Embarrassing family members
We’ve all been there, hoping for the ground to swallow us up after an embarrassing incident involving a relative. As the saying goes, you can choose your friends…
For most of us, though, such episodes are usually played out in a front of a handful of people, many of whom don’t know who we are anyway. High-profile footballers have no such luxury – as this slideshow proves.
10. Batty’s trike trials
Admitting to having an injury can be tough, but confessing you hurt your Achilles tendon because your son ran over it with his tricycle isn’t something most footballers would want to shout about. Unless you’re David Batty, that is, the Leeds midfielder happily opening up about the incident in 1999.
“It’s put me out for a few weeks, and done me more damage than Roy Keane ever has!” he joked, before adding that talking about the episode was becoming “tiresome”. Poor Batty’s bad fortune didn’t end there: his return was delayed after suffering from side effects of the drugs he’d been taking following previous heart problems.
9. Edinho fights law, law wins
“Pele still loves his son,” explained the Brazilian legend’s former team-mate Felix, “but he’s shocked at his descent into crime.”
Former Santos goalkeeper Edinho was sentenced to 33 years in prison in 2014 for links with drug lords in Sao Paulo state. Pele’s problematic progeny appealed the sentence and landed himself a coaching role with Brazilian second division outfit Mogi Mirim (club president: Rivaldo) while awaiting the verdict, but he began a 12-year sentence for drug trafficking and money laundering in 2017.
8. Le God makes Le Hod squad
“He’s a bloody idiot,” said one FA official about Carl Le Tissier, brother of incredibly gifted Southampton schemer Matt, after Carl blabbed details of his sibling’s England recall to 5Live before Glenn Hoddle’s side’s crucial World Cup qualification clash with Italy in February 1997.
Matt later told FFT that another loose-lipped England player had actually leaked the news to The Sun before Carl was doorstepped by the press. He still got a ticking-off by Hoddle, who presumably feared Italy honcho Cesare Maldini was an avid listener of BBC radio. In the end, England lost 1-0 and Le Tiss was hooked on the hour.
7. “Did you have to hit him, mum?”
“I’ll do anything to make an impression this season,” said 17-year-old Arsenal youngster Ainsley Maitland-Niles at the beginning of the 2014/15 campaign. The talented wide man had his eyes set on a first-team berth and was keen to stress to anyone who would listen that he was willing to put in the hard yards to get it.
Perhaps instead of extra training, though, he should have spent more time restraining his mum. Jule Niles allegedly hit the Gunners’ de facto director of football Dick Law in April 2015, before threatening to take her son off the pitch and drive him home in the middle of an under-21 match. Arsenal weren’t impressed and promptly banned her from the training ground.
6. “Marcelo, come in for your tea!”
“If I was partying instead of concentrating on my football, he would shout at me in front of my friends.” Those were the words of Real Madrid’s buccaneering full-back Marcelo, whose grandfather Pedro embarrassed the Brazilian into staying on the straight and narrow as a kid. It clearly worked: the ex-Fluminense man has since won four La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Pedro died shortly before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and Marcelo has a tattoo on his arm of his biggest role model. Proof that tough love works.
5. Old Big ’Ead vs the old ball and chain
Behind every good man is a better woman, so the saying goes, which is probably why Nottingham Forest striker Ian Storey-Moore wanted an easy life when choosing a new club in 1972.
“I don’t get involved in Ian’s football at all,” exclaimed his better half after she persuaded the striker to turn down a move to Brian Clough’s Derby County and join Manchester United instead, “but he clearly wasn’t given the chance to think carefully about his future.”
Clough saw the funny side, later commenting: “She should’ve gone into football management.” Storey-Moore scored 11 goals in 39 league appearances for United, before joining Burton Albion in 1974.
4. Pione’s folks go tribal
Being given the chance to represent your country at any level is a huge achievement and one which deserves to be properly celebrated. That’s precisely what the parents of Midtjylland forward Pione Sisto must have been thinking when their son was called up to the Danish Under-21 side in 2015, but it’s fair to say their method of celebration was a little unconventional.
With Kampala-born Sisto in the middle of answering questions at a press conference, mum and dad burst into the room and begun to perform an ancient Ugandan tribal dance in front of bemused/delighted journalists. “Parents, eh?” a sheepish Sisto chuckled afterwards.
3. Szczesny Sr fans the flames
Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny’s display at Southampton on New Year’s Day 2015 – he made mistakes for both goals and was then caught smoking a cigarette in the showers afterwards – was bad enough. But his father Maciej, a former goalkeeper himself, made things much worse when he claimed the Gunners’ coaching staff were giving his son “zero support” and defender Per Mertesacker showed “the agility of a rhinoceros”.
Wojciech’s wisely distanced himself from his dad’s comments ever since, but it wasn’t long before he was also distanced from Arsenal’s first team for good. Mertesacker’s still hanging about, though – and he hasn’t got any faster.
2. Sue’s company
In 2009, John Terry’s mum Sue and his mother-in-law Sue Poole were cautioned after attempting to nick over £1000’s worth of food, clothing and other items from Marks & Spencer and Tesco in Weybridge. The latter firm decided to sue Sue and Sue in a bid to warn off a “flood of chancers”, after police cautioned the pair “in accordance with national guidelines”.
“This will be a huge embarrassment to John,” said an unnamed Chelsea spokesman, who definitely wasn’t invented by the tabloids just so they had a quote in their article.
1. Zach’s nan phones in his performance
“When you’re that small you have to be special and I think he is special,” claimed Bolton manager Neil Lennon after watching debutant teenage striker Zach Clough shine in an FA Cup meeting with Wigan in 2015. “It’s one of the best debuts I can remember, and we’re all very proud of him.”
No one was more proud than Clough’s nan, Mavis, who rang BBC Radio Manchester’s post-game phone-in to wax lyrical. “He’ll go far,” she beamed, before admitting she hadn’t attended the match because “it was too cold”. Modern football, eh?