Wout Weghorst gestures during the UEFA Europa League match between Barcelona and Man Utd at Camp Nou, Barcelona, February 2023.

Wout Weghorst and 15 of football’s most ridiculous excuses: Suarez, Lescott…

There have been times when we’ve all tried to justify our actions with excuses that are the definition of ludicrous, but these heroic efforts from the world of football really take the biscuit.

With the stakes increasing by the year, and the scrutiny of social media becoming ever brighter, footballers and their managers have used some bizarre reasoning to explain why they’ve been caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

Here are 15 of football’s daftest off-field excuses.

Wout Weghorst

Never mind being part of a Manchester United XI that lost 7-0 to Liverpool, Weghorst broke a massive taboo, touching the ‘This is Anfield’ sign as an opposition player before walking onto the pitch.

As United fans spat feathers, Weghorst claimed he touched the sign in order to ‘wind up’ an opponent by stopping him from completing his usual ritual.

“From the national team, I know that Virgil van Dijk always touches that sign,” the Netherlands international said on Instagram.

“The only intention I had was to stop him touching it and wind him up before the game. As a child I always supported FC Twente, and as a proud player now for Manchester United, my dedication to this incredible club can never be questioned.”

Despite this claim, Weghorst has been vocal in the past about being a boyhood Reds fan. Some incensed United supporters, possibly those with nothing better to do, believed United should terminate his loan.

Joleon Lescott

You’d think losing 6-0 to Liverpool as part of a rank Aston Villa side – rock bottom with three wins and 17 points all season – would be bad enough.

But Lescott managed to make the February 2016 defeat worse by tweeting a picture of a flash Mercedes post-match.

After apologising to Villa fans for the team’s latest hapless display, Lescott added an apology for his ill-advised motor posting. “I would like to add that the tweet sent out from my account involving a picture of a car was totally accidental it happened whilst I was driving and my phone was in my pocket.”

We loved the whole episode so much we dedicated an entire article to it.

READ: Remembering when Joleon Lescott ‘pocket’ tweeted a Mercedes pic

Luis Suarez

You’ll remember Suarez mistaking Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder for a tasty pork chop at the 2014 World Cup and the Uruguayan’s justification for his moment of cannibalism was bizarre.

“I lost my balance, making my body unstable and falling on top of my opponent,” he said in his submission to a FIFA panel.

“At that moment I hit my face against the player, leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth.” He was banned from football for four months.

Wayne Hennessey

Imagine performing a Hitler salute in a packed restaurant, claiming you didn’t know what a Hitler salute was and getting away with it? Bonkers, right?

Hennessey did exactly that in 2019. The Crystal Palace goalkeeper said he “waved and shouted at the person taking the picture to get on with it” and “put my hand over my mouth to make the sound carry”.

He also said ‘from the outset; of the FA hearing that he did not know what a Nazi salute was.

“Improbable as that may seem to those of us of an older generation, we do not reject that assertion as untrue,” said the panel.

“In fact, when cross-examined about this Mr Hennessey displayed a very considerable – one might even say lamentable – degree of ignorance about anything to do with Hitler, Fascism and the Nazi regime.”



Sir Alex Ferguson

Acquitted of driving illegally down the hard shoulder in 1999, Ferguson claimed his actions were an “emergency” because he was suffering from acute diarrhoea.

“When I got on the M602 I started to feel the cramps again,” cried the recent treble winner in court in a textbook example of TMI.

Tony Pulis

In 2009, then-Stoke boss Pulis was caught motoring at 96mph on a 60mph road.

It took him up to 15 points on his licence, but he escaped a ban and was fined £2,585 instead after the Welshman argued he couldn’t use a chauffeur because his telephone conversations needed to remain private.

“There are numerous phone calls every day between Mr Pulis and the chairman which are totally confidential,” argued Pulis’s lawyer. “That has contributed to the success of the football club. As a result of being in the Premier League, it has put Stoke-on-Trent on the map.

“It has led to numerous businesses being set up. A number of them are totally reliant on Stoke City, and those businesses would suffer if they were relegated. The people of Stoke-on-Trent could suffer if Mr Pulis lost his licence and lost his job.”

Barry Fry

The reason behind Birmingham’s failure to reach the top flight in the 1990s was down to the reputed gypsy curse – a problem manager Fry tried to eradicate by famously urinating in all four corners of the St Andrew’s pitch.

“We went three months without winning … We were desperate, so I pissed in all four corners, holding it in while I waddled round the pitch,” he said.

“Did it work? Well, we started to win and I thought it had, then they fucking sacked me, so probably not.”

There have been plenty of other innovative excuses offered up for losing in the past too…

Roy Keane Manchester United

READ: 12 of the weirdest football excuses: Grey kit, Frogs, Michael Jackson…

Rio Ferdinand

Ferdinand was infamously banned for eight months in 2003 for missing a drugs test, with the FA rules stating that it was the equivalent of a positive one despite the defender providing a clean sample just two days after.

And Ferdinand later revealed he grew his iconic cornrows to prove his innocence.

“The drug test was the influence,” Ferdinand said. “I got banned for missing the drug test.

“To prove my innocence and that I had not taken any illegal substances, I had to get my hair to two inches or something like that, to a certain length.

“This was so as to take a hair follicle test that could go a year or 18 months to test if you had any type of madness in your system. That’s why I grew my hair, to prove my innocence.”

Not sure about that one, Rio.

Gordon Strachan

“Genetically we are behind,” Strachan sighed after Scotland failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup “In the last campaign we were the second smallest, apart from Spain.

“We had to pick a team to combat the height and strength at set plays. Genetically we have to work at things, maybe we get big women and men together and see what we can do.

“But it’s a problem for us because we have to fight harder for every ball and jump higher than anyone else.”

It’s true; a lack of height really cost Spain between 2008 and 2012…

Mohamed Al Fayed

Fulham’s former owner Al Fayed blamed the club’s relegation to the Championship in 2014 on the decision made by new owner Shahid Khan to remove a ‘lucky’ statue of popstar Michael Jackson from outside the ground.

“This statue was a charm and we removed the luck from the club and now we have to pay the price,” he said before being whisked away by men in white coats.

Vladislav Vashchuk

Ukraine were widely tipped as dark horses before the 2006 World Cup but suffered a 4-0 hammering by Spain in their opening game. Speaking to the media afterwards, defender Vaschuk identified the culprit.

“Because of the frogs’ croaking,” he said after a restless night at the Seminaris Seehotel in Potsdam. “We hardly got a wink of sleep.”

“There are also birds near our lake,” huffed a disgruntled hotel spokeswoman. “In the morning they wake up and start cheeping. Should we go and catch all the birds?” Good luck with that.

Rupert Lowe

Southampton endured a car crash of a season in 2004-05, whittling through three managers en route to their first relegation since 1978.

Lowe, the chairman that would later hire rugby’s Sir Clive Woodward to fix the team’s woes, blamed ‘a constant stream of negative and unfair media coverage’ for his own decision to sack Paul Sturrock two games into the campaign.

“Those people responsible for perpetrating this unsatisfactory situation should take a long hard look at themselves,” he said without a hint of self-awareness.

David James

PlayStation addiction James was spending too much time gaming and not enough time honing his goalkeeper skills when a trio of howlers cost Liverpool against Manchester United in 1997.

“I was getting carried away playing Tekken II and Tomb Raider for hours on end,” as Liverpool fans sobbed quietly in the background.


Crystal Palace fans pointed the finger at their own cheerleaders when they were languishing in the Championship table at the end of the 2000s.

Supporters said ‘the Crystals’ were distracting the players, luring them like sirens to the rocks of relegation. They were quietly discontinued shortly afterwards.

Lord Nelson

Blackpool blamed letting a two-goal lead slip in a play-off match with Bradford City in 1996 on the team’s boardroom being haunted by the ghost of Lord Nelson; reasoning presumably backed by their defenders.

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