Clattenburg reveals 5 most annoying players he refereed

Mark Clattenburg the former Premier League and FIFA referee has revealed the five most annoying footballers he had to officiate. Some names should come as no surprise to football fans. Here is his list and why.

Craig Bellamy

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The much travelled forward tops Clattenburg’s list. The Welsh international was always a fiery character on and off the pitch (just ask John Arne Riise!) which Clattenburg painfully found out.

“I knew my relationship with him was on sticky ground when he squeezed my balls in the tunnel at the Etihad, and I don’t mean my match-balls.”

Clattenburg recalled one incident in 2009 when he unfairly sent off Bellamy for diving but insists that he was an unwelcome challenge to referee.

“But Bellamy was a nightmare to referee and most of us felt the same. He would snarl at you and throw his arms around, constantly challenging you. His language was awful, just plain rude.”

Roy Keane

Next on the list is Roy Keane who Clattenburg explains was a different character off the pitch.

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“I have to start by saying that I worked with Roy for ITV during the World Cup in 2018 and he was a gentleman and nice to be around, proof that players can be very different off the pitch from on it.”

However, he states Keane could try and bully referees and added: “You just couldn’t trust Roy either. You never knew if he was going to blow up or do something nasty, like the tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland. That was a disgrace, it was premeditated.”

“He always came across as stone-cold and wanted to be the hard man. That causes problems for referees because the ego kicks in and it becomes a fight, like it did between him and Patrick Vieira.”

Jens Lehmann

Clattenburg claims the former Arsenal goalkeeper, Jens Lehmann is worthy of making his list purely due to his constant whinging and “antics”.

“He was just so irritable and never stopped, one of those miserable blokes who would whinge about everything and everyone.

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“If the ball was round, he would whinge. If the ball was white, he would whinge. You would think, ‘Just give it a rest’.”

He added: “But he would do snidey, little things himself that made it difficult and I didn’t enjoy refereeing him at all. He was erratic and his antics were not easy to deal with.”


It will come as no surprise to many a supporter that Portuguese defender Pepe appears on the list. Clattenburg refereed many a Champions League game during his career encountering Pepe and his on field antics.

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“He was another player you just couldn’t trust,” he said. “A game could be easy and straightforward then he would do something sly.”

Clattenburg added: “But he was a wind-up merchant and not fun to referee one bit, you had to be on your guard constantly.”

John Obi Mikel

Completing Clattenburg’s list is former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel who infamously accused Clattenburg of making a racist comment during a Premier League game.

Explaining his decision, Clattenburg said: “I have picked Mikel because of the incident during a Chelsea v Manchester United match in 2012 when he accused me of making a racist comment, which was not right and I was later cleared by the FA.

“He has never apologised and that is disappointing because it could have ruined my life. I fell out of love with refereeing for a while after that but couldn’t quit because I had a family to support and no other career to pursue.

“It all left a bad feeling that still lingers today. Mikel only heard the allegation from his team-mate Ramires, who did not speak English. Other Chelsea players have since apologised but nothing from Mikel.”

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