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Football's Heroes & Villains Of 2012

As the year comes to an end, Johnny Nicholson picks out those who have irked and who have pleased him over the past 12 months. Brendan's in, so are Harry & Roy...








Zlatan Ibrahimovic
For being the mythic star in the blockbuster movie that is always running in his own mind called, I am Zlatan.

Rafa Benitez
For being called a fat Spanish waiter as though there is anything wrong with that.

Frank Lampard
For starting the year 'back' then becoming very un-back, then coming back from being un-back before being dropped again and now being officially back once again. And for having the entire media campaigning for him to get a new contract as though they were campaigning for the release of a political prisoner.

Leighton Baines
For having a name that sounds like an old mill town in Lancashire and for opting for a haircut which was fashionable with men who called themselves Brett and ran a hairdressers in 1971.

Andy TownsendFor services to the 'If it's not the Premier League it's not all that,' mentality by considering the year Joe Cole spent playing 31 games for Lille meant he 'didn't play much football last year', that German champions, Borussia Dortmund 'can play a bit' and that Juventus (who at the time had gone over 40 games without losing) 'aren't a bad side.' He's certainly got that in his locker.

Paul Lambert
For having the old fashioned, out-dated notion that managing Aston Villa was a bigger or better job than managing Norwich City.

Wilfried Zaha
For being called Wilf. And for being so hyped that its as if he's already finished a long and brilliant career as an England international. What's that? He's only scored five in the Championship and has done nowt yet? Never.

Jack Wilshire
For becoming, whilst injured, officially the only Englishman who has ever been or ever will be any good at football.

David Luiz
For having hair that makes the world a happier place.

Sami Nasri
For shamelessly being scared of the ball hitting him in the face when standing in the wall. Clearly, he feared it could kill him. Also for passing himself off as an adult male whilst actually being a 14-year-old girl called Nicole.

Ollie Holt
For services to hair dressing. The Mirror scribbler has, in mid-life, taken to wearing an alice band which makes it look as though he's a menopausal woman called Brenda from Skelmersdale. But in a good way.

Roy Hodgson
For not being Harry Redknapp and for looking like a slightly surprised owl.

Chelsea Fans
For being so enslaved to Roman Abramovich's money that they had to blame Rafa Benitez for him being appointed as their manager and not the man actually responsible. And for using such small pieces of paper as protest posters.

Henning Berg
For saying being manager of Blackburn was an impossible job just before taking the Blackburn job and then getting sacked 10 games later as though to prove himself correct in the first place.

Venky's
For, like radiation, being the gift that keeps on giving. What next? The Philip Schofield/Gordon The Gopher management dream team?

Luis Suarez
For being the worlds' first human/gerbil chimera.

Andre Villas-Boas
For not being in any way rubbish despite being 'borderline Aspergers' (c/o Ian McGarry) and despite some in the press mocking him simply for the crime of writing notes. You wouldn't catch 'Arry doing that; indeed, you couldn't.

Harry Redknapp
For the fastest ever deployment of the, 'I never touched it, it was already broken when I got here,' defence of blaming the players at QPR for being rubbish and thus already trying to remove any blame from himself if it should all end in disaster. Did you get the media's memo? QPR is not his fault; unless they survive, in which case, it's all down to him being brilliant and never, ever wrong about anything. Ever. Geoff.

Ian McGarry
For making a litany of wholly inaccurate predictions, despite declaring them to be facts, usually just prior to them being proved not to be and then getting very uppity and cross when anyone points this out, as though it was in any way important in the first place.

Brendan Rodgers
For having the head most like a potato in the Premier League and being the most likely to refer to a potato head as 'an organic, tuber-based thinking-module, going forward.' Also for unselfconsciously having a massive photo of himself on his wall at home and allowing a TV crew to film it. Not seen reality TV before, Bren? Editor's note; yes, we know it was given to him by a charity. It still looks stupid. Cheers.

Gary Neville
For proving that if you do your work, know your stuff and can think up a decent simile, you too can receive universal acclaim. But if you thinking just nodding and grinning is a better way to go, be aware, we're disappointed with that.

Jermain Defoe
For having tiny, super-fast feet and for doing nothing at all other than shooting on sight of the goals from any distance. The last practitioner of the 'just give it a big thriker' philosophy so popular in football comics but now unfashionable in favour of the 'fanny around with it and try and look clever' approach.

Michael Owen
For officially not being injury prone yet always being out injured, including being hurt by some slightly cold air in a gym.

Dimi Berbatov
For metaphorically smoking fags, wearing slippers, pyjamas and a silk dressing gown while playing football.

Stoke City
For being managed by a competitive dad and annoying people who watch football in pubs while wearing a Barcelona shirt with Messi on the back.

Fernando Torres
For having the good grace to actually look flushed with embarrassment during many of the truly awful games of football he's played this year.

Mark Hughes
For failing to live up to his own ambition and then resigning from himself in disgrace.

Bradford City fans
For their blunt Yorkshire wisdom when chanting at Arsenal fans, 'Robin Van Persie, he left 'cos you're sh*te.' It's enough to sour one's Aqua Libra, Justin.

Gervinho
For, in a unique collision of cultures, inventing a hair style that is equal parts Milli Vanilli braiding and Peter Gabriel, Lamb Lies Down On Broadway era hairline shaving, which was obviously his aim.

Check Tiote
For looking like an extra from The A Team and playing like one.

Nicholas Bendtner
For, in a tweet, admitting to agalmatophilia.