Rating six classic footballer party brawls, from Pickford to Gerrard

Quick Reads
Steven Gerrard arrives at court

Jordan Pickford has been in the news for scrapping outside a Sunderland bar. He’s not the first footballer to make such headlines and won’t be the last.

Violence is never the answer, even if someone is questioning our footballing ability, insulting our partner or preventing us from choosing a song on the jukebox, but sometimes it’s hard to remain calm, and footballers — believe it or not — are no more immune to passionate outbursts than anyone else.

In fact, high-profile scraps involving footballers hit the back pages all the time. And while these fights should never be celebrated per se, some of them have provided greater entertainment than a drab 0-0 draw ever could.

Jordan Pickford

Ps & Qs, Sunderland, 2019

Jordan Pickford, England’s number one, the Premier League’s maddest keeper, is the latest big-name player to brawl in public.

According to reports, violence broke out on Saturday night near Sunderland’s Ps & Qs bar after somebody called Pickford’s fiancée a “fat c**t”. The keeper had earlier been taunted with insults like “short arms” and “butter fingers”.

An off-duty bouncer was left with a black eye.

Banter: 5

Excuses: 10

READ: Eight wild football nights out: Taxi gate, dentist chair, FBI & more

Nicklas Bendtner

Gateshead Hilton, Newcastle, 2013

In 2018, Arsenal legend Nicklas Bendtner was sentenced to 50 days in prison for assaulting a taxi driver. That’s not funny, but the Dane’s various crimes while on loan at Sunderland definitely were.

When Bendtner was 23 and playing for the Black Cats, he was arrested for his involvement in a fight outside a Newcastle hotel.

This was made worse by the fact that, at the time, the striker was on bail for another offence: smashing up “several” cars on a vandalism spree with Lee Cattermole, Sunderland’s captain.

Bendtner addressed the scandal in a statement, blaming his actions partly on the weather:

“The latest incident involves two of my team-mates and me who were picked up by polite and friendly English policemen this morning as CCTV footage allegedly shows us in the process of damaging parked cars after a wet night out on the town.

“I am extremely sorry for all of this. I apologise sincerely that I have allowed myself to get involved in things that are interpreted in such dramatic fashion. I fully assume responsibility for not distancing myself from these incidents before they got out of hand.”

Banter: 8

Excuses: 4

Arda Turan

Unknown nightclub, Istanbul, 2018

Arda Turan is still contracted to Barcelona. However, the Turkey midfielder is unlikely to make another appearance for the Catalan giants — or any club, for that matter — as he awaits sentencing for what can only be described as a colossally bad night out.

In October 2018, Turan was arrested for assaulting a Turkish pop star named Berkay Sahin.

The footballer, who has 100 caps for his country, reportedly made advances on Sahin’s wife, prompting a brawl between the two men. Sahin ended up in hospital, and things escalated further when Turan followed him there with a gun.

Turan reportedly offered the gun to Sahin, so that the singer might shoot him in order to set things straight. When that opportunity was declined, Turan fired the weapon into the ground.

The footballer faces charges of sexual harassment, unlicensed possession of weapons, deliberately endangering general security and causing intentional injury.

Prosecutors want a sentence of 12 and a half years.

Banter: 6

Excuses: 1

Jacob Butterfield

Private residence, Leeds, 2016

Derby midfielder Jacob Butterfield was allegedly arrested at his own engagement party in 2016.

According to reports, a friend of Butterfield’s lightly nibbled the toe of Butterfield’s fiancée as she sat on a sofa, infuriating friends of the bride-to-be.

In a confusing turn of events, one of those friends ended up angrily biting the toe of the original toe-nibbling man, sparking a melee.

The wedding was called off.

Banter: 10

Excuses: 8

Adrian Mutu

Unknown bar, Florence, 2010

Romanian striker Adrian Mutu is remembered fondly by Chelsea fans for his service over the 2003-04 season. Six goals, tons of gak and a long ban. Chelsea are still trying to get their money back.

Trouble followed Mutu around. In 2010, the forward was arrested for attacking a barman in Florence after a disagreement over the bill. At the time, he was one week away from completing a nine-month doping ban.

Fiorentina fielded him in the next match anyway, drawing 0-0 with Catania.

The striker scored four goals that season, was temporarily suspended after going AWOL in January 2011 and eventually left the club in the summer.

Banter: 8

Excuses: 2

Steven Gerrard

Lounge Inn, Southport, 2008

The footballer brawl to end all footballer brawls. The ‘Istanbul’ of nightlife disagreements. The iconic long-range screamer of a scuffle, too powerful even for Shaka Hislop to handle.

The facts of the matter are these: Gerrard had been celebrating a Liverpool win at the Lounge Inn, drinking bottles of Budweiser and ‘Jammy Donut’ shots. He was ‘7/10’ drunk.

At some point in the evening, the Liverpool captain attempted to pick a song on the jukebox.

Enter antagonist Marcus McGee, who took the ‘Music Menu’ from Gerrard, telling him: “You are not f*cking deciding what music goes on in here.”

A “gutted” Gerrard tried to argue his case, but the pair began to exchange insults, leading to an exchange of blows in which McGee lost a front tooth crown. Gerrard was found not guilty of affray the following year.

Banter: 9

Excuses: 10

By Benedict O’Neill

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