Hard Nut XI
Feature by Rich Godden
Updated Thursday, 28th February 2002
After the recent exploits of Leeds striker Alan Smith, we at Chelsea Mad decided to have a look at some of the hard nuts of soccer
GK- Jose Luis Chilavert
The choice of goalkeeper was a very tough one as there are so many goalkeepers that just cannot stay out of trouble. In the end we decided to settle with Strasbourg's Jose Luis Chilavert. The Paraguyan stunned the world during the last World Cup with his regular excursions up field to take their free kicks. But despite his excellent scoring record for both club and country, one that betters many defenders and midfielders, Chilavert often finds himself in trouble with referees. He has been sent off on numerous occasions throughout his distinguished career and he is often very outspoken. A fearless leader both on and off the field, Chilavert may be remembered for his goalscoring exploits but we will never forget his fiery temper.
RB- Robbie Savage
Robbie Savage was an obvious choice for this team but, due to the abundance of nutters in the middle of the park, is forced to settle for his less favoured right sided role in defence. Whilst he may be the driving force behind Leicester, Savage is very versatile in both his positioning and the way in which he winds people up. He may not be a full on hard nut but his disiplinary record is second to none. He accumulates more yellow cards than Leicester do goals but, astonishingly, he has never been sent off. Whilst that last fact is a proud record for a player with his tenacity, we feel that it will not be long before Savage breaks his red card duck.
CB- Tomas Repka
Tomas Repka joined West Ham in September 2001 against his own will. He originally rejected the move but Fiorentina forced him into it due to their lack of funds. Repka said that he was 'pissed off' about the move as his family had settled in Florence. But did he really have to prove his point by getting sent off on his debut? Not happy with this, in his first game after the suspension he went and repeated the trick in his sides 7-1 defeat at Blackburn. Despite this, he has received rave reviews for his tough style of defending .He has been capped over 50 times for the Czech Republic and is reaching his peak at the age of 27.
LB- Stuart 'Psycho' Pearce
'Psycho', as he is known to his fans, is famous for his crunching tackles and thunderous shot. A seasoned veteran, 'Psycho' is approaching the end of his career but his hunger for the game is clearly still there. He frightens the life out of his opponents and those unlucky enough to have been playing opposite him will tell you how hard he can kick. For a player with such a fiery temperament, Pearce keeps his team mates on their toes with his excellent leadership. Having spent the majority of his career at Nottingham Forest, Pearce has also represented Newcastle and West Ham. At present he is frightening the hell out of defenders for Manchester City in Division 1.
DM- Paul Ince
Nicknamed 'The Guvnor' because of the way he bosses his midfield, Paul Ince has captained at both club and international level. This has not managed to keep Ince out of trouble and he has been sent off several times in his career, including once for England against Sweden. He is not afraid to speak his mind to referees and he will tell them exactly what he thinks of them. Although his crunching challenges win him the ball the majority of the time, there are times when Ince goes a little over the top and his hot headedness leaves him as an easy target for those who dare to wind him up. Paul Ince is a true English hardman!
CM- Patrick Vieira
Arsenal's influential midfielder has had too many disciplinary problems for Arsene Wenger's liking. However, Wenger has stuck by his man whenever trouble has come his way and he is now reaping the rewards. Vieira still plays with the same fearsome outlook for the game but without allowing himself to be distracted by the many wind up merchants of the Premiership. In his time at Arsenal he has developed a reputation for being an exceptional leader who gets himself into trouble. There is no doubting his toughness: in a clash with Manchester United a few years ago, Vieira refused to back down in a clash with Roy Keane. Vieira appeared to headbutt the Irishman, showing that he is a complete nutter. Nevertheless, Vieira remains the heart and soul behind Arsenal and who knows where they would be now without him.
CM- Roy Keane
Roy Keane is the type of midfielder that every manager wants in his team: influential, fearless and a true leader in every sense of the word. But one fact that cannot be overlooked is that Roy Keane has a temper like no other. One minute he is laughing and joking with team mates and the next he is launching himself at a player and screaming abuse. He is also fairly outspoken and he is not afraid to criticise others in the press. One famous outburst came after a Champions League game at home to Dynamo Kyiv. Keane claimed that Old Trafford had no atmosphere and that too many of the fans were concerned with eating their prawn sandwiches, a comment clearly directed at the amount of press boxes in the stadium. However, as much as he gets on your nerves, you cannot hide the fact that Roy Keane is the ultimate hardnut.
CM- Dennis Wise
Like Robbie Savage, Dennis Wise is a typical wind up merchant. This little cockney chap may seem like a chirpy little chap but once on the field he holds nothing back. He is famous for being part of Wimbledon's 'Crazy Gang' along with the likes of Vinnie Jones and John Fashanu. Wise has spent the majority of his career at Chelsea and it was with the Blues where he received the majority of his red cards. His bark may be enough to scare players but just wait until you feel his bite. He often lets himself down in this respect because, not only does he receive a number of red cards for dissent, but he gets a little bit carried away in the challenge. Like the majority of players in this 'Hard Nut XI', Dennis Wise is a true leader. Now at Leicester, he and Robbie Savage are busy winding up teams all over the country.
Edmundo is one of Brazil's most infamous players for a number of reasons. Not only is he a complete nutter on the field, a player who has no boundaries, but off the field he can't seem to stay out of trouble. He has incurred the wrath of the Brazilian FA for his constant outspoken criticism of them and he has had to sit out large chunks of seasons through suspension. And off the field he was part of a car crash which killed several people. He was forced to serve time in prison as well as community service. He was also at the centre of another huge stir when he was pictured feeding beer to a monkey. Due to his reputation as a complete nutter, Edmundo was nicknamed 'The Animal'. Premiership defenders can sleep easily: at present, Edmundo has no plans to grace England with his presence...
FW- Duncan Ferguson
'Big Dunc', as the Everton faithful nicknamed him, is no stranger to controversy. Spells at Newcastle and Everton have seen the big Scotsman calm down a bit but his time at Rangers saw him use his head for all the wrong reasons. After being put on probation following a couple of assault charges, 'Big Dunc' amazingly head-butts Raith Rovers' Paul McStay. Ferguson avoids a red card because the referee missed the incident . After the incident is seen on tape, 'Big Dunc' is given a three month jail sentence. He serves 44 days of it. The incident also marked the first time that a player has been jailed for something that happened on the field of play.
FW- Alan Smith
The Leeds and England striker cannot seem to stay out of the press as of late but for all the wrong reasons. Since he burst on the scene a few years back, young Smith has been sent off 5 times. His manager, David O'Leary, describes his disciplinary record as 'disgraceful' and the signing of Robbie Fowler seems to be edging him closer to the exit door. It has always been known that he was the type of player that gets under the skin of opposition players but he gets overly aggressive too often. Two elbows in a week earlier in the season, one on Aston Villa's Alpay the other on Chelsea's Graeme Le Saux, have cast Smith firmly under the spotlight. He needs to bag some goals to hit back at his critics if he is to be remembered for his goalscoring ability rather than his disciplinary problems.