Famous International Spats

Tension ran high at Anfield on Sunday as Liverpool made a statement 3-1 win over their nearest rival Manchester City.

The tension was evident on the pitch as ex-Liverpool attacking star Raheem Sterling clashed on a number of occasions with International teammates Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez.

Not all was left on the pitch, however, as Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez were involved in another bust up on Tuesday morning as the pair arrived for International duty with Gareth Southgate and the rest of the England set up.

After a canteen clattering in which the slight City winger tried to put the mild-mannered Liverpool defender in a headlock, Southgate sent the player home. Still not at the training complex, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson managed to get both players involved on the phone, calmed them down and convinced the England manager to keep Sterling on. The pair seemed to have made up now, with Sterling apologising publicly via his Instagram.

The forward will miss the first England International game against Montenegro but has continued to train alongside the rest of his team-mates.

A lot has been made in the media and across Twitter about the incident. Possibly due to the boring nature of the international break interrupting a rollercoaster of a season. But this isn’t exactly the first time we’ve seen professional players come to blows, after all, football is a game of passion, and as Raheem said himself, sometimes that passion overflows.

We decided now was the perfect time to look at a handful of other bust ups between international teammates that have made the news in the past:

Olaf Mellberg & Freddie Ljunberg – Sweden

Sterling and Gomez’s bust up may have come during a stretch of important Euro 2020 qualifying games, but Swedish duo Ljunberg and Mellberg managed to come to blows in preparation for one of their biggest games – their opening fixture vs England at World Cup 2002.

The incident occurred during a training session where Mellberg pulled off an unnecessary and dangerous challenge on Ljunberg. The Arsenal forward was uninjured but quickly squared up to his teammate, grabbing the Aston Villa forward by the throat before wrestling him to the ground.

The pair were quickly separated by fellow Swede Daniel Andersson, and Mellberg later apologised for the incident stating ‘it was stupid.’

Evra & Domenech – France

This spat within the France squad during the World Cup 2010 managed to escalate into a full-blown mutiny amongst the entire France contingency, including then manager Raymond Domenech.

The problems began with Thierry Henry refusing to leave the bench and join play during the group stage defeat to Mexico. From there, Nicolas Anelka was sent home after questioning the managers tactics at half time.

France looked set to be knocked out of the tournament after a goalless draw with Uruguay left them with just one game – against hosts South Africa – in order to turn things around. Preparations did no go well as France refused to train in protest of Anelka’s exile. During this spat United defender Patrice Evra became embroiled in a heated argument with fitness coach Robert Duverne resulting in the trainer throwing his staff pass to the turf and storming off.

McCarthy & Keane – Republic of Ireland

It wouldn’t be a list of football spats without mentioning the spat-man himself – Roy Keane. The Manchester united midfielder has managed to fall out with pretty much everyone throughout his career and his time with Ireland manager Mick McCarthy during their World Cup campaign in 2002 was no different.

Keane, who was captain of Ireland at the time, disagreed with McCarthy’s preparations and actually vented his frustrations to an Irish newspaper behind the manager’s back. McCarthy, obviously incensed by the news, confronted his star man and was met with the feisty midfielder calling him out as a bad player and a bad manager, telling him to ‘stick your World Cup up your arse.’

Whilst neither of them actually came to blows, the bust up was highly publicised and completely derailed any chances of Ireland besting any previous World Cup final run to the detriment of the fans who had made the trip as well as those back home.

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