Ranking the most infamous headbutts in sport

Scotland teammates Ally Strokosch and Joe Ansbro headbutt each other while celebrating a win over Australia. Photo / YouTube
Scotland teammates Ally Strokosch and Joe Ansbro headbutt each other while celebrating a win over Australia. Photo / YouTube

Central Coast Mariners striker Roy O'Donovan joined a sporting list of infamy last night with a headbutt on Phoenix defender Manny Muscat.

O'Donovan could face the ire of the match review panel for his nasty act which saw him receive only a yellow card.

Chris Rattue looks at other infamous headbutts in sport.

Zinedine Zidane

The king of headbutts, for the shock value and the occasion coming as it did in the 2006 Fifa World Cup final in Germany. Deep into overtime, French legend Zidane drove his forehead into the chest of Italian defender Marco Materazzi who went down. Zidane was sent off and France lost.

Materazzi said some rather nasty things to the retiring Zidane - "words that can hurt more than acts ... about my mum, my sister," as Zidane put it later. This may be the most bizarre and disappointing exit from the game for a football great.

On the Zidane headbutt stupidity and impact scale: 5/5
Stupid as you can get and a pretty solid impact. That's why it's called the Zidane headbutt stupidity and impact scale.

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Dylan Hartley

A 10 out of 10 when it comes to stupidity. The New Zealand-raised England hooker had already notched up a year's worth of suspensions over his career when his Northampton club and Saracens met in mid-2015. With the World Cup looming on English soil, you would think Hot Head Hartley might put the filth away.

Yet not only did he headbutt opposite Jamie George, but went out of his way to do so after Northampton had scored a try. English coach Stuart Lancaster dumped him from World Cup consideration, and the rest is history. The uncapped George took Hartley's place.

On the Zidane headbutt stupidity and impact scale: 4/5
Perfect marks in stupidity but down on solid impact. While Zidane missed out on a World Cup title shot, Hartley didn't even get to the tournament, which was probably for the best since England didn't get out of their group.

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Ally Strokosch/Joe Ansbro

The Scotland teammates made brutal forehead contact while leaping over a huddle of teammates to celebrate victory against the Wallabies at Murrayfield in 2012. Ansbro suffered a deep gash over his left eye and left the field with blood streaming down his face.

On the Zidane headbutt stupidity and impact scale: 3/5
No stupidity just purely accidental but top marks for impact.

***

Dennis Rodman

The crazy basketball guy headbutted ref Ted Bernhardt during a game between his star-studded Chicago Bulls and New Jersey in the mid-1990s. Contact was slight, and was never going to involve a clash of foreheads given the height difference. Rodman was fined $20,000 and suspended for six games which was the third longest NBA sentence at that point.

On the Zidane headbutt stupidity and impact scale: 2/5
Very little impact if any. Didn't the heads even clash? Pretty stupid though from a player that was fittingly prone to brain explosions.

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Evander Holyfield

Hang on, wasn't Mike Tyson the bad guy? Not totally. Holyfield employed headbutting tactics against Iron Mike in 1996 as he took boxing's WBA heavyweight title off Tyson, who claimed he was close to blacking out thanks to the challenger's use of his noggin. Though there was debate over who caused the headbutt. The sequel the following year lives in infamy. Tyson, sick of the headbutts, bit Holyfield's ear although he later admitted that his frustration at dealing with such a good fighter played a massive part in his sickening chomp. Holyfield had a bit of a reputation for using his head in fights.

On the Zidane headbutt stupidity and impact scale: 2/5
Still not sure which fighter instigated the headbutt and whether it was accidental. Pretty tame really compared to an ear bite.


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Gus Frerotte

The Washington Redskins NFL quarterback scored a touchdown and kept going, celebrating by giving the padded cement wall a solid headbutt. Frerotte staggered in pain, tried to get his helmet off, and received medical attention. He returned to action but was taken to a hospital for tests at halftime where he was diagnosed with a sprained neck. He seems to be remembered more for this than anything else in his journeyman career.

On the Zidane headbutt scale: 1/5
Possibly the worst headbutt in sports history. Really stupid but little impact since it was a wall not an opponent.

- NZ Herald

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