7 retired football hardmen who wouldnt last today – including Vinnie Jones

The role of the football hardman reached its peak during the 1990s as a number of Premier League stars imposed themselves on opponents with their physicality.

However, the approaches to the game of many of these players makes it hard to imagine that they would be able to adopt a similar style in the modern game.

Over the three decades of the Premier League, the leniency of officials towards strong tackles has decreased, with what may not even be a foul in the league's early days now being a straight red card.

Therefore, here are seven retired football hardmen who would not last in today's game.

Neil Ruddock

That Neil 'Razor' Ruddock would not last long in the modern game is as much down to his physique as it is his physical style of play.

Despite his larger build, Ruddock was capped by England at under-21 and senior level during his career as well as being praised in his time at Southampton for his ability to bring the ball out of defence.

He also made over 100 appearances for Liverpool in five years at Anfield and once fractured Peter Beardsley's jaw in a testimonial match.

In addition, he broke both of Andy Cole's legs during a reserve match, although he later told talkSPORT that “I only meant to break one of his legs, not both".

Duncan Ferguson

Beloved by Everton supporters for his passion as a player, coach and caretaker manager for the Toffees, that Duncan Ferguson is known by the nicknames 'Big Dunc' and 'Duncan Disorderly' says a lot about his playing style.

He received nine red cards in his career and was even jailed for three months for assault following an on-pitch altercation in a match for Rangers in 1994.

Ferguson was once sent off 10 minutes after coming on in a match against Charlton Athletic for an elbow on Hermann Hreidarsson.

Despite his physicality and countless suspensions, though, Ferguson is the highest scoring Scottish player in Premier League history with 69 goals for Everton and Newcastle United.

Vinnie Jones

For many fans, Vinnie Jones is the first name that comes to mind when they think of a football hardman, with the former Wales international a key member of Wimbledon's 'Crazy Gang'.

To some, the entirety of that Wimbledon side could have made this list, but Jones stands out with his habit of avoiding red cards despite his ferocious challenges.

While he did receive seven Premier League red cards and 10 overall during his career, it would likely have been a lot more in the modern game.

Jones even released a Christmas DVD in 1992 titled 'Soccer's Hard Men', to the annoyance of many at the FA.

Dennis Wise

Dennis Wise was another member of the 'Crazy Gang' but spent just five years at Wimbledon before moving to Chelsea in 2000, where he would remain for over a decade.

Wise was known for his scrappy and aggressive style of play, which often saw him in trouble with the referee and he received nine red cards during his playing career as well as 123 bookings.

He also got into trouble off the pitch after being found guilty of assaulting a taxi driver in 1995, but was later spared a three-month prison sentence following an appeal.

Seven years later, he was sent home from a pre-season tour while at Leicester City and suspended by the club for breaking the nose and jaw of teammate Callum Davidson during an argument.

Roy Keane

Roy Keane won seven league titles and the Champions League during his time at Manchester United but may not have had the same career nowadays.

His no nonsense approach in the middle of the park included strong challenges and he was prone to losing his head during on-field altercations.

One of his most infamous moments was a gruesome high tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland in the Manchester Derby in 2001, for which Keane was banned for an initial three matches.

In the modern game, he would have likely been handed a longer suspension, although he was later handed an additional five-match ban when his autobiography revealed he had deliberately injured his opponent.

Stuart Pearce

With the nickname 'Psycho', it is no surprise that Stuart Pearce was a bonafide hardman during his playing days.

He was once described as "the scariest opponent ever" by Matt Le Tissier and Pearce even played on with a broken leg in a match for West Ham United.

Six months later, Pearce broke the same leg again and refused to be stretchered off the pitch.

Despite Pearce's hardman approach, he was only sent off three times as a player, with just two coming via straight red cards.

Julian Dicks

Former West Ham United defender Julian Dicks had two spells with the Hammers from 1988 to 1993 and 1994 to 1999.

He was once quoted as saying: “It would have been nice to have played 20 or 30 years ago. You could get away with murder then, elbow people, everything. The game’s changing for the worse.”

That he once said this suggests he may not have been suited to football in 2021 but he has been described as an animal by actor Danny Dyer.

Dyer also said: "I remember him having a go at Vinnie Jones once and Vinnie was shitting himself. His arsehole fell out. Dicks epitomised West Ham. When he kissed that badge, he meant it.”

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