Fellaini, Pepe and football's top 10 most controversial players

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Despite the introduction of video refereeing and disciplinary committees, football remains a dirty game. Goal counts down its worst offenders

Football has always had its bad boys: players who have entertained fans with their ability to wind up opponents and make the game more dramatic.

Players like Gennaro Gattuso, Roy Keane, Billy Bremner and more recently Joey Barton were known as much for their poor discipline as for their footballing ability.

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There are stories from all over the world of players who tried to use aggression to get the upper hand over their opponents, but even in the top leagues, there are many players willing to use every means possible to succeed.

Below, Goal counts down 10 of the most controversial players in world football...


10. LUIS SUAREZ


Luis Suarez Uruguay Italy

Barcelona forward Luis Suarez made headlines around the world when he bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 World Cup.

The incident happened while playing for Uruguay, but saw him miss the start of the season with new club Barcelona due to a four-month suspension from football. It was not the first time Suarez had bitten an opponent, with two previous incidents of biting during his time in the Eredivisie and Premier League.


9. MAROUANE FELLAINI


Marouane Fellaini Manchester United Premier League

What's one sure way to know that someone is a dirty player? Hearing them give an interview where they claim they're not a dirty player.

That is exactly what Marouane Fellaini did after being accused of two elbowing incidents against Liverpool in the Europa League in 2016, with former referee Howard Webb branding him a "thug." He is known for his cynical play, with many of his offences at set-pieces often going unpunished by referees.


8. VOLKAN DEMIREL


Volkan Demirel Fenerbahce STSL 02082015

Turkey international goalkeeper Volkan Demirel makes himself heard on the pitch - by team-mates and opponents. He is often the loudest player in games, and enjoys confrontation with players and opponents.

He was his country's number one at Euro 2008, but missed the knockout stages after being sent off for chasing and pushing Jan Koller in the final group game. He also kneed an opponent in the testicles while playing for Fenerbahce, and quit the national team following an altercation with a fan.


7. DIEGO COSTA


Diego Costa Chelsea

In 2015, L'Equipe named Diego Costa as the most hated footballer in the game, thanks to his masterful ability to wind up opponents, which is only surpassed by his knack of scoring goals.

The Spain striker amazingly stays out of the referee's notebook, having never been sent off in the Premier League. However, he has received post-match suspensions, including a three-match ban for stamping on both Emre Can and Martin Skrtel in the same game.


6. JUMA NYOSO


Juma Nyoso Tanzania Morocco 09102011

Former Tanzania international Juma Nyoso is not well known worldwide, but his opponents know him a bit more than they would have liked.

The defender received a two-year ban in 2015 while captaining Mbeya City after he was caught on camera putting his fingers up another player's bum. He had previously been banned for doing the same to at least three other players, with one of the incidents seeing him receive a punch to the face in retaliation.


5. GRANIT XHAKA


Xhaka Arsenal Swansea

After Granit Xhaka marked the start of his Arsenal career with two red cards in his first six months at the club, Arsene Wenger conceded that the midfielder was "not naturally a great tackler."

In the past three years, he has been sent off nine times, with his poor discipline seeing him suspended for seven games of the 2016-17 season as Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League.


4. FELIPE MELO


Felipe Melo Inter

You don't get called "The Pitbull" or "Gladiator" without being an aggressive footballer. Felipe Melo is known for his tough approach to games, and that usually does not win him many friends.

His partnership with fellow "Pitbull" Gary Medel in the Inter midfield was feared by opponents, with the Brazil international regularly coming to blows with his rivals. Most notably, his stamp on Arjen Robben at the 2010 World Cup helped Netherlands knock out Brazil and angered many fans back home.


3. YANNICK CAHUZAC


Yannick Cahuzac Bastia

The captain of Bastia does not always lead by example. Yannick Cahuzac often does not finish matches as he has already been sent to the tunnel before the final whistle.

A hard-tackling midfielder, he has been sent off 10 times in 129 Ligue 1 appearances, including on four occasions last season. He will not be adding to that tally any time soon as Bastia were relegated from the French top-flight during another ill-disciplined campaign.


2. PEPE


Pepe arrives Istanbul

Pepe has won three Champions League titles with Real Madrid and the European Championship with Portugal, but is as well known for his discipline problems as he is for guiding his teams to victory.

He was one of the most aggressive defenders in La Liga, which was especially obvious during games with rivals Barcelona, even stepping on Lionel Messi's hand in a Clasico in 2012. His attack on Getafe's Javier Casquero was even worse, pushing and kicking him before punching a team-mate, calling opponents "sons of b****s" and receiving a 10-match ban in the process.


1. NIGEL DE JONG


Nigel de Jong, Xabi Alonso, Netherlands vs Spain

After moving from Ajax to Hamburg, Nigel de Jong was nicknamed 'the lawnmower' for his performances in midfield. He cut up opponents, cut down opponents, and was usually a cut above the other players on the pitch.

In one 2010, his annus horribilis as a dirty footballer, he broke two different players' legs, and performed a kung-fu kick on Xabi Alonso in the World Cup final. He has not toned down his aggression with age either, receiving a three-match ban in 2016 after a horror challenge injured Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe.

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