Ronaldo, Zidane, Cantona and the most infamous red cards

Following Cristiano Ronaldo’s controversial red card for Juventus on Wednesday, we look at the five most infamous dismissals.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champions League debut for Juventus quickly turned into a nightmare as he received a contentious red card against Valencia on Wednesday, but it was a fairly tame incident compared to some more infamous dismissals.

Ronaldo, who joined Juventus for €112million in July, clashed with Valencia’s Jeison Murillo on the edge of the box in the 29th minute of the Serie A champions’ 2-0 win.

Murillo went tumbling and Ronaldo, seemingly irritated by a perceived exaggerated fall, appeared to grab the Colombian’s hair, sparking a response and the subsequent red card.

It could yet lead to a three-match ban that would prevent him from facing former side Manchester United.

Some suggested the sending off was harsh, while others believe a lengthy sanction would be justified – but one thing is clear; it pales in comparison to some of football’s more notorious sendings off…

Steven Gerrard vs Manchester United, March 2015

Clashes between Liverpool and Man United are rarely uneventful and Gerrard made sure his final such match followed a similar pattern. Just 38 seconds after coming on as a substitute, the Reds captain launched himself at Ander Herrera, sinking his studs into the Spaniard’s leg in a gruesome tackle. A red card was the least he could have expected, and ultimately his final match against Liverpool’s arch enemy ended in a 2-1 defeat.

Eric Cantona vs Crystal Palace, January 1995

In an otherwise unremarkable Premier League match, Cantona produced a moment of madness that will likely never be forgotten in English football. It remains unclear as to what someone said to the Frenchman, but something pressed his button and he flipped out in remarkable fashion. Cantona turned towards the stand behind one of the goals and unleashed a flying ‘kung-fu’ kick at a Crystal Palace fan. United and the Football Association (FA) both suspended him, while he was also found guilty of assault – his sentence of two weeks in prison decreased to 120 hours of community service.

Gianluigi Buffon vs Real Madrid, April 2018

In last season’s Champions League quarter-finals, Juventus were dumped out right at the death because of a controversial late penalty. Furious with the decision, Buffon led the protests, visibly shouting in referee Michael Oliver’s face as Juve players surrounded him. The referee then produced the red card for the incensed Italian. Ronaldo’s penalty subsequently ended the goalkeeper’s Champions League career with Juve, while a post-match outburst made arguably the ugliest moment in Buffon’s career even more deplorable.

David Beckham vs Argentina, June 1998

Despite starting the 1998 World Cup as a substitute, a couple of impressive cameos – including a trademark free kick against Colombia – saw Beckham force his way into Glenn Hoddle’s starting XI to face Argentina in the last 16. But early in the second half, he lost his cool. Diego Simeone fouled Beckham and fell on top of him, then getting up slowly. The England midfielder, who was still prone, flicked his leg up and caught Simeone on the calf, to which he reacted by tumbling to the floor. Out came the red card for Beckham, England were eliminated on penalties and the country’s next great talent faced months of vilification.

Zinedine Zidane vs Italy, July 2006

The 2006 World Cup should have been Zidane’s crowning tournament. Heading into retirement, the France star had been a leading light in his team’s passage to the final. With the two sides tied at 1-1 in extra-time, Marco Materazzi appeared to say something to Zidane. The former Juve midfielder turned around and extraordinarily headbutted the Italy defender in the chest, sending him crashing to the ground and earning Zidane an early exit. Italy went on to lift the trophy, while Zidane never played professional football again.