Footballers often get branded as dainty flowers afraid of any form of contact because of the dive-prone moaners among them. This, however, is a terrific injustice to the ones who would rather run through a burning fireworks stand than fake an injury. So in the interest of recognizing these players, here are 10 involved in the World Cup that you won't want to make eye contact with.
Wayne Rooney, England
Wayne Rooney is everything he looks like -- a burley, testosterone-charged guy you probably see at your local pub, gnawing on a steak. He was red-carded for shoving then club teammate and consummate prima donna Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2006 World Cup for whining to the ref. Huffs, puffs, shoves and bodies all on the way to scoring a ton of goals ... and then roaring about them like an enraged lion in celebration.
Christian Poulsen, Denmark
Known best for his controversial disciplinary history on the pitch, Poulsen will put a target on the opposition's most skilled attacker’s back and subsequently attempt to physically neutralize him. Case in point -- he earned a red card for punching Swedish striker Markus Rosenberg in the stomach during a World Cup qualifier, causing a Danish supporter to run on the pitch and attempt to attack the referee, another fan to press legal charges on Poulsen, the Danish minister of justice to plea for his expulsion from the national team, and a member of the Copenhagen metropolitan police to call for the midfielder to submit to a 30-day jail sentence. That caused Sweden to take a 3-0 loss, as the game was abandoned due to the madness, but the rest of Poulsen's other tough-guy artillery (when within the rules of the game) can often spur his team to victory, too.
Besides looking like a giant vampire who feasts on characters from a Stephanie Meyer novel, Lucio is also a beast of a defender on the pitch. Short-fused and full of scowls, many would be surprised to know that Lucio is a devout evangelical Christian who frequently talks about the importance of faith in his life. That said, he is still more likely to run your over during a game than give you the sign of peace.
Khalid Boulahrouz, Netherlands
An out-of-control bundle of aggression that can taste red cards as soon an attacker enters his 18-yard box. His nickname is “Khalid the Cannibal” -- they say for his ability to eat up his opposition, but it could be for a thinly veiled preference for actual cannibalism. It's becoming a running theme for members of this list, but Boulahrouz also nearly took out Cristiano Ronaldo at the last World Cup by trying to put a foot through his thigh (see video above).
Michael Bradley, USA
With an inherited jarhead and lethal laser beam stare from his coach/father, the younger Bradley is more akin to a close-combat soldier than a footballer. The gritty defensive midfielder has added some control and a nice passing range to his game over the years, but he’s still just as likely to ruthlessly stomp out an opposing players ankles. And one time in the U-20 World Cup, a tournament seemingly designed to showcase the amazing talents of innocent young footballers, he almost took on the entire Uruguayan team on his own before resigning himself to taunting them with the final score.
Ryan Nelsen, New Zealand
The All Whites captain looks like he could tear a phone book in half just by staring it. He's overcome a number of injuries to lead his country in South Africa and says he will resist his club's pressure to retire from international competition after the World Cup like an angry jackhammer (not his actual words). Aside from being tough as gristle, Nelsen's no dummy, either -- he graduated from Stanford University before playing four years with D.C. United in MLS, then making the move to the Premier League. And I also heard that he's not afraid of Chuck Norris.
Jean Makoun, Cameroon
Nicknamed "The Sergeant" and "The Cleaner," Makoun is described by ESPN as having "bullish determination, aerial prowess and limitless stamina." In other words, he's a superhuman destroyer. And he can score from distance. This is not a man to be trifled with.
Nemanja Vidic, Serbia
A hard-tackling centerback who has had more than his share of blood stains, Vidic may or may not be a Terminator sent to obliterate everything in his path. He has an appreciation society on Facebook and takes elbows to the face in stride, but the chant that Manchester United supporters sing for him really does say it all.
Gennaro Gattuso, Italy
You really can't have a list like this without including Rino "The Snarling Dog" Gattuso (pictured above, looking happy with David Beckham). Filled with the rage of a thousand action movie characters, Gattuso is an excellent defensive midfielder who doesn't hesitate to playfully beat up on his teammates and coaches or chase people around a parking lot and kick them in the backside while sucking on a lollipop if they play a prank on him. I mean, just look at that picture again. He walks around town looking like that.
Entire Algeria National Team
They survived getting their bus stoned by Egyptian fans before a vital World Cup qualifier and often play a style of football that leaves the opposing team's doctors working overtime. I could say more, but I think that picture of Gattuso is about to attack me.
Granted, this is by no means a comprehensive list and there are many more that we could have included, so feel free to talk up the exaggerated ferocity of anyone not included here in the comments.
Top 10 World Cup 2010 Tough Guys - Dirty Tackle - World Soccer - Yahoo! Sports
I'm not going to count the team of Algerians...looking at this list is like seeing 8 Aston Martins and 1 Ford Pinto (Michael Bradley)
I'm sure yahoo needed to include an American to make it "relevant" for non-football fans to read.