The highly anticipated boxing bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor in Las Vegas at the weekend will finally see the collision of two of the biggest ego in sporting history.
Here’s a look at seven footballers who could rival either fighter with their sense of self worth…
7. Joey Barton
“Why Rangers signed him I’ll never know. After all, if he was half as good as he thinks he is the top clubs down south (England) would be after him,” were the words of one disgruntled fan to the Daily Record when Joey Barton began his short-lived spell in Scotland in June 2016.
In 2010, after England’s disappointing World Cup, Barton claimed he was “as good as anybody in this country” and accused national team management of favouring established names.
Off the field, Barton is a self proclaimed intellectual and embarked upon a philosophy degree at the University of Roehampton in 2013. Last October, a Daily Record headline kindly suggested the midfielder ought to ‘ditch the philosophy and start the football again’.
6. Mario Balotelli
Speaking to reporters in July 2014 when a Napoli approach for Mario Balotelli was rumoured, president Aurelio De Laurentiis explained that ego problems would prevent the misfit striker from joining his team, and maybe any other.
“Balotelli in blue? He would have problems in any team. He needs to resolve problems with his ego,” De Laurentiis commented.
Balotelli had been adding to a long list of questionable behaviour for years and almost seemed to think he could do whatever he pleased off the field because of his innate ability on it, ability that in reality failed to get him through because he simply refused to properly apply himself.
5. Nicklas Bendtner
It has been said in the past about former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner, ‘If he was half as good as he thinks he is, he would be twice as good as he actually is’.
For years the Dane walked with the swagger of an elite level superstar, but the most prolific league season of his entire career to date came when he scored 11 goals for Birmingham in the Championship back in 2007/08. He once scored no goals in a short spell at Juventus.
There’s every chance he could beat his career high tally this season after nine goals in 19 appearances for Rosenborg in the 2017 Norwegian campaign, but it is Norway after all.
4. Lionel Messi
Don’t be fooled by his quiet, unassuming public persona, Lionel Messi has as big an ego as anyone else at the top of world football.
Although he later formed the incredible ‘MSN’ trio with Luis Suarez and Neymar, Messi’s ego and private complaints behind the scenes were apparently the reason Zlatan Ibrahimovic was forced out of position at Barcelona in 2010, and then out of the club altogether.
“Messi was the problem. If someone scored more than him or spoke more than him, they’d be in trouble. He was wary of Zlatan and was complaining all the time to Guardiola,” and un-named younger squad player told the Daily Mail.
“Zlatan was a strong character, he joked with myself and all his team-mates and was liked by the squad. Of course he has an ego but at least he is transparent with it.
“Messi is different, he has his public face, all sweetness and light, as though he never says anything. But behind the scenes, he was always pressing and making demands. In the end, Guardiola caved in and Zlatan lost out.”
Neymar took the ultimate gamble when he left traded Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain this summer in a seismic world record €222m move, so he must have one hell of an ego to back himself to justify the enormous sums of money involved.
Personally citing the need for a ‘new challenge’, one of the alleged main reasons behind the move was a desire to escape the shadow of Lionel Messi at Camp Nou, with the fear that he would never be the brightest star as long as the Argentinean legend remained.
It was also rumoured that a year before Messi agreed a bumper new Barcelona contract this summer, Neymar was informed by the club similar terms were off-limits because the budget wouldn’t afford them to give that kind of money to anyone.
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is firmly of the opinion that mental belief counts for 50% when it comes to players performing at the top level, and so his belief in his own ability is, and always has been, huge as a result – as a teenager he once refused to ‘audition’ to earn a contract at Arsenal.
Another such example came when PSG were fighting for the Ligue 1 title in 2013.
“Carlo Ancelotti was a bit tense, so Ibra approached him and asked him if he believed in Jesus,” midfielder Marco Verratti revealed to FourFourTwo a couple of years later.
“Ancelotti said yes, so Ibra told him: ‘Good, so you believe in me. You can relax!’ Zlatan is like this – he has a lot of self-confidence. This helps him to be a great player.”
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Being the best in the world is what drives Cristiano Ronaldo. He wants to be heralded for his achievements and be seen to be better than anyone for all the hard work he puts in as the ultimate professional, which has swelled his ego enormously.
Once claiming himself to be his own favourite player and often mistaken for pure arrogance, it’s less showing off and more a plea for the recognition that he feels he deserves.
His biggest frustration often comes when team-mates cannot match his incredible level.
“It annoys me that they say Cristiano has dropped his level and therefore so have Madrid. If everyone was at my level, we’d be top of the league,” he remarked in February 2016.