AC Milan's Gennaro Gattuso (R) argues with Tottenham Hotspur's first team coach Joe Jordan (C) next to manager Harry Redknapp during the Champions League match at San Siro, Milan, Italy, February 2011.

An ode to Joe Jordan telling Gennaro Gattuso to f*ck around & find out

“Gattuso lost himself,” Joe Jordan told Sky’s Goals on Sunday in 2016. Across Europe, watching fans chortled and reached for their popcorn as the carnage unfolded.

“It was a big game, he was captain of his club, we won the game and he had problems with one or two of the players. He had a problem with the referee. He obviously had a problem with himself. He picked on an old man like me.”

Jordan was coach of Tottenham when they beat AC Milan 1-0 in a Champions League knockout tie in 2011, Peter Crouch poaching the winner at the San Siro after some uncharacteristically sturdy Spurs defending.

Gennaro Gattuso, the guard dog of Milan’s glorious 2000s outfit, was fighting against both his waning powers and Spurs’ control of the game. The World Cup winner threw himself into tackles so agricultural you could almost smell the manure.

Fireworks at the final whistle were inevitable, but nobody quite expected Gattuso to square up to Jordan and grab him by the throat. Scores of players and coaches attempted to separate the pair, but were probably better off leaving the combatants to scrap it out.

But the defining moment of the night was the 59-year-old Jordan taking off his glasses in preparation for battle. There has arguably never been a more Scottish moment in Champions League history.

“He lost his discipline,” Jordan recalled in 2023. “It wasn’t just getting booked, it was the fact he couldn’t play the second game, that was him out. Why he chose me I don’t know. I was stood to the side of Harry Redknapp and he lost it.

“I would never back down, no chance, but I wasn’t going to react. No way. I’m not lilywhite or anything, but I’m not daft.

“I’m pretty disciplined. Even in my days as player, I didn’t get sent off much. I wouldn’t be stupid.

“When the Gattuso thing happened, as a coach I had a responsibility. You can’t do that. You’d lose your job, you lose respect. You can’t put your club in that position.”

Jordan insists that the headbutt didn’t make contact. “No. He was still shouting. They pulled him away.” Probably for the best.

Gattuso’s agent, Claudio Pasqualin, told reporters afterwards: “Jordan, after having continuously heckled him, insulted him with a truly low phrase.

“For one like Rino, who has a strong sense of his Italian identity, I think this is the most disgusting and unjustifiable of insults.” Unfortuantely, a medieval joust between the pair would never occur.

“They said somebody wanted to meet me,’ Jordan said. “I got down there and we had a few words after the game. He gave me a Milan jersey – Leonardo Bonucci’s – just as a gesture. I’ve still got it at home.”

To his credit, Gattuso became extremely regretful of his behaviour that night.

Speaking to Corriere della Sera in 2022, he said: “I made a mistake and I feel ashamed. It’s something I did and it was an unjustifiable error.

“I could say that these things happen on the pitch, but I am ashamed of it. I have a 14-year-old son. Do you think I am not ashamed every time he rightly asks me why I did it?”

Gattuso tried to make amends to Jordan directly, inviting him to be his guest in Milan in the months after the game. Despite being unable to take the player up on his offer, Jordan insisted he has no issue with him or regrets over the night.

“He did invite me across to the training ground and he wanted me to be his guest there,” he said. “This was maybe six months after it happened. But I never got the chance.

“What is in the past, is in the past. As far as I’m concerned it is forgotten, I don’t hold any grudges. It’s just a pity I wasn’t playing!”

If anything, the Gattuso incident heightened Jordan’s profile in Italy, having already spent three years playing in Serie A with Milan and Hellas Verona in the 1980s.

“There used to be a Joe Jordan supporters’ club, but the only way they could remember me now is because of the incident with Gattuso,” he remembered.

“The reaction is always good. I went to Capri and got the ferry from Napoli. The guy selling tickets pointed at me and said: “Joe Jordan!”

No wonder; Jordan standing his ground and telling Gattuso to fuck around and find out was one of the all-time defining Champions League moments.

By Michael Lee

READ NEXT: Revisiting Spurs’ first starting XI under Daniel Levy: Booth, Thelwell…

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name AC Milan’s XI from the 2007 Champions League final win?