10 biggest footballer tantrums after Ndombeles furious reaction to Spurs sub

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Professional footballers are not children, but sometimes they act like them.

Stakes in top-level football are extremely high and, on occasions, it all gets too much for the highly-paid players.

Being substituted is just one of the triggers for emotional on-pitch tantrums, while perceived injustice and responses from the crowd can also provoke hot tempers.

Sometimes it can all just get too much, as we saw twice on the weekend during the third round of the FA Cup.

First, Tanguy Ndombele was booed off after disappointing in Tottenham's FA Cup win over Morecambe, before Nuno Tavares threw his gloves to the ground after being hauled off in Arsenal's defeat against Nottingham Forest.

To celebrate, here are 10 of the best tantrums from the beautiful game.

Tanguy Ndombele

The pace at which you leave the pitch when substituted varies massively, depending on the game situation.

If you are winning and therefore keen to waste time, you can make a lengthy exit while clapping the fans. But if you are losing to Morecambe at home in the FA Cup, it is wise to make a swift one.

Ndombele did not get this memo.He ambled slowly off the pitch to the sound of boosfrom the home crowd, before disappearing straight down the tunnel on the hour mark.

Spurs came from behind to win 3-1 after Antonio Conte’s triple-substitution but Ndombele’s future at the club is now in doubt.

Nuno Tavares

Another substitution and another meltdown on Sunday.

Tavares was replaced by Kieran Tierney just 31 minutes into Arsenal’s FA Cup tie against Nottingham Forest.

Rather than feign an injury to make the move appear forced, he decided to do the exact opposite.

The 21-year-old left-backstormed off the pitch and chucked his glovesto the ground before angrily joining his team-mates in the dug-out.

He was serenaded with a chant of “you’re going to cry in a minute” by the Forest fans, who were delighted to see their side go on to win 1-0.

Mario Balotelli

The undisputed champion of on-pitch tantrums – a man who had a “why always me?” t-shirt made – has a few to pick from.

Pre-season friendlies should not be the most emotionally-charged occasion for a footballer. They’re primarily for fitness and commercial reasons, after all.

But Balotelli is a born entertainer, so when the chance for a simple goal arose in a friendly against LA Galaxy in 2011, he opted to take an option only he had thought of.

No, he would not pass to Edin Dzeko for a tap-in, he would go for a backheel.

Man City boss Roberto Mancini didn’t see the funny side, however, hooking him immediately for James Milner. A full-blown argument followed between the Italians on the touchline.

Granit Xhaka

Xhaka was Arsenal captain back in October 2019 when he was substituted by Unai Emery during a game against Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners supporters were unhappy with Xhaka’s lack of urgency in leaving the pitch to be replaced by Bukayo Saka.

He responded by cupping his ears to the crowd and telling them, in no uncertain terms, to “f*** off”.

It wasn’t a great look and needless to say Xhaka’s spell as captain did not last much longer.

Wayne Rooney

“Nice to see your own fans booing you, That's what loyal support is."."

Those infamous words, directed at a TV camera, came from Rooney after one of England’s worst ever World Cup performances in a 0-0 draw with Algeria in 2010.

Fabio Capello’s side were dreadful at the 2010 World Cup and the Rooney line ended up becoming an emblem of the tournament.

HAVE YOUR SAY! What is the biggest tantrum you've seen on the football pitch? Comment below.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo has many tantrums to choose from over his entire career, but perhaps the most recent one is the best, coming from a 36-year-old man and captain of his country.

The Manchester United star thought he had scored a vital late winner for Portugal against Serbia in March 2021, only for it not to be given.

With no VAR, Serbia got away with it, as the linesman couldn’t get a clear view to see if the ball had crossed the line or not.

Ronaldo reacted furiously, screaming in the linesman’s face and throwing his arms around before being booked.


When the final whistle blew seconds later, he stormed off, threw his captain’s armband down and went down the tunnel muttering to himself.

Kepa Arrizabalaga

Many of these tantrums stem from being substituted. Kepa Arrizabalaga has a solution: simply ignore your manager’s instructions.

The world’s most expensive goalkeeper lit up an otherwise very forgettable Carabao Cup final in February 2019 by refusing to come off in extra-time.

Maurizio Sarri had wanted to bring on Willy Caballero for the penalty shoot-out after Arrizabalaga went down with cramp. But the Spaniard had other ideas.

He was seen shouting “No!” at the bench, who remarkably gave in, with Sarri later giving an unconvincing explanation for the incident.

Didier Drogba

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"Are you watching this? It’s a disgrace. It's a f***ing disgrace,” screamed Drogba into the TV camera.

The Chelsea striker was irate after his side had been knocked out of the Champions League in the semi-finals by Barcelona in 2009.

The Blues drew the first leg 0-0 at the Camp Nou and were leading the second 1-0 thanks to Michael Essien’s stunner when it all went wrong.

Referee Tom Henning Ovrebo waved away four separate Chelsea appeals for a penalty as Andres Iniesta’s goal sent Barca through to the final on away goals.

Drogba was banned for six games by UEFA, who didn’t take too kindly to his words.

William Gallas

Picture the scene: it’s 2008 and Gallas, Arsenal captain wearing the No 10 shirt, is sat on the pitch shaking his head.

Arsenal had just been held to a 2-2 draw by Birmingham City on an emotional day in which Eduardo suffered a career-changing injury.

The Gunners’ Premier League title challenge was effectively over and Gallas could not take it.

After kicking an advertising board, the defender had to be practically carried off the pitch by Arsene Wenger. Not a great look for the club captain, who already had enough problems in that regard by choosing the No 10 shirt.

Paolo Di Canio

It’s fair to say that Di Canio had a bit of a reputation for tantrums, but this is up there, even for him.

The fiery Italian was sent off following an incident with Arsenal defender Martin Keown in 1998, but he wasn’t having any of it.

Di Canio went ballistic at referee Paul Alcock, pushing him to the turf in a bizarre incident.

“It wasn’t a violent gesture, it was a gesture of disappointment, that’s all it was,” Di Canio later wrote in his autobiography.

“I could push my eight-year-old daughter Ludovica that way and she wouldn’t fall over. It certainly looked bizarre.

“My first reaction was that somebody must have been crouching behind him, like in one of those old slapstick comedies.”

  • Arsene Wenger
  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Unai Emery
  • Wayne Rooney
  • FA Cup
  • Premier League
  • World Cup
  • Tottenham Hotspur FC
  • Arsenal FC

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