Loved by some, hated by many, Savage remains reassuringly confident and outspoken. He has divided the masses throughout his career, through his uncompromisingly confrontational attitude both on and off the pitch.
He is synonymous with the term 'hard hitting midfielder' and has a reputation for running around 'kicking lumps' out of people rather than exhibiting any crowd-pleasing skill or flair. His aggressive and physical style of play has oft been criticised, but contrary to popular belief, Savage has only been sent off twice in his career, and his only Premiership red card was under very dubious circumstances.
Savage did once hold the record for the most Premier League yellow cards however, and in 2008 was dubbed 'the dirtiest player in Premier League history' by the Daily Mail. His yellow card tally has since been surpassed by Lee Bowyer.
Savage began his career as Manchester United, but after Alex Ferguson realised he didn't possess many of the characteristics needed for a striker - such as the ability to pass, dribble or shoot - he was duly sold to Crew Alexandra. From here, he went on to play for Leicester City, Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers and Derby County. Savage earned 39 International caps for Wales, before retiring from international duty as he 'wished to concentrate on his club football'. Reports suggested that he had fallen out with the national manager, John Toshack. Apparently, Toshack had told Savage "it's my way or the highway," to which Savage replied, "I'm on the M56, John."
The 2001-02 season saw Savage sign for Birmingham City, and showed the world his uncanny skill for winding up opponents. Whilst at the Black Country side, Savage had a slight altercation with Dion Dublin. Savage took offence to a rash Dublin tackle which resulted in a mass confrontation. During said fracas, Dublin (quite gently, actually) head-butted Savage, and was sent for an early shower.
Savage’s stint at Birmingham City ended when he handed in a transfer request in 2005, citing his desire to move nearer his ailing parents in Wrexham. Savage moved to Blackburn Rovers for a fee of £3 million. Blackburn is around five miles further away from Wrexham than Birmingham is.
During the final minutes of a grudge match between local rivals Leicester City and Derby County, savage did the unspeakable and took a dive in the box. The penalty was given and subsequently converted. Two Derby players were booked after chasing Savage and to really rub salt in the wounds, he goaded the home fans, fist pumping his away round the stadium. From that point forward, Savage was subjected to a torrent of abuse whenever he played against Derby. Ironically, Savage signed for Derby in the later stages of his career, receiving a mixed bag of hostility and acceptance, much like a morris dancer at a blind football match.
One major part of Savages career, arguably his most influential contribution to football, was the amount of times he took an elbow, ball or headbutt to the face. Forever cemented in the annals of popular culture thanks to Soccer AM, there are frequent instances of Savage receiving hefty blows to the head. During a game against Newcastle in 2003, the referee Matt Messias swung his arm to signal a foul, unaware that Savage was lurking behind him and struck him in the face. Completely in character, Savage hit the deck. Alan Shearer sauntered over and after taking the referee’s red card, brandished it back at him, the funniest thing Alan Shearer has ever done and probably ever will.
Savages nose has also been on the receiving end of a Robert Pires pass and a Stiliyan Petrov clearance, both achieving a raucous uproar from opposing fans.
Another example of Savages eccentric behaviour and infinite capacity to cause trouble became known as ‘Poogate’. Before a game whilst at Leicester City, Savage had an upset stomach and most likely a dribbly bum, apparently caused by use of antibiotics. Instead of relieving himself in the changing room toilets, Savage decided to sample the delights of the referee’s lavatory. An expensive choice as he was fined £10,000 by the FA, the dearest fine for using a toilet since George Michael's error of judgement in 1998.
In recent months, you may have seen more of Savages enviable locks. This is because he is attempting to become a more prominent broadcast figure. A recent appearance on Strictly Come Dancing shocked many, largely because he displayed footwork that was non-existent on the football pitch but also due to his outfits being tighter then Rik Waller in a phonebox. During one rather exuberant salsa, Savage performed a kneeslide towards a camera, planting a smacker on its lens. After closer inspection, Savage realised he had in fact broken is nose on the lens and required medical attention.
Savage is a regular pundit on multiple football programs and offers a refreshing and honest opinion on many controversial topics. He also regularly tears up the dictionary and the rulebook on ESPN, with such gems as:
‘Bolton started the game with an intendency’.
‘Outside the box, that’s a freekick but inside the box, I don’t think that’s a penalty’.
Not afraid to speak his mind, Savage continues to divide the public. Nevertheless, like him or loathe him, Robbie Savage will continue to entertain, anger and intrigue the masses for many years to come. And isn't his hair luxurious?
|A well-groomed pooch Robbie Savage|
By Luke Wretham