Mark Clattenburg was asked to name his most annoying players to referee, and names former goalkeeper Jens Lehmann on his list.
The 45 year-old is ranked amongst the best officials in world football, highlighted by his selection to referee both the Champions League final and Euro 2016 final within a matter of months.
Amidst the chaos of the suspension of football, he has been asked to list the players who have frustrated him most while on the job, with players from Manchester United, Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal amongst the top five.
“I knew my relationship with him was on sticky ground when he squeezed my balls in the tunnel at the Etihad, and I don’t mean my match-balls,” Clattenburg said of Craig Bellamy.
“But Bellamy was a nightmare to referee and most of us felt the same. He would snarl at you and throw his arms around, constantly challenging you. His language was awful, just plain rude.”
Next on the list came United’s former captain Roy Keane for obvious reasons.
He added: “I have to start by saying that I worked with Roy for ITV during the World Cup in 2018 and he was a gentleman and nice to be around, proof that players can be very different off the pitch from on it.”
However, he acknowledged that Keane could try and bully referees and added: “You just couldn’t trust Roy either. You never knew if he was going to blow up or do something nasty, like the tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland. That was a disgrace, it was pre-meditated.
“He always came across as stone-cold and wanted to be the hard man. That causes problems for referees because the ego kicks in and it becomes a fight, like it did between him and Patrick Vieira.”
Next came our very own Jens Lehmann, who famously played a key role in our Invincibles season in 2004.
Clattenburg continued: “He was just so irritable and never stopped, one of those miserable blokes who would whinge about everything and everyone.
“If the ball was round, he would whinge. If the ball was white, he would whinge. You would think, ‘Just give it a rest’.”
He added: “But he would do snidey, little things himself that made it difficult and I didn’t enjoy refereeing him at all. He was erratic and his antics were not easy to deal with.”
Former Real Madrid and Portugal defender Pepe and Jon Obi Mikel complete the top five, with the latter most famously having accused the official of using racist language, and never apologising for the accusation.
I was quite surprised the likes of David Luiz and Patrick Vieira have escaped the list in fairness, with the pair having been known for their antics themselves, especially with the former’s ‘Psycho Bob’ moment from his time with Chelsea sticking in my mind.
Was Lehmann really Arsenal’s most frustrating player for referees in our recent history?