The Champions League is supposed to be the highest level of soccer in the world. It’s where all the most skilful players do their thing. Of course, there are also the other players – the stoppers, the hatchet men, the cloggers – that make up teams. Stopping the best players sometimes takes desperate measures, so in this blog, we’re going to look at the dirtiest players in Champions League history.
The Brazilian right back has a total of 26 yellow cards in the competition in a total of 108 appearances. That’s averaging a booking every 338.23 minutes or a booking every fourth game. Most of his appearances have come with Barcelona, but he has also appeared with Juventus and Paris Saint Germain.
Gattuso was a tough tackling midfield player with a huge desire, world rate and passion. Playing in a holding midfield position for most of his career he played 85 times in the Champions League, 79 times for AC Milan and 6 times for Rangers. In these games he totalled 28 yellow cards, averaging one every 237.82 minutes or one in just over every two and a half games.
Xabi Alonso was famed for being a skilful player with a massive range of passing in his 119 Champions League appearances with Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Probably exactly who you’d describe as “not that type of player.” As it turns out though, he was exactly that type of player. Under Mourinho, he descended into Terry Hurlock style hatchet man tactics and definitely had a dark side to his game. He amassed 35 bookings in the Champions League, averaging one every 271.1 minutes or slightly over a booking every three games.
Paul Scholes was an incredible footballer. He was described as the best midfielder of his generation by both Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola and rightly so. Manchester United took him out of retirement twice and still haven’t managed to replace him. He famously embarrassed a young Cristiano Ronaldo enough with the accuracy of his passing in training that the young winger would wait behind for hours trying to emulate him, making Ronaldo the player we know today. Was there anything he couldn’t do? Well, yes. He couldn’t tackle and when he did it usually ended in a booking. To be fair he had Roy Keane and Darren Fletcher to tackle for him. When he did tackle it was invariably messy, late and brutal. This led to his 32 bookings in 124 Champions League games, averaging one every 286.75 minutes, or just under every three and a quarter games.
If you’ve watched the Champions League you will have noticed Sergio Ramos. Real Madrid and Spain’s captain is a player you’d love to have on your team, but everyone else in the world knows he’s a red card waiting to happen. Undeniably a great player, he mixes it with the sort of brutality that died out everywhere else apart from Real Madrid’s training ground it seems (his partner Pepe, though not on the list, is also fond of brutal tactics). If you watched the Champions League final this season you will have seen Sergio Ramos doing what he does, and that’s trying to injure his opposing number, which he did successfully to Mo Salah of Liverpool. Anyone who has watched El Classico knows he’s tried the same thing on Lionel Messi countless times, except Messi is too quick for him – most of the time. So far he has a total of 35 yellow cards in 114 Champions League games averaging one every 247.34 minutes. He also has three red cards in the Champions League as part of the 24 he’s received in total. This makes him the third most sent off player in history. He is only one behind French hardman Cyril Rool, who has 25, but is still has a way to go to catch the official dirtiest player of all time, the Columbian Gerardo Bedoya, who was sent of 47 times in his career. You can see an example of Sergio Ramos’ style in this video.