Zidane, Suarez, Benzema, Keane: The 9 biggest football feuds

Paris Saint-Germain are in the headlines yet again after another controversial incident between Kylian Mbappe and Neymar was caught on camera last weekend.

The duo have endured a strained relationship at best in recent times, and while we wouldn’t call it an all out feud just yet, you get the feeling there’s something festering between the pair.

Which got us thinking… what other high-profile disputes have we seen in football over the years?

The big egos that often go hand-in-hand with elite sporting performance have understandly resulted in some huge clashes.

So, from the infamous Roy Keane – who features just the three times on this list – to the usually so calm Karim Benzema, we’ve listed nine of football’s most noteworthy wars.

Zlatan vs Pep

When you look at the kind of player Guardiola loves, it would be fair to say someone like Ibrahimovic doesn’t fit the profile.

And so, unsurprisingly, they got on about as well as a cat and a pigeon locked in a tiny room.

The big Swede couldn’t handle the robotic nature of Guardiola’s methods, whilst the manager detested Ibra’s brash, self-obsessed personality.

They would last just one season together before the relationship soured beyond repair and Ibra moved on to Inter Milan.

“Guardiola was staring at me and I lost it,” Ibra later wrote in his book.

“I thought, ‘there is my enemy, scratching his bald head!’

“I yelled: ‘You haven’t got any b***s!’ and worse than that I added: ‘You can go to hell!’

“I completely lost it, and you might have expected Guardiola to say a few words in response, but he’s a spineless coward.”

Zlatan BArca
BARCELONA, SPAIN – MARCH 24: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Osasuna at the Camp Nou Stadium on March 24, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Lee Bowyer vs Kieron Dyer

Let’s hope Mbappe and Neymar never come to on-pitch blows like these two Newcastle teammates did back in 2005 – although it would be box office stuff.

The Magpies were 3-0 down at home to Aston Villa when the two piled into each other for some unknown reason, eventually being separated by Gareth Barry.

It remains the most infamous Premier League bust-up to this day.

NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND – APRIL 2 : Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer of Newcastle come to blows during the FA Barclays Premiership match between Newcastle United and Aston Villa at St James Park on April 2, 2005 in Newcastle, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Karim Benzema vs Didier Deschamps

Benzema’s back involved with the France set-up now, however due to previous scandal in which he allegedly blackmailed teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex-tape, he was forced to spend many a year watching his nation on the TV.

It seems all that frustration came to a head, when, in 2016, Benzema accused Deschamps of “bowing to the pressure of a racist part of France” after he was omitted from the Euro’s squad.

Deschamps responded by publicly stating that Benzema’s behaviour was “pitiful”.

Although, with Benzema now a key hope once again for Les Bleus heading into the 2022 World Cup, it seems Deschamps and his star have let bygones be bygones.

Benzema France
France’s Benzema scored twice in the Switzerland defeat.

Maxi Lopes vs Mauro Icardi

Well, we all know what happened here…

Two best buddies, all up until Icardi married Lopez’s ex-wife in incredibly controversial fashion.

Things only got worse when Icardi decided to get a tattoo of Lopez’s children – now his step-children – on his arm. The cheek of it.

Icardi has allegedly now cheated on Wanda Nara (Lopez’s ex-wife) and, after publicly feuding, we’re not even sure if they know whether or not they’re an item anymore.

Roy Keane vs Patrick Vieira

Let’s get onto the hat-trick of Keano’s then, shall we?

The Irish hardman was never far from controversy, least of all when his mortal enemy Vieira was in the same proximity.

Their bitter tunnel clash at Highbury when Keane believed Vieira was “picking on Gary Neville” will forever be one of the Premier League’s most iconic moments.

“We’ll see you out there,” Keane bellowed. And they certainly did, United won the game 4-2.

Patrick Vieira clashes with Roy Keane in Arsenal vs Man United
22 Aug 1999: Roy Keane of Manchester United clashes with Patrick Vieira of Arsenal during the FA Carling Premiership match against Arsenal played at Highbury in London, England. The match finished in a 2-1 win to Manchester United. Mandatory Credit:Clive Brunskill /Allsport

Roy Keane vs Alf-Inge Haaland

It all started in 1997, when Keane broke his cruciate ligament in a challenge on Haaland.

The Norwegian stood over him and accused the Utd star of play-acting.

Funny thing is, Keane never forgets. And in a 2001 Manchester derby, Keane put in a challenge on Haaland that effectively ended his career.

Speaking later on about the incident, Keane said he hadn’t meant to injure Haaland, but had no regrets.

Fofana DONE DEAL CLOSE✍️ Aubameyang VERY ADVANCED! Casemiro ADVANCED TALKS✅ Ronaldo EXIT? (The Football Terrace)

Roy Keane vs Mick McCarthy

Keane, then captain of Ireland, criticised the team’s preparations on the eve of the 2002 World Cup in an interview to the media.

Needless to say, that went down bloody awfully with fellow no-nonsense traditionalist McCarthy and the interview culminated in a fearsome head-to-head between the duo.

Keane told McCarthy to “stick your World Cup up your bo**ocks” before being sent home.

Ah, how we miss the days of no media training.

Roy Keane Ireland
DUBLIN, IRELAND – SEPTEMBER 7: A portrait of Roy Keane of Republic of Ireland prior to the World Cup Qualifying match between Republic of Ireland and France at Lansdowne Road on September 7, 2005 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Luis Suarez vs Patrice Evra

In one of the uglier chapters in Premier League history, Suarez was charged for racially abusing Evra.

Suarez denied it to the hill, Liverpool backed him and insisted they would fight the claims, even wearing supportive t-shirts to add fuel to an already raging fire.

To this day the incidents never entirely been settled and it remains a stain on Suarez’s career.

Sir Alex Ferguson summed up the feelings of many at the time, branding the Uruguayan “a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club.”

Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra
Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra

Zinedine Zidane vs Marco Materazzi

One of the most iconic moments in football history, all fans of the beautiful game should have the image of Zizou walking past the World Cup trophy, head bowed, in his final ever game, burned into their memories forever.

He’d already beaten Gianluigi Buffon with the most audacious of Panenka penalties earlier on in the match.

But with everything set up for Zidane to lead his nation to glory for the second time in his career, an unexplainable moment of madness altered the direction of fate forever.

When Italian centre-back Materazzi slandered Zidane’s sister within earshot, the Frenchman launched a vicious headbutt into his chest and was sent-off.

Italy went on to lift the trophy. As for Zidane, he said in 2010, that he would “rather die” than apologise for his actions.

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