Your typical hard man of football — the no-nonsense, hard tackling, kick-it-into-Row-Z, tough bastard of a footballer — used to be a staple of the game. Every team in England needed one if you were to win a game of football.
Some players, like Vinnie Jones, made a career out of it when they had little else to offer. Others, such as Stuart Pearce and Roy Keane, were magnificent players who brought an edge to proceedings. Sometimes they went well over that edge, but they wouldn’t have been the same players without it and fans loved them for it.
Over time, however, these hard men of football have been phased out. Where did they go? Why don’t we see them at the top levels of the game?
Ste McGovern, Colm Boohig (Off The Ball) and Peter Henry (TheFootballFaithful.com) investigate the causes of this, how football has changed through the decades, and how popular culture has had its effect too.