In recent times it feels as though we’ve seen our fair share of ugly challenges and so here is a reminder of how bad things used to be.
First there was Miguel Britos’ two-footed stamp on Brighton’s Anthony Knockaert in the second round of Premier League action this season.
Then there was Sadio Mane’s gory fly-kick on Manchester City’s Ederson a few weekends back.
And now in the semi-finals of the 2017 AFC Champions League, Shintaro Kurumaya scraped Shinzo Koroki’s face with his studs in a horrendous attempt to win back the ball.
Some are up in arms that the beautiful game in the modern era is being tainted by a few current players who have no regard for the opposition when they are making tackles.
It’s during a time like this that I feel we need to reflect on how far the game has come in recent seasons and how much safer it is now than it was a few years ago.
So here are five ghastly tackles from campaigns gone past.
Massing on Caniggia – Cameroon vs Argentina (1990 World Cup)
Argentina’s Claudio Caniggia was not to be given a sight of goal in Argentina’s meeting with Cameroon.
At least that’s what Benjamin Massing and a couple of his team mates seemed to have been told.
His powerful body-check came after Caniggia’s impressive 80-yard solo dash failed to be halted by a block on the halfway line and another cynical Cameroonian lunge moments later.
The audacity of Massing to put his boot back on as if he was not going to be sent-off is mind-blowing.
Take your pick – Chile vs Italy (1962 World Cup)
Not many people know what the score was when Chile and Italy met at the 1962 World Cup (Chile won 2-0 if you care).
The final outcome was a sideshow to the malicious spirit the game was played in.
At one point, a player is rugby tackled. The less said about this the better.
Imagine if Luis Suarez was born 50 years earlier and was of Chilean or Italian descent!
Souness on Rotariu – Rangers vs Steaua Bucharest (1988 European Cup)
This is as heinous it is bizarre.
Heinous because Graeme Souness jammed his boot into Gheorghe Rotariu’s leg and could easily have broken it and ended his career.
Bizarre because a) Souness had the ball – usually the tackler is the person without the ball and b) for some reason he shows the ref his calf when trying to defend his actions.
Don’t become a lawyer, mate.
Mavinga on Carcela – Genk vs Standard Liege (2011 Jupiler League)
This wasn’t that long ago but something that wouldn’t go amiss in the UFC has to be included in this feature.
In the deciding game of Belgium’s Jupiler League between rivals Racing Genk and Standard Liège, Genk claimed the trophy after earning a 1-1 draw.
However, the evening was a bitter-sweet one for Chris Mavinga whose roundhouse foot-strike on Mehdi Carcela-González broke the Moroccan’s jaw, nose and teeth.
“I did not sleep well, I thought I had killed him,” a distraught Mavinga said after the incident.
Schumacher on Battiston – Germany vs France (1982 World Cup)
In this game of chicken that happened to take place on a football field, Harald Schumacher knocked out three of Patrick Battiston’s teeth and also caused serious damage to the Frenchman’s vertebrae.
“I thought he (Battiston) was dead,” said Michel Platini.
Schumacher wasn’t sent-off for this incident. In fact, despite making no contact with the ball, he never even received a yellow card.
That’s how I know the game will never return to these dark days – all of Mane, Britos and Kurumaya were given their marching orders.
Bad tackles will always be part and parcel of the game.
Progression should be judged by the manner in which these bad tackles are dealt with and not the frequency of them.