By 90Min
October 09, 2017

No one likes players who use dirty tactics to win, but sometimes even some of the best have been known to try and manipulate the result in their favour.

A number of infamous incidents that involve such dirty tactics have been instigated by legendary footballers and of eight such cases, we start with the most well known.

1. Diego Maradona


Never one to fully play by the rules, as his ejection from the 1994 World Cup due to a failed drugs test proved, Diego Maradona's most iconic game as a player came eight years earlier as Argentina faced England in the quarter finals of the World Cup.

The diminutive forward scored one of the greatest goals of all time to complete his brace, but it was only after he had committed the 'Hand of God', which remains a source of anger for most Three Lions fans.

Even the most die-hard Argentinians will understand his inclusion here!

2. Thierry Henry


Staying on the topic of handballs, don't be surprised if you're deported from the Republic of Ireland if you mention Thierry Henry's name, after the mercurial striker used his arm to control the ball before taking France to the 2010 World Cup at the expense of the Boys in Green.

The former Arsenal and Barcelona legend was not often one to try and bend the rules, despite his sometimes cheeky antics, but with a ticket to South Africa at stake, Henry ruthlessly did what he could lead Les Bleus to victory.

3. Sergio Busquets

LLUIS GENE/GettyImages

Sergio Busquets redefined the holding midfielder role and is arguably the finest of his generation, but his reputation was hampered somewhat during a Champions League semi-final clash between Barcelona and Inter Milan back in 2010.

The Spanish international went down from a challenge holding his face and whilst on the ground he was caught by television cameras sneakily peeking to see whether the offence was punished accordingly.

Not sure that's what Pep wanted when he created tiki-taka.

4. Ashley Young

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The ultimate serial diver, Ashley Young was eventually called out for his flamboyant falls, with Premier League referees smarting up when seeing the Manchester United winger tumbling to the ground.

While he may have learnt his lessons in the last couple of years, the former England international regularly embarrassed himself enough to warrant a place on this list of footballers who used dirty tactics.

5. Rivaldo


A former Ballon d'Or winner and one of the all-time greats, Rivaldo was a key figure as Brazil won the 2002 World Cup, but the tournament will also be remembered for one particular incident involving the attacking midfielder.

Waiting by the corner flag towards the end of the Selecao's Group Stage win over Turkey, the former Barcelona and AC Milan star received a ball to the leg but went down clutching his face, causing Hakan Unsal to be sent off.

How much was he charged as punishment? 11,670 Swiss Francs!!

6. Diego Costa


There may not be one specific incident of Diego Costa using dirty tactics, but his entire career is a catalogue of misdemeanours, with Premier League referees and defenders alike delighted to see the back of the now Ateltico Madrid striker.

Costa has been seen punching, elbowing and stomping on opponents and always seems to get away with it in the end. His behaviour definitely worked in his favour as his goalscoring statistics prove.

7. Luis Suarez


A popular villain, Luis Suarez has been banned on three occasions for biting opponents, as well as racially abusing Patrice Evra, but his most infamous moment is arguably his handball at the 2010 World Cup quarter final between Uruguay and Ghana.

The Barcelona striker stopped a goal with his hands with the game tied, prompting an immediate red card. Yet, it was Suarez who had the last laugh, as Ghana's resulting penalty was saved and the African nation were then defeated in the following penalty shootout, rendering Suarez a national hero. 

To be fair, it was a great save.

8. Nigel de Jong


The Dutch enforcer was always keen to impose his dominance on opponents, but in the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands, the midfielder went a bit too far, kung-fu kicking Xabi Alonso in the chest.

Incredibly, de Jong escaped with just a yellow card, one of eight Dutchmen to do so, in what was clearly an attempt to stifle their opposition. Yet, the plan did not work with Andres Iniesta grabbing an extra-time winner.

This is article is brought to you by Geostorm, in cinemas this October.

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