Former top referee Mark Clattenburg recently revealed his list of the five worst footballers to deal with during his time in the Premier League. While it may not come as a surprise that firebrands Roy Keane and Craig Bellamy made the list, there was a shock inclusion with BT Sport pundit and former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand also making the naughty list.
Clattenburg, who retired from professional refereeing in 2017 after a 17-year career, has since taken up various roles in the football world. He served as the head referee in Saudi Arabia before moving on to a lucrative position in China. Most recently, he was in charge of referees in Egypt until January 2023. Now, Clattenburg is set to embark on a TV career as he joins the reboot of Gladiators, where he will take over referee duties.
Let’s take a closer look at the five players who made Clattenburg’s worst list:
1. Jens Lehmann:
Clattenburg found Jens Lehmann to be particularly difficult to deal with. The former Arsenal goalkeeper would often complain about players stepping on his toes in the penalty area. He was known for getting easily wound up by opposing center-forwards, often resulting in arguments with referees. Lehmann’s temperament made him a challenging player to referee.
2. Rio Ferdinand:
During his time at Manchester United, Rio Ferdinand was notorious for playing mind games with opponents and referees alike. Clattenburg found him difficult to referee, especially during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign as manager. Ferdinand would constantly try to get under the skin of referees, hoping to influence their decisions. However, as Clattenburg gained more experience, Ferdinand’s attempts to provoke him became less effective.
Clattenburg had a memorable run-in with Pepe during the Champions League final. The Portuguese defender was known for his attempts to frame incidents and provoke opposing attackers to get them sent off. Clattenburg found it challenging to referee matches where Pepe was involved due to his unsportsmanlike behavior. In one instance, Clattenburg was caught sticking his tongue out at Pepe, which drew attention away from his refereeing performance.
4. Roy Keane:
Roy Keane’s physicality and unpredictability made him a difficult player to trust and referee. Clattenburg points to Keane’s infamous tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland as an example of his unpredictable nature. Refereeing matches with Keane on the pitch was always a challenge, as his actions could never be predicted.
5. Craig Bellamy:
According to Clattenburg, Craig Bellamy was the worst player to referee. Bellamy’s irritating behavior both on and off the pitch made him a constant source of frustration for referees. He was rude and disrespectful, and no matter what was said to him, he would not change his attitude. Clattenburg admits to making mistakes when refereeing Bellamy, including incorrectly cautioning him for diving when it was actually a clear penalty. Their relationship was strained, and Clattenburg did not get along well with Bellamy.
Mark Clattenburg’s revelations provide insight into the challenges faced by referees when dealing with difficult players. These five footballers, including Jens Lehmann, Rio Ferdinand, Pepe, Roy Keane, and Craig Bellamy, all posed unique challenges for Clattenburg during his time in the Premier League. As he embarks on his TV career, Clattenburg’s experiences and expertise will undoubtedly add value to his new role as a referee on Gladiators.