The days of teams turning up to play football with the express purpose of enjoying themselves and putting on a show for an adoring public is unfortunately a thing of a bygone era.
The necessity to win at all costs has become the one and only aim of all clubs nowadays, and that objective is almost always achieved with the use of unsavory methods, whether that be a sneaky handball, a shove in the back or a scything tackle that puts the fear of God into any opponent.
And it is the aforementioned rough and tumble that we will concentrate on today as we bring you our top ten of the most ruthless players ever to grace an Italian field of play.
10 – Romeo Benetti
They didn’t come more ruthless than former AC Milan defensive midfielder Romeo Benetti, who played during an era when men were men and a bushy mustache was a sign of cool.
Benetti took full advantage of this by imposing his muscular frame on any player that dared come within kicking distance of his huge thighs, which he also put to good use with his penchant for scoring from long range.
He featured not only for the Rossoneri but also Juventus and Roma in career that spanned almost 20 years between 1963 and 1981.
Interestingly, in 1971 Benetti called into question his own aggressive style, feeling huge guilt after having destroyed the knee of opponent Francesco Liguori. He couldn’t sleep at night and for some time afterwards was unable to get stuck into matches in the same way.
Having discussed his woes with team mate Gianni Rivera, he was then asked to meet with Father Ignazio Menischi who obtained for him a document from Pope Paul VI, who gave him a document absolving him from all past and future on-field sins.
With his conscience clear, he went into the next game full of the Holy Spirit and was sent off after just two minutes.
Benetti was back!