John Hartson and Eyal Berkovic (West Ham) 1998
A footballer dreams of capturing the imaginations of millions with his kicks. John Hartson did exactly that. However, the kick was to the face of his teammate Eyal Berkovic. Video taken by a fan in 1998 showed Hartson first tackling Berkovic heavily from behind. Hartson then tried to help Berkovic to his feet but the Israeli, clearly hurt, swung an arm at his teammate. Hartson was then seen to kick the still kneeling Berkovic in the face.
John Hartson, who was fined £20,000 for his actions, told BBC in 2015, that the incident was the biggest regret of his career.
“Even today it is the biggest regret of my career,” he said. “I was 20 years of age. I was very boisterous, probably a little bit angry. I’d left Arsenal in 1997 and they went on to win the double in 1998.
“Eyal Berkovic was a good lad and to this day I don’t know why I reacted the way I did. It was nothing personal against Eyal. It could have been anyone of the players on the training ground that day.”
Joey Barton and Ousmane Dabo (Man City) 2007
Joey Barton was handed a six-match ban by the FA and also received a four-month suspended prison sentence from the police for assaulting teammate Ousmane Dabo. Dabo had been hit several times, was left unconscious and had to go to hospital after suffering injuries to his head, including a suspected detached retina.
The altercation resulted in City selling off Barton. Years later Barton gave his side of the story accusing Dabo of starting the fight. Speaking to So Foot magazine in 2011, Barton said:
‘You know the Ousmane Dabo thing, I have never really given my side of the story.
‘But it’s him who hit me from behind with his hand. I hit him back. So, he started it. I didn’t.
‘Ousmane was bigger than me. But it happened just like that. Bang, bang, bang and it was over. The truth is he started the fight and I finished it.”
Dabo denied Barton’s accusation and claimed he was a lying coward. He had told French newspaper L’Equipe:
“Barton is lying about what happened on the training pitch at Manchester City.
“There was a trial, he pleaded guilty, and got a four-months suspended prison sentence.
“He tackled me, I replied by tackling him too. We found ourselves face-to-face. I had no intention to fight. I jostled him, but I didn’t hit him. So, I turned back and then he struck me to the side of the head. I lost consciousness and, being on the ground, he jumped at me and went on hitting me in the face about 10 times.
“He says he is a man, a bad boy, but he is just a coward.”
This brings an end to the list of football teammates fight during training.
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