It’s not an uncommon sight to see scuffles break out in football. But rarely do we see teammates in fisticuffs, taking swipes at each other in righteous anger.
One would probably rather watch a mano-a-mano between two opposition players a la the classic Francis Lee vs Normal Hunter free-for-all than witness two teammates duke it out in a bruise-fest. But football’s a serious place and some players don’t hold back the aggression even if it is their own teammates they punch in the face.
Such incidents might bring a frown to those invested in the team’s fortunes, but for the rest of us ordinary folk it’s just a bit of sadistic humour to help us get through our otherwise mundane lives.
Here are five classic punch-ups to get us in the mood for more.
#5. Robert Lewandowski vs Kingsley Coman (2019)
It seems that a 5-0 thrashing of Dortmund isn’t reason enough to be cheerful at Bayern. An otherwise underwhelming season has plunged further with Lewandowski and Coman coming to blows in a training ground bust-up.
Lewandowski allegedly rebuked Coman during a training exercise. Coman, not one to shy away, replied in equal measure. As the exchange escalated, the pair soon came to blows. Defenders and make-shift bouncers Nikalas Sule and Jerome Boateng had to separate the two.
#4. Aleksandar Mitrovic vs Aboubakar Kamara (2019)
This had been bubbling for a few weeks. In a League match at Craven Cottage against fellow strugglers Huddersfield, Kamara secured a late penalty only to shove regular taker Mitrovic away from the scene. The pair argued vehemently before the Serb conceded. Kamara’s feeble effort was saved easily by Lossl. As Mitrovic fumed, the tension in the ground peaked.
In an awkward turn of events, Mitrovic secured a last gasp victory by finishing off a fine Fulham counter. One would wager that Kamara probably squirmed at the sight of that.
The rabble would rouse itself again a few weeks later in a bust up at the gym. Ironically during a yoga session, things came to a head as the two got involved in a right old scrap. The two were reportedly at each others throats and and a whole posse of teammates had to physically intervene to restore order.
#3. Wayne Rooney vs Roy Keane (2004)
Fresh-faced Rooney made light of Roy Keane’s thunderous presence in one of the more bizarre bust-ups between teammates.
During an away game, United’s then captain and their latest acquisition came to blows at their hotel. Why? According to their retellings, the Irish international was following the rugby on telly. Rooney would much rather watch X-Factor than football’s estranged sibling.
As Keane went out for some grub, the forward taking advantage of his absence, changed over to the reality show and hid the remote.
Matters came to a head when Keane returned or next morning, depending on whose version you believe.
But unlike other instances the peace corps was not required.
#2. Kieron Dyer vs Lee Bowyer (2005)
0-3 down against Aston Villa at home with 10 minutes to go, bearing the brunt of a miserable season, St. James’ Park, Newcastle was a cauldron of devious energy. With torrents of abuse flowing from the stands, sparks were starting to fly.
Bowyer, peripheral throughout the afternoon, already suspected that Dyer was intentionally not passing the ball to him. After one avoided Dyer pass too many, Bowyer accosted his teammate.
Dyer’s cheeky response: “The reason I don’t pass to you is because you’re s**t, basically.”
Bowyer lost his marbles. The duo grappled to the horror of the home crowd. Punches flew before players from both sides intervened. Both players were sent off but the punch-up continued into the tunnel. This time it was the club masseurs spoiling a good old row.
Newcastle’s then manager, hardman Greame Souness, challenged them to settle the issue with a good ol’ fight!
#1. Craig Bellamy vs John Arne Riise (2007)
The most deranged episode of teammates brawling has to between the then Liverpool teammates, Bellamy and Riise. Before their Champions League tie against Barcelona at Camp Nou, the squad was cooling heels at Algarve. On one fateful, boozy night things got terribly out of hand.
At a private party in a local bar, the players were drinking copiously. The Welshman, among others, got sozzled pretty soon. As a microphone was being passed around the table, Bellamy kept goading Riise to sing. The Norwegian, clearly peeved, squared up to the Welsh forward. Bellamy cooled off but later barged into his teammate’s hotel room, swinging wildly with a golf stick. According to Riise, his career could have potentially ended that night as the forward took huge swipes with his golf club. The forward eventually left the room but not without challenging Riise to a fight next morning. The matter was settled privately with the Welshman forced to apologise in addition to an £80,000 fine.
Bellamy would later provide the cross for Riise’s headed winner a few days later. But the forward, who was excellent on the night, would celebrate the goal with a cheeky golf swing.