense it works the other way too: the unrelenting dedication that has earned Ronaldo his all-timer status is something only a deeply self-obsessed man could be capable of. But that doesn’t make it any less off-putting. A sublime footballer as hard to love as he is easy to admire.
Words: Alex Hess