14 of football's finest insults: featuring Keane, Cantona... and poor Carlton Palmer

The game's always had some needle – and this motley crew certainly didn't hold back in offering their thoughts

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

Sir Alex Ferguson vs Real Madrid

In 2008, Ferguson was asked to comment on speculation that a deal had been agreed to sell Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid at the end of the season. It was an emphatic no: “Do you think I would get into a contract with that mob. Jesus Christ, no chance. I wouldn’t sell them a virus.”

Damning, and exactly what Manchester United supporters wanted to hear. Unfortunately, Ronaldo was then sold to Real Madrid after surprisingly swift negotiations in the summer of 2009.

Patrice Evra vs Lilian Thuram

Lilian Turam

“Walking around with books on slavery in glasses and a hat does not turn you into Malcolm X.”

France’s spectacular combustion at the 2010 World Cup drew criticism from all over the country – even from French politicians. Thuram, incensed by the tarnishing of a legacy which he and the previous generation had done so much to build, was partiuclarly vocal and demanded that Evra never be allowed to play for Les Bleus again.

Little surprise, then, that Evra - who is never short of a sarcastic dismissal - took aim at Thuram's public image. Unfairly, perhaps, given that the former full-back is among the most intelligent and socially conscientious players around. 

Diego Maradona vs Pele

"Pele should go back to the museum."

Maradona’s various insults deserve their own feature (Google his back-and-forwards with Argentine press circa 2010), but his repeated shelling of Pele has always been of greater significance.

In this instance, taking exception to the Brazilian’s questioning of his coaching credentials before the 2010 World Cup, Maradona was in a particularly scathing mood. The binary relationship between the two and the ceaseless debate over their respective greatness ensured - and continues to ensure - that their every personal exchange drips with personal animosity. 

Another classic quip came during the tournament, when the ever-eloquent Maradona mused: "He took the wrong pill. Instead of taking the pill for before bedtime, he took his morning pill. He got confused. I suggest that next time he takes the right medication and that he changes his doctor."

Bryan Roy vs Nottingham Forest

Bryan Roy Stuart Pearce

“Berlin has everything. It is a cosmopolitan city with theatres and the people are open-minded. They are not as narrow-minded like the people in Nottingham. There are no theatres, no cinemas, hardly anything. All Nottingham has is Robin Hood… and he's dead.”

Does that need any further context? The influx of television money attracted foreign players to the Premier League in droves during the 1990s (in Roy's case, post-USA '94). Evidently, the Dutchman never bothered with Center Parcs. 

Dave Jones vs Carlton Palmer

“He covers every blade of grass, but that's only because his first touch is crap.”

Jones actually signed Palmer while he was at Southampton in 1997, but sold him within two years and replaced the ex-England international with Chris Marsden. Palmer was an awkward personality and didn’t always endear himself to his team-mates, no less so than during that two-year spell at The Dell.