03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Soccer's Worst Floppers

Soccer is struggling to shake off the curse of flopping -- when a player dives through the air to win his team a penalty. Here's a list of the top soccer floppers.

Germany's Jurgen Klinsmann soared through the air like the Ride of the Valkyries, the uber-flopper of his generation. Had Nietzsche kicked a ball, on seeing Klinsmann, he may have concluded, "Fairness is dead. And you have killed it."


Catholic Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (above), blessed by God as his divine soccer son, is nailed to the flopper's cross. With pout and glower on his immaculate face, he converts dives into penalties, and free kicks, from whence he scores. Millions follow and worship him.

The soccer ace, Arjen Robben, a fabulous Dutch striker, brings his Calvinist creed to flopping. I am pre-destined to get a penalty kick, and therefore absolved of any guilt in my pursuit of this end, through my fakery.

Andrei Shevchenko, an Eastern European goal raider, falls on his booty, and the referee points to the white penalty spot. Sheva, his nom du guerre, then boots his booty into the net. That's a lot of booty.


During the 2006 World Cup Final (above), Italian star, Marco Materazzi, cast Zidane's sister in a most horrible part, a whore! And then whispered it in his ear. What the hell was this? La Traviata? The insulted Zidane felled the villain with a world famous head butt. The Italian fell from his high horse, sliced on the grass, like a cut loaf. No applause for the pane, adulation for the butter.

Fabio Gross, a player from the old boot of Europe, was an Italian ace in the submarine fleet -- Dive! Dive! Dive! Cheating the Australians out of glory in World Cup 2006. He is unlikely to find any friends deep, down, under.

Goalkeepers: so often the flopper's victims, not here. Chilean goalie, Robert Rojas was down and bleeding. A missile hurled from the crowd lay several yards away. The game was stopped, and then abandoned, riots in the stands. Later, the TV cameras showed the razor blade he used to cut himself. The shell landed nowhere near him. Result: Banned for life. Banished from respect.

Alan Black is the co-author of the upcoming book, The Glorious World Cup -- A Balls Out Guide to South Africa 2010 (NAL/Penguin May 2010)