We can often fool ourselves into thinking how well we know players. On the pitch, a performance can be mistaken for a personality. Off it, media training renders a multitude of different people identikit. Some players, of course, cover a lot of sins with well-crafted words. We've lost count of the number of unsavoury – and probably libellous – tales we've heard about otherwise polished individuals. Others have an unfortunate knack of undoing the good they do elsewhere. Joey Barton, for example, had shown signs of turning his life around and helping other fallen footballers until his altercations with Morten Gamst Pedersen and Fernando Torres; Craig Bellamy – in trouble again this week – is unfailingly upfront about everything except his foundation in Sierra Leone where, admirably, he hasn't courted good publicity; Didier Drogba's humanitarian work, meanwhile, is too often forgotten as he throws another tantrum.
But then there are those, like El-Hadji Diouf, who just can't help showing who they really are. In dishonour of Diouf's actions last week, we present a team of the most disliked players in the Premier League.
Maybe it's because they really are different, but since Jens Lehmann left England, there's been a peculiar absence of pariahs between the posts. The likes of Edwin van der Sar, Pepe Reina and Heurelho Gomes are all reported as genuinely decent guys. Blackburn's Robinson, however, appears to best fit the archetype of an overblown Premier League footballer. With an arrogance that is out of proportion to his moderate ability, Robinson's marriage infamously almost ended 13 days after it began when his wife found out about an affair with a dance teacher.
Recent events mean he just pips Pascal Chimbonda. Whatever of opinions on Paul Merson's playing career or punditry, Johnson illustrated a crass insensitivity with his description of an "alcoholic drug abuser".
"When I heard my agent repeat the figure of £55,000, I nearly swerved off the road. 'He's taking the piss, Jonathan!' I yelled down the phone. I was trembling with anger." The poster-child for the league's avarice kind of said it all.
Quite simply, his antagonistic behaviour disproportionately infuriates an awful lot of opposing fans. The defence to this is often 'you'd love to have that type of player at your club'. Try asking some of the more regular match-goers at Old Trafford. For a man who loves the club so much, Neville has been known to be either sullenly silent or outright ignorant when pressed on the Glazers' ownership.
An acclaimed continental ex-Chelsea midfielder once confided to a Sunday Tribune colleague that he basically despised Terry. The two words he actually used would probably land us in court but, according to this pro, what you're probably thinking about Terry is all true. Throughout his career, he's committed many of the seven deadly sins; lust (ask Wayne Bridge), pride (his ill-fated coup of Fabio Capello's England), wrath (some of those two-footed tackles) and greed (threatening to head to Manchester City if the one club he loves didn't match their offer).
Mark van Bommel's agent said during the week that his client fancies a move to England. Until that happens, his compatriot remains the Premier League's most glaring example of "that type of player". There is a litany of examples. Just ask Hatem Ben Arfa. Or Stuart Holden. Or Xabi Alonso.
Complained in an interview a year ago that he is wrongly seen as "some kind of animal" and that past sins will always colour perceptions. He should probably stop committing new ones then like the recent challenges on Darron Gibson and Bacary Sagna.
Perhaps he should be pitied but Ireland's constant hypocritical pronouncements – on form, his country and even footballer's lives – don't help.
One Eastlands source insisted to the Sunday Tribune that questions must be asked of anyone who falls out with the genial Kolo Toure. Adebayor, however, appeared to answer them a full year before his altercation with the centre-half when he goaded Arsenal supporters. Such aggression allied to his greed ensures that Adebayor epitomises the worst excesses of the current Manchester City team.
Perhaps more a figure of hilarity rather than hate. It doesn't bode well for the popularity of a player – and one who recently insisted he will be the best striker in the world – when every glaring miss is greeted with guffaws.
The chrome-covered Mercedes. The insistence that a club captain "chill out" when his attitude was questioned. The spits. The spats. The evidence against Diouf just keeps mounting.
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