Fair play to Cristiano Ronaldo, it takes a big effort to be the most dislikable player on the pitch when one of the teams features the infamous Pepe. Ronaldo’s ego took first prize on the night following some unjust ‘small team’ comments but Pepe certainly wasn’t willing to relinquish the accolade without a fight – producing yet another horror tackle to remind the world of his appalling footballing behaviour.
Pepe has never – and never will be – a popular figure in the modern game. If the talents of the worlds greatest players can be considered godly, then Pepe is football’s Antichrist. Over the years, the psychopathic Portuguese defender has given fans numerous reasons to despise him. There’s no doubt he’s a good defender, but the play-acting, dirty tackles and all-round nastiness make him near impossible to praise.
Speaking ahead of his side’s opening fixture against Portugal, Iceland coach Lars Lagerback wasn’t pulling any punches, describing Pepe as “someone who could be in Hollywood” on account of the centre-backs theatrics on the field:
“We’ve seen some Portuguese players diving,
“In the final of the Champions League against Atlético, we saw another performance from Pepe that could be in Hollywood. I don’t like that. I’d like it if they were able to watch the videos to retrospectively punish that sort of thing.
“I mention Pepe – I mean, you can see the clips. I am sure you have seen them yourself. For me, that is acting, really, of high class. But I don’t know what demands they have in Hollywood. Maybe he can’t go in there and get a job. I’m not a professional in that area.”
As you can see in the clip above, Lagerback certainly has a point. Indeed during Iceland’s landmark fixture at Euro 2016, Pepe was enraging fans once again.
As game entered the 69th minute, Pepe fell to the turf with a theatrical tumble, having lost out in a physical battle, under pressure from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson. The Icelandic’s subtle brush of the shoulder had earned him opportunity to attack… there was a nothing subtle about Pepe’s vicious kick-out to deny that opportunity.
Somehow the incident went unseen by the officials, sparking widespread outrage at Pepe’s ability to unfeasibly escape justice, once again. You know you’re a figure of public hatred when even footballing celebrities are willing to speak out against you:
Pepe is a gigantic dick.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 14, 2016
Unfortunately Pepe doesn’t get the recognition he should as he’s a class player because he is such a helmet
— Didi Hamann (@DietmarHamann) June 14, 2016
Why are the refs so afraid to take action against Pepe…?????
— Peter Schmeichel (@Pschmeichel1) June 14, 2016
And then of course, there’s our personal favourite:
Having read a good many Icelandic sagas, I can tell you that this will end in 30 years time with someone’s son burning Pepe alive
— Ben Machell (@ben_machell) June 14, 2016