Football is about working together as a team and it’s essential that footballers have a good understanding with their team-mates – but that doesn’t necessarily mean liking one another off the pitch.
There are some notable examples of players that actively despised one another enjoying great success and making things work once they step past that white line and onto the grass. But sometimes personal matters can result in footballing headaches.
Here are nine of the most bitter feuds between team-mates. Not necessarily one-off spats and arguments – so Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer miss out – but ongoing disputes that lasted weeks, months or even years.
Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba
We’re waiting with bated breath to see how this one develops.
There didn’t appear to be any beef between the two superstars as they produced outstanding performances during Les Bleus’ 2018 World Cup triumph, but something has allegedly gone awry since then.
“When everything is said people will see that there is no bigger coward, bigger traitor and bigger hypocrite than you on this earth,” posted Mathias Pogba – Paul’s older brother, formerly of Crewe and Crawley – following allegations that he was attempting to blackmail the Juventus midfielder.
“Kylian, now do you understand? I have no negative feelings towards you, my words are for your good, everything is true and proven, the witch doctor is known! Sorry about this brother, a so-called Muslim deep in witchcraft, it’s never good to have a hypocrite and a traitor near you!”
There are further allegations that there’s video evidence of this alleged witchcraft ritual. Didier Deschamps is set for some awkward conversations.
Jens Lehmann and Oliver Kahn
Of course Lehmann features here.
Mad Jens recently took a chainsaw to his neighbour’s shed, was always taking potshots at Manuel Almunia whilst at Arsenal and was once famously sent off for scrapping with his own team-mate while at Borussia Dortmund.
But his greatest feud was always with his eternal rival for Germany’s No.1 shirt. Kahn had already established himself as arguably the greatest German keeper in history but was on the downslope as Lehmann emerged as serious competition.
“If our performances had been judged objectively, I would have been in the starting lineup,” said Lehmann after Rudi Voller opted to stick with Kahn for Euro 2004.
“Jens has often provoked me in public. I do not like that,” responded Kahn.
They eventually buried the hatchet during the 2006 World Cup, in which Lehmann was selected as first-choice and Kahn sincerely wished Lehmann luck ahead of the penalty shootout against Argentina in the quarter-final.
Romario and Edmundo
Where do you even start? Luckily we’ve got you covered.
Teddy Sheringham and Andy Cole
“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, who I’ve pretty much detested for the past 15 years,” was the belting opening paragraph in Cole’s tell-all Independent column about his longstanding feud with Teddy Sheringham.
Cole explained the feud began when Cole replaced Sheringham for his England debut back in 1995. Fuming at being replaced, Sheringham completely blanked his young substitute.
“For all the respect I had for him, he was far from pleased to see his number come up and instead of greeting me on the sideline to wish me luck or congratulate me, he dejectedly walked off, 25 yards down the touchline, without looking at me, or acknowledging my moment,” wrote Cole in his autobiography.
“We never got on as players. You get on with some people in the workplace, but some you don’t like and don’t want to be around,” Sheringham recalled in a Daily Mail interview. “That was the case with me and Andy. We just didn’t click.”
It was only years later, long after the years they spent together at Manchester United, that they buried the hatchet with a handshake in a chance meeting in a nightclub.
#OnThisDay in 1995 the moment that started a 20-year feud.
Teddy Sheringham blanks Andrew Cole on his England debut, and they never speak again…pic.twitter.com/ltE2KglpsO
— A Funny Old Game (@sid_lambert) March 29, 2019
Aleksandar Mitrovic and Aboubacar Kamara
Kamara committed the impressive act of pissing off Claudio Ranieri when he wrestled the ball away from Aleksandar Mitrovic to take a penalty during a relegation six-pointer against Huddersfield. He missed.
“I wanted to kill him,” said Ranieri. “That is normal when one man takes a ball, only because he scored the last penalty [against Manchester United]. It should be Mitrovic, that is it.”
But these kind of petty squabbles and on-pitch bust-ups happen all the time. What marks this out as a particularly memorable case is that the tension spilt over the following week during a yoga session.
“Mitrovic wasn’t happy when Abou started talking during silent time – a ‘mindfulness moment’. He told him to shut up,” is how their scuffle started, a club source told The Sun.
Kamara was loaned out to Turkey a short while later and eventually left for good, while Mitrovic continues banging in the goals for the Cottagers. There’s a lesson in there, somewhere.
El Hadji Diouf and Steven Gerrard
Diouf wasn’t a popular figure within the Liverpool dressing room and was also despised by Jamie Carragher, who later admitted to relishing an opportunity to kick the Senegal international after he departed Anfield.
The striker has since never missed an opportunity to insult his former team-mates, particularly legendary club captain Gerrard.
And it’s no major surprise, given their relationship was so bad that they once almost came to blows.
“Half-time of a pre-season game,” Florent Sinama-Pongolle later recalled in an interview with journalist Walid Acherchour. “Fight between Diouf and Gerrard. I was traumatised.
“Can you imagine the young ones seeing this and thinking that’s what professionals are like at that level? At half-time, in the dressing room. Stevie G is all like ‘You have to pass, you have to pass,’ and [Diouf] just loses it.
“He didn’t speak English. His English was rubbish. You know what he did? They hated each other so much. Steven Gerrard arrives, he insults Diouf: ‘Hey, you f******’.
“And [Diouf] couldn’t answer, so he grabs Gerard Houllier and says: ‘Tell him, I’ll f*** his mum’. He came in and said: ‘I’m not his mate, I’ll do him in straight away.’”
Mauro Icardi and Maxi Lopez
From friends to enemies and a plot that would make a Footballer’s Wives scriptwriter blush.
Edinson Cavani and Neymar
Unai Emery, with the air of a fed-up dad six days into a family holiday, said Neymar and Cavani needed to “sort it out themselves” after they had a very public row about penalty-taking duties at PSG back in September 2017.
“It is true that there was a problem at that time with Neymar,” Cavani later recalled. “We spoke about it together — I told him that I was the first to want him to win things individually. However, I told him there was a condition and that was that he must put the squad’s collective objectives first.
“I am a footballing worker — I am not a star. If I have teammates who can win individual accolades, then I will do everything to help them. They must put the team’s goals first, though. Gradually, we have come to an understanding. The team’s superiors have taken a decision and I have respected it.”