The Spoiler’s top ten divers
The players who go down quicker than Danielle Lloyd at a Manchester Utd Christmas party
Morten Gamst Pedersen – who we hear has taken his phone off the hook and barricaded himself into his house in an attempt to stop the ridicule – threw his hat into the ring for worst dive of the century against Arsenal on Saturday. But who has been responsible for the most unsporting pratfalls in football history? The Spoiler’s Richard Gilzene considers the top ten divers in the history of the beautiful game…
Jose Mourinho aside, Jens Lehmann’s is the most galling departure from the Premiership in recent years, if only for the massive entertainment void he left behind. Pitted against another big character in Didier Drogba during his acrobatic pomp, it made sense the pair would team up midway through a tense London derby clash in the 06/07 season, to resurrect the spirit of a 1920s slapstick vaudeville act.
Obviously a deeply religious type, long-time Chelsea exile Hernan Crespo did his best Lazarus impression after being touched by invisible healing hands during a West Ham game.
“I don’t think there is anything worse than seeing [any player] diving when no one’s been anywhere near him,” Liverpool’s Captain once said. You might not want to play this video then, Steven. Or look here. Or over here.
Former German international Norbert Meier last played a competitive match 17 years ago, but on this evidence, he’s still got it. Meier became the first manager to be suspended for diving after television evidence proved he had been the antagonist in this synchronized dive. The predictably humourless German FA also tacked on a further three month ban, pretty much ruining Meier’s (already quite rubbish) management career.
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In 2008, Slaven Bilic was widely known as the recently resurfaced tactical mastermind behind the Croatian national team, having the UK’s football media swooning over his every move after masterminding a double victory against England in the European Championships. In 1998, Slaven Bilic was widely known as a craggy-faced scruff, disliked by most fans for his prison-rules style of defending. Laurent Blanc, on the other hand, was a gracefully ageing lank-haired hero, playing in his last World Cup for France. When they met in the World Cup ’98 semi-finals, it all ended in tears, with Blanc bowing out from the Coupe du Monde as ignominiously as compatriot Zinedine Zidane would eight years later.
The Premiership’s original ‘cheating foreigner’, Klinsmann had already perfected the art of simulation by the time he got to showcase his skills at his first World Cup in 1990. At the time, it was probably the best drop football had ever seen, if not just for sheer effort and enthusiasm. Encompassing the golden triumvirate of top class diving – a jump, a roll, and some convulsions thrown in at the end – it was an incredible act of campery matched only by the referee’s officiating. Jurgen was so buoyed by his performance he was arrogant enough to make a celebration out of it when he joined Spurs four years later.
Considering it showed a level of supple agility you’d only expect from a Sean Paul video, in truth, everyone was impressed when they first saw Steven Taylor’s handball-cum-dive against Aston Villa. He’d obviously been reliving the classic season finale of Dream Team, when centre-back John Black took a sniper’s bullet at an FA Cup final. Anyway, Taylor later did a carbon copy death-flop against Man Utd but, suspiciously, all video evidence of it has been removed from YouTube. Blatantly by Steven himself.
Rivaldo went from playground hero to figure of fun after Brazil’s 2002 World Cup group match against Turkey. Not only was it a tumble that made football a laughing stock all over the world, but it also showed up the mercurial playmaker, already fairly despised by his nation’s fans, as actually being a bit of a knobhound. “‘I was both the victim and the person who got fined,” he whined once FIFA had slapped him with a £5,000 bill. “Obviously the ball didn’t hit me in the face, but I was still the victim. I did not hit anyone in the face! Nobody remembers what that Turk did to me. I’m not a player who fakes fouls.”
Knut Anders Fostervold
Knut Anders Fostervold is now a professional cyclist, but previously he played football for Norwegian side Molde FK. Along with the Norwegian Cup medal he was awrded in 1994, he should probably receive some sort of acknowledegment for the graceful move he pulls off in the clip above.
Roberto Rojas gets a mention in any football list based on lies, deception and scandal, and rightly so – the former Chile captain was the mad genius architect of a dive you could literally write a book on. Fakery with fireworks, razors and tomato ketchup. A lifetime ban. And the woman who threw the flare becoming a national hero and hawking her wares in the Brazilian version of Playboy.
Have we missed anyone out? Let us know with a comment below…