The mercurial characters on your team capable of terrifying opponents witless, the wide eyed mavericks intent on causing chaos across the field through every second of the match, the tough tacklers who referees will always watch with a hawk-like stare.
Over the years, there’s been a select few hard men who have gone above and beyond for their sides, turning their rugged style of play into a trademark, taking one for the team in the booking department and giving their sides some real edge against their opponents.
Let’s take look at five of the toughest footballers to have ever graced the pitch.
1. Vinnie Jones
Vincent Peter Jones, better known by his stage name Vinnie Jones, is a 57-year-old British actor and former professional footballer who played as a midfielder for Wimbledon and for the England national team.
Jones was a member of the English national team throughout his playing career.
From 1984 to 1999, Jones played soccer for a number of different football teams, including Wimbledon, Leeds United, Sheffield United, Chelsea, and Queens Park Rangers, among others.
His most notable outings were for Wimbledon. In addition to that, he was captain of the Welsh national team, which he was able to play for since he had a Welsh grandfather.
Although he is most known for his time spent at Wimbledon as an important member of the infamous Crazy Gang, he was a member of the London side that won the FA Cup in 1988.
Between the years 1986 and 1998, he played over two hundred matches for the club over the course of two separate careers.
Jones is infamous for his extremely aggressive and physically demanding style of play, which has earned him a reputation as a tough guy both on and off the field.
He is widely recognized as one of the most dangerous players in the history of the sport.
2. Roy Keane
Roy Maurice Keane is an Irish football coach who is now 50 years old.
He is also a former professional football player who most recently played for Celtic as a midfielder.
As a result of his nineteen major victories during his time with his former club, he is often considered to be tied for the title of the most successful soccer player in the history of Ireland.
In 2007, The Times published a list of the fifty toughest players in the history of the sport, and he was named number eleven on that list.
He is well-known for his tough and arrogant demeanor.
Over the course of his career with the Republic of Ireland, which competes at the international level, he has made over fourteen appearances.
During the 1994 FIFA World Cup, he was a member of the Republic of Ireland’s roster for every game.
Roy is known as one of the most dangerous football players in the history of the game due to his explosive temper, propensity to pick up cards, inclination to face opponents, and habit of making hasty challenges.
After getting into a dispute with the national coach, Mick McCarthy, over the training facilities for the squad at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, he was kicked from the team and sent back home.
Pepe is the nickname given to Kepler Laveran de Lima Ferreira, a professional soccer player who plays center back for both Porto and the Portugal national team.
Pepe has been playing soccer professionally for almost a decade.
During his time in the professional soccer league, Pepe played for the teams Martimo, Porto, Real Madrid, and Beşiktaş.
Individually and collectively, he was most successful with Real Madrid and Porto.
He made 334 games for Real Madrid and won three UEFA Champions League wins, three La Liga titles, and two Copa del Rey trophies.
In all, he was a part of Real Madrid’s success in all six major competitions.
Additionally, he has won three championships in the Primeira Liga and two wins in the Taca de Portugal while playing with Porto.
Since making his debut with the Portugal national team in 2007, Pepe has played a total of 124 times for Portugal’s squad in international competition.
He participated in three FIFA World Cups and four UEFA European Championships, and he was a member of the team that won the 2016 UEFA Euro.
In addition, the team he was on reached the semi-finals of the 2012 UEFA Euro.
In all, he has played in six major international tournaments.
Pepe is known for his propensity to get sent off the field, which has earned him the reputation of being one of the most dangerous footballers in the history of the game.
This is due to the fact that he frequently engages in aggressive or unsportsmanlike behavior, such as diving and making violent challenges on the field.
4. Felipe Melo
Felipe Melo de Carvalho, better known simply as Felipe Melo, is a professional soccer player from Brazil.
He is now employed by Fluminense, where he plays the position of defensive midfielder.
Before relocating to Spain in 2005, Felipe began his professional soccer career in Brazil with the Série A clubs Flamengo, Cruzeiro, and Grêmio.
After transferring to Spain, he played for the La Liga teams Mallorca, Racing Santander, and Almera.
After that, he signed with the Italian club Juventus, where he played a total of 154 games and won eight trophies, including three crowns in the Süper Lig.
Felipe was a member of the Brazilian national team when it triumphed at the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009 and advanced to the round of eight in the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
Felipe is famed for his hard-working, energetic, muscular, and hard-tackling playing style, which has earned him the nicknames Pitbull and Gladiator.
He is widely regarded as one of the most dangerous players of all time.
5. Nigel de Jong
Nigel de Jong is a professional soccer player from the Netherlands who is 37 years old.
He most recently played for Al-Shahania and the Netherlands national team in the defensive midfielder position
De Jong began his career as a professional football player with Manchester City, a team that competes in the Premier League.
While there, he became an integral element of the club’s holding midfield.
A transfer to the Italian team AC Milan took place ten years ago, and then in 2016, he made the switch to LA Galaxy.
After that, he played for Galatasaray in Turkey, Al Ahli, Al-Shahania in Qatar, and Al-Shahania in Saudi Arabia.
During the time that De Jong was a member of the Netherlands national team, the Netherlands competed in two European Championships and two editions of the FIFA World Cup.
In 2010, the Netherlands finished in second place at the World Cup, and in 2014, they won the bronze medal at the FIFA World Cup.
De Jong is infamous for his fiery, muscular, and aggressive playing style, which has earned him the reputation of being one of the most dangerous players in the history of the sport.
As a consequence of a late challenge that took place on March 3, 2010, during a friendly international competition, De Jong shattered the leg of a soccer player from the United States named Stuart Holden.
In the championship match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was held in South Africa, he booted the Spanish player Xabi Alonso in the chest.
De Jong later confessed that he was very fortunate to have gotten away with the tackle without receiving a red card.
Hatem Ben Arfa suffered a double fracture of his left tibia and fibula as a result of a challenge made by De Jong on October 3, 2010, when the two players were competing in a Premier League game against Newcastle United.
Ben Arfa had to be removed off the field with his injury.
After that, De Jong was suspended from the Dutch national team for an unspecified amount of time by the senior coach of the Dutch national team, Van Marwijk, although he was eventually allowed to rejoin the squad.