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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Football's zaniest characters - Ibrahimovic, Alves, Luiz, Balotelli

Football can on occasion be taken a little too seriously. Thank goodness, then, for the game's stars who bring a smile to fans' faces.

Here, we've picked 10 of the most eccentric still plying their trade.

Dani Alves

Dani Alves wig Brazil Barcelona
Barcelona and Brazil right-back Dani Alves wears his heart on his sleeve when on the pitch, while off it he is not afraid to push the fashion boundaries.

Andrey Arshavin

Andrey Arshavin camera Euro 2008 Russia v Netherlands
Former Russia and Arsenal forward Andrey Arshavin is not one to take football too seriously, as evidenced by the manner in which he often plays the game with a shrug of the shoulders.

Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli why always me
Whether it's driving his camouflage car about town or revealing his latest celebration, Liverpool and Italy striker Mario Balotelli is never too far away from making the headlines.

Antonio Cassano

Antonio Cassano Italy France underwear pants Euro 2008
Here's a photograph of Antonio Cassano celebrating Italy's 2-0 win over France in Euro 2008. That is all.

Emmanuel Eboue

Eboue Emmanuel Nicklas Bendtner Arsenal training
A changing room including former Arsenal wing-back Emmanuel Eboue (left and top right) is unlikely a dull one. Speaking of Arsenal, it would be remiss not to mention the ego of Nicklas Bendtner (left) and the outspoken Emmanuel Frimpong (bottom right). What a trio.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The thing about Zlatan Ibrahimovic is he is so imposing that whether you find a joke he's made funny or not, you'd still force a laugh. There's also the scenario that the self-assured PSG and Sweden star was not actually joking.

Stephen Ireland

Ireland Stephen celebration tattoo
Former Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland has owned a £100,000 fish tank. He has also dropped his shorts when celebrating a goal.

David Luiz

David Luiz wide eyed celebration angry World Cup 2014 Brazil
Incident rarely seems far away from David Luiz when he and his excellent haircut are on the field for PSG or Brazil. The Ligue 1 champions landed an absorbing character when they paid Chelsea £50 million for his signature, as well as an unpredictable defender.

Thomas Muller

Muller Thomas lederhosen crowd
Thomas Muller takes his football very seriously. You only need to watch him wildly celebrate a tap in to see that. When the final whistle has gone, though, a more jovial side of his character comes to the fore -- whether it's donning lederhosen or rallying the Bayern crowd with a megaphone.

Alex Song

Alex Song
Just look at those light up shoes (bottom right) on Alex Song and tell us you'd not look forward to his arrival at training each day.

 By Chris Wright

FM2015 fan simulates 1,000 years of football - Sheffield United are the best

Sheffield United are set to go on an impressive trophy run in the next 1,000 years.

For reasons we won't even pretend to fathom, one Football Manager 2015 fan has simulated the future of English football -- 1,000 years of future, to be specific.

After letting his manager "go on holiday" for 58 days straight, the gamer published his results on Reddit recently with the data revealing, perhaps a little surprisingly, that Sheffield United are set to emerge as the most dominant footballing force over the next millennium.

In fact, the Blades won the Premier League title on no more that...

 By Chris Wright

Bournemouth's Sylvain Distin doesn't know or care about football

Sylvain Distin has made more appearances than any other foreign outfield player in England.

Despite having more mileage on his clock than your average clapped-out Vauxhall Vectra, it would appear that Sylvain Distin really doesn't know an awful lot when it comes to football -- not that he's remotely concerned.

The 37-year-old defender, who recently signed for newly promoted Bournemouth, was given an intense grilling by The Sun recently and quickly proved that while, he loves to play football, he really doesn't have a clue when it comes to the trivia of his chosen trade.

When asked which...

 By Chris Wright

Former Newcastle striker Faustino Asprilla reunited with his lost horse

At long last, we can all sleep easy in our beds, safe in the knowledge that Faustino Asprilla has been reunited with his missing horse.

The £43,500 horse, named Lucas, has been missing since April 17 when Asprilla reportedly gave it away to a friend at a county fair.

According to The Guardian, the former Newcastle striker allowed his friend to ride Lucas in the parade at the Buga Fair but forgot to retrieve it.

Asprilla was subsequently forced to put up a £1,090 reward for the nag's safe...

 By Chris Wright

Aston Villa fan makes 4,000-mile trip to donate season tickets

Prior to his season-ending injury in April, Ciaran Clark had excelled in defence for Villa.
Aston Villa have attracted a far flung fan to Villa Park.

Aston Villa fan Michael Cappuccitti is about to go above and beyond the call of duty ahead of the new season.

Michael, who hails from Toronto, is making the 4,000-mile trip to Villa Park to watch his adopted side's first home game of the season, against Manchester United on Aug. 14.

Before he makes the trip home again after the game, Michael is planning to donate not one but four season tickets to underprivileged local children who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford to attend any Villa games this...

Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo among football's best-, worst-dressed players

As the 2015-16 season approaches, we're playing football fashion police. Here's who we deem to be the best- and worst-dressed players in the game.

THE BEST: 

Andrea Pirlo

No Pirlo, no party. The Maestro always looks classy and cool.

Xabi Alonso

Even when he's traveling, the Bayern Munich man is effortlessly stylish.

Gerard Pique

From the tips of his glorious hair to his fantastic footwear, Pique always dresses to impress.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo has made his fair share of fashion faux pas but has matured to become one of football's most fashionable.

THE WORST:

Alex Song

He has been seen wearing shoes that light up. Enough said.

Neymar

Neymar is only 23 years old. Hopefully his fashion sense will improve with age.

Dani Alves

Alves is quite a character and isn't afraid to show that in his clothing choices. Unfortunately.

Lionel Messi

The Argentine really needs some new suits ... please.

Finally, when it comes to Mario Balotelli and Karim Benzema, we aren't quite sure whether they belong on the best- or worst-dressed list ... or somewhere in between. Let us know what you think!

Mario...