James Maddison during the Premier League match between Fulham and Leicester City at Craven Cottage, London, May 2023.

13 infamous tweets that came back to haunt footballers from Maddison to Babel

Footballers and Twitter aren’t always the best mix, as this collection of 13 infamous tweets from the last decade demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt.

With the world at their fingertips and a captive audience that consumes whatever they post with the famished nature of a recently-released hostage tucking into a Chinese buffet, there has been some spectacular faux-pas from footballers on the social media platform.

We’ve identified 13 of the worst offenders that missed the target with their ill-advised tweeting.

James Maddison

After completing his £45million move to Tottenham in June 2023, Maddison would’ve expected a honeymoon period after swapping the Championship for one of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’.

Fat chance. It was soon revealed the England midfielder had tweeted some very anti-Spurs posts back in the early 2010s that had to be hastily deleted.

“I hate Gareth Bale with a passion, calm down you monkey, [Jack] Wilshere is 10x better than you chimpanzee,” Maddison tweeted in November 2012.

And in March 2013, he’d posted: “Hope Luis Suarez destroys Tottenham today, don’t like Spurs! Especially that monkey everyone’s on about!”

Matt Doherty

Upon joining Tottenham in 2020, Doherty was forced to delete two old tweets which revealed him to be an Arsenal supporter.

One read: “Yes I am a HUGE Arsenal fan” while another said: “I love Arsenal forever and ever.”

Doherty was not the only player to have previously shown his love for Spurs’ rival club. In a since-deleted post, his fellow right-back Serge Aurier tweeted a picture of him donning an Arsenal home shirt.

But at least Spurs managed to turn Doherty’s misdemeanour into precious content…

Kyle Walker

City defeated Tottenham 3-2 in an underrated Premier League thriller back in January 2012, but Spurs’ right-back Walker had a message for the opposition fans.

“All u Man City fans u can talk now we will just see at the end of the season… Was u all there when City were nowhere to be seen [sic] #gloryfans,” he wrote on Twitter

City won the league and Spurs failed to qualify for the Champions League that season. Using the can’t beat them/join them reasoning, Walker completed a £50million move to the Etihad five years later.

Ashley Cole

Another England full-back found himself in hot water following an ill-advised tweet in 2012.

After being asked to give evidence during the FA’s investigation into John Terry’s alleged racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand, Cole felt football’s governing body doubted his recollection of events, which led him to vent his frustrations on Twitter.

Labelling the association as a ‘bunch of t***s” unsurprisingly got him into trouble. Despite apologising through his solicitor and to FA chairman David Bernstein, Cole was fined £90,000 for bringing the game into disrepute.

Andre Gray

Gray was on cloud nine as he scored in Burnley’s 2-0 victory over Liverpool back in August 2016, but his stupidity on social media came back to haunt him soon afterwards.

Tweets from 2012, while Gray still played for non-league Hinckley United, implied he condoned the killing of gay people resurfaced online and brought deserved backlash from the masses.

Gray offered his sincere apologies and subsequently deleted the tweets, but the FA throw the book at him with a four-match ban, £25,000 and ordered him to go on an educational course.

Seven years later, there’s still no openly gay male footballer in England’s top four leagues.

Joey Barton

You’d have been forgiven for being a little bit confused when Barton signed for Burnley in 2015, as he’d spent much of the previous year aiming digs at the Lancashire town while still a player at QPR.

The club had arranged an open-top bus parade after they had secured promotion to the Premier League, but Barton poked fun at some of the empty streets that were shown on TV.

He then made a further jibe and tweeted a picture of a motorway filled with tractors, writing: “Breaking news: Apologies to Burnley. Just heard all fans are en route as we speak to see the open-top bus.”

When one Burnley fan challenged the midfielder about his own side’s record, Barton replied: “We might be cr*p. We may well be really overrated but at least we don’t have to live in Burnley!”

Joey Barton during his appearance on Question Time, a political programme produced by the BBC, in May 2014.

READ: Remembering Joey Barton’s car-crash appearance on Question Time

Mohamed Salah

‘We have a score to settle,” wrote Salah as Liverpool booked their place in the 2022 Champions League final.

Their opponents would be Real Madrid, who beat the Reds in the 2018 final in Kyiv when Salah was forced off after Sergio Ramos’ improvised karate on his shoulder.

After tempting fate, it was inevitable that Liverpool would be defeated – and Vinicius Junior’s second-half winner left Jurgen Klopp’s side empty-handed and Salah facing much mirth on social media.

Runar Alex Runarsson

Years before joining Arsenal as a poppadom-handed goalkeeper, Runarsson took to Twitter and left nobody in any doubt on his position over Arsene Wenger in 2011, calling the then-Gunners boss a”‘French f*ck,” “stupid” and “the dumbest man on this planet” in three separate posts.


Christian Benteke

When Benteke signed for Crystal Palace in 2016, fans were slightly confused to see his Twitter bio read that he was now a player for Burnley.

The striker had to send this update later: “Oops my bad lol. Yes I signed for cpfc and not burnley. Sorry for the little mistake the person that manages my Twitter got a little confused.”

Dietmar Hamman

While no one could have expected Leicester to win the Premier League in 2015-16, Hamann’s expectations for the Foxes and Claudio Ranieri were lower than most.

After the Italian’s appointment, the former Liverpool and Germany midfielder wrote: “Can’t believe Leicester appointed Ranieri… Great club, great fanbase but I’m afraid MK rather than Old Trafford season after next.”


Darren Bent

“Do I wanna go Hull City. No. Do I wanna go Stoke. No. Do I wanna go Sunderland. Yes. So stop ******* around Levy,” wrote Bent as his protracted departure from Tottenham dragged on in 2009.

“Why can’t anything be simple? It’s so frustrating hanging around doing jack ****. Seriously getting ****** off right now. Sunderland are not the problem in the slightest.”

While Bent got his move to the Stadium of Light, the above tweet cost him £80,000.

Ryan Babel

Stupidity personified, but also admirably petty.

Wang Dalei

After a poor performance in China’s 3-0 defeat to Japan at the 2010 Asian Games, goalkeeper Wang took to Twitter and let rip at supporters criticising him.

“It would be flattery to call you fans. You’re just a bunch of dogs. You bunch of morons are the main reason why Chinese football can’t make progress. You throw in stones after a man has fallen into a well.”

His comments would see him suspended from the team despite making an apology. Now that’s the definition of coming back to haunt you.

READ NEXT: Saluting the glory days of footballers on Twitter: Rooney, Babel, Cole…

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every player to score 10+ Premier League goals in 2011-12?