• Liam Hale


The English Premier League has always been known as one of the most physical and aggressive leagues in the world, whether it being Roy Keane with his aggression and crazy tackles or Vinnie Jones and his Crazy Gang at Wimbledon in the 1990s, there has been a few horror tackles along the years.

Here we are going to be looking at five of the worst challenges in the Premier League’s 28 years history, from Roy Keane’s famous horror tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland or Neil Lennon taking a boot to the face from the Premier Leagues all-time leading goal scorer, Alan Shearer. We will be going in reverse order starting with number five:

5. Alan Shearer on Neil Lennon (April 1998)

In a match between Newcastle United and Leicester City in April 1998, Alan Shearer and Neil Lennon found themselves in a 50/50 battle for possession near the touchline on the righthand side of the pitch. With Lennon trying to dispossess Shearer who had turned into the path of the Northern Irishman, Lennon falls to the floor after Shearer had out strengthened him and shielded the ball.

As the ball bobbles away from the pair, Lennon pulls the English striker and causes him to turn around 180 degrees, as Shearer turns he pulls his left leg back and kicks Lennon in the head causing Lennon to go down holding his face. Shearer goes to check to see if Lennon is alright, but as the Leicester City Physio comes onto the pitch, Shearer leaves the scene.

Shearer denies kicking his fellow professional deliberately, saying on an interview shortly after “If I did accidentally catch him, I certainly did not mean too. I would never try and deliberately hurt a fellow professional.”

The Englishman faced no punishment from the referee, or the English Football Association (FA) having been found not guilty of deliberately kicking an opponent in the face; nevertheless, the tackle is not for the faint-hearted.

4. Ryan Shawcross on Aaron Ramsey (February 2010)

This horror tackle happened in February 2010 in a game between Stoke City and Arsenal, which left Arsenal’s Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey side-lined for two years after he sustained a broken leg as a result of the challenge by then Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross.

The careless challenge from Shawcross gave him his marching orders from the game as his side lost 1-3 in the final result. Shawcross also received a three-match ban with Arsenal manger Arsene Wenger calling for the ban to be extended saying “A three-match ban is ridiculous.”

Former Stoke forward, Dave Kitson, spoke about the challenge on Ramsey in his Sun column in 2018 he wrote: “I heard the crack of Ramsey’s leg from the bench.” He also wrote, “I heard the screaming.”

3. Ben Thatcher on Pedro Mendes (August 2006)

Ben Thatcher’s tackle on Pedro Mendes left many people watching this game between Manchester City and Portsmouth in sheer disbelief.

As the ball breaks near the touchline, following a City corner, Mendes attempts to clear the ball from his team’s half, Thatcher then bulldozes into the Portsmouth number 10, hitting him in his head with his elbow.

The incident caused Mendes to slide into the advertising board on the side of the pitch, leaving him unconscious and needing oxygen while pitch side. Mendes also endured a seizure while being transferred to the hospital, Thatcher did not receive a red card following the horrific challenge but was later banned for six matches by the FA and was fined six weeks wages.

Fortunately, Mendes was released from hospital the next day and received no long-lasting damage to his head. Talking to the public following his release from hospital, Mendes said “It is the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my career.” He later talked about how he feared what lasting damage Thatcher had caused, by saying “At first I had real fear about possible after-effects of the incident, but doctors are optimistic I will be okay.” Mendes went on to make a full recovery and continued to play football.

2. Martin Taylor on Eduardo Da Silva (February 2008)

The second Arsenal player to make this list, Eduardo Da Silva or just Eduardo, suffered what can only be described as a horrific injury back in February 2008. In the third minute of a game between Arsenal and Birmingham City at St Andrew’s, came a tackle that then Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger describes as “traumatic.”

Eduardo picks up the ball in the final third and turns to run at the Birmingham defence, as he runs the Birmingham defender comes forward to tackle the Croatian striker. Eduardo moves the ball to the left to try and dribble past the oncoming Taylor leaving the left shin of Eduardo vulnerable.

The tackle was so brutal that it resulted in Eduardo receiving treatment on the pitch for seven minutes and later underwent surgery at his arrival at the local hospital. The injury was so gruesome that Sky Sports refused to show any replays of the challenge that Taylor had made.

Taylor was sent off for the challenge and received a three-match ban, but Arsenal manager, Wenger, ordered the defender to be banned from the game for life, saying in a post-match interview “This guy should never play football again.”

The challenge has certainly stayed in the memory of the Arsenal physiotherapist, Colin Lewis, as he said “I couldn’t tell you the dates of any cup finals, but I can tell you the date of Eduardo’s injury, it was February 23rd 2008.”

1.Roy Keane on Alf-Inge Haaland (April 2001)

The worst challenge on this list, is the tackle that ended Alf-Inge Haaland’s career as a footballer. It’s the challenge that Manchester United captain Roy Keane undertook towards the player back in April 2001, in a game between the two Manchester-based clubs.

Some would say a horrible act of revenge, as fours year prior, Haaland while playing for Leeds United had accused Keane of ‘faking’ an injury as he went down in the penalty area. However, Keane wasn’t faking the injury as Keane missed almost a year of action for United.

Keane got his own back by going into a challenge with Haaland with his studs up straight into the knee of the City player, causing the Norweigan to flip to the ground, and Keane certainly meant the challenge saying in his autobiography “I’d waited long enough, I f****** hit him hard.” Keane wasn’t done there though, as the player lay on the ground receiving treatment from the City medical staff, Keane walked over to the City player and said “Take that you c***, and don’t ever stand over me again sneering about fake injuries.”

Keane received a red card for the challenge, was fined £5,000 and was given a three-match ban, but after he released his book, his ban was extended to a five-game ban and fined a further £150,000, Keane claimed his ghostwriter had exaggerated the real words.