Sunday, April 22, 2018

Video: Football’s 10 worst challenges

We’ve all seen some pretty horrendous challenges over the years and the recent foul on Manchester United’s Possebon by Emanuel Pogatetz of Middlesbrough and Newcastle’s Danny Guthrie breaking Hull striker Craig Fagan’s leg, got me thinking. Just what were the worst? Here are ten that spring to my mind, but I’m sure you can come up with some more;

10. For my number ten I am going back to the world cup of 1986. Scotland were taking on Uruguay. The Scots needed to win and the ridiculously dirty Uruguayans only needed a draw.

The mood for the game and the plan to be adopted by Uruguay was made pretty clear after just fifty-six seconds when Jose Batista obliterated Gordon Strachan from behind and received the fastest World Cup red card in history.

For the record, Uruguay got the 0-0 they needed.

9. At number nine I will select Danny Guthrie’s deliberate attack on Craig Fagan earlier this season. It was a wild kick, inflicted a broken leg and Guthrie admitted that he had done it on purpose because he was frustrated.

A three game ban was hardly an appropriate punishment.

8. At number eight I am going to choose the 1998 incident where Alan Shearer kicked the prostrate Neil Lennon, then of Leicester, straight in the face. Unbelievably the England captain was found not guilty by a three-man FA commission of deliberately kicking an opponent in the face

Shearer has always maintained his innocence since the incident, but those who saw it, know what they saw.

Shearer kicks Neil Lennon

7. Paul Gascoigne was one of my favourite players of all time. His brilliance was only matched by the wild streak that he never quite managed to contain. In the 1991 FA Cup final he got himself so hyped up for the game that he could do nothing. He should have been sent off for a chest high studs up challenge on Forest’s Garry Parker, but the referee gave him the benefit of the doubt.

A few minutes later he put in an awful studs up challenge on Gary Charles, leaving the Forest full back in agony, but also himself as he had managed to rupture his own cruciate ligament. He missed the entire 91-92 season.

6. Michael Essien came to England with a reputation for being a great player, but also for being a player who could make a very nasty tackle. He has lived up to both parts of that reputation. In 2005 in a Champions League game, he made a terrible over the ball challenge on Liverpool’s Didi Hamann.

Hamann said: “It was the worst tackle I’ve ever been on the receiving end of. I really feared I had broken my leg.”

5. Another great player with a darker side to his game is Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard. The dark side doesn’t often surface but when it does, it can be quite spectacular. This was never more so than in the Merseyside derby with Everton in 2002.

Towards the end of a particularly turgid 0-0 draw, Gerrard launched a flying, two-footed lunge on Gary Naysmith.

After the game Gerrard said, “I’m never going to try to hurt a fellow professional and although I did go in with my studs showing and two feet, I have tried to pull out at the last minute.”

No action was taken at the time, but the FA later administered a deserved three match ban.

4. In the Champions League game between Celtic and Benfica in 2007, Cameroon international Augustin Binya put in a horror show of a two footed challenge on Celtic’s Scott Brown. The Celtic player somehow escaped serious injury, but the Benfica man was rightly shown a straight red card.

He was subsequently banned for six Champions League games.

3. One of the most amazing memories of my football watching life happened in the World Cup semi-final of 1982 between France and West Germany.

France’s Patrick Battiston was chasing a bouncing through ball as Germany keeper, Harold Schumacher came charging out of his goal.

Battiston reached the ball first but Schumacher leapt up and smashed into him, knocking him unconscious. He eventually recovered but he lost several teeth and at one point fell into a coma.

Remarkably, Schumacher stayed on the pitch and helped Germany to their customary penalty shoot-out victory.

Harold Schumacher’s reckless challenge

2. Completely out of the blue and unprovoked, Manchester City’s Ben Thatcher viciously struck Portsmouth’s Pedro Mendes with his elbow, knocking the midfielder unconscious in a game in 2006.

Mendes needed oxygen and suffered a seizure on the way to hospital.

City banned Thatcher for six matches and fined him six weeks’ wages. The FA increased that to eight matches, with a further fifteen game ban suspended for two years.

1. I think there can only really be one winner. In 2001 in the Manchester derby, Roy Keane took out City’s Alf-Inge Haaland with a knee high challenge that left everyone stunned. The fact that Keane then leant snarling over the stricken Haaland added to the outrageousness of the incident.

Haaland eventually had to retire from the game and controversy was later fuelled by Keane’s revelation in his autobiography that the challenge was premeditated revenge for the serious injury he suffered while trying to foul Haaland at Elland Road in 1997.

How Keano wasn’t banned from the game I will never know.

Keane’s horrendous tackle against Haaland

Finally, here is a compiled video showing some of the worst fotball tackles ever.


Graham Fisher



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