Cesar Azpilicueta made headlines on Wednesday night when he confronted a Chelsea fan.
While the full details of what transpired at Stamford Bridge remain unknown, the Blues skipper was seen chatting passionately with a home supporter after the 4-2 defeat to Arsenal.
It summed up a frustrating evening for the west London club with Eddie Nketiah’s brace, as well as strikes from Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka, confining them to a third home defeat in a row.
Players confronting fans
With losses having also come against Real Madrid and Brentford in the days and weeks prior, it perhaps shouldn’t been surprising that tensions ran high once the final whistle blew at the Bridge.
And it’s certainly not the first time that player-fan confrontations have caught the eye with the Azpilicueta incident reminding us of when Micah Richards went over to his own supporters.
Richards is now one of the most celebrated and recognisable pundits on UK television, but before that, he was spending the final spell of his professional football career with Aston Villa.
Richards at Aston Villa in 2015/16
In fact, the former England international wore the captain’s armband at Villa Park during the infamous 2015/16 season where the club was relegated from the Premier League for the first time.
The Villans finished rock bottom of the table on just 17 points with a miserable record of three wins, eight draws and 27 defeats to rank amongst some of the division’s worst ever teams.
And the discontent around the club came to the fore in January 2016 when Villa couldn’t even beat Wycombe Wanderers, slumping to a 1-1 draw at Adams Park in the FA Cup third round.
Richards himself had actually broken the deadlock in the first-half, but a penalty from Joe Jacobson forced a replay and ensured that there was a toxic atmosphere amongst the travelling fans.
Richards confronts Aston Villa fans
However, in footage that remains eye-opening to this day, Richards didn’t shy away from the criticism and decided to have a chat, man to man, with some of the Villa fans in the away end.
Per the Mirror, when the team’s passion was called into question, Richards said in response: “Do you think doing this is going to make it any better? It’s not.
“We need to stick together. We’re trying. We’re trying the best we can. We want to win as much as you do. We f *** g want it just as bad as you.
“Be honest, do you think this is going to help our situation? It’s not. We’ve got to stick together, end of.”
Did you see Micah Richards confront the frustrated Aston Villa fans yesterday? pic.twitter.com/4lFqcLoFt9— oddschecker (@oddschecker) January 10, 2016
Fair play, Micah, fair play. It takes minerals to do that.
Richards called ‘brave’ for his actions
According to Sky Sports, Villa manager Remi Garde said at the time: “It was brave of him to do that. As professionals we have to face our responsibilities – not only Micah, me and all the players.
“To be fair I didn’t see the incident, but I’ve been told about it. I understand that the fans could be angry.
“We have to accept that, as a player, a manager, everybody at the club has to accept that criticism, because we are not winning – that’s football.
“The situation with Aston Villa is very difficult and makes some silly things happen sometimes.
“Everybody has to keep calm, face their responsibilities, look in the mirror and ask themselves what they can do to get out of this difficult situation.”
In the end, Villa did manage to win the replay 2-0 on home soil with Ciaran Clark and Idrissa Gueye scoring, but that didn’t stop them from suffering one of the worst seasons in their history.
Richards would only go on to play a handful of games for Villa in the Championship before injuries curtailed his career, leading him to the television career that he’s absolutely thriving in now.
Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal ADVANCED & CLOSE (Football Terrace)