Ben Thatcher on Pedro Mendes
Portsmouth vs Manchester City, 2004
The heat makes us all do funny things: we get a bit irritable, a bit snappy. It seems to affect some more than others, however, and Ben Thatcher is a fine example of this.
In the late summer heat of 2004 he went mental. During Manchester City's pre-season tour of China, his elbow caused Yang Chungang to suffer a collapsed lung, and less than three weeks later he became the most hated man in English football with a horrendous assault on Portsmouth's Pedro Mendes.
As he and Pedro Mendes ran for a loose ball near the touchline, Thatcher intentionally led with his elbow, sending Mendes sprawling into the advertising hoardings and knocking him unconscious. Mendes needed oxygen at pitchside and suffered a seizure while being transferred to hospital, where he would spend the night.
The tackle was so bad that his own club issued Thatcher with a six-match ban on top the FA's eight-game suspension. He was also served with a 15-match ban suspended for two years.
Portsmouth's Matt Taylor echoed the thoughts of the thousands watching, incensed by the referee's decision to only hand Thatcher a yellow card: "How can that not be a sending-off? What do you have to do, kill someone?," he fumed, understandably.
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