Tension in the ranks
Football’s a team game, and creating a happy atmosphere in the dressing room is one of the most important duties of the manager.
However, that’s often easier said than done, as the following flare-ups have proven.
From gun-wielding international team-mates to club rivals giving each other the silent treatment, players have made their feelings to one another clear in a variety of ways over the years…
15. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar vs Robin van Persie (Netherlands)
A certain level of rivalry between these two was inevitable given they spent the best part of a decade competing for the centre-forward spot in the Netherlands line-up.
Yet the tension, which began at the 2010 World Cup, proved unhealthy for the national team and at times threatened to boil over, most notably when the duo were left screaming at each other after Van Persie refused to pass to Huntelaar in a Euro 2016 qualifying clash with Kazakhstan.
14. Kolo Toure vs William Gallas (Arsenal)
Toure disliked Gallas so much that he's since admitted the Frenchman was a big part of the reason why he left Arsenal for Manchester City in 2009.
The exact reasons behind the centre-back pairing's "misunderstanding" - Toure's word - has never come to light, but the Ivorian has said he took particular exception to a rollicking his team-mate dealt him after a goalless draw with Aston Villa in 2008.
"When you play with somebody and you don't even talk to each other on the pitch it's really difficult," he said. "Me and Gallas ... we didn't talk to each other at all."
13. Gerard Pique vs Alvaro Arbeloa (Spain)
"I have no feelings towards him," Arbeloa told El Chiringuito TV in July 2017. "I would not go to eat with him. I go with my friends."
Friends these two were not. Barcelona’s Pique and Real Madrid’s Arbeloa were never shy to aim digs at one another on social media, with the former once taking the latter’s bait following a Barcelona loss by tweeting: “A player that has played once in 32 does not deserve a response.”
In the end, Sergio Ramos was forced to intervene to prevent the issue becoming a problem for Spain.
12. Arjen Robben vs Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Robben suggested that he and Lewandowski needed to “stay critical with each other" as reports of a thaw in relations between the two threatened to derail Bayern in 2015/16.
The antipathy stemmed from Robben's failure to play the Poland star through during a 4-0 thrashing of Stuttgart, with Lewandowski later telling Bild: "I won't comment on it. You've all seen it."
"There were a few situations in the first half where he could have passed the ball too," Robben snapped back. We'll call it a draw.
11. Romario vs Edmundo (Vasco da Gama/Brazil)
Fans called it the "attack of dreams" when the two Brazilian bad boys were paired 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 “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. 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.
10. Ruud van Nistelrooy vs Patrick Kluivert (Netherlands)
Kluivert certainly enjoyed Newcastle’s nightlife during his time on Tyneside in 2004, leaving the stay-at-home and sober Van Nistelrooy 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.
9. Robert Lewandowski vs Jakub Blaszczykowski (Borussia Dortmund/Poland)
Anyone would think Lewandowski was difficult to get on with. This rift with club colleague and compatriot Blaszczykowski supposedly stemmed from the pair’s differing political beliefs, but it soon became purely about football.
During an international break in 2013, Lewandowski was made captain while Blaszczykowski – the existing skipper – was out injured. When the winger returned, Lewandowski was permitted to retain the armband, and Blaszczykowski was dropped from the squad in order to avoid a dressing room flare-up. Needless to say, he wasn’t particularly happy.
8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs Rafael van der Vaart (Ajax)
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.
7. John Fashanu vs Lawrie Sanchez (Wimbledon)
A ferocious team spirit helped the Dons defeat Liverpool in one of the biggest FA Cup final shocks of all time in 1988, but behind the scenes Fashanu and Sanchez were at loggerheads. The two even squared off during a training session, when Fash hit the cup final goalscorer with “a shot that would supposedly knock a horse down".
“From the first moment, he knew what I was and I knew what he was," Sanchez said scathingly.
When Fashanu was asked if he had any regrets, he mused: “Not striking Lawrie Sanchez sooner.” Fair play.
6. Emlyn Hughes vs Tommy Smith (Liverpool)
‘Crazy Horse’ Hughes took the captaincy off ‘Iron Man’ Smith in 1973 when the latter fell out with Bill Shankly. "It was my club," Smith later recalled. "I'd been there a damn sight longer than him. Everything in my life was football, especially Liverpool, so why should I let this two-faced little so-and-so spoil my football life?”
Both were consummate professionals on the pitch, however, able to put aside their personal dislike of each other - although when Ron Harris took Hughes out in a game at Anfield, Smith told him: “I could get to like you.”
5. Jens Lehmann vs Oliver Kahn (Germany)
The two custodians were constantly sniping at each other from near and far over the German 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 a bout of fisticuffs at Oktoberfest wouldn’t sort out.
4. Lothar Matthaus vs Stefan Effenberg (Germany)
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.” Nicely done.
3. Teddy Sheringham vs Andy Cole (Manchester United/England)
"I walked onto the pitch, 60,000 or so watching," Cole recalled of his England debut against Uruguay in 1995. "Sheringham is coming off. I expect a brief handshake, a 'Good luck, Coley', something. I'm ready to shake. He snubs me. He actively snubs me, for no reason I was ever aware of then or since."
From that moment on the pair never said a word to one another off the pitch, despite a decent chemistry on it. As Gary Pallister once remarked to Cole: "I know you don't speak to Teddy and he doesn't speak to you, but at least you play well together." Just count the medals, lads.
2. Gokhan Tore vs Hakan Calhanoglu/Omer Toprak (Turkey)
Buckle up. Back in May 2013, the Turkish national team were getting ready to fly back home after a World Cup qualifier in the Netherlands. Room-mates Hakan Calhanoglu and Omer Toprak were minding their own business when winger Gokhan Tore, accompanied by an armed friend, allegedly burst through their hotel room door and threatened to shoot the Bayer Leverkusen duo.
Tore was supposedly seething about an alleged affair between his ex-girlfriend and a friend of Toprak's, which led to Calhanoglu being "curled up in the corner... scared for my life". Who says international breaks are dull?
1. Mauro Icardi vs Maxi Lopez (Sampdoria)
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. 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, Mauro.
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