In my recent NYC Footy video I took in one of the new NYC Footy Fitness sessions held on Saturday mornings at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in Chinatown. It was a great run out for all involved - stretches and technique training capped off with a good old game of ball.
Despite Footy Fitness being free from controvery (to date), things can actually get quite heated on the training pitch. I’m sure it happens more often that anyone cares to admit, so I did a bit of research and found some high profile training ground bust ups for your amusement:
1. Paul Pogba vs. Jose Mourinho:
In present memory there was last season’s training ground confrontation between Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. The two didn’t seem to hit it off since Pogba’s arrival at Old Trafford with the Frenchman’s continued bad form sinking The Special One into the mire. In this training ground run in not much seems to happen. But if you look closely you can see words are exchanged followed by a glaring stare by Pogba. The writing was on the wall for one of them. Player power won out.
2. French National Team World Cup Meltdown
During the 2010 World Cup nothing seemed right in the French camp. There’s too much to outline to give this spat any good context but I recommend the documentary Les Blues to give you the full background. The training ground meltdown happened in-front of live TV cameras, smack bang in the middle of a disastrous World Cup for the French team.
3. West Ham’s John Hartson vs. Eyal Berkovic
This one is straight up nasty. In 1998, a video leaked showing a training ground altercation between West Ham teammates John Hartson and Eyal Berkovic. It was Tarantino level violence from Hartson on Berkovic. Berkovic said of the incident “If my head had been a ball, it would have been in the top corner of the net”. Hartson would later say the incident was the biggest regret of his career.
4. Mario Balotelli vs. Roberto Mancini
All these bust ups seem to be between big egos. Another such confrontation happened between the consistently tempestuous Mario Balotelli and Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini in 2013. In the pictures of training ground argument you can see Mancini trying to grab a hold of Balotelli - something no manager has appeared capable of since with the Italian strikers career going into steady descent since. He currently plays for Brescia in Serie A.
5. Barcelona’s Neymar vs. Nelson Semedo
The final major bust up that comes to mind was between FC Barcelona’s Neymar and new recruit Nelson Semedo during a pre season training camp in the USA ahead of the 2017-2018 season. Neymar at the time was about to depart Barcelona for PSG. Since then Neymar has had his fair share of problems and is now begging to get back to Barca. Semedo beware.
Comment below with any other legendary training ground sparring sessions that I may have missed.