The 8 Most Brutal Murders* To Ever Take Place On A Football Pitch

*Not actual murders, just nutmegs and stuff

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In no other sport does the sweet nectar of schadenfreude run so freely as in football: the beautiful game, the brutal game, the game where making someone else look like a total d***khead holds dominion over all.

Here we pay tribute to those chosen few players who took our playground nutmeg dreams and transported them to the bright lights of the Bernabeu and beyond, the men for whom making a centre back look like a chump in front of 63,000 people was not a fantasy but a beautiful reality.

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These are the most brutal murders to ever be enacted on a football pitch. R.I.P to the body of Maicon. R.I.P to James Milner's knees. R.I.P to Eden Hazard's firstborn.

1 | Fernando Torres and the fall of Nemanja Vidic

Dreams of Belgrade, scattered in the wind.
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Before he became the physical embodiment of faded glories, a £50million turkey with acute anxiety rotting on the Chelsea bench, Fernando Torres was a lank-haired hero on Merseyside who relished playing against Man United - and Nemanja Vidic in particular.

While Torres took an almost masochistic glee in embarrassing the best centre back in the league, at no point was it more ruthless than in Liverpool's 4-1 battering of their bitter rivals at Old Trafford back in 2009; a game in which the Spaniard was at the peak of his powers and rang Vidic's bell so hard that the big Serb seemed almost relieved at getting sent off, having already been spun into a febrile daze by the striker's ankle-breaking turns.

Strangely, no highlights of any quality exist from this game... it's almost as if it never happened at all.

2 | Gazza turning Colin Hendry into a cow

Ah, the summer of 1996: the sun was high; the kits were flammable; the drinks were cold and England weren't totally s**t at football - especially when Paul Gascgoine had any sort of say in the matter.

And of course, the greatest England goal of all time (fight us). Close your eyes and see that innate, knowing run; the god-given turn-of pace - yet to be cancelled out by a thousand nights on the piss and the inexorable pull of those demons - the easy flick and the joyful "fookin' have it!!" finish; Colin Hendry left eating grass on the edge of the box, so much grass he turned into a cow forever.

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3 | Taxi for Maicon

It's not often that you see a career born in front of your very eyes over the course of 90 minutes, but that was the case with Gareth Bale and his dismantling of Maicon - then the world's best right-back, now a PTSD-ridden husk living out his days beneath the cool shade of a palm in Bahia.

But it never goes away.

It's an actual fact that no man has ever run as fast as Gareth Bale did during his one-man destruction of the champion's of Europe. Blossoming as he did that cool November night from stuttering left-back into a great Welsh stallion with rippling thighs destined for a flowing Mediterranean haircut and a bright white villa on the outskirts of Madrid with an unused pool and more sofas than anyone knows what to do with.

The footballer's dream.

4 | Stephen Gerrard vs Stephen Gerrard

Stephen Gerrard
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"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

5 | Lionel Messi and the disemboweling of James Milner

You're James Milner, the strongest boy in school. Always won the bleep test and went to bed before 10pm. You listened to your dad and promised your mum you'd buy her a nice detached house in Wakefield when you got your big break. It comes - at Leeds United. This is it! No nights out for you. Just dawn sprint sessions and six protein-rich meals a day. You become the great utility man of the Premier League. A grafter. An example to everyone.

And then Lionel Messi comes along and murders you. Not only that but he throws petrol on your corpse and sets fire to it. He dances on your remains with his little elven feet. You're James Milner and you're grasping for air, searching for the pleading eyes of your mother, but all you can hear is the laughter of Pep Guardiola high up in the stands and the howl of a stadium as they laugh, laugh, laugh at you, James. Listen to them laugh.

6 | Johan Cryuff, the original murderer

Willowy and somewhat naive in that way athletes were before they found sport science, recovery shakes and impenetrable PR teams: Johan Cryuff turned the manhandling of defenders who still smoked 30 a day into high art. Football's own Baryshnikov performing a singular ballet that no one else had practiced for, especially Sweden's Jan Olsson, the man on the receiving end of the First. Ever. Cryuff. Turn.

Shorts high and mullet dancing softly in the wind, Cryuff brings the ball down in that savant way of his; dangling the bait in front of Olsson, who duly bites and, well, you know how the rest goes.

7 | Lionel Messi and the disemboweling of Jerome Boateng

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come;

thy will be done;

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily subtle drop of the shoulder.

And forgive us our broken ankles,

as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into falling over in front of 85,000 people;

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

the power and the glory and the delicate chip finish,

for ever and ever.

Amen.

8 | Eden Hazard plots the demise of his own son

THAT KID LOOKS LIKE A RIGHT D***HEAD!!!