Scottish Football's Top Five Mentalists

We remember some of the most mental football figures that the country has every produced... Because that's what the game's all about, really.
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We remember some of the most mental football figures that the country has every produced... Because that's what the game's all about, really.

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5. Leigh Griffiths

I have come across many of the other wee mental cases to come out of Leith in my time. Once, whilst skateboarding down the street I came across the now captain of the Scotland team, Scott Brown. The next day I was to go through to Glasgow to see Hibs play in the 2003 League Cup final. So when I noticed him I almost said, alright Scott. Before I had the chance however, he had jumped out in front of me and whilst flailing his arms about yelled something like “waaannnggh pure skateboarder”. Derek Riordan – another resident of Edinburgh’s Leith district – once claimed whilst being thrown out of a friend’s pub; “I’m not me, I’m my brother.” However wee Leigh is most certainly the best of the Leith cartel, having told a whole section of his own fans to go and f**k themselves whilst doing the crossed arms fist up gesture. This followed various similar types of gesture to various fans, one of the best being a double thumbs up to Hearts fans after defeating them in the cup. Accusations of different kinds from the police are checkering his reputation and character currently, however the best of these was being accused of shop-lifting at Tesco’s a couple of weeks ago.

4. Chic Charnley

Holding the record for the most sending’s off of any British professional footballer, Chico was always enigmatic. Often looking like a Sunday league player who once had been a real talent, he occasionally displayed some outrageous ability, scoring from the halfway line and other ridiculous goals.  Many of his games he played always seemingly half cut. He admits in his autobiography that had he made the kind of money players earn today he would never have lasted. "Getting 20 grand a week would probably have done me in." Despite this he should always be remembered for the story of 2 men coming onto the training pitch at Partick Thistle brandishing samurai swords. At the sight of these men, Chico did the opposite of what a normal person might do and began to charge them and in the end managed to see them off.

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3. Duncan Ferguson

As every Everton fan and every central defender who he played against will attest to, Duncan Ferguson was a beast of a man. Whilst many Glaswegians are known for a fiery temperament, this is also often balanced by a diminutive frame. Fortunately for Duncan he had the temperament and frame of a drunken ox. Having spent time in jail for a head-butt on a Falkirk defender (in Scotland you can be punished by law for actions on the pitch) he moved to Merseyside where he enjoyed the rest of his career intimidating the crap out of defenders all over the Premier league. His best stories in my opinion however, came on two separate occasions when people broke into his home and tried to rob him. On both occasions the robbers were confronted and then dealt with by the mighty and swift hands of Fergusons justice before being handed over to the police.

2. Alex Ferguson

Another Ferguson on the list here this one however is more typical of the wee hard men of Glasgow. His appearance of constant chewing and intensity makes him look like there is constantly a firework just about to explode up his a**e. And invariably it does. The term “the hairdryer” was given to his team talks and famously David Beckham felt the sharp end of one of these sessions quite literally. Ferguson is known for his temper and his passion which has managed to bring him unrivalled success. What I personally find makes Fergie such a mentalist though, and what puts him on this list, is his more sinister psychological bullying that has seen Arsene Wenger appear to age exponentially and has caused poor old Kevin Keegan to have a nervous breakdown on live TV.

1. Graeme Souness

With the cool calculating air of Robert de Niro in Cape Fear and once described as “Begbie with skill”, everything about him oozes psychopath. From his gentle soft spoken intimidation to his previously Stalinesque moustache, Souness is a psycho’s psycho. His debut for Ranger’s saw him sparking a 22 man scrap after a lunging two footed challenge which ended in a red card. Such tackles were of his particular style and only Roy Keane in my mind really compares to this type of midfielder in the modern game. His crowning glory however (in terms of this article) was in 1996 when managing Galatasaray. After defeating their city and league rivals to the cup in Fenerbahce’s own stadium he ran into the centre of the pitch and stabbed a Galatasaray flag into the centre spot. Nothing quite says mentalist better than that.