8 of the biggest meltdowns in Champions League history: Drogba, Keane, Klopp…

There’s nothing quite like the white-hot tension of a big European night.

So it’s no major surprise that emotions have often boiled over in the Champions League from time to time, with Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez joining some pretty illustrious names when it comes to having a meltdown.

We’ve taken a closer look at eight occasions in which big names have given us major outbursts on Champions League nights. Pass the popcorn.


“We are annoyed,” the Barca boss responded following Ronald Araujo’s dismissal in their elimination to PSG.

“The red card marked the tie. We were well organised 11 vs. 11. It completely changed everything. For me, it’s too much to send off there.

“The referee was really bad. I told him, he was a disaster. He killed the tie. I don’t like speaking about referees but it has to be said. I don’t understand it.

“It’s not good going down to 10 players and from that point on it’s another game. For as much as we speak [about the match], the red card marks everything.”

Goalkeeping coach Jose Ramon De la Fuente was also sent off for protesting.

Jose Mourinho

“If I tell UEFA what I really think and feel, my career would end now,” Mourinho barbed following Real Madrid’s 2-0 first-leg defeat to Barcelona in the 2010-11 Champions League semis.

“Instead I will just ask a question to which I hope one day to get a response: Why? Why? Why Ovrebo? Why Busacca? Why De Bleeckere? Why Stark? Why? Because every semi-final the same things happen. We are talking about an absolutely fantastic football team, so why do they need that? Why? Why does a team as good as they are need something [extra] that is so obvious that everyone sees it?”

Mourinho was fuming about Pepe’s straight red – not the first time he felt one of his teams had been on the receiving end of poor officiating against Barcelona. The whole rant, in that extraordinarily toxic period for Spain’s biggest rivalry, was a thing to behold.

The comments earned him a €50,000 fine and a five-match ban from UEFA, meaning he was absent from the touchline for the second leg.

READ: ‘We’re the best, f*ck you’: The story of Barca & Real’s four Clasicos in 18 days

Jose Mourinho (again)

We were spoilt for choice when it comes to Mourinho, to be honest. We haven’t even included his comments on the match officials following Luis Garcia’s ghost goal in 2005 or his criticisms of a young Lionel Messi the following year.

But we can’t not include one of his most iconic post-match rants – one that established ‘football heritage‘ in the history books – following Manchester United’s shock elimination to Sevilla in 2018.

This time Mourinho didn’t take aim at UEFA, UNICEF, the match officials or conspiracies – but instead gave Manchester United both barrels in a self-serving tirade that reminded anyone listening the problem was the club rather than himself.

“I say to the fans that the fans are the fans and have the right to their opinions and reactions but there is something that I used to call football heritage,” he said after the final whistle.

“And what a manager inherits is something like the last time Manchester United won the Champions League which didn’t happen a lot of times, was in 2008.

“So in seven years with four different managers, once not qualify for Europe, twice out in the group phase and the best was the quarter-final, this is football heritage and if you want to go to the Premier League, the last victory was 2012-13 and in the four consecutive seasons United finish fourth fifth, sixth and seventh.”

The Red Devils actually finished second in the Premier League that season, with their best points tally since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, but Mourinho’s words were evidence of a fracturing relationship.

It was no great shock when he was dismissed by the end of that year. You can pinpoint that press conference as the beginning of the end.

Diego Simeone

Atletico Madrid were seconds away from a famous victory over their historic rivals when Sergio Ramos leapt high and headed home to take the 2014 Champions League final to extra time.

It was in that period in which everything fell apart for Atleti. Los Blancos ran away with it, winning 4-1, and Simeone responded to the killer fourth goal by storming onto the pitch, angry with Raphael Varane.

The Argentinian had to be restrained as he made a beeline for Varane, who had kicked a ball in his direction, and was dismissed as a result. He was later handed an improper conduct charge by UEFA.

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Jurgen Klopp

Anyone that’s familiar with Klopp will recognise that he wears his heart on his sleeve, and that was certainly the case when he raged at the fourth official in a Champions League group stage defeat to Napoli back in 2013.

He was sent off and handed a one-match ban by UEFA. But he accepted the punishment and apologised.

“I made myself look like a monkey out there and that’s not on,” Klopp said.

“I overstepped the mark and it was really pathetic of me. I’ve already apologised to the team, the referee and the fourth official. I got it wrong. I have to accept the blame for this red card, it was just stupid of me.”

Carlos Tevez

This one wasn’t even in the heat of a make-or-break knockout clash, but rather an early group-stage contest in September.

Man City were two goals down away to Bayern Munich when Tevez infamously disobeyed Roberto Mancini’s order to warm up. The pair then fell out spectacularly, Tevez returned to Argentina and only months later returned to the fold for the title race run-in.

But the forward considers it water under the bridge and holds no grudge against his former manager.

“It ended there, I came back, and we both apologised and later, we won the Premier League title,” Tevez recalled in an interview with Manchester City’s official website.

“Our relationship had always a really good one, we just had that moment, since he always respected me, and I respected him.

“The truth is, a coach, Mancini is really talented and to be honest, I really appreciate him as a person as well.

“And luckily, we brought some joy to the fans together.”

Didier Drogba

Drogba had been at Chelsea for five years when Andres Iniesta’s last-minute away goal secured Barcelona’s place in the 2009 Champions League final at Chelsea’s expense.

You got the sense that the Ivorian – who eventually did lift the trophy three years later – was beginning to doubt it would ever happen.

Chelsea had just been on the receiving end of some seriously questionable decisions from Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo and felt they’d have been out of sight had they been rewarded the penalties they’d deserved.

After the final whistle, Drogba allowed the sense of injustice to get the better of him and had to be held back as he shouted at Ovrebo and down the nearby television cameras” “it’s a f*cking disgrace!”

Immortal words that landed him a six-match ban.

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Roy Keane

A change of tack here with a player that actually won the match, and eventually got his hands on the trophy.

In fact, Keane’s display against Juventus in the 1999 semi-finals is considered one of the great individual performances in the history of European football.

It’s widely acknowledged that the Irishman dragged United to victory, booking their place in the final against Bayern.

But he also picked up a booking for a foul on Zinedine Zidane, which left him suspended for the showpiece occasion. Keane had stretched out and caught Zizou after a loose pass from Jesper Blomqvist, who received a piece of Keane’s mind in the immediate aftermath.

Keane’s ire didn’t end there. The story goes that he refused to speak to Blomqvist for the remaining six weeks of the season, having blamed the Swede for the incident.

“I think Roy was just disappointed because he knew what the card meant and he needed someone to shout at […] It was understandable, but I shouted back because at the time I thought he was being a bit unfair to me,” Blomqvist recalled.