The Top Ten Toughest Tacklers of English Football

Football has arguably become a lot softer over recent seasons, with bookings and red cards shown for things that would have been considered just part of the game during the 1980s.

Football has arguably become a lot softer over recent seasons, with bookings and red cards shown for things that would have been considered just part of the game during the 1980s. With that in mind, here are our top ten toughest tacklers to have graced the English game.

10. Neil Ruddock
Ruddock will be best known for his time with Liverpool. Known as ‘Razor’, it will be no surprise to many that he started his career at Millwall before joining Spurs. He broke his leg on his debut but that didn’t stop him having an excellent career with Southampton and Liverpool

9. Julian Dicks
Another tough defender, Dicks was a key part of the West Ham sides in the early and mid-1990s. Nicknamed the Terminator, Dicks was also known for his fierce shot which helped him bag 55 league goals during his career.

8. Billy Bremner

Billy Bremner & Johan Cruyff by Rob Mieremet (CC BY-SA 3.0 NL)

Billy Bremner is a Leeds United icon having won two league titles, a league cup and reached a European Cup final whilst with the club. He was a Scottish International and a tough customer who took Leeds to the top in his 18 seasons at Elland Road.

7. Ron Harris
Known as ‘Chopper’ Harris due to his no-nonsense tackles he played for a Chelsea side known for its hard play. He made over 650 appearances for the club spanning two decades and will always be known as a Chelsea hero. The Blues could have done with Harris’ strength, as they sit off the pace in the race for top four. Premier League football betting odds have them at an outsider 10/1 to secure a Champions League spot.

6. Graeme Souness
Another Scottish talent, Souness played as a hard man in midfield for the famous Liverpool team of the late 1970s and early 1980s. During his time with the Reds, he won five league titles, three League Cups and three European Cups.

5. Terry Butcher
Terry Butcher will forever be remembered as the man covered in his own blood with his head in a bandage, an iconic image that was seen around the world following the 1989 World Cup qualifier in Stockholm. He was an uncompromising defender who wore his heart on his sleeve and made 77 appearances for his beloved England.

4. Stuart Pearce
Not many players have tried to run off a broken leg but then not many players are like Stuart Pearce. A Nottingham Forest and England legend, Pearce was a tough tackling full back with a fierce shot. During his career, he won the League Cup twice as captain of Forest under the guidance of Brian Clough and played 78 times for England.

3. Roy Keane
The Manchester United legend came to the attention of the world as a player for Nottingham Forest. He was outspoken, fierce and a great leader. Keane was one of Manchester United’s greatest captains, winning seven league titles, four FA Cups and the 1998-99 European Cup. He also played 67 times for the Republic of Ireland national team.

2. Nobby Stiles
Probably England’s greatest ever hard man, Norbert or ‘Nobby’ Stiles was the man to protect the England back four and allow Bobby Charlton the freedom to roam forward in England’s 1966 World Cup winning side. In his club career, he played over 300 times for Manchester United between 1960 and 1971 and will always be a true legend of the game.

1. Vinny Jones
Not the best player but definitely the greatest hard man ever to play football, Vinny Jones was a hod carrier on a building site before turning pro with Wimbledon where he won the FA Cup in 1988. He went on to play for Leeds, Sheffield United and Chelsea before returning to Wimbledon in 1992. After retiring from football he played the archetypal hard man in many movies including the British hit Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

They may not have always been the most skilful players to grace the football pitches of Great Britain but you would be hard pressed to find a fan of the teams they played for who would be willing to swap them for anyone else. They gave it their all and will always be remembered for doing just that.

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