The worst examples of arrogance in sport

Who da man?

Hours after England's cricketers completed the tonking of Australia in the recent Ashes series, an article dating from last November - just before the first test - started doing the email rounds.
The piece, from the Australian Daily Telegraph, was called 10 reasons the Poms are duds, and listed the fatal deficiencies of the England team, from being perennial chokers to the lack of a 'fear factor' in bowlers like Jimmy Anderson (who went on to become the star bowling performer of the series). In short, Australia had nothing to fear - as usual - from an English team down under.
Given what subsequently occurred, the article can either be put down to appalling punditry or breathtaking Aussie arrogance. But then, arrogance is hardly unknown in the winner-takes-all world of professional sport, whether among athletes, teams, fans or journalists.
Here are a few other prime examples.
 Cristiano Ronaldo
"Maybe they hate me because I'm too good," opined Cristiano Ronaldo back in his Manchester United days.
Either that, or opposition fans hate you because of the blatant dives, the unnecessary showboating or the sense that personal glory is far more important to you than the success of the team.

Lebron James

After a recent interview with GQ Magazine, one online sports site asked if the Miami Heat basketball star was officially the most arrogant man in sports.
There'd be some stiff competition for that title, but James did state in GQ that, "even my family gets spoiled at times watching me doing things that I do, on and off the court." That's right, even his family is spoiled by watching Lebron, whether on the court or - presumably - on the toilet.

Lewis Hamilton

It didn't take the young F1 star long to make enemies, falling out with Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher in the early years of his career.
But then, he does have a rather high opinion of himself, telling a tribunal: "I have been a racing driver since I was eight years old and I know pretty much every single manoeuvre in the book, and that's why I'm the best at my job."

Muhammad Ali

He was quick, powerful and iron jawed - and boy did you know about it.
In his own words, Ali was "the greatest - I said that even before I knew I was." He was "the astronaut of boxing. Joe Louis and Dempsey were just jet pilots. I'm in a world of my own." He was so fast "that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark."
Ali was sharp, witty and the best boxer ever to grace the ring, as well as the most arrogant.

England football team

There's no doubt that any England team at a World Cup finals is full of star names. The problem is that it is never full of star players.
Only arrogance on a grand scale can explain why a team of perennial losers - who struggle to find a way past footballing giants like Algeria - see themselves as potential world champions every four years.
And when England roll home after being beaten - in 2010, humiliated - by the first half-decent team they meet, we all vow never to be taken in again. Until the next time.

The haka

The haka is the pre-match ritual war dance of the New Zealand rugby union team, and one that is increasingly seen as arrogant and unfair by the rest of the rugby world.
While the All Blacks line up and hurl abuse at the opposition, tradition dictates that the opposing team has to stand still and make no form of reply. All of which lead one British sports writer to label the haka recently as "a self-important bore and an instrument of the worst kind of sporting arrogance."

Dallas Cowboys

There were so many reasons to dislike the famous Dallas Cowboys football team in 1992, from publicity-seeking owner Jerry Jones to the bling-heavy, showboating players, but perhaps the biggest reason was their self-styled claim to be 'America's team'.
They pranced and preened their way to the 1992 Super Bowl with their self-publicity machine in full swing (there were 22 radio and TV shows devoted just to them), and - far from being 'America's team' - quickly became one of the most hated teams in NFL history.

Eric Cantona

A genius of a player, but the upturned collar, the strut, the shrugs, the unsmiling look-how-good-I-am goal celebrations - they all smacked of a unique pomposity.
It takes a certain arrogance, after all, to launch yourself into the stands to attack an opposition supporter (however odious the fan).

Ashley Cole

Forget Cheryl and all that. Let's take it back a few years, and let Ashley hang himself over the insult of a measly £55k a week pay offer.
"When I heard Jonathan Barnett (his agent) repeat the figure of £55k, I nearly swerved off the road. 'He (former Arsenal Director David Dein) is taking the piss Jonathan!' I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn't believe what I'd heard."

Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds played for the San Francisco Giants until 2007 and should be one of the most honoured baseball players in history.
After all, he holds the record for most home runs scored overall (762) and in a single season (73) and has a record seven Most Valuable Player awards.
But Bonds' records are tarnished by his central role in baseball's steroid scandal and the fact, according to his biographer, that he was considered a "polarizing insufferable braggart with a legendary ego" who distanced himself from team mates, fans and club staff.