By 90Min
March 26, 2019

They're something of a dying breed these days, football hard men. The game tends to lean more towards the light-footed elegance of an Eden Hazard as opposed to the chest banging roar of a Roy Keane.

A lot of criticism these days centres around suggestions that football is becoming soft, as many yearn for the good old days when a studs up challenge was fair game as long as you got the ball - or sometimes, even if you didn't. That said, there have been plenty to grace these shores. None more so than at a certain Goodison Park. 

Nil Satis Nisi Optimum, reads the Everton club motto - 'Nothing but the best is good enough.' Now, while the players featured in this list were not 'the best', they most certainly never held back and unquestionably gave their all for the cause.

In other words, they were hard b**tards.


Peter Reid

A fans' favourite, Liverpool-born defensive midfielder Reid was something of a Scouse N'Golo Kante, with a dash of Patrick Vieira thrown into the mix.

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Standing at under six foot, Reid possessed excellent ability both on and off the ball. His range of pass and deft control were an integral part in the club's incredibly successful team of the 1980s, however, it was his other side of the game that earned him his hard man reputation.

Bone crunching tackles were a forte of his and the term 'warrior' never summed anyone more than him. In particular, his Merseyside derby clashes with Steve McMahon are forever etched into Everton folklore.


Mike Pejic

Known for steam-rolling through, over and under wingers during his three year spell at Goodison Park, left back Pejic broke his leg numerous times during his career and racked a monumental number of red cards as well.

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This no-nonsense bruiser moved into taekwondo following retirement, even earning a place in England's national over 60's side.


Pat Van Den Hauwe

Known affectionately as 'Psycho Pat', the Welsh international defender garnered a reputation for losing his head somewhat. The left back frequently became irate with just about anything: refereeing decisions, his own teammates, even himself.

One particular incident involved David Oldfield, who got a great big fist to the face during a match once. Despite having a reputation as a hothead, he won numerous titles at Everton, all while sporting one of the league's most dreadful mullets - maybe that's what Oldfield mistakingly said to him.


Tim Cahill

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Tim Cahill was tough, no question about it.

The Aussie started life out in England with Millwall, but made his name at Everton, and quite frankly didn't take s**t from anyone. His game was both aggressive and fearless, but the Toffees legend had bags of ability to boot. Granted, he committed 402 fouls in just 226 league outings, but he also was nominated for the Ballon d'Or during his time in Everton colours, scoring 68 goals during an eight year spell at Goodison Park.

And who can forget when he hospitalised Bruno Martins Indi with a Wallabies-esque tackle during the 2014 World Cup? He was hard.


Marco Materazzi

Ray Parlour and Marco Materazzi

Forever synonymous for what happened to him in a different shade of blue, no matter how culpable you believe him to be, Marco Materazzi did indeed turn out for Everton for a short spell.

You can rest assured he made his mark during a brief spell in Liverpool though. Because, he did.

In 27 appearances for the Toffees he got sent off no less than three times as Everton finished 14th that year. The Italian nutter proclaimed after his ill-fated time at Goodison Park that the move came 'too soon' for him, which probably means he wasn't aware of the best way to get sent off yet.


Neville Southall

Neville Southall

One the the great goalkeepers of his generation, Neville Southall was also owner of a neck bigger than my future.

The Welshman was meticulous in his efforts to be the best, but he could also smash someone to bits if they so much as breathed on him. Any one-on-one against him you were going to lose, even if you won a penalty; you'd still feel like you lost.


Thomas Gravesen

Thomas Gravesen

Dubbed 'the Great Dane' by many Evertonians, Gravesen was arguably far more frightening than his nickname suggests, he'd even give a rabid Great Dane a run for its money in all fairness.

While 34 yellows and two red cards in 149 Premier League appearances isn't the worst you'll hear, it was the Dane's demeanour and general aura that was just plain, scary. The bald beast's behaviours was epitomised by former teammate James McFadden, who labelled the Dane 'mental' and someone to 'avoid'. Sheer madness aside, Gravesen was actually a half decent footballer. When he wasn't smashing people to bits he was helping guide Everton to a fourth place finish in 2005.

Oh, by the way, did I mention he's now a professional poker player worth €100m?


Dixie Dean

Dixie Dean

1925: Loses testicle in a tackle, teammate tries to help. Dean replies: "Don't rub 'em, count 'em!"

1926: Breaks jaw and fractures skull. Told will never play football again.

1927: Smashes British record with 60 goals during 1927/28 season.

2019: Still Everton's all-time leading goalscorer on 383.


'Nuff said.


Duncan Ferguson

Undoubtably Everton's biggest hard man, there's a strong case for the Premier League's hardest ever man too.
Everton's  Duncan Ferguson (R) vies with

Thomas Hitzlsperger, Stefan Freund, Fredi Bobic and Paul Ince are just a handful who will testify, having been on the receiving end of some rough 'play' from the Scot. His style often bordered on assault, but he endeared himself to the Everton faithful, possibly out of fear, with his fiery passion - unlike anything seen in England's top flight.

England will never see a repeat player in the ilk of Ferguson again, we got close with Diego Costa. But those two are quite frankly chalk and cheese, and such comparisons are a disservice to the legacy Ferguson carved himself into the ribs of Paul Scharner.

Question his methods, question his style, question his priorities if you will, but don't do it to his face, just don't.


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