Football of yesteryear was famed for its drinking culture, which allowed many renegade characters to thrive in the game.
But even in today’s uber-professional era, there are still plenty of instances of players pushing their luck a bit too far.
There’ve been plenty of examples of nights out involving footballers with amusing stories to tell, but there was nothing funny about the Derby County team bonding night of September 2019 which left Richard Keogh with a season-ending knee injury.
Derby had arranged a night out for their players involving bowling, dinner and drinks, but the club had also provided cars for all players to be driven home – an opportunity several passed up to carry on drinking.
Videos and pictures have since emerged showing Scott Malone seemingly asleep in a chair and Mason Bennett vomiting into a pub urinal, but something much more sinister was to follow.
Indeed, despite obviously being drunk, Bennett decided to drive himself home, with Keogh a passenger. And as if one drunk driver on the road wasn’t dangerous enough, Tom Lawrence also took the decision to drive himself.
It led to a crash between the two vehicles, with Lawrence’s car then ploughing into a lamppost and leaving Keogh, 33, with an injury it was even suggested could threaten his career.
Lawrence and Bennett will face a different kind of punishment, with the pair both charged with drink-driving.
— John Percy (@JPercyTelegraph) September 26, 2019
If you had to guess which West Brom players stole a taxi in Spain who would you suggest? It would be James McClean straight away, wouldn’t it? Ahmed Hegazi, perhaps?
Gareth Barry and Jonny Evans would probably be among the last names on the list, but, with a little encouragement from Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill, steal a taxi they did.
All they wanted was a McDonald’s, but they were allegedly too drunk to be served, and so asked the taxi driver to do the honours for them. While the driver was inside the Maccies, Barry got in the front seat and drove the quartet back to the hotel where the Baggies were staying, seemingly not realising the driver might want his car back.
Barry and co’s escapades have nothing on Beagrie, who also found himself in a spot of bother during a trip to Spain.
Following Everton’s pre-season friendly with Real Sociedad in 1991, Beagrie spent possibly far too much time in a bar but flagged down a local on a motorbike when he decided enough was enough.
Unfortunately, the winger was locked out of the hotel and the night porter could not be awoken, so he took matters into his own hands, hopped onto the bike and drove through the windows.
Aside from subsequently requiring 50 stitches, the main problem was that he had got the wrong hotel.
Possibly the most famous night out in the history of English football.
Terry Venables gave the England squad permission to have a night out in Hong Kong following a tour of East Asia ahead of Euro 96. Venables most obvious mistake, however, was entrusting coach Bryan Robson with keeping the players in check.
“Bryan Robson was standing there with a pint, and he was wearing one of those shirts with a round collar, and someone grabbed it and ripped it,” goalkeeper Ian Walker recalled for That’s Mag.
“All he had left was the little round collar: the rest of it had gone. And he just carried on drinking like nothing had happened!
“He was supposed to be looking after us, so from then on it went a bit mad. And then someone found a dentist chair in another room. So of course – bang! – straight away we’re on it. I think Gazza went on first, then I had a go, then Teddy Sheringham. Then it all went off, just bedlam.”
Pictures of that night were soon in the English press, accompanied by plenty of castigation, but it went on to inspire one of the most iconic celebrations of all time.
Speaking of superb celebrations, a Liverpool night out gone wrong in a karaoke bar led to a brilliant moment in a famous victory in the Camp Nou.
Riise was insistent that he wasn’t going up to sing, much to the disdain of team-mate Bellamy.
The Norwegian recalled: “When he grabbed the microphone and said again, ‘Ginge, is coming up to sing.’ I went up to his face and told him clearly I wouldn’t be and to stop it.
“I left and went back to my room. I was rooming with Daniel Agger. When I heard the key in the door I thought it was Dan coming back, but then the lights went on. Next thing I saw was a golf club smashing me on my backside.
“I jumped out of bed and was stood in my underwear while Bellamy was there shouting. He just said, ‘9am tomorrow outside my room.’ I got there for 8.45am and waited until 9.10am, but there was no sign of him.”
Liverpool went on to win 2-1 at Barcelona, with Bellamy and Riise grabbing the goals. The former celebrated in style.
El Diego has probably had more wild nights out than we’ve had hot dinners. This, after all, is a man who joined Barcelona for a world-record fee then missed three months of a season after contracting hepatitis.
The Argentine’s thirst for a party remains unquenchable. In 2017 he returned to Naples to receive honourary citizenship and, after been seen struggling to cut a cake after one too many, ended the night sat atop a van leading chants of ‘whoever is not cheering is a Juventus fan’.
Maradona goes outside his hotel in Naples, sits on top of a van & leads a chant:
"Whoever's not cheering is a Juventus fan!" 💙 pic.twitter.com/j8gqiIHmQ8
— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) July 5, 2017
He probably didn’t realise at the time, but Merson had the luckiest night of his life while touring the USA with an England side which was already out of the running to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.
Merse told the Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? podcast: “We went to Boston, we went to Washington and then we went to Detroit. And you know you can’t qualify. It was like the best holiday I’ve ever been on. It was like an 18-30, I’d never been on anything like it in my life.
“We go Washington, we’re playing cards all night: me, Teddy Sheringham, Carlton Palmer. Then they all went to bed and I went out. So I get downstairs, turn left, bang, in a bar, absolutely para.
“I leave the bar and there’s two geezers arguing in the middle of the road. I go up to them and go, ‘Come on, lads, let’s not start fighting.’ They’re looking at me like I’m an absolute nutcase. I just walk off to bed.
“I get up in the morning and we have a big meeting with the FBI. They get us all down, the FBI have all got their caps on and everything and they go, ‘Whatever happens, you’re in the capital of the world of killings, do not come out of this hotel at night and turn left.’
“The night before I’m breaking up a fight in the middle of the street. How I never got shot I do not know.”
Parlour is one of the best storytellers in football, and his tale about Arsenal’s first pre-season tour under Arsene Wenger is worth revisiting.
“New French lads had come into the team like Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit and Gilles Grimandi,” he told Sportlobster TV. “We worked our socks off and at the end of the trip Wenger said we could all go out.
“You know what we were like, we went straight down to the pub and the French lads went to the coffee shop.
“I’ll always remember the moment Steve Bould went up to the bar and ordered 35 pints for five of us. After we left the bar we spotted all the French lads in the coffee shop and they were sitting around smoking.
“I thought, ‘How are we going to win the league this year? We’re all drunk and they’re all smoking.’
“And we ended up winning the double that year.”
In fact, Parlour has good form when it comes to this kind of thing.
It's FA Cup weekend! To celebrate here's our favourite FA Cup story. Featuring Ray Parlour, a big final and 10 pints of beer 🍻😂 pic.twitter.com/BeGMhVoEfB
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) January 5, 2018
McCall spent probably more than a night out celebrating Bradford City’s promotion to the Premier League in 1999 – at least a few days by the looks of things – and the end result remains glorious to this day.
Bradford City have parted ways with Stuart McCall, which is a shame in some ways, but also an excellent opportunity to share this video of him falling off a car. Pissed. #BCAFC pic.twitter.com/Pgc5jfD0Jd
— MUNDIAL (@MundialMag) February 5, 2018