Football has changed a lot in the last two decades. The modern game does not boast of top hard men like the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Today, players are soft and referees are quick to silence tough players. We want to take a closer look at legendary footballers who were also well known hard men. They were not afraid of the repercussions because to them a game of men must be physical.

7. Nigel de Jong- Holland

For those who watched the 2010 World Cup final, you don’t need any introduction in regard to Nigel de Jong dark arts. Andreas Iniesta scored the winner to help Spain lift their first ever World title but Xabi Alonso left with scars. The man responsible recently said ‘I don’t regret anything.’ He does not regret at all, why, he loved that kind of style. In fact, he revealed his mentor too. ‘As a small kid, I loved it when Roy Keane went in to win the ball with hard tackles,’

6. Terry Butcher- Ipswich Town (England)

Former England Captain Terry Butcher is still a mile ahead of others when it comes to leading from the front. He played for Ipswich Town, Rangers, Coventry and Sunderland in the 70s and 80s. The famous defender once played on despite a serious cut on his head. He finished the match despite serious bleeding that made his shirt turn red.

5. Eric Cantona- Man United

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona is the man credited for starting off the successful career of Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford. The Frenchman had a swagger and confidence not seen in the club before. However, in 1995, he was banned for 8 months after his ‘kung-fu kick’ attack towards an abusive Crystal Palace fan. He was also fined £20,000 as well as 120 hours of community service. He was a hard man and he sent shockwaves towards his opponents.

4. Gennaro Gattuso- AC Milan (Italy)

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AC Milan current coach Gennaro Gattuso does not need to learn new tricks when it comes to dealing with hard men in the team. He is an expert because that’s all he did in his career. The legendary midfielder won all trophies available for club and country during his time as a player. He was nicknamed ‘Rhino’ because he feared nobody. He once went all the way to the bench to strangle former Tottenham Hotspurs assistant Coach Joe Jordan during an altercation in a Champions League match.

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