It seems that footballers have been at each other throats for the past 10 days. We have had handbags, abusive comments, slaps and theatrics up and down the country. These tête à têtes however will have to go some way to match:
Roy Keane v Patrick Viera
Very few feuds can match the rivalry between two of the best centre midfielders of their generation. Both players have enjoyed spats with other opponents, but when Premiership Titles and FA Cups are on the table, the stakes are raised.
This feud of the 2000’s came to a head, as most of them do, in the Highbury tunnel. Patrick Viera angered by Gary Neville’s challenges in the previous clash on Antonio Reyes, confronted the full back. Roy Keane reacted to this by squaring up to Viera, a mêlée ensued but eventually they were separated by teammates. The bitter argument continued as the teams lined up in the tunnel.
A clearly fuming Keane can be seen saying to the ref:
“Tell him to shut his fucking mouth.”
Broadcast live on TV, this incredible moment still overshadows what was a good 4-2 victory for United. The bad blood continued in the weeks and months that followed as both players took to media outlets to voice their opinions.
Graeme Le Saux v Robbie Fowler
The soft spoken left back had to endure a lot of abuse in his time, not only from the opposition fans and players, but his own teammates. Former England midfielder, David Batty, was the first to come to blows with Graeme Le Saux, in a Champions League game in Russia.
However, the defining battle of Le Saux’s Premiership career was with Liverpool legend, Robbie Fowler. After being mocked by the Scouser, Le Saux dished out retribution with a thumping elbow to the back of Fowlers head. Remarkably Le Saux escaped a red card for his Street Fighter move.
Ian Wright v Peter Schmeichel
Goalkeeper against striker is a rivalry as old as football itself, but this was given extra significance because it was United’s greatest keeper against Arsenal’s greatest striker. This feud transfixed football fans as it pitted one player’s word against another’s.
It started at Old Trafford where words and challenges were exchanged before continuing at the return fixture. In the Highbury tunnel things came to a head again and an altercation ensued. If walls could talk that tunnel would be able to tell a few stories.
Mario Balotelli v Francesco Totti
It is always hard for the old guard to step down and allow the next generation through, but it is even harder when you are the Il Gladiatore, playing in front of an adoring crowd.
Trouble started when a year before, Mario Balotelli, had celebrated a double strike by holding his finger to his lips and hushing the Roma Tifosi. Francesco Totti later admitted this antagonism was partly to blame for what was to follow. As the Rome club trailed Inter in the Copa Italia Final, Roma’s captain snapped and felled Super Mario with a brutal kick, straight off the top shelf of petulance.
John Terry v Wayne Bridge
Its not often a football feud will feature on both the front, middle and back pages, but this one did. The astonishing thing is it was due to dalliances off the pitch, that pitted two former best friends against each other.
Vanessa Perroncel, Wayne Bridge’s girlfriend who was good friends with John Terry’s wife, was found to be having relationships with the Chelsea and England captain. The fall out resulted in wide spread condemnation of the Chelsea centre back which, ultimately led to him losing the England captaincy.
The rivalry came to a head when Bridge’s new club, Manchester City, faced Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The game saw a hopeless Chelsea crushed 4-2. The game, however, will be forever remembered for the non-handshake though.
Joey Barton v Ousmane Dabo
No list of fighting footballers would be complete without Joey Barton. His career may not have hit the heights it promised, but his personal life truly hit the lows.
The defining feud of Barton’s career was with French Manchester City teammate Ousmane Dabo. The pair clashed in training after a typically robust challenge from Barton upset Dabo. The Frenchman reacted by slapping Barton round the back of the head. The Englishman’s retaliation was brutal, speaking recently Barton said:
“Bang, bang, bang and it was over. The truth is he started the fight and I finished it.”
As a result of this confrontation Dabo suffered a suspected detached retina, whilst Barton was charged by the FA, fined ₤100,000, given a suspended 4 months sentence and ordered to pay ₤3,000 compensation.
Anthony Lombardi regularly contributes to Soccerlens. You can follow him on Twitter @arlombardi.