10 Premier League Footballers It’s Impossible To Hate

Chris Wright

20th, March 2012


By Chris Wright

It’s been a heavy few days on Pies and in football generally, so we thought we’d introduce a breeze of brevity in these troubling times by focusing on the positive for a while.

In no particular order, here are 10 current Premier League players who, try as you might, are just impossible to dislike in any way, shape or form…

1. Jussi Jääskeläinen, Bolton – With more umlauts to his name (literally) than you can shake a stick at, Jussi is a faultless goalkeeper who has spent the last decade-and-a-half keeping Bolton’s ‘goals conceded’ column in somewhat respectable order over the course of his 500+ appearances for the Trotters. He may be older than Saturn’s rings (36), but he’s not aged a day in 15 years and the fact that he looks a bit like the baby from Ghostbusters II is obviously also a massive plus in his favour.

2. Shola Ameobi, Newcastle – Shola, how do I do thy greatness justice? Like a galloping Lipizzaner pony, so refined and delicate that he can only be used sparingly, Ameobi scores exactly three truly great goals a season without ever getting near being first-choice at Newcastle. Personally speaking, I’d have him on the plane to Euro 2012. Sunderland fans (and Newcastle fans for that matter) may disagree.

3. Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Tottenham – After a patchy start to life at Spurs, BAE has flourished into a more than decent left-back over the past two years, while maintaining that whiff of eccentricity that stood him out in the first place. Talks frankly (to a fault on occasion) under questioning, insists on wearing odd boots, moseyed on down to sort everything out after the London Riots and, of course, favours the ‘towering afro’ hair arrangement which, all-in-all, makes him okay by us.

4. Javier Hernandez, Man Utd – Awww, the ‘ickle pea. Bless his little cotton socks. As well as having the saddest eyes this side of Labrador puppies, Chicharito – regardless of his fractious second season at Old Trafford – obviously loves playing football more than anything else in the whole wide world. Well, other than firing off a quick pre-match prayer to our Lord and saviour.

(For the record, had he not buggered it all up by retiring at the end of last season, Edwin van der mother flippin’ Sar would’ve been a shoe-in for a place on the list. Michael Owen would not.)

5. Peter Crouch, Stoke City – Allied to the fact that he’s beaten all the odds to become a professional footballer despite sharing a physique with a malnourished stick insect, he’s also an all-round good egg is our Pete. Just a nice lad, well-spoken, intelligent, self-effacing and polite – qualities, albeit non-footballing, that are frequently absent in your average Premier League numbnut.

6. Dirk Kuyt – The son of a fisherman and a former painter and decorator no less. Dirk the Dutchman is Dutch, which is always a good start in the ‘loveable’ stakes because Dutch people are almost entirely brilliant, though – once you ally that inherent Dutchness with the work-rate of an army ant and a head of hair that looks like a plate of wet linguini – my friends, you’ve got yourself a legend.

7. Ali Al-Habsi, Wigan – Al Habsi appears to have all the makings of a ricket-dropping clanger magnet, yet he really is quite good betwixt the sticks. Plus, his day job is keeping goal…for Wigan…with only Gary Caldwell for protection. I mean, c’mon, you have to feel for the guy on that count.

8. John-Arne Riise, Fulham – What’s got four eyes, hair o’ Nordic flame and a shot powerful enough to be used to test the ballistic capabilities of Challenger 2 tanks? The Kraken, that’s what.

9. Fernando Torres, Chelsea – Look at his little face! That’s what pure joy looks like people. Be honest, regardless of club allegiances, you’re all rooting for Nando to score now aren’t you?

10. Mario Balotelli, Man City – It came as little surprise to learn that most of the hi-jinks that have been attributed to ‘Mad Mario’ Balotelli since he washed up in Manchester are false and/or media fabrications when the man himself debunked rumour after rumour during a candid interview with Parker from the Thunderbirds recently but, at the very least, Mario provides us with a one-man alternative to all the insipid, bland, non-committal-to-the-eyeballs dross that currently permeates the English top flight.

For every ‘the lads done great’ and ‘we just take every game as it comes’ that come mumbling forth, there’s a photo of Mario riding round on a small red bike with stabilisers – and that’s something to cherish.

Any loveable rascals we’ve missed? Venture south and give us a nudge in our ‘special area’…

Posted in Featured, Top 10s & lists

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  1. Kacker says:

    Spot on about Torres. He was just so much fun to watch in 2008. When was the last time you saw anyone but him do this? – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgZw5VDaTC8

  2. eddy says:

    sorry but I just don’t like Torres he seems so petulant. You could have had Scholes, Gerrard or someone like van der vart.

  3. Si says:

    As a Newcastle fan, I mean it when I say that Shola Ameobi shouldn’t be allowed to watch football, let alone play it.

    He is surely a Jim’ll Fix It “fix” gone wrong.

  4. KKK says:

    What about Luis Suarez?

  5. QPR says:

    ” regardless of club allegiances, you’re all rooting for Nando to score now aren’t you?”


    Agree with all the others except for BAE, didnt he once say he doesnt enjoy it and only does it for the money?

  6. lol says:

    I disagree with having Balloteli on that list.
    He may appear to be borderline retarded, but he strikes me a an extremely intelligent guy whose actions are all calculated and premeditated as Cantona said.

    Defoe deserves a mention in this list! So does Scholes and lets not forget Dimi Berbaton lol

  7. Joe says:

    Good list, and thanks for your kind words about us Dutchfolk. Have to disagree with Torres though. He was likeable up until about his penultimate season at Liverpool (I’m no huge liverpool fan but I liked the YNWA on the armband at Atleti and the fact that he took a pay cut to join his dream club). However, the fact that he left for want of success even though ‘Pool had been paying him through years of injury-fractured half-service kind of soured things for me.

    I’d put in pretty much any Fulham player (especially Murphy or Dempsey)-we’ve been a very soft and fluffy club ever since Michael Brown was packed off. Otherwise, Joe Hart, Lucas, Phil Neville (c’mon…) and maybe VDV.

  8. Davy says:

    I totally agree with having Torres & Balotelli in there, obviously for different reasons but they are both likeable!!! Shay Given should get a shout me thinks

  9. Davy says:

    And maybe Gareth Bale? I just like the chap

  10. abhi says:

    Wojciech Szczesny…horrible name, but a great chap

  11. Sjakie Meulemans says:

    Vincent Kompany, as nice as they come.

  12. Paul says:

    @ Davy, you may have just unlocked the Da Vinci Code. No Shay Given! a sad day for the premier league. Also Brad Friedel…

  13. Lukass says:

    Lee Cattermole anyone?

  14. Nuno says:

    @ Davy, totally agree with Shay Given, but Bale, I used to like the guy, but he has become easier not to like this year (unless you’re showing your simpathy for those “gravity hotspots” following him around).
    Also Joe Hart would fit quite right in that list for me.

  15. QPR says:

    Agreed, Bale is a serial diver and doesnt deserve a place on the list.

    To be on that list, youd have to struggle to name a bad thing theyve done. I think Ballotelli is the exception but anyone who tries to get into a womens prison deserves a pass on the bad just just for making us laugh.

  16. Mr. Sparkle says:


    Dave from Newcastle will hear about that one.

    I don’t agree about Hernandez or Torres. Can’t stand the sight of either of them.

    Agree on Dirk Kuyt, he seems like a nice lad.

    I agree on Scholes, one of only two Manchester United players I liked (except for Cantona, even though he was a bastard).

  17. ELDV says:

    I thought everyone loved Demba Ba!

  18. Nuno says:

    About BAE, I believe he meant he doesn’t like football’s environment, the way it’s managed and “the hypocrisy”.
    Quoting from the above interview: “If I play football with my friends back in France, I can love football” (…) “I arrive in the morning at the training ground at 10.30 and I start to be professional. I finish at one o’clock and I don’t play football afterwards.”
    Nothing wrong with that for me.

  19. Rob says:

    I can’t stand Hernandez, scores spawny goals and does that horrible praying, also looks like he’s wearing make up.
    Balotelli? maybe when he starts to play as good as he thinks he is.
    Torres? sorry he’s out too

  20. david says:


  21. Arsenesbrasso says:

    Crouch is so amiable that the spanish prostitute he copped off with behind Abbey’s back said he was ‘humble and kind’ & not arrogant like her ‘la liga’ clients who apparently treated her ‘like a whore’.

    The sordid details of the assignation are highly comic:

    ‘Because he is so tall, his legs were squashed up and the driver was joking as out movements were shaking the seat.’

  22. Brian Bradshaw says:

    Ryan Nelsen is a very likeable player. Tough and picks up a few yellows, but very few reds and is an all-round respectful player. Always liked him since he first made his debut at Blackburn.

    Shame this is solely about players who are active – Tugay Kerimoglu would not have been missed out otherwise. Same with Dwight Yorke – he smiled when he was injured!

  23. Barium says:

    I know it’s only been a few weeks since he joined the premier league, but I already bloody love Pavel Pogrebnyak. Also, I know he’s not in the Premier League at the moment, but Andrey Arshavan is a genuinely funny bloke. Maybe it’s just Russians…

  24. Barium says:

    Completely forgot Demba Ba and JI-DONG WON! That little bugger that gave Man City their first loss of the season. Much love for him.

  25. Steve K says:

    If he was still in the Premier League, Eboue would top this list by a country mile.

  26. Archbishop Betty Snagcock says:

    my favourite assou-ekotto moment has to be when they were playing music in the changing room and he started singing to don’t cha “don’t cha wish your full back was B-A-E”

  27. Coolie says:

    Be honest, regardless of club allegiances, you’re all rooting for Nando to score now aren’t you?

    Absolutely not.

    Shay Given is a good shout, and Richard Dunne now that we mention the Irish.

  28. KingEric7 says:

    Peter Crouch??? This is the man with a missus most of us mere mortals can only fantasise about, then he cops off with a hooker behind her back? Yea, real nice guy…

    As for Balotelli, his “antics” are starting to wear thin, even the pundits are wising up to him. On last weeks MOTD he was almost unanimously condemned, saying that a club like City don’t need “characters” to clean up after when you’re challenging for a title. Luckily for them they’ve got saint Carlos to fall back on now after Mancini has taken him back akin to a battered housewife.

    Hernandez is just awesome, in his first interview he was alongside Anderson and not only did he speak fluent English he also translated in Portuguese for his team mate, not forgetting his native tongue is actually Spanish!

  29. Solihull United says:

    david silva? no one can hate the pint sized spaniard. other then that, list is spot on. but no torres

  30. Murray says:

    Every time Javier Hernandes strays offsides, I take a shot. How can I NOT love a guy like that?

  31. Jarren says:

    Current Premier League footballers, eh?

    Bah! I break all rules. For me it’s the one & only Championship manager of legendary status…

    Ian Holloway!

    Impossible. To. Hate.

  32. Sammy says:

    I think quite a few Gillingham fans (and indeed residents of the town) would strongly disagree with Crouch being on this list!

    Would agree with Ryan Nelson. A lot of keepers seem to be quite likeable – as well as those listed I’d include Brad Freidel and Steve Harper.

  33. Van Wolfswinkel says:

    What about Stuart Holden? He hasn’t played for a while but I don’t remember many players breaking a leg for the second time and taking it as well as he did.

  34. bigdutch says:


  35. Alex says:

    Park Ji Sung!!! Works twice as hard as Dirk Kuyt, has the ball passed to him half as much.

    Shola (or lanky bambi, in the words of Bobby Robson) is a true hero.

  36. Matt says:

    @ 33

    Im an argyle fan.. I hate him

    Also i reckon Leicester fans wont be quick to buy him a drink?? :D

  37. AT says:

    Shola scores 4 goals all season and two of them are against the Mackems
    I’d put Demba Ba and Modric on this list.

  38. rjscfc says:

    Barium – Chelsea were the first team to beat Man City, not Sunderland

  39. JS says:

    You’ve picked the wrong Ameobi.

  40. Caleb says:

    Shay Given, Demba Ba, Landon Donovan, Tim Howard

    If Jens Lehman was still in the EPL, he’d be in there as well, because of his funny insanity.

  41. Gaz says:

    Grant Holt!

  42. American says:


  43. joe says:


  44. Mr. Sparkle says:

    I think Arshavin deserves honourable mention, seems like the kind of guy you’d want to go for a beer with. Good natured and seemingly calm.

  45. DG Andy says:

    Stevie G anyone?…

  46. Gav says:

    Far too many kopites in here. They never change. Seamus coleman on the other hand…

  47. Patrick says:

    gotta go with Arshavin or how about Eboue? the man was insane!

  48. chev says:

    Balotelli? No.

    I would nominate Ji-Sung Park, Ryan Nelson or David Silva in his place. And this is coming from a scouse-scum kopite.

  49. Nick says:

    you all gotta love the side-show Bob lookalike, David Luiz. just watch this interview, before he knew any english. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBynwuDFNgc&feature=related

  50. lurker says:

    lifelong inter fan. mario can suck it. glad he is gone.

  51. KJM says:

    Can’t believe Torres even comes near this list. Agree with #24 Brian: Ryan Nelsen seems a genuinely nice guy. And I’d add Shay Given too.

  52. dave says:

    Kuyt ? Horrible little man with a face that would stop a clock,

  53. Josh says:

    Why in hell’s name are so many paople calling for Scholes to be on this list?! To anybody from outside of Salford/Shanghai he’s about as likeable as an anal hematoma!

  54. Mr. Sparkle says:


    Anal hematoma. Wouldn’t go so far as to name him that, but yeah I don’t doubt it.

    Overall, I dislike all Manc squaders. They always seem to be prissy babies or downright arrogant bastards. Scholes may not have been as much of a cunt as Roy Keane, but his tackles were always very extreme and he was definitely an aggressive player.

    The only kopite I can think of, was Sami Hyypia; well Riise seems like a good natured guy too.

  55. Anonymous says:

    its impossible to love fernando torres right now.

  56. Arnab says:

    reina,silva,aguero,given,mata,vidic,valencia deserves to be mentioned in this list

  57. Sam says:

    Joe Hart, Joe Hart, Joe Hart! The piss-taking, penalty-saving, funny as fuck England no. 1. DEEECENT. Everyone hates City, but everyone lives JH.

  58. Tom Jones says:

    How the hell is it impossible to hate Riise? He is full of hiself. His family is a bunch of wankers. The Riise-Carew bus fight. And he is ginger.

  59. sneeze says:

    Brad Friedel. Steady in the EPL for over a decade despite being from a non-footballing nation and looking like an ape.

  60. Karl says:

    He’s the most lovable.

  61. KingB3113 says:

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic? Oh yeah he plays in Serie A.
    Okay well, I know he isn’t a player but Roberto Martinez has always struck me as a nice and respectful guy can’t imagine anyone hating him (unless you’re a Wigan fan of course. Lol)

  62. sleeba says:

    Joe ‘Allo Allo’ Cole, still Liverpool

  63. 2-4-6-8-Motorway says:

    Balottelli? He’s an absolute scrotum. He’s up there with the biggest wanks of football together with Pepe and Diouf (the spitting one)

  64. SONK says:

    It’s got to be the one and only TEAM NICE GUYS, spreading smiles and rainbows to the nation’s children.


    And Arshavin should have been in on his own just because of his Q&A column on his website.

  65. Didn't do diddily says:

    As I scrolled down to Ballotelli, an advertisement for Super Mario came on the telly, with a voiceover saying “the Mario we all know and love …” which is bull shite on both counts

  66. Anonymous says:

    i hate dirk kuyt

  67. Steveo says:

    BAE? You’re having a laugh! Isnt he the one that undercut Sagna out of bounds to break his legs? Asshole E-cunt-to out, Dempsey, Silva, Wilshere, Gerrard or Tim Howard in.

  68. Andy says:

    I’m a Liverpool fan but where the hell is Lampard and Phil Neville?

  69. rajan says:

    JOEY BARTON !!!!

    If you have torres, am sure its just for pity ;)
    and talking of pity … you had to have Berbatov here

  70. Chris says:

    Scott Parker???

  71. andy c says:

    micah richards the dark destoyer LEG END nuff said

  72. Obafemi Buraimo says:

    Real madrid Fan (hate messi <3 Ronaldo) I like schenzy and arshavin lol can't even get his name right they are two lovable characters along with myself arsenal under 18s people will soon know me

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