9 pairs of team-mates who hated each other ft. Man Utd, Arsenal, LFC…
As a football supporter, it may be hard to stomach that some of your club’s players hate each other, but that has been the case at Manchester United, Arsenal and Real Madrid over the years.
Having a little tiff on the field is one (brilliant) thing – think Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer’s punch-up in 2005 – but some team-mates simply don’t get along full stop.
We’ve taken a look at eight feuds between players who had to train together every day and play at the highest level every Saturday, despite hating each other’s guts.
Emmanuel Frimpong and Samir Nasri
“For me, the truth is I’ve never liked Nasri and I will never, ever like this guy,” Frimpong told The Athletic in 2019. “Even if he gives me five billion dollars, I will still not like him.”
Frimpong’s animosity towards Nasri stems from an incident after the then-19-year-old had been sent off in his second league appearance for Arsenal in a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool.
After the match, Nasri stood up in the changing room and made clear his feeling that the defeat was all Frimpong’s fault.
Nasri later phoned Frimpong after the midfielder took a swipe at the France international on social media following his departure to Manchester City.
“I took the phone and then it was Nasri on the phone threatening me, telling me that when he sees me, this that. I told him, ‘I’m not one of the players that’s afraid of you. If you want us to sort it out as men, we can sort it out as men.’
“To be honest, at that time when he left Arsenal, I could tell him what I actually thought about him because he was there so I could basically let him know my feelings. So I just told him that I don’t like him, I don’t respect him and I will never respect him as a professional player.”
Wilshere tweet: ‘Good luck to friend @Nanas08 learnt lot from him. World class player! Will be missed!’ Frimpong: ‘Pffffff come on Jack.’
— Carl Eldridge (@EldoMedia) August 24, 2011
Teddy Sheringham and Andy Cole
When on the pitch together, the pair scored a goal every 84.8 minutes, but the dislike stretches back to Cole’s England debut, when the striker replaced Sheringham only for his offer of a handshake to be snubbed.
“I would rather sit down and have a cuppa with Neil Ruddock, who broke my leg in two places in 1996, than with Teddy Sheringham,” Cole said.
Lothar Matthaus and Stefan Effenberg
The German duo, who lined up together at Bayern Munich, at least managed to maintain their on-pitch professionalism.
But, rather wonderfully, Effenberg included a full chapter in his autobiography titled ‘What Lothar Matthaus knows about football’. It was followed by a blank page.
Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise
On a team night out in Barcelona, Riise refused Bellamy’s request for him to sing karaoke.
As a result, the Bellamy came into Riise’s hotel room and spanked the Norwegian’s arse with a golf club. A “thwack”, as Bellamy describes it in his autobiography.
Both players went on to score in a famous 2-1 win in the Camp Nou, with Bellamy’s celebration a particular highlight.
Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski
For some, Robben’s style made him a frustrating player to watch – and be on a team with, at least if Lewandowski’s experience is anything to go by.
After arriving at Bayern, the Poland international regularly got visibly frustrated with Robben’s selfishness and struggled to strike up any connection – on and off the pitch.
Jens Lehmann and Manuel Almunia
Lehmann famously didn’t like playing second fiddle, falling out with Oliver Kahn at international level as they competed for the No.1 shirt with Germany.
And Almunia, who was widely regarded as one of the nicest in that Arsenal dressing room, said he had no idea why Lehmann had such hostility towards him.
But the German made numerous digs aimed at Almunia in the press, at one point saying: “To be sitting on the bench behind somebody who only started to play when he was 30 is not funny.”
Romario and Edmundo
Romario was re-signed by Vasco De Gama in 1999 to partner Edmundo in attack, but the damage was already done.
After Edmundo had replaced his old friend in the Brazil squad for the 1998 World Cup, Romario placed a huge cartoon of him on the toilet door in his Rio bar, a joke which didn’t go down well.
They argued through the press but started competing even for women in a nightclub. “We arrived at the club and there was me in one corner and him in the other; I was prettier, I had the chat. So, we started to clash,” Edmundo once said.
William Gallas and Kolo Toure
The feud between Toure and Gallas ran so deep that the pair didn’t even communicate when on the pitch together.
It was reported that the cause was Gallas’ famous sit-down protest at the end of a 2-2 draw with Birmingham, but Toure says it goes way back.
The Ivorian has refused to reveal the real reason, however, saying: “If we start talking about that then it will be a big story.”
One of life’s true mysteries.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Rafael Van Der Vaart
We couldn’t leave Zlatan out of this one, and his bust-up with Van Der Vaart is the best in a long list of he’s had over the years.
Team-mates at Ajax, the pair featured against each other in an international friendly, with Van Der Vaart claiming Ibrahimovic deliberately injured him.
“He claimed in the papers that I’d injured him on purpose. What kind of sh*t was that?” the Swede wrote in his autobiography.
The pair had a meeting with manager Ronald Koeman and Ibrahimovic lost it, threatening to break Van Der Vaart’s legs if he didn’t apologise.