We call it the beautiful game, but sometimes it gets ugly.
From spats between team-mates and coaches to fans taking aim at owners and governing bodies, we’ve put together the ultimate collection of footballing feuds from the 21st century.
50. Frank Lampard vs Marcelo Bielsa
When Derby County found spies from Leeds United at their training ground in 2019, things got a little touchy between the two managers. Frank Lampard expressed his dissatisfaction in Marcelo Bielsa's methods, only for Bielsa to call a press conference.
Though some gathered in the room and waiting on social media believed the Argentinian manager was calling the media to announce his resignation over the affair, Bielsa shocked everyone with a detailed presentation on his methods, including how to beat Derby. Lampard, reacting to the slideshow, declared it was nothing out of the ordinary compared to the analysis that coaches put together.
Lampard had the last laugh in the end too, beating Leeds in the Championship play-offs later that season.
49. Emmanuel Adebayor vs Arsenal
The Togolese striker felt hard done when he was pushed out of Arsenal in 2009 after three-and-a-half years at the club, and his ill-feeling towards his former employers was clear to see when he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate a goal against the Gunners for Manchester City the year after leaving.
In 2018, he reflected on the incident with Turkish TV programme ‘Beyond the Game’, saying: "What was going through my head? A prisoner is out. A prisoner is free. I played for the club for three-and-a-half years, you bought me for £3m, I still have five years of my contract and you let me go for £20m more and you are telling me I am the one leaving for money and abusing me.
"I am not taking that so it was just to show them that the person you are insulting still has something in his locker."
48. Dejan Lovren vs Sergio Ramos
An oft-criticised figure throughout his time at Anfield, Lovren has regularly provided the case for the defence. "I think people should recognise that I'm one of the best defenders in the world and not just talk nonsense,” he said during Croatia’s run to the 2018 World Cup final.
The former Southampton stopper has also taken pot-shots at some of his fellow centre-backs, including Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos. Lovren once said that the Spaniard makes more errors than him but largely avoids criticism, a barb which Ramos brushed off in a subsequent press conference.
The duo came head-to-head in the UEFA Nations League in 2018, with Croatia running out 3-2 runners over Spain. Lovren celebrated by posting a video on Instagram in which he appeared to boast about elbowing Ramos, an act which earned him a one-game international ban.
47. Juan Roman Riquelme vs Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal, it might surprise you to learn, thinks rather fondly of himself. “What has Barcelona won in 100 years? How many Champions Leagues?,” he blasted after leaving the Camp Nou in 2000. “In six years at Ajax I won more than Barcelona had won in 100 years.”
Van Gaal’s belief that individual players should always be subservient to his system led to numerous clashes with gifted technicians during his career. Rivaldo is perhaps the best known example, but the Dutchman also fell out with Riquelme, the Brazilian’s replacement, during his second spell as Barcelona boss, which began in 2002.
"You're the best player when you have the ball, but when you don't we play with one less,” Van Gaal reportedly told Riquelme upon his arrival. That would have been good enough for many managers but certainly wasn’t for Van Gaal, who regularly deployed the cerebral playmaker out of position – when he was in the team at all.
46. Romario vs Edmundo
Fans called it the "attack of dreams" when the two Brazilian bad boys were partnered at Vasco Da Gama in 1999, but it turned out to be a gigantic clash of egos instead. Not that anyone could have seen it coming; after all, it wasn't as if Romario had once opined that “when I was born, the man in the sky pointed to me and said, ‘That's the guy’."
Neither liked the pain of training, preferring to play foot volleyball on Rio's luscious beaches instead. The duo's friendship ended in 1998, when Romario posted a cartoon of Edmundo sitting on a deflated football on the entrance to a toilet, with a similarly unflattering depiction of his ex-girlfriend on the opposite door.
45. Mario Balotelli vs Jamie Carragher
Balotelli on a free is still paying over the odds by Nice.— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) August 31, 2016
Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool paid £16m to sign Mario Balotelli in summer 2014, and the Italian failed to prove the doubters wrong. He scored just a solitary Premier League goal during a single-season stay at Anfield, before going to AC Milan on loan a year later.
Carragher was one of several Liverpool fans to celebrate Balotelli’s permanent departure in 2016. The striker joined Nice on a free transfer, prompting the Reds legend to declare that “free is still paying over the odds.”
Balotelli opted against biting his tongue, hitting back that Carragher was a “bad player” and a “wonderful hater”.
44. Manchester City vs UEFA
The two-year ban Manchester City received from UEFA recently earned a predictably prickly response from the Premier League club, whose chief executive Ferran Soriano described it as “less about justice and more about politics.”
City were also fined €30m for having seriously broken Financial Fair Play rules, but they have appealed to the court of arbitration for sport. It is the latest, and undoubtedly biggest, development in a feud that has lasted almost a decade.
In 2011, they were fined more (£30k) for coming out for the second half 30 seconds late than Porto were (£20k) for racist abuse aimed at City striker Mario Balotelli. The club was fined £49m for FFP breaches in 2014, and fans were then left furious when they travelled for a game at CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, only to not be allowed into the stadium.
43. Ronald Koeman vs Louis van Gaal
Van Gaal has never been one to keep his counsel, and fellow Dutchman Ronald Koeman is no shrinking violet either. Clashes between the pair weren’t inevitable, however; after all, Van Gaal and Koeman were working towards the same goals during their time together at Barcelona and Ajax.
It was in Amsterdam where the rivalry began. Koeman was Ajax manager and Van Gaal sat upstairs as director of football, although he couldn’t help but meddle in first-team affairs. Koeman struggled to accept the interference from above, and his frustration boiled over when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sold against his wishes in 2004.
The board soon fulfilled Koeman’s request to sack Van Gaal, although the former only lasted a few more months at the Amsterdam Arena.
42. Mino Raiola vs Manchester United
Raiola is a football agent like no other. He prefers casual sportswear to business suits, and speaks to the media more often than many of his clients. He’s also known to be a fiercely tough negotiator, and his abrasive demeanour has rubbed many people up the wrong way.
His criticism of Manchester United has been particularly notable. Raiola has never been backward about protecting the interests of Paul Pogba, one of his headline clients, and has regularly dropped hints that the midfielder’s future might lie away from Old Trafford.
That hasn’t gone down well with key stakeholders in Manchester, but Raiola doesn’t seem to mind: he’s hit out – sometimes implicitly, sometimes explicitly – at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Gary Neville, Ed Woodward, Jose Mourinho, Paul Scholes and the club as a whole.
41. Joey Barton vs Rangers
After rebuilding his reputation in England during an excellent season at Burnley, whom he helped to win promotion back to the Premier League, in 2015/16, Barton moved north of the border with Rangers ahead of the following campaign.
The midfielder exclaimed he was “delighted” to join the Scottish giants, but the move turned sour pretty quickly. Barton was suspended by the club following a training-ground bust-up with Andy Halliday in September, after which he criticised Rangers’ “strange” behaviour on national radio.
Barton’s contract was eventually terminated in November after just eight appearances and 133 days at the club.
40. Luca Toni vs Louis van Gaal
Toni scored 39 goals in his debut season at Bayern Munich, then followed that up with another 18 in 2008/09. The Italian was a popular figure in the dressing room and on the terraces, but that didn’t matter much to Van Gaal when he took charge at the Allianz Arena in summer 2009.
The Dutchman handed Toni just four appearances in the first half of the 2009/10 campaign, before shipping him off to Roma in January – but not before he’d brandished his testicles in front of the startled striker.
"The coach wanted to make clear to us that he can drop any player, it was all the same to him because, as he said, he had the balls," Toni said. "He demonstrated this literally. I have never experienced anything like it.”
39. El Hadji Diouf vs Jamie Carragher
According to Carragher, Liverpool had the chance to sign either Nicolas Anelka or Diouf in summer 2002. They ultimately opted for the latter – and almost immediately regretted it. Diouf scored only three Premier League goals during two seasons at Anfield, and was involved in multiple controversial incidents.
There was no love lost between Diouf and Carragher during their time together on Merseyside, with the former striker having since labelled his erstwhile team-mate a “f**king loser” and, puzzlingly, a “turkey”.
Carragher, for his part, once remarked that Diouf was the “only No.9 ever to go through a whole season without scoring”, and has never been shy in aiming jibes at the Senegalese.
38. Landon Donovan vs Jurgen Klinsmann
Widely regarded as the best United States footballer of all time, Donovan was a powerful figure throughout his international career. The forward earned 157 caps at senior level, the last of which came before the 2014 World Cup.
Manager Jurgen Klinsmann included Donovan in his preliminary squad for the tournament in Brazil, only to drop him when it came to trimming the group to 23. The German described it as “one of the toughest decisions” he had ever made, although that statement was somewhat undermined when his own son posted a tweet that appeared to mock Donovan.
The two-time Everton loanee played his final game for the national team later that year, and spent the next few months hinting that Klinsmann should be fired by the US – something that finally became reality in 2016.
37. Emmanuel Frimpong vs Samir Nasri
This feud began after Frimpong was sent off during a 2-0 defeat for Arsenal against Liverpool, and Nasri blamed his team-mate for the result. It sparked a row that rolled on for years.
Nasri left days later anyway, and the pair clashed during a League Cup tie between Manchester City and Arsenal in November 2011. "During the game, he told me he could buy me," Frimpong later told The Athletic. "That's how stupid this guy is. He probably could then because he had millions, but that's no respect. That's what happened. I feel like he was a bully, I feel like he didn't know his responsibilities as a senior player to be able to help younger players."
36. Marc van Bommel vs Louis van Gaal
After four and a half years at the club, Van Bommel’s Bayern Munich career came to an abrupt end in January 2011. The combative midfielder and club captain asked for his contract to be terminated after falling out with Van Gaal, who he labelled “difficult” and “not easy to work with”.
The Bayern boss had dropped his compatriot from the team towards the start of the 2010/11 season, but there was more to the feud than that. Van Bommel would routinely stick up for team-mates who Van Gaal attacked in the dressing room, which led to a particularly fierce bust-up between the two Dutchmen in December 2010.
“I had a difficult and nasty discussion with him,” Van Bommel explained. “I told him about all the things he could not do and there was some name-calling as well… I knew I had to leave there and then. I’ve not shook his hand since.”
35. Paul Pogba vs Jose Mourinho
Manchester United star player Paul Pogba and manager Jose Mourinho share a frosty exchange during training
For more stories like this, head to https://t.co/4ozTbgvoxlpic.twitter.com/lQOPodaR3z— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 26, 2018
Pogba and Mourinho both arrived at Manchester United in summer 2016, ahead of a season in which the club won the Europa League and the League Cup. The pair didn’t always enjoy the smoothest of relationships, however, and the situation began to deteriorate the following campaign.
Pogba was openly critical of Mourinho’s cautious style of play, imploring the United boss to “attack and press” following a draw with Wolves. A bust-up in 2018 saw Mourinho remove the midfielder from his role as vice-captain, following a summer in which Pogba was regularly linked with a move away from Old Trafford.
Mourinho opened up on the strained relations following his departure from United, stating that he risked being sent “on vacation” if he upset “His Excellency”.
34. Adrian Mutu vs Victor Piturca
Mutu was never one to keep his opinions to himself, but the hot-headed striker did himself few favours when he likened Romania manager Victor Piturca to Mr Bean. This wasn’t a heat-of-the-moment remark, either: Mutu edited a picture of Piturca to look like the Rowan Atkinson character, then shared it on social media.
The former Chelsea man was angered by his boss’ decision to leave him out of the squad to face Greece in a World Cup qualifier in 2013. Mutu quickly deleted the picture but the damage had been done, with the then-34-year-old banned from international duty by the authorities.
33. Neymar vs Edinson Cavani
It’s hard not to feel sorry for Cavani. Forced to play second fiddle to Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his first three seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, the industrious Uruguayan finally took centre stage in 2016/17, scoring 49 goals after being moved from the left flank to the centre-forward spot following Ibrahimovic’s exit.
It wouldn’t last long. PSG smashed the world transfer record to sign Neymar the following summer, and Cavani was once again relegated to a secondary role. The Brazilian was immediately placed on penalty-taking duty, while there were several instances of him seemingly refusing to pass the ball to his better-positioned team-mate.
Cavani’s frustrations were evident when he recklessly fouled Neymar in an international friendly in 2018. The pair later patched things up but there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of mutual respect between them.
32. Lee McCulloch vs Paul Hartley
Old Firm matches are invariably feisty affairs, and a 2008 meeting between the two Glasgow giants was no exception. Rangers winger Lee McCulloch was left with a broken foot after a robust challenge from Celtic’s Paul Hartley, something he wasn’t going to forget in a hurry.
The pair renewed hostilities in the 2009 Scottish League Cup final, which ended in a 2-0 Celtic victory. McCulloch admitted to losing his temper after again being on the receiving end of some niggly tackles from Hartley; at the end of the game, he challenged the Rangers man to a fight.
“I said, ‘Come on, right here and now. Let’s get it on. Down the tunnel, wherever you like,’” McCulloch recalled, before admitting that the “red mist” had well and truly come down.
31. James McClean vs Lamine Kone
A hard-fought match between Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion ended in a 0-0 draw in April 2016, with the two clubs battling to retain their Premier League status. The point was enough for West Brom to reach the magical 40-mark, a fact McClean recognised on Twitter after the game.
Sunderland centre-back Kone felt hard done by, though, insisting his side deserved the victory and adding “by the way, who is James McClean?” to the end of his own tweet.
“The guy that put you on your backside big fella,” the Republic of Ireland winger responded, but Kone dismissed him as a “benchwarmer”. McClean had the final word, posting a picture on Instagram with the caption: "That face you make when you have more Prem goals than the guy trying to mug you off has in prem appearances, wins and teeth the whole of Sunderland have combined.”
30. Gareth Bale vs Real Madrid
‘Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order.’ The pictures of Gareth Bale’s beaming face behind a flag carrying that message after the Welsh secured Euro 2020 qualification further soured his already tetchy relationship with the Real Madrid faithful.
The winger was booed loudly at his next home game, while a banner was revealed in response that read: "Rodrygo. Vini. Lucas. Bale. In that order".
29. Michael Owen vs Alan Shearer
Owen’s book Reboot – My Life, My Time sees him pull no punches over his lucrative and unsuccessful spell at Newcastle United. He claimed, among other things, that he felt no need to justify himself to fans who he accused of being “deluded” about their club’s stature.
Those comments sparked a Twitter row with Magpies legend Shearer and even led to a Newcastle shop refusing to stock the book. There's more left to run with this one, too…
28. Premier League fans vs VAR
One of the most recent feuds to emerge has been one that has united large swathes of English football fans: the battle against VAR.
The introduction of the technology for the 2019/20 campaign has brought with it a flurry of high-profile controversies, while many accuse it of ruining the spirit of the game as players await the green light before being allowed to fully celebrate any doubtful goals.
It appears to be the future though, so we fear there is a long way to run with this particularly one-sided battle yet…
27. Joey Barton vs Ousmane Dabo
Barton was at the centre of numerous controversial episodes during his playing career, with one of the most shameful coming during his time at Manchester City.
Barton assaulted midfield team-mate Dabo following a training-ground clash in 2007, leaving the Frenchman unconscious and with a detached retina after striking him several times. Barton was charged by police and later sentenced to six months' imprisonment, of which he served 74 days.
“He says he is a man, a bad boy, but he is just a coward,” Dabo said later. “He is nasty, a traitor.”
26. Craig Bellamy vs John Arne Riise
“Bellamy raised the club over his head and swung as hard as he could,” Riise wrote in his 2018 autobiography, recalling the infamous incident involving the two-then Liverpool players 11 years earlier. “He tried to hit my shins, which would have ended my career, but I managed to pull my leg away in time.”
Bellamy and Riise almost came to blows during a bar-room argument in the run-up to the Reds’ Champions League clash with Barcelona. Team-mates intervened to separate the pair, but Bellamy felt he had unfinished business. Later that night, he entered Riise’s hotel room and struck his team-mate with a golf club.
Did the Welshman instantly regret his actions? Not quite. After scoring at the Camp Nou a few days later, Bellamy celebrated by imitating a golf stroke.
25. Antonio Cassano vs Fabio Capello
Even Cassano himself would admit that he wasn’t the easiest player to manage, so perhaps it was always inevitable that the maverick striker wouldn’t see eye to eye with the authoritarian Capello.
The pair had previously clashed at Roma but it was at Real Madrid that the feud exploded into life. Capello was critical of Cassano’s diet and work rate, while the younger Italian wasn’t afraid to voice his own opinions in the dressing room after being dropped by his compatriot.
The Madrid hierarchy intervened and suspended Cassano in October 2006, citing the “disrespect” he showed towards Capello.
24. Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs Rafael van der Vaart
The Ajax team-mates locked horns in an international friendly between Sweden and the Netherlands in 2004, when Van der Vaart held Ibrahimovic responsible for the ankle injury he sustained.
"I didn’t injure you on purpose, and you know that," Ibra retorted. "And if you accuse me again I’ll break both your legs - and that time it will be on purpose.” Charming.
23. Joey Barton vs Dietmar Hamann
Barton and Hamann were Manchester City team-mates during the 2006/07 season, but that didn’t prevent a spectacular online bust-up a few years later.
The war of words between the two midfielders began when Hamann told Barton to “stay out of club politics” when the latter questioned why Loic Remy had signed for QPR rather than Newcastle. Barton told Hamann to get his “own life in order”, to which the German responded that he had always been respectful to his former clubs.
Barton wasn’t ready to drop the issue, though, calling Hamann a “maggot”, a “dog” and the “worst pro I’ve ever seen”.
22. Sergio Ramos vs Gerard Pique
Despite being one of the most formidable defensive partnerships ever in international football, the Barcelona/Real Madrid rivalry of Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos dictates that the pair have quite a few entertaining arguments over the years.
"We already know about Pique's world, where everything's a plot against him," Ramos claimed when Pique suggested Barcelona were hard done by referees. Ramos has also responded to Pique's claims that a Real Madrid side were the "worst" he'd ever faced in El Clasico and has defended himself after Pique called out a challenge he made on Lionel Messi. The pair also fall on a different side of the Catalan independence debate.
21. Luciano Spaletti vs Francesco Totti
During his first spell in charge of Roma, Spalletti earned a reputation for tactical innovation, deploying Totti as a false nine as the capital club finished second in Serie A.
His second stint at the Stadio Olimpico was less successful. Spalletti opted against restoring Totti to the team following his return from injury, a decision which earned him the public scorn of the Roma icon. Spalletti then dropped the forward completely for a clash with Palermo, and tension between the pair remained even after Totti became an effective impact substitute.
There would only be one winner in this battle: Totti retired at the end of the season to become a club director, while Spalletti was sacked.
20. Delio Rossi vs Adem Ljajic
It’s not every day you see a manager physically assault one of his own players, so it was no surprise that Rossi’s attack on Ljajic generated headlines across Europe in May 2012.
Fiorentina were 2-0 down to lowly Novara when Rossi decided to substitute Ljajic after just half an hour. The Serbia international didn’t take kindly to the decision, sarcastically applauding his manager as he trudged off the pitch.
Most coaches would simply have ignored the act of petulance, but not Rossi. Instead he jumped into the dugout and attempted to punch the player, who was protected by other members of Fiorentina staff. Perhaps it worked: La Viola went on to draw 2-2, although Rossi was sacked in the aftermath.
19. John Terry vs Wayne Bridge
Team-mates at Stamford Bridge for five and a half years, Terry and Bridge fell out after it was reported that the former had had a four-month affair with the latter’s ex-girlfriend Vanessa Perroncel.
The story only came to light after Bridge had joined Manchester City, but that wasn’t going to stop the left-back making his feelings known. Bridge refused to shake Terry’s hand before City’s 4-2 victory in west London in 2010, after which his colleague Craig Bellamy launched a scathing attack on the Chelsea captain.
“I still don't think anyone knows the full story,” Bridge said cryptically in 2017. Terry, meanwhile, has never publicly addressed the allegations.
18. Oliver Kahn vs Jens Lehmann
The two custodians were constantly sniping at each other from near and far over Germany's No.1 shirt; Kahn made fun of Lehmann when he lost his place to Manuel Almunia at Arsenal, while Lehmann retorted that the Bayern Munich shot-stopper took himself too seriously.
"I don't have a 24-year-old girlfriend. I have a different life," the Arsenal man said of Kahn's relationship with a Munich barmaid. Nothing that a bout of fisticuffs at Oktoberfest wouldn’t sort out.
17. Jose Mourinho vs Iker Casillas
Few players in world football seemed as secure in their starting spot as Casillas in the early 2010s. In the 10 seasons between 2002/03 and 2011/12, the Spanish shot-stopper missed just nine La Liga games.
Things began to change in Jose Mourinho’s third season at the Santiago Bernabeu, though. The Portuguese first dropped the Spaniard in December 2012, but relations turned sour only after Madrid signed Diego Lopez towards the end of the January transfer window.
Lopez became Mourinho’s new No.1, and the former Chelsea and Inter manager wasn’t shy in making his true feelings known when it became clear that he had no future in Madrid. “I should have brought in Diego Lopez after my first year,” he declared in a thinly-veiled dig at Casillas.
16. Ruud van Nistelrooy vs Patrick Kluivert
Kluivert certainly enjoyed Newcastle’s nightlife during his time on Tyneside in 2004, with the stay-at-home and sober Van Nistelrooy left unimpressed with his team-mate's attitude when the two joined forces at international level.
Kluivert was spotted at a rave in Amsterdam after the first leg of the Euro 2004 play-off against Scotland, prompting the Manchester United star to go on record with a thinly-veiled attack on his strike partner. “I can't do it all myself,” he told reporters. “I can't be the only Dutch player who closes down and leads from the front.”
Dick Advocaat did his best to make things work, but it wasn’t to be.
15. Jose Mourinho vs Antonio Conte
Mourinho endured a humiliating return to Stamford Bridge in October 2016, as his Manchester United side were thrashed 4-0 by Chelsea. The Portuguese didn’t take kindly to Conte vociferously celebrating each of his team’s goals, and made his feelings known by having a word in the Italian’s ear after Chelsea’s fourth.
The pair traded jibes throughout that campaign, with Mourinho highlighting Conte’s “defen[sive]” and “counter-attacking” tactics, and Conte arguing that United were underachieving relative to their transfer outlay.
Relations grew even nastier in 2017-18, when Mourinho aimed a dig at Conte’s four-month ban for failing to report match-fixing during his time in charge of Siena. The Italian responded by blasting his United counterpart as a “little man” who was out of step with elite coaches around the world because “now it is very difficult to do only cinema”.
14. Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs Pep Guardiola
Throughout his time in charge of Barcelona, Pep Guardiola was always searching for ways to stay ahead of the competition. In his fourth and final season at the helm, for instance, he regularly set his side up in a back three.
Two years earlier he had attempted to shake things up by signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, an outspoken, 6ft 5in centre-forward. It didn’t work. Ibrahimovic didn’t suit Barcelona’s intricate passing style, while his personality was somewhat out of kilter with the team-first ethic Guardiola had fostered at the Camp Nou.
“I completely lost it,” Ibrahimovic later wrote of an incident following Barcelona’s defeat by Inter in the Champions League semi-finals in 2009/10. “You might have expected Guardiola to say a few words in response, but he’s a spineless coward. He just picked up the metal box [that I had kicked], like a little caretaker, and then left, never to mention it again, not a word.”
13. Luis Suarez vs Patrice Evra
In one of the ugliest spats that the Premier League had ever seen, Liverpool forward Luis Suarez was charged by the FA for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra. Suarez denied it. Liverpool said they would fight the claims.
Liverpool's players warming up in t-shirts supporting Suarez only added fuel to the fire. When the pair finally met again, it was Suarez who refused to shake Evra's hand - not the other way around as some may have guessed - though Evra jumped provocatively around Suarez after United beat the Reds 2-1.
"I could not believe it, I just could not believe it," Sir Alex Ferguson said in the aftermath. "He's a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club, that certain player should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again."
12. Roy Keane vs Alf-Inge Haaland
In his book The Second Half, Keane described Haaland as “an absolute prick to play against” and said he has no regrets over his horror challenge on the midfielder in a 2001 Manchester Derby, which effectively ended his career, although he insisted he “had no wish to injure him”.
The challenge was the culmination of a feud that began in 1997, when Keane tore his cruciate ligament while kicking out at Haaland in a game against Leeds. The Norwegian stood over the Irishman and accused him of play-acting – and Keane wasn’t one to forget.
11. Lee Bowyer vs Kieron Dyer
In perhaps the most infamous on-field bust-up of the Premier League era, the two Newcastle midfielders piled into each other with their side 3-0 down at home to Aston Villa.
They were separated by Gareth Barry and Stephen Carr, but Dyer was subsequently handed a three-match ban; Bowyer four. Legend has it that Graeme Souness offered to fight them both in the changing room afterwards.
10. Karim Benzema vs Didier Deschamps
Since his last France cap, Benzema has won three Champions Leagues, three Club World Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and a La Liga title. He is still Real Madrid’s starting striker, and last season scored 30 goals in all competitions.
Yet despite his impressive exploits at club level, Benzema’s international career is almost certainly over. The former Lyon man was arrested in November 2015 for allegedly blackmailing international colleague Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape; he’s not pulled on the famous blue shirt since.
Benzema accused manager Didier Deschamps of “bow[ing] to the pressure of a racist part of France” after he was omitted from the Euro 2016 squad. Deschamps, for his part, said it was “pitiful” that Benzema had ‘liked’ an Instagram photo mocking the former midfielder. The acrimony shows no signs of abating.
9. Arsenal Wenger vs Jose Mourinho
One of the great managerial rivalries of Premier League history, the ill-feeling between the French and Portuguese bosses also produced some fantastic quotes.
Mourinho called Wenger a “voyeur” in 2006 – “someone who likes to watch other people”, and two years later the Frenchman called his counterpart “out of order, disconnected with reality and disrespectful.”
Perhaps most famous was Mou’s “specialist in failure” barb in 2014, but a year later they clashed on the touchline in a game between Chelsea and Arsenal with the Gunners boss saying he was provoked. When Wenger retired in 2018, though, Mourinho ended the feud: “If he respects me even 50% of what I respect him, we can even be friends in the future. I have lots of respect for him.”
8. Newcastle fans vs Mike Ashley
“The board believes that a critical factor in improving the performance of the club on the pitch is Newcastle’s ability to invest in its squad,” Freddy Shepherd said after selling the club in 2007. “Mike Ashley will be an excellent custodian of Newcastle United’s heritage and will provide the best possible opportunity for the club to flourish in the future.”
It hasn’t turned out as planned. Ashley has been a despised figure for much of his stewardship at St James’ Park, during which time Newcastle have suffered two relegations and consistently punched below their weight.
Supporters have held regular protests against Ashley’s continued ownership, while the Sports Direct honcho hasn’t exactly soothed relations by failing to keep hold of popular managers such as Kevin Keegan and Rafael Benitez.
7. Roy Keane vs Patrick Vieira
"If I could win my battle with Patrick we had a chance of winning the game."
Roy Keane admits Patrick Vieira was 'probably' his toughest opponent.
Watch live on Sky Sports Premier League now or follow our live blog here: https://t.co/ri7luVs2y5pic.twitter.com/LWIDYLkuLE— Sky Sports MNF (@SkySportsMNF) September 30, 2019
This midfield duel symbolised the bitter rivalry between Manchester United and Arsenal at the turn of the millennium, and their tussles have gone down in Premier League folklore.
Tensions peaked at Highbury in February 2005 when the Irishman took exception to comments by Vieira, who he later revealed he thought was “bullying” team-mate Gary Neville. Referee Graham Poll had to step in as Keane made a beeline for the Gunners midfielder while shouting “we’ll see out there!” He had a point; United won the game 4-2.
6. Lothar Matthaus vs Stefan Effenberg
The warring midfielders were at each other's throats for most of the 1990s, briefly at Bayern Munich but particularly with the national team. Effenberg claimed Matthaus lacked courage, citing the captain's failure to take Germany's penalty in the 1990 World Cup Final, while Matthaus wasted little time in telling Bayern to get rid of his old foe after the Bavarians lost to Hansa Rostock in 2001.
Effenberg even dedicated a chapter of his autobiography to his arch-enemy, which consisted of a blank page under the title: “What Lothar Matthaus knows about football.”
5. Nicolas Anelka vs Raymond Domenech
The sulky Frenchman’s stormy relationship with Domenech came to a head at the 2010 World Cup when he was sent home mid-tournament after reportedly aiming some unsavoury remarks at his coach during half-time of a 2-0 defeat to Mexico.
The players refused to train the next day in protest and Anelka was suspended for 18 games by the French Football Federation, effectively ending his international career.
The bad blood has continued: in 2017, Domenech snidely said French starlet Kylian Mbappe “has the choice of being Ronaldo or Anelka”, leading his nemesis to defend his own achievements before replying: “He can also follow Domenech's career; that of a small player of the French championship who has become a 15-year-old coach of teams including France, without winning any trophies and then unemployed since 2010. It's for Mbappe to choose..."
4. Roy Keane vs Mick McCarthy
The public fall-out between Ireland’s manager and captain quickly became one of the most memorable incidents of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan.
Keane, then 30, gave an explosive interview on the eve of the tournament in which he criticised his team’s preparation for the tournament, culminating in an infamous head-to-head with McCarthy in which the Manchester United midfielder pulled no punches, punctuated with “you can stick your World Cup up your bollocks.”
Unsurprisingly, Keane was sent home and didn’t play for Ireland, who reached the last 16, again under McCarthy.
3. Maxi Lopez vs Mauro Icardi
Icardi and Lopez used to be best buddies at Sampdoria, but the relationship turned sour when the former decided to marry the latter's ex-wife, Wanda Nara (that'll do it). Icardi joined Inter soon after, with Lopez refusing to shake his former friend's hand when Torino - who the ex-Barcelona man joined in 2015 - faced the Nerazzurri.
"Unfortunately these things happen, it depends on the ignorance of certain people," Icardi said afterwards. "I gave my hand; I am polite.” His brief attempt to take the moral high ground was quickly undone when he got a tattoo of Lopez's children on his arm. Not cool.
2. Zinedine Zidane vs Marco Materazzi
Zidane’s headbutt on Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final, which earned him a red card before the Italians triumphed on penalties, is one of the most iconic moments in international football history.
Rumours swirled for years over what was said to provoke the reaction, but the Azzurri defender eventually admitted to insulting Zidane’s sister, not his mother as previously claimed by the Frenchman. As for Zidane, he said in 2010 that he would “rather die” than apologise for his actions.
1. Arsene Wenger vs Sir Alex Ferguson
A rivalry so epic, they made a documentary about it. The nine-year battle for honours between Manchester United and Arsenal between 1996 and 2005 was at times as thrilling on the touchline as it was on the pitch.
From the Battle of Old Trafford to Pizzagate, it was a time of massive confrontation between the two teams, and their managers were at the forefront, exchanging barbs in the press. They eventually simmered later on in life, but the zenith of their feud shouldn’t be forgotten.
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