When Liverpool embarked on a warm-weather training camp in Portugal in February 2007, ahead of a last-16 Champions League tie with Barcelona, manager Rafa Benitez wouldn't have expected any issues to have arisen.
Oh, how wrong he was. In the preceding years, the trip has gone down in folklore for the infamous bust-up between Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise, which resulted in the former player hitting his team-mate with a golf club.
However, plenty more happened that very same night, as Bellamy reveals while speaking to Gary Neville on the The Overlap, in partnership with Sky Bet. Highlighting his version of events, Bellamy explains the hectic night out and fall-out the morning after.
“As I was about to enter my hotel room, the players were coming back, they all steamed into our room and trashed it – it was one of these double-floor rooms, with a downstairs kitchen," Bellamy told The Overlap. "Steve [Finnan] comes into my room in the morning and says Pako [Ayestarán] and Rafa [Benítez] are downstairs, and they want to see you. I go downstairs, and there’s plates everywhere. He’s looking round, and he asks me to tell him what happened. I told him the truth – I couldn’t get out of this one.
“I thought it was alright – believe it or not – because there was a madder story before it. Jerzy Dudek was out in the evening that same night. He was told to leave the bar and wouldn’t leave. They brought security in and then brought the police in. As he was being wrestled by the police, he headbutted a security officer, and he had to be put in a riot van.
"That night, Rafa had to go into the police station, get Jerzy out, and then Riise had gone to see him, and he had to deal with me. I was thinking I might’ve gotten away with this one, but no – it was bad."
Indeed. Bellamy later celebrated his goal for Liverpool at Camp Nou with a golf swing in an attempt to diffuse the situation somewhat. He does recognise the ridiculousness of the incident, too, stating that he took things too far in his argument with Riise, which escalated over the course of that ill-fated day.
“I’m quite embarrassed about this – this is not a good moment at all," Bellamy said. "But I understand that I have to answer that – because I have to own it. It’s a ridiculously pathetic act that it’d be unfair for me to not talk about it, and I’m not proud when I have to talk about it, but I have to own it.”
“I knocked on his [Riise’s] door, no answer, I knocked on the door again and he leaves it on the latch – he thinks it’s Daniel Agger, and he goes back to bed. I came in, turned the light on, swore a hell of a lot at him. I smacked him across the legs – which is still not a good thing to, but there was no smacking across the head or anything like that.
"Then he got into the corner, got the sheets and bedding around him, and I said, ‘if you ever speak to me like that in front of people again, I’m telling you now’ and escalated what I was saying. Then it started turning, because when I was drunk. It was the most insane things ever.”
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