Football is an emotional sport. Players strain themselves to the brink of exhaustion while battling for supremacy, and when circumstances do not smile in their favor, these emotions can overwhelm even the most headstrong individuals. When these athletes breakdown emotionally, it can occur on the biggest stages in world football, but others have opened the waterworks in matches that hold particular importance. While the circumstances may vary, the results have been some of the most memorable moments of a player’s career.
These moments of vulnerability show that our favorite players are humans that feel the pressure of the extraordinary lives they lead. However, some of these players have displayed this proclivity on a regular basis and earned the reputation of being a crybaby. This is a reputation that may come at the expense of their egos, but it is a label that has been placed on some of the greatest players of all-time. It is not a permanent stain on their egos, but rather something that comes along with the demands of greatness.
In most of the big moments that take place in matches, you can look to these players to perform. However, when things do not go their way, they have shown that they are willing to shed more than a few tears. These men have suffered the agony of defeat, but many have also experienced victory on the other side of the coin. So, the next time life is giving you a little too much to handle and you feel like you’re in need of a good cry, take a page from the book of these football legends. They aren’t afraid to cry. So you shouldn’t be either.
15 Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger is one of the best football managers in the world, but that does not stop him from complaining about just about everything in sight. From the injury table of his beloved Arsenal to the treatment that they get from referees, Wenger loves to whine. When he was booed last December by fans outside of the Brittania Stadium, he cried during the train ride back to London. Wenger is under immense pressure to earn trophies and secure European qualification for his club. So, he has earned the right to cry every now and then, especially during such a frustrating season.
14 Francesco Totti
Francesco Totti is a veteran of many battles and the figurehead of Roma. During his career with both Roma and the Italian National team, Totti has not been afraid to shed tears when they are necessary. Totti’s most memorable crying incident came after the Azzuri suffered defeat in Euro 2000 at the hands of the French. Totti had created two prime scoring opportunities for his team, but they were unable to find victory. As his career continued, these moments have become increasingly rare, and Totti has matured into one of the most respected players in the world.
13 Son Heung-min
After his team suffered devastating defeat at the 2014 World Cup, Son Heung-min was inconsolable. He wept openly on the pitch, where he had relentlessly worked to bring South Korea victory. Heung-min led the tournament in successful dribbles and fearlessly took on defenders throughout the World Cup. The image of him crouched over in contrast with the celebrating Algerian national team was one of the most memorable photographs from last summer’s tournament.
12 Serey Die
Serey Die says that he was overcome with the emotion of representing his country when he was spotted weeping during the Cote D’Ivoire’s national anthem. Die was selected against Colombia during the World Cup, and the circumstances surrounding his tears were widely debated on the internet. A rumor circulated that he was crying due to the recent death of his father, but he had passed a decade before the tournament. After the match, Die revealed that he was thinking about his father and his difficult journey to the tournament. Die said, “I didn’t think that one day I would be here, playing”. He went on to add that he fought against the tears, but was unable to keep them from coming.
11 Rio Ferdinand
In his old age, Rio Ferdinand seems to have forgotten what it is like to be a young footballer thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Earlier this year, he called for younger players to earn the respect of their older teammates by controlling their emotion, especially in regards to team selection. Ferdinand condemned younger players for crying when they are not selected and told them to toughen up. Maybe he needs to reminded of the 2005 FA Cup, when Ferdinand could be found weeping on the sidelines after Manchester United’s loss to Arsenal in penalties.
10 Fabian Schar
Switzerland faced off against Argentina in the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup, and when Angel Di Maria scored in the 118th minute, he sent Argentina into ecstasy. On the other side of that coin was the nation of Switzerland, which was left devastated by the late defeat. Players could be spotted laying on the pitch weeping openly, including Fabian Schar, who had heroically defended for the entire match. Schar has recovered from this incident with another solid season with FC Basel.
9 Iker Casillas
Despite being one of the most successful goalkeepers of all time, Iker Casillas still appreciates when he has accomplished something truly great. After he led the Spanish National team to their second of three consecutive major trophies with their triumph at the 2010 World Cup, Casillas wept during an interview with his fiancé Sara Carbonero. It was a vulnerable moment for Casillas, who turned to his interviewer and stole a kiss before stepping out of view of the cameras.
8 Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli is always going to be a target for derision, whether it comes from opposing fans or the media. However, Balotelli has also been the target of disgusting acts of racism that have driven the statuesque striker to tears. He is also a player that takes his football very seriously, and during one incident where racial chants coincided with an early substitution, Balotelli’s frustration boiled over with tears. This incident in Napoli was only the latest sign of Super Mario’s emotions. Fans around the world can remember the man shedding tears following his team’s 4-0 loss to Spain in the Euro 2012 final.
7 Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho doesn’t have a whole lot to complain about. His team is currently sitting atop the Premier League table and Chelsea already captured their first title of the season with their League Cup win over Tottenham. However, Jose Mourinho believes there is a conspiracy among officials and Football Association to ignore fouls committed against Chelsea. This whining has come in increasingly creative ways, by simply mentioning the minute where questionable incidents occurred. If things continue at the current rate, Mourinho could once again be crying tears of happiness and lifting multiple trophies, just like he did with Marco Materazzi after their triumph at Inter.
6 Luis Suarez
To say that Luis Suarez is an individual that is controlled by his emotions is a complete understatement. Suarez has struggled to control almost all of his emotions at times in his career, allowing his anger to boil over in biting incidents and violence. Last season, when his Liverpool squad finished their Premier League collapse with a draw against Crystal Palace, Suarez was overcome with emotion and wept on the pitch. The devastated Suarez never had a chance to redeem himself in front of the Anfield faithful before moving to Barcelona in a blockbuster transfer.
5 John Terry
When a player fails on the world’s biggest stage at the most crucial moment, there is nothing left to do except cry. That is exactly what John Terry did after slipping during his penalty attempt during the Champions League Final against Manchester United. Terry’s penalty sailed over the goal along with Chelsea’s dreams of lifting the trophy, and Terry’s tears were mocked all over the world. The emotional Chelsea captain revealed that he also cried after his squad squandered away the 2014 Premier League title. John Terry is one of football’s most complicated characters, and incidents like these have humanized one of the most unsympathetic figures in the sport.
4 David Luiz
After suffering embarrassing defeat at the hands of the German National Team, David Luiz cried along with the entire nation of Brazil. He wept openly on the pitch at the final whistle. He had not performed well during the match and was made the scapegoat by pundits around the globe. In his postgame interview, Luiz was inconsolable as he offered an apology to the entire nation. David Luiz can usually be spotted with a smile on his face, and frankly, who can blame him for breaking down given the extraordinary amount of pressure that he had been under.
Ronaldinho has produced some of the most beautiful moments that have ever taken place on the football pitch. With his supreme technical ability fading, Ronaldinho took his talents back to Brazil, and during his tenure with Atletico Mineiro, his performance drove him to tears. A match against Figueirense saw Ronaldinho finish with two assists and a hat trick. On his third goal, a majestic shot that floated into the top corner, Ronaldinho dropped to one knee and cried. It was a beautiful goal deserving of such a beautiful celebration.
2 Lionel Messi
Even the greatest player in the world has a right to cry when things do not go his way. Lionel Messi is unquestionably one of the greatest players ever, but he has been driven to tears several times while appearing for the Argentinian National Team. On his debut with Argentina, Messi was sent off for a red card offense and reports surfaced after the game that Messi was found crying in the locker room. This was just the first in the “many times” Messi has said that he has cried from poor performances for his country. No doubt that last summer’s World Cup final loss to Germany was another one of those occasions.
1 Cristiano Ronaldo
While there may only be a few more decorated and celebrated players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo has shown his soft side more than any of them. Throughout his career, Ronaldo has been spotted crying at the World Cup, European Cup, and most recently at the Ballon D’or Award ceremony, where he was declared the greatest footballer in the world. Ronaldo has a habit of letting himself go during these moments, but they are part of what make him the supremely talented, petulant, undeniably great footballer that he is.