These players were found guilty by the courts for their respective offences.
Footballers are some of the most admired personalities in the world. Amidst all this, it is easy to forget that at the end of it all, footballers are humans as well and are certainly not free from some unfortunate decisions that can see them end up on the unfavourable side of the law.
Due to social media, footballers are now global celebrities. This has shifted the focus from their exploits on the pitch to their personal lives. With the press covering every aspect of their lives, footballers have turned into role models for many. However, on some occasions, few players have been on the news for the wrong reasons, facing penalties due to criminal offenses or even jail time.
Considering all of it, let’s take a look at 10 footballers who have served prison sentences.
10. Duncan Ferguson
One of the best strikers in Scotland history, Duncan Ferguson is famous for his exploits for Everton. However, he was involved in several altercations away from the game. He has had four convictions for assault, one of which was for a head-butt on Raith Rovers defender John McStay in 1994.
This resulted in a rare conviction for an on-the-field incident. The former footballer was sentenced to three months in Barlinnie prison for this incident but was released after serving 44 days.
9. Joey Barton
Joey Barton was often in the middle of controversy on the pitch. He found himself involved in several incidents away from it too. The England international has served prison sentences twice for violent charges.
The first of the two came when he drove his car into a pedestrian in Liverpool City Centre. Thus, the court convicted him of assault and he served 77 days in prison. While serving this sentence, Barton also received a four-month suspension from football. This was because he admitted to assault his former Manchester City teammate Ousmane Dabo.
8. Tony Adams
Adams is one of the best footballers of his generation. He spent his entire 19-year career at Arsenal. The England center back battled with alcoholism throughout his career. He also got a sentence of four months in prison in December 1990. However, he got an early release in February. The former Arsenal captain was again arrested after he crashed his car into a wall near his house. Upon testing, he was found to be 27 times over the legal alcohol limit.
7. Ian Wright
One of the greatest strikers in the history of the Premier League, Ian Wright spent time in jail when he was just 19-year-old. The Arsenal legend declined to pay insurance or taxes for his two automobiles and was convicted for two weeks at Chelmsford Prison in 1982.
Although the sentence may have been short, Wright has often stressed its importance in his life and how it changed him for the better. “I did say I would never ever come to a place like that again. I knew I had to start doing the straight and narrow right thing. That was it,” Wright said in 2016.
6. George Best
One of the greatest players in Manchester United and Northern Ireland’s history, George Best had his fair share of controversies off the field. In 1984, the football star was convicted of drunk driving, assaulting a police officer, and failing to answer bail and was thus was penalized to spend some time in jail. Best was given a three-month prison sentence as he spent that year’s Christmas behind bars at Ford Open Prison.
One of the greatest footballers of all-time, Ronaldinho found himself in the midst of a fake passport controversy in 2020, hence spending five months in prison. The court found the Brazilian footballerguilty of forging passport documents while traveling to Paraguay in 2020. He was sentenced to five years in prison along with his brother Roberto de Assis.
However, the pair were offered a plea deal, reducing the sentence to five months and paying a combined fine of $200,000. The pair served their time in Asuncion prison, with Ronaldinho celebrating his 40th birthday inside the prison grounds.
4. Adam Johnson
A Premier League winner with Manchester City, Adam Johnson is a pretty controversial figure. The court convicted him of child sex offences in 2016 while playing for Sunderland. The Black Cats immediately sacked the former England international.
Johnson got out from prison in 2019 after serving half of his six-year sentence due to good behaviour. Now 34, Johnson remains without a football club, two years after his release.
3. Rene Higuita
Famous and well-known across the football world for his incredible scorpion kick clearance during a clash between England and Colombia, the goalkeeper found himself in the middle of some shady business in the 90s. The Colombian footballer was imprisoned for being involved in a kidnapping that involved famous drug lord Pablo Escobar. Although Higuita’s job was just to deliver the money, the crime earned him seven months inside a jail in Bogota.
2. Benjamin Mendy
A multiple-time Premier League winner with Manchester City, Benjamin Mendy has been accused of seven charges of rape and sexual assault in 2021. The Frenchman was sentenced to spend time behind bars at HMP Altcourse in Liverpool but was moved to a top-security prison – HMP Manchester, before Christmas of 2021 amid fears over his safety.
Mendy got out on bail later on strict conditions and will stand a trial for his charges in late January 2022. The France international has since been suspended by Manchester City.
1. Bruno Fernandes de Souza
A Brazilian Serie A winner with Flamengo, Bruno Fernandes committed one of the most gruesome crimes. The authorities sentenced him to a lengthy prison sentence. In July 2010, he was formally charged with murder, kidnapping, hiding a body, forming a criminal gang (conspiracy) and corrupting minors.
Bruno later confessed to organizing the plot and on March 8, 2013, the court sentenced him to a 22-year jail term for the assault, torture and murder of his former girlfriend and mother of his youngest child.
In July 2019, Bruno got out from prison to serve in a “semi-open” program for the rest of his sentence, where he could work or train in the day while being under house arrest at night.