Let’s face it, most footballers go down easier than a smooth pint of your favourite tipple at the local (when we are allowed back into them of course). But, who is the worst diver in the game? We checked in with a 13-year veteran of the Premier League and his answer may surprise you!
We welcomed Mark Clattenburg – former Champions League final referee – onto Monday’s special edition of our From The Horse’s Mouth podcast with Ruby Walsh and Paddy Power and it’s fair to say – like in his career – he didn’t spare the whistle on anyone. During our fascinating and wide-ranging chat about his time in the Premier League the subject of diving came up and Ruby asked Clatts who the biggest culprit in the game was.
Look away now Ireland fans, but it was surprisingly James McClean. The Stoke City man was playing for Wigan at the time and Clattenburg was not going to take the bait when the winger tried to buy a penalty in the 2014 Championship play-off semi-finals.
“Ah, good question,” said Clattenburg when asked who the biggest diver in football was. “I had a big problem with a player called James McClean once. It wound me up! The play-offs were massive. Huge games, and they were winning 1-0.”
He went to go round Rob Green, but I had a great position and I saw him dive.
“As he went over, he’s looking for the penalty and I gave him the yellow card for diving.
“He just turned round to me and he said, ‘so what’. He said, ‘I’m a winger, it’s only a yellow card’. But, he also said, ‘if you give me a second yellow, you would have been killed’.”
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“He was right. If I’d given the penalty, I would have been crucified and he only got a yellow card.
“That used to wind me up as a ref because you think, hold on, there should be more punishment for diving because it’s the worst thing in football.
“Because he was a winger, he was laughing. He was thinking I’m never going to get another f**king second yellow card, because he’s stuck out on the wing.”
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