Sport Soccer

Monday 18 November 2019

When mouthy soccer stars put their two feet in it

Donall Hoey

THE fallout from Fernando Torres’s recent interview to Spain’s Primera Liga’s official website has received widespread coverage in the sporting media. In the interview, Torres (supposedly) decries some of his older Chelsea teammates as "very slow" and hailed the recent signing of Juan Mata as "necessary".

After the English translation went up online and the Chelsea management demanded an explanation, the Spanish striker claimed he was “mistranslated”.

Currently, Chelsea are trying to get their hands on the tapes of the interview to see what was said exactly; although I can’t really picture an alternative meaning for describing some of the Chelsea veterans players as “slow”, unless he was drawing attention to their intellectual and cognitive shortcomings.

If that is the case, then Fernando Torres will probably have much bigger problems than an irate manager; training pitches can be a place of severe retribution for players who step out of line.

But the Torres interview is not the first time a player’s interview has landed him in hot water with the gaffer. Here’s a list of the most famous incidences where footballers expressing their opinions gets them in trouble….

1. Roy Keane speaking to MUTV (2005)

Never one to shy away from controversy, Keane paid the ultimate price for comments he made to Man United’s own TV station where he disparaged the pre-season training grounds in Portugal (we’ve been here before, haven’t we?), said that he’d be willing to play elsewhere after his contract was up and preceded to tear shreds out of some of his teammates.

One delectable quote about Rio Ferdinand; “Just because you are paid £120,000-a-week and play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham, you think you are a superstar.” Alex Ferguson soon got rid of him and he played out his days in Scotland with Celtic.

MUTV still refuses to show the interview.

2. Jaap Stam’s autobiography (2001)

The first rule of Manchester United, you do not cross Sir Alex. The second rule of Mnachester United, YOU DO NOT CROSS SIR ALEX! Another player at Old Trafford lost his place for expressing things which Fergie deemed counter-productive.

This time Dutch centre-back Jaap Stam wrote an cracking autobiography that not so much revealed but confirmed things footie fans knew already; Vieira is a dirty whinger, the Neville brothers are whingers known in the United changing-room as 'busy c**ts,' Beckham in no Stephen Fry and Filippo Inzaghi cheats.

But it was the claim that Man United approached him illegally while was still at Dutch side PSV Eindhoven that convinced Fergie to sell the player considered the best defender in the world. Sir Alex to this day regrets the move, one of the rare acts of contrition he has displayed.

3. Ryan Babel Tweets (2011)

After a loss to United the previous day, ex-Liverpool winger Ryan Babel posted a photoshopped picture of the referee for the encounter, Howard Webb in a Man United jersey:

Biting satire as you can see. Babel was subsequently charged by the F.A. with improper conduct and fined £10,000. He was sold a few days later to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (yeah, me neither), although his schizophrenic performances on the pitch would have had a bearing on the transfer too.

4. Ron Atkinson using racial epitaphs on live television (2004)

Although more famous for being a manager than a player, Ron Atkinson is on the list because it was one of the most famous off the cuff remarks that lost him a very lucrative job as an ITV pundit. When commentating on a Chelsea Champions league game he made reference to black French player Marcel Desailly to his co-workers.

Believing the microphone was off he said “...he is what is known in some schools as a fucking lazy thick ni**er". Unfortunately viewers in the Middle East could still pick up the broadcast and reported the comments. He tendered his resignation which ITV accepted in a heartbeat.

Atkinson later claimed he couldn’t be a racist because he hired black players during his career as a manager.

“If you look at my track record as a manager, I was one of the first managers in the game to give black players a chance,” he proudly said. In the words of Chris Rock, “You’re supposed to, you low-expectation havin’ muthaf***r!”

5. Glenn Hoddle’s Beliefs in Reincarnation (1999)

After much media criticism of his faith healing sessions he arranged with his players whilst England manager, Glenn Hoddle attempted to justify his belief in an interview with The Times. Unfortunately he ended up revealing his belief that people who were born disabled owe their condition to sins committed in a past life.

When the FA threatened to sack him Hoddle maintained that his freedom of religion was more important than the VAST amount of offence he caused with that one remark; the FA disagreed and terminated his contract soon afterwards. I guess that’s karma.

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