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Ranking the 11 biggest wind-up merchants in Premier League history

Highlights

  • Some of the biggest wind-up merchants in Premier League history include Emmanuel Adebayor, Aaron Ramsdale, and Robbie Savage.
  • These players were known for getting under the skin of their opponents and fans, using mind games and trash-talking tactics.
  • Jose Mourinho, the former Chelsea, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur manager, is considered the ultimate master of mind games in the Premier League.

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While football is largely a physical sport, there is often plenty of mental warfare also taking place on the pitch, with players attempting to out-think their opponents and, occasionally, get under their skin. There have been numerous players throughout the history of the Premier League who specialised in winding the opposition up. Whether it was their opponents on the field, or the fans in the stands, there’s been a group of stars who relished that sort of thing over the years.

With Neal Maupay recently making headlines for his incredible antics, we’ve decided to take a look and highlight the 11 biggest windup merchants in Premier League history. Some incredible players make the list, while there are others who are more remembered for their mind games than their ability. There’s even a manager included too, so without further ado, let’s crack on.

Biggest windup merchants in Premier League history

Name

PL club(s)

Nationality

11. Emmanuel Adebayor

Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur & Crystal Palace

Togo

10. Aaron Ramsdale

Bournemouth, Sheffield United & Arsenal

England

9. Robbie Savage

Leicester City, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers & Derby County

Wales

8. Andrew Robertson

Hull City & Liverpool

Scotland

7. Jordan Pickford

Sunderland & Everton

England

6. Richarlison

Everton & Tottenham Hotspur

Brazil

5. Luis Suarez

Liverpool

Uruguay

4. Diego Costa

Chelsea & Wolverhampton Wanderers

Spain

3. Neal Maupay

Brighton & Hove Albion, Everton & Brentford

France

2. Jamie Vardy

Leicester City

England

1. Jose Mourinho

Chelsea, Manchester United & Tottenham Hotspur

Portugal

11 Emmanuel Adebayor

Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham & Crystal Palace

Considering he’s mostly remembered for one of the biggest acts of s**thousery in Premier League history, it would have been blasphemous to leave Emmanuel Adebayor off of this list. The former striker was first given a chance in England with Arsenal, and spent several years with the Gunners before he joined Manchester City in 2009.

He departed the Emirates on bad terms, and couldn’t help himself when he scored against his former team with his iconic celebration in front of the Gunners’ faithful. It had the desired effect, with Arsenal fans furious at his actions. Outside of that memorable moment, though, the 39-year-old wasn’t known for doing too much else, which is why he ranks this low.

10 Aaron Ramsdale

Bournemouth, Sheffield United & Arsenal

Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale

While goalkeepers take a lot of stick from fans, especially when they’re playing with the opposition supporters behind them, there are some who like to give back just as much as they get and Aaron Ramsdale is a fine example of that. The Arsenal man might not be playing as much as he’d like this season, but when he is on the pitch, he loves getting into it with fans.

There have been numerous occasions where he’s taunted the opposition supporters, but the best example would be during the north London derby last year when the Gunners went 1-0 up against Tottenham Hotspur and Ramsdale turned to the Spurs fans behind him and taunted them with his tongue out. Considering the abuse that keepers tend to get, it’s always refreshing to see one give it back.

9 Robbie Savage

Leicester City, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers & Derby County

Robbie Savage

Few players have managed to grate opposition players and fans quite like Robbie Savage could. The Welshman was known for getting under people’s skin, and he regularly used it to his advantage. The former Blackburn Rovers man was known for winding his opponents up and trash-talking them relentlessly.

Dean Windass is a great example of an opponent who lost his head when playing Savage. The former Hull City man admitted that Savage had been heckling him early in the game, and he struggled to concentrate throughout the rest of it.

“I go out for a warmup and Savage goes: ‘Now then fatty.’ I wanna kill him before we even kick off, and he just got in my head all day and he battered us.”

8 Andrew Robertson

Hull City & Liverpool

Andrew Robertson of Liverpool

One of the biggest bargains in recent memory, Andrew Robertson has been huge for Liverpool during their success under Jurgen Klopp. He’s been an integral figure for the club and, alongside Trent Alexander-Arnold, he’s helped transform what it means to be a full back in the last decade.

Aside from that, he’s also a larger-than-life character for Liverpool and has no problem winding opponents up whenever he has the chance. One major example has to be during the Merseyside Derby when he practically laughed in Jordan Pickford’s face as Everton were brushed aside by the Reds. To be successful, you need a player who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work and get inside opponents’ heads, and that’s what Robertson has done for Liverpool.

7 Jordan Pickford

Sunderland & Everton

Jordon Pickford

Speaking of Pickford, it was hard to feel sorry for him when Robertson mocked him, as he’s an even bigger windup merchant than the Liverpool man. The Everton goalkeeper has made a habit of winding his opponents up but is also prone to mocking supporters too. His actions during a match with Liverpool, when he sarcastically dived on the ball had Reds’ fans incensed, but that’s what makes him so entertaining to watch.

Considering Everton’s struggles in recent years, his antics have often come back to haunt him, and he’s left looking a little silly more often than not, but that hasn’t deterred him from continuing to wind his rivals up, and you’ve got to admire him for that level of dedication and confidence. It’s unmatched.

6 Richarlison

Watford, Everton & Tottenham Hotspur

Richarlison.

From one Everton player to a former Toffee, Richarlison has never shied away from winding his opponents and opposition fans up to the point where he’s probably one of the most disliked players in the Premier League right now. He wouldn’t have it any other way, though, and he clearly loves getting under people’s skin.

Whether it’s social media posts mocking Liverpool’s failures or showboating ruthlessly against Nottingham Forest, he always had a knack for winding the right people up. Last season, his antics calmed down a little as he struggled to find his feet at Tottenham Hotspur, but back to his best this year, don’t be surprised if he’s winding people up again soon.

5 Luis Suarez

Liverpool

Luis Suarez

A man almost as controversial as he was talented, Luis Suarez was a bonafide superstar during his time with Liverpool in the Premier League. He was phenomenal and scored for fun during his tenure at Anfield. He was easily one of the most unlikeable players in England at the same time, though, something he took advantage of.

Aside from his very real and serious offences, he was also prone to mocking opponents and really making their blood boil. One of the most infamous examples of this came when then-Everton manager David Moyes publicly claimed that he thought the Uruguay forward was prone to diving. Naturally, when Suarez scored against Moyes’ side in the very next game, he made a show of running to the manager on the touchline and theatrically diving at his feet. A proper windup merchant.

4 Diego Costa

Chelsea & Wolverhampton Wanderers

Diego Costa

From one explosive forward to another. Diego Costa was an incredible goalscorer during his time at Chelsea, and while his run in England may have been short, it was certainly memorable. That’s because he wasn’t just a great footballer, but a master of the mind games too.

It wasn’t just his opponents who were in danger, though, with Costa also prone to terrorising his own teammates with his antics and pranks. He had no trouble winding up just about anyone, including someone as quiet and innocent as N’Golo Kante during the pair’s time together at Stamford Bridge. Costa was truly a larger than life character and his departure from Chelsea left a hole in the team that they still haven’t manager to fill, over six years later.

3 Neal Maupay

Brighton, Everton & Brentford

Neal Maupay celebrating his goal against Tottenham

Throughout his time in the Premier League across spells with three different clubs, Neal Maupay has earned a reputation for being a true windup merchant. He simply loves ticking his opponents off, and he’s stepped up his game significantly lately. His antics against Tottenham recently were outrageous, but very entertaining.

Whether it’s using an opponent’s celebration to mock them after scoring like he did to James Maddison, or throwing shots on social media at them after a game, like he also did to Maddison, Maupay very rarely misses and he’s very effective at getting inside his opponents’ heads.

2 Jamie Vardy

Leicester City

Jamie Vardy

No footballer seems to get quite as much enjoyment at winding people up as Jamie Vardy does. The forward was dynamite for Leicester in the Premier League, going on a historic scoring run for the Foxes as they won the Premier League in 2016, and fans all over the country fell in love with him. Not just for his form in front of goal, but for his antics towards his opponents and fans too.

He regularly taunted other players and mocked supporters whenever things were going Leicester’s way and he’s continued to do so in the Championship. Only a few months ago, he ran the full length of the football pitch to celebrate in front of the Blackburn fans after he scored against the Lancashire side for the Foxes. No footballer was more effective at winding others up as Vardy has been. The only person to have him beat in Premier League history is someone who didn’t even play football in the league, but instead coached in it.

1 Jose Mourinho

Chelsea, Manchester United & Tottenham Hotspur

Jose Mourinho

The greatest wind-up merchant in Premier League history is undoubtedly Jose Mourinho. The Special One has been known to get under the skin of other managers, players and fans. He knows how to push someone’s buttons like no one else and has done so for over two decades now.

Whether it’s his incredible touchline antics, his wild celebrations down or some of his legendary press conferences, Mourinho has never shied away from ticking the right people off and it’s led to intense rivalries with the likes of Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson. When he arrived in England, the Special One was unlike anyone the Premier League had ever seen before, and it hasn’t seen anyone quite like him since. The master of the mind games.