Powerful midfielder believes he is easy target.
Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini has blamed his poor disciplinary record on ‘frightened’ English referees and says his unmistakable hairstyle makes him an easy target.
The 25-year-old, who stands at 6’4″, has been on fine form for the Toffees this season, leading the club’s charge for a place in the Premier League top four with ten goals.
But Fellaini has also picked up six yellow cards this term and was banned for three matches after a series of off-the-ball clashes with Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross in December.
The Belgium international sports a recognisable afro hair-style but believes his physical proportions have made him an easy target for over-zealous referees.
“During my first season at Everton I got 12 bookings,” Fellaini told The Sun. “At the end of it a delegation of referees visited the club to explain why I had got so many yellow cards.
“But they ended up admitting some of the bookings were unduly harsh. I ask myself why they get given to me.
“No doubt it’s because I am not someone who can pass by unnoticed. I am tall, and my hairstyle is easily recognised. I know how to give defenders problems. I can see them keeping a special eye on me – they are frightened of me.”
Fellaini admitted he found the Shawcross situation difficult to take but stresses he lays no blame on the England defender.
“I found the (Shawcross) ban hard to take. I felt disgusted and I cut myself off from the world for 10 days,” he admitted. “I stopped reading the papers and watching football on TV and retreated into a bubble.
“I am not angry with Shawcross. He tried to stop me, and was just doing his job. But his hands were all over me the whole time. However, nobody said a word against him.
“He is English after all, so no problem! Afterwards I couldn’t even go back to Belgium for Christmas. David Moyes made me train on my own as I had penalised the rest of the team. Luckily for me Everton won two of the three games while I was suspended.”
Off the field, the former Standard Liege star finds it equally difficult to remain inconspicuous but revealed that not all the attention he receives is positive.
“I like the fact that Everton fans wear wigs in my honour. It shows they identify with me, and it is pleasing to be recognised,” he said. “(But) the English are crazy about the game. It’s good, but it exceeds the limits at times.
“For example, a guy stopped me in the street to show me the Everton tattoos on his back. And sometimes there is trouble with fans of other clubs if you go out in the evening.
“On one occasion a Liverpool fan had nothing better to do than pull my hair – once, twice, five times – and it got annoying. I felt it best to go home in order to avoid any trouble.”