Football, as they say, is a funny old game and nowhere is that more apparent than in the Premier League.
Now 25 years old, the modern incarnation of the English top-flight has provided countless memorable moments down the years, both good and bad, as well as a fair few incidents of unexpected hilarity.
From botched penalty routines to rage-fuelled rants and with even a few punches thrown in for good measure – here are the 13 funniest moments in Premier League history.
Ronny Rosenthal’s Miss
Ronny Rosenthal must curse the day the Premier League came into existence. Were it not for the presence of Sky Sports’ cameras, his epically awful miss for Liverpool against Aston Villa in the 1992/93 campaign may have gone under the radar. Unfortunately for him, it’s gone on to become the stuff of Premier League legend and is a regular staple of blooper reels far and wide.
Peter Enckelman’s Own Goal
Much like Ronny, former Aston Villa shot-stopper Peter Enckelman managed to etch himself into Premier League history in the worst possible way. Collecting a throw-in from Villa teammate Olaf Mellberg, the goalkeeper failed to properly control the ball and could only watch as it trickled into the empty net. What made it worse was the fact it came against local rivals Birmingham.
Robbie Savage Gets Punched
Many a Premier League star tried and failed, to get their hands on Robbie Savage during their playing days, but only one man ever managed to land a punch on the tenacious midfielder: referee Matt Messias. Alan Shearer, who was something approaching top flight royalty at the time, even got away with showing the ref a red card.
Alan Pardew’s Headbutt
Though it seems crazy to think of it now, given his FA Cup final dance and those disastrous final few months at Crystal Palace, but there was a time when Alan Pardew was in serious contention to become the next England manager. Or something like that anyway. In any case, the moment he decided to push his head into Hull’s David Meyler in a heated game between the Tigers and Newcastle probably put paid to that and also resulted in a £100,000 club fine and a three-game touchline ban.
Roy Keane vs Patrick Viera
The Roy Keane vs Patrick Vieira rivalry came during a golden period in the Premier League when two outstanding clubs in Manchester United and Arsenal secured pretty much every major English accolade in sight. At times tense and occasionally nasty, the pair’s animosity on the pitch also provided some hilarious moments off it, like when Keane came to the rescue of Gary Neville after Vieira decided to pick on the future Sky Sports pundit in the tunnel before a tasty encounter. Simpler times.
David Dunn’s Rabona
David Dunn was supposed to be England’s bright hope. Our very own Andrea Pirlo to build a national team around that would dominate for decades. When he moved from Blackburn to Birmingham, more than a few eyebrows were raised – but it got better. Keen to make an impression in the Midlands derby against Aston Villa, he attempted a Rabona pass and failed so spectacularly, even his own manager, Steve Bruce was in stitches. It went on to become the defining image of his career.
John Hartson’s wonder strike
There’s nothing big or clever about John Hartson’s inclusion on this list but, whether you like it or not, there is something pretty amusing about his training ground altercation with then-West Ham teammate Eyal Berkovic. Having left the Israeli midfielder stricken on the pitch following a tasty tackle, the Welshman attempted to make amends only to have Berkovic rebuff his advances. Hartson’s response? Boot him across the face. It’s arguably the greatest single strike of his career too.
Phil Jones’ Reaction
Manchester City’s last-gasp title win in 2012 was memorable for a multitude of reasons, not least Sergio Agueo’s composed finish to seal it. There were some unsung heroes along the way though and, before you say it, we don’t mean Mario Balotelli. No, what really made City snatching the title away from Manchester United with almost the last kick of the game was the reaction of those Red Devils supporters waiting on the result to come through and the confused gurning of defender Phil Jones.
Paolo Di Canio’s Push
Paolo Di Canio revelled in his role as the genius/bad boy of the Premier League and while there are countless examples of the former, it’s the latter where we find his most hilarious moment – pushing over referee Paul Alcock who managed to stumble to the ground in the most pathetic way possible. The whole thing is made more amusing when, as Di Canio trudges off the pitch, he manages to make Arsenal “hardman” Nigel Winterburn flinch.
Delia Smith’s Rally Cry
Let’s set the scene: it’s 2005 and, having been 2-0 up on Manchester City with less than 20 minutes on the clock, Norwich have found themselves going in level at 2-2 at the break. They need a boost and board member Delia Smith decides she’s the one to provide it with a (possibly) alcohol-fuelled rallying cry. Norwich go on to lose the game and are later relegated. Let’s be ‘avin you back in the stands, Delia!
The Ali Dia Incident
Graeme Souness must have thought all of his Christmases had come at once when he got a callfrom a man claiming to be George Weah who had a player he felt the Southampton boss should take a closer a look at. His name was Ali Dia and he duly made his one and only appearance for the Saints at the Dell against Leeds, coming on for Matthew Le Tissier. Though he came close to scoring, Souness soon realised he had been tricked and Dia never played for Southampton again. It was later revealed that he had no connection to Weah either and had actually previously been on trial at Blyth Spartans.
Kevin Keegan’s Rant
Kevin Keegan is a man who has always worn his heart on his sleeve. And so, with a rejuvenated Manchester United fast closing the gap on Keegan’s Newcastle in the 1995/96 season, the Toon manager famously succuumed to a spot of Alex Ferguson mind games in the final few fixtures of the campaign. It had the desired effect – for United – who went on to win the league on the final day.
Arsenal’s Penalty Routine
As iconic as Keegan’s rant may be, arguably the most hilarious moment from the Premier League vaults dates back to 2005 and the worst penalty routine you’ve ever seen. That it involved two of the division’s greatest ever players, Robert Pires and Thierry Henry, only adds to the hilarity of it with Danny Mills angry reaction at their attempt at making Manchester City look stupid also part of what makes it so damn funny. Comedy gold.