The Lags XI: Footballers Who Have Spent Time In Prison

A side who could always 'nick' a victory.
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Football has always has its bad boys and some of them are so bad that they’ve spent time in prison. Here’s our Lags XI.

Goalkeeper - Rene Higuita

Rene Higuita always looked like a Columbian drug lord, so perhaps it's not surprising that he got involved with some, acting as a go-between for the drug barons Pablo Escobar and Carlos Molina.

Higuita was paid $64,000 to deliver a ransom for the release of Molina's kidknapped daughter and as a result served seven months in jail.

Right Back - Gary Charles

The former Nottingham Forest and England star Gary Charles, has spent time in prison on three occasions as he struggled with alcoholism. His first conviction was for dangerous driving, before being sent down again for ripping off his electronic tag and going on holiday the Costa del Sol, while still on a curfew order.

Charles was then jailed for a third time in 2006, after threatening a doorman with an imaginary knife, for which he received a twelve-month sentence. Happily, Charles has overcome his problems to become a licensed coach and is currently the Director of Football at the University of Nottingham.

Left Back - Gary Croft

After being jailed for four months for driving while disqualified, Gary Croft made football history by being the first player to appear in a game whilst wearing an electronic tag.

Having been released from prison Croft put his name in the record books, coming on as a substitute for Ipswich Town just days later, helping his side to a 3-0 win over Swindon.

Centre Back - Tony Adams

Tony Adams served three months of a nine month drink driving sentence in 1990, after crashing his car into a wall.

Legend has it that the night that the Arsenal legend was arrested, he was handcuffed next to a Spurs supporter, who lamented: "What a nightmare. I'm a Tottenham fan and I get cuffed to you."

Centre Back - Peter Swan

Peter Swan was a centre-half for Sheffield Wednesday and England and may well have been in contention for a place in the 1966 World Cup squad, were it not for his involvement in a betting scandal.

In 1962, Swan and two other Wednesday players bet on their team to lose a home game against Ipswich, which the visitors won 2-0. In 1964, Swan received a four month jail sentence in Lincoln jail and a life ban from football, though the ban was eventually lifted and Swan resumed his Wednesday career in 1972.

Central Midfield - Peter Storey (captain)

Few footballers have shown such dedication to the criminal lifestyle than the former Arsenal and England star, Peter Storey. He was given a suspended sentence in 1979 for running a brothel and a year later was jailed for three years for financing a plot to counterfeit gold coins.

In 1990, Storey was back inside after being convicted for an attempt to import 20 pornographic videos from Europe, which he'd hidden in his spare tyre.

Central Midfield - Joey Barton

After getting in many scrapes over the years, which included stubbing out a cigar on a team-mate's eyelid, it was no surprise when Barton was eventually sentenced to six months imprisonment in 2008.

The jail time came after the then Newcastle midfielder was found guilty of common assault and affray after an incident outside a McDonald's in Liverpool City Centre. Having served 77 days of his sentence, Barton has stayed on the straight and narrow, enjoying a spell at Marseille before moving on to QPR.

Right Wing - Mark Ward

After a long career in which he turned out for the likes of West Ham, Manchester City and Everton, Mark Ward was back in the spotlight in 2005 when he was jailed for eight years for possessing cocaine with an intent to supply.

A raid on a house being rented out by Ward in Prescot, Merseyside saw the police uncover 9lb of cocaine. Ward was released from prison in 2009 after serving four years and wrote an autobiography entitled, 'Right Wing to B-Wing'.

Left Wing - Mickey Thomas

When the former Manchester United player Mickey Thomas was given an 18 month jail sentence over a counterfeit currency scam in 1993, he found himself with a cell mate who was in prison for killing and decapitating two victims.

Nowadays, the time spent in prison forms a large part of Thomas' after-dinner speaking gigs. Here’s a sample gag from the time of Roy Keane's new contract talks with Manchester United: "Roy Keane's on 50 grand a week. Mind you, so was I until the police found my printing machine."

Forward - George Best

If you can pick George Best for your team you do and that's why we've plumped for the legend, over some more criminally-minded contenders.

Best was jailed for twelve weeks in 1984 for drink driving and spent Christmas banged up in Pentonville. Sadly, the experience didn't prompt Best to give up the bottle.

Forward - Duncan Ferguson

Duncan Ferguson is the only player in our team who has been sent down for a crime committed on the pitch.

While playing for Rangers, the Scot headbutted Raith Rovers' John McStay. Ferguson joined Everton in 1995 and it was they who had to deal with the fall-out from this incident, as he spent 44 days in HMP Barlinnie.


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