Although we see our fair share of horror tackles and ‘committed’ challenges in the Premier League these days, you really have to go back a few years to see some of the maestros in action.
Here is my list of the five dirtiest players to ever play in the Premier League, and when you consider the likes of Dennis Wise, Paul Ince, Alan Smith and Duncan Ferguson didn’t even make the shortlist, you really don’t want to be on the same pitch as these guys!
Never afraid of speaking his mind, Robbie Savage represented Leicester City, Birmingham City, and Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League. It was with these three clubs that Savage earned the unfortunate title of the most yellow cards ever in Premier League history, collecting 89 in all, before Lee Bowyer overtook him seasons later.
Despite only collecting two red cards in his career, Savage undoubtedly goes down as on of the dirtiest players in Premier League history, and had he spent more time in the Premier League, he could have finished much higher up the table!
Pipping Savage to fourth place is the man that overtook him in yellow cards, Lee Bowyer. Having spent more time in the Premier League is the only real dividing factor between Bowyer and Savage, with the former having more time to display his hard tackling and aggressive style. On the 5th March 2011, Bowyer picked up his 99th yellow card in the Premier League, firmly establishing himself at the very top of the rankings.
Coming in at number three is the original hardman of the Premier League. Vinnie Jones epitomised the now archetypal hard tackling defensive midfielder. Heading up the ‘Crazy Gang’ at Wimbledon, Jones spent just six years in the Premier League, but still managed to go down as one of the dirtiest players in it’s history.
Not only did he collect seven red cards in this short time, but also earned the quickest booking in Premier League history, earning a yellow after just 3 seconds for his foul on Dane Whitehouse.
Following on from Jones, both on the pitch and in this list, is Manchester United hardman Roy Keane. Keane was a no-nonsense, hard tackling, and influential captain.
He picked up an impressive seven red cards and 69 yellow cards on his way to becoming the most feared holding midfielder in his time. He spent 12 seasons in the Premier League for United, and he terrorised opposition strikers and midfielders for the entire time.
At the top of the pile comes the Frenchman who was Keane’s biggest rival, Patrick Vieira. The duo battled it out through the late 90’s and early 2000’s much in the same way that their clubs battled for supremacy in the league.
In terms of indiscipline, Vieira definitely took home the trophy, collecting 82 yellow cards and eight red cards during his time with Arsenal and Manchester City. If Vieira had started his career in England, or not made his brief sojourn into Italian football, then the mind boggles at just how much worse his record could have become!