Top Five Most Controversial Premier League Players Ever
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5. Lee Bowyer
Bowyer's date with the newspaper front pages began while at Charlton, where he and a teammate tested positive for cannabis. However, much worse was to come during his high-profile spell with Leeds. Firstly, Bowyer was accused of an alleged racist incident at a McDonalds. Then, he and teammate Jonathan Woodgate were charged after an incident outside a Leeds nightclub. Bowyer was eventually cleared following two trials, but an argument with Leeds over his discipline led to his exit.
Controversy seemed to follow Boywer as a mid-match fight with teammate Kieron Dyer earned him a six-game ban and a police conviction for using threatening behaviour. A monstrous 80 yellow cards and five red in the Premier League are almost forgotten in light of his off the pitch antics.
4. Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole in the twilight of his careers has settled down, earning his 100th England cap, and captaining his country on numerous occasions. However, it wasn't his recent antics which got him the label of being controversial.
During his time at Arsenal, he grew an unwanted reputation for diving. This was the start of what was to come as his reputation grew when he switched the red of the Gunners to the blue of Chelsea during the time when he became really unpopular.
His famous quote of feeling "physically sick" at the thought of being offered 'only' £55k-a-week enraged fans. He then attracted the wrath of the football establishment after arrogantly turning his back on Mike Riley, who was trying to book him for a high tackle against Spurs.
Despite being a fairly quiet individual, and a fantastic full-back Cole still managed to anger many when he tweeted calling the FA a bunch of tw*ts' in October 2012.
3. Eric Cantona
Eric Cantona is not only a United legend, he perhaps had the greatest impact of any overseas player in the Premier League. But opposition fans never liked him, principally because he was deemed arrogant and partly because he was an integral component of a dominant side.
Leeds despised him with a passion after he ditched them for their bitter rivals across the Pennines, but Cantona needlessly fanned the flames by idiotically spitting at a Leeds fan at Elland Road. His astonishing flying kung fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan increased his notoriety and saw him banned for nine months. Cantona revelled as a figure of hate, leading United to four titles, two FA Cups and a League Cup.
2. Luis Suarez
Where do we start with the Uruguayan. With great quality comes great stupidity should be the motto surrounding Luis Suarez.
Before his Liverpool days his reputation was not the best, having bitten a PSV player with Ajax he was banned seven matches. With Uruguay, before this cannibalistic episode, in the 2010 World Cup he stopped a ball with his hand to deny Ghana a certain goal to take them through to the semi-finals.
Despite being a wonderfully gifted player, and scoring 30 goals in all competitions for Liverpool last season, the controversy seemed to have followed Suarez, when he allegedly racially abused Patrice Evra and was given an eight match ban in December 2011. After refusing to shake Evra's hand in the reverse fixture that season, he again bit Branislav Ivanovic against Chelsea at Anfield last season and has just completed a 12 match ban. Complete nutter.
1. Mario Balotelli
Well,well, well where do you even start with Mario Balotelli. He came to the Premier League with the reputation of a bad boy sewn into his veins. His first big controversial moment was in Manchester United's embarrassing 6-1 defeat to rivals Manchester City. They derby was intensified after Balotelli celebrated scoring the first goal of the game by lifting up his shirt to reveal another shirt underneath it with the words 'WHY ALWAYS ME?' written across the front.
Then later that season in a key title decider with Tottenham Hotspur, Balotelli appeared to stamp on Scott Parker's head. This enraged Spurs fans as he went on to score the winning penalty and effectively ruin Tottenham's title bid. He went back to Milan in January 2013, but it is fair to say the Premier League will never be the same without him.