20 of the most famous insults in football history after Cristiano Ronaldo v Maurizio Sarri

  • Rob Swan

Football can bring out the best in people - but it can also bring out the very worst.

Emotions often spill over and players and managers have said some harsh things - and not just in the heat of the moment - about their fellow professionals down the years.

At the weekend, for example, Cristiano Ronaldo is alleged to have called Maurizio Sarri a ‘son of a wh*re’ after being subbed off by the Juventus coach early in the second half against AC Milan.

With this incident fresh in the mind, we thought we’d look back at 20 of the most famous insults in football history.

These are all absolute classics.

David Beckham v Spanish referee Turienzo Alvarez

David Beckham might come across as the politest man in the world, but the former England captain could lose his temper on the pitch.

During his spell at Real Madrid, Becks received a straight red card for calling Spanish referee Turienzo Alvarez a "Hijo de puta" - meaning “son of a wh*re” - after he was penalised following a foul on Real Murcia’s Luis Garcia.

The Englishman protested his innocence after the match, insisting: "I didn't realise what I had said was that bad. I had heard a few of my team-mates say the same before me."

If you say so, David…

Madrid Briton David Beckham retires duri

El-Hadji Diouf v Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher

El-Hadji Diouf has a massive chip on his shoulder and slagged off his former Liverpool teammates Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher via the media in 2017.

The Liverpool flop said Gerrard “never did anything for his country”, continuing: "I am Mr El Hadji Diouf, Mr Senegal but he is Mr Liverpool and Senegal is bigger than Liverpool and he has to know that."

He also said Gerrard “downright killed his team by slipping against Chelsea,” adding: "If Liverpool has never won the Premier League, it's no accident. What goes around, comes around."

And on Carragher, Diouf said: "If he (Carragher) wasn't a Scouser, he was never going to play football in his life. I'm sorry for him. I only have this to say for him."

He also said of the former Liverpool defender: “The difference between Jamie and me is that I am a world class player and he is a s***."


Bolton Wanderers v Liverpool

Alan Pardew v Manuel Pellegrini

During a Premier League clash between Newcastle United and Manchester City in January 2014, Alan Pardew was caught on TV shouting to Manuel Pellegrini: “Shut your noise you f***ing old c***”.


Pardew was fuming with Pellegrini after referee Mike Jones controversially disallowed a Cheick Tiote goal and dropped the C-bomb on the Chilean coach.

Jose Mourinho v Arsene Wenger

Jose Mourinho has said so much about Arsene Wenger down the years, but his ‘voyeur’ insult is probably the most famous jibe.

After Wenger said Chelsea had “lost big belief” following a 1-1 draw at Everton and a League Cup loss to Charlton, Mourinho hit back in bizarre fashion.

"I think he is one of these people who is a voyeur," Mourinho, who also branded Wenger a ‘specialist in failure’, said about the Frenchman.

"He likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have a big telescope to see what happens in other families."


Jose Mourinho v Lionel Messi

Back in 2006, when Lionel Messi wasn’t even 20 years old, Jose Mourinho aimed fire at the young Barcelona star following a Champions League clash at Stamford Bridge.

Asier Del Horno was sent off for a foul on Messi, who rolled around a bit following the challenge.

This prompted Mourinho to accuse Messi of being overly theatrical.

"How do you say cheating in Catalan? Can Messi be suspended for acting? Barcelona is a cultural city with many great theatres and this boy has learned very well,” the Portuguese coach said. “He's learned play-acting."

Jose Mourinho v Antonio Conte

Here he is again.

When it comes to insults, nobody in football is as prolific as Mourinho.

A couple of years ago, when Mourinho was managing United, he aimed fire at Chelsea boss Antonio Conte on several occasions.

There was this subtle dig, knowing full well that Conte had undergone a hair transplant years earlier…

I could answer in many different ways but I'm not going to lose my hair to speak about Antonio Conte.

And in January 2018, Mourinho attempted to score points by bringing up the fact that Conte received a four-month suspension while at Juventus in the 2012/13 season for failing to report match-fixing at his previous club Siena.

"What never happened to me - and will never happen - is to be suspended for match-fixing,” he said. “That never happened to me and will never happen."

Chelsea v Manchester United - The Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final

Sir Alex Ferguson v Real Madrid

When it became clear that Real Madrid wanted to sign Cristiano Ronaldo towards the end of 2008, Sir Alex Ferguson was having none of it.

"You don't think we'd get into a contract with that mob, do you? Jesus Christ,” he told the media. “I wouldn't sell them a virus."

Six months later, Ronaldo completed his dream move to the Bernabeu - and Man Utd were £80 million richer.

Manchester United Training & Press Conference

Xavi v Cristiano Ronaldo

Days before Ronaldo signed for Los Blancos, Barcelona midfielder Xavi attacked the Portuguese forward, insisting the Camp Nou was no place for players who “fill gossip magazines”.

"As for Ronaldo, I wouldn't want him here,” the Spanish legend was quoted as saying by the Guardian in June 2009. “At Barca, we do not have room for players who fill gossip magazines.

"We are hard workers and sportsmen but he, on the other hand, is uncontrollable."

Ronaldo went on to score 450 goals in 438 games for Madrid.

Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Final

Arrigo Sacci v Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard is a true Premier League legend and one of the greatest Liverpool players ever - but he didn’t possess a football brain according to Arrigo Sacchi, the master of modern football tactics.

The former AC Milan boss once said that Gerrard ‘lacks what I call knowing-how-to-play football’, describing him as ‘a great footballer, but not a great player’.

Millions would disagree, Arrigo.

Liverpool's English midfielder Steven Ge

George Best v David Beckham

Back in 2000, David Beckham finished second behind Rivaldo for FIFA’s 1999 World Player of the Year award.

This prompted a scathing assessment of Beckham’s ability from Manchester United legend George Best, who said at the time: "Beckham didn't deserve to be elected best player in the world. When he can do something else apart from cross perhaps he will.

He (Beckham) cannot kick with his left foot, he cannot head a ball, he cannot tackle and he doesn't score many goals. Apart from that he's all right.


David Beckham

Sir Alex Ferguson v Alan Wiley

Following a 2-2 draw against Sunderland at Old Trafford in 2009 - a terrible result for United during the Ferguson era - United’s manager criticised the fitness of referee Alan Wiley.

“The referee was not fit enough,” the Scottish coach said. “The game demanded a referee who was fit. He’s not fit. You see referees abroad who are as fit as butcher’s dogs. He was taking 30 seconds to book a player then having a rest. Ridiculous.”

Wiley’s refereeing career ended the following year.

Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League

Roy Keane v Mick McCarthy

If there’s one person in football you don’t want to get on the wrong side of, it’s Roy Keane.

The former Manchester United captain was famously sent home from the 2002 World Cup finals after a bust-up with Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy.

After being questioned by McCarthy over an article in the Irish Times in which both the manager and team were criticised, Keane went in with both barrels on the Yorkshireman.

"Mick, you're a liar ... you're a f***ing w****r. I didn't rate you as a player, I don't rate you as a manager, and I don't rate you as a person.

"You're a f***ing w****r and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country and you're not even Irish you English c***. You can stick it up your b******s.”


Roy Keane v Alf-Inge Haaland

After suffering a season-ending knee injury while trying to trip up Alf Inge Halaand in September 1997, Keane held a three-year grudge before exacting his revenge in the Manchester derby.

"I'd waited long enough. I f*****g hit him hard," Keane was quoted as saying by the Guardian. "The ball was there (I think). Take that you c***. And don't ever stand over me again sneering about fake injuries. And tell your pal [David] Wetherall there's some for him as well. I didn't wait for Mr Elleray to show the red card. I turned and walked to the dressing room. My attitude is an eye for an eye."

Like we said earlier, never get on the wrong side of Keane.

Graeme Souness v Paul Pogba

Graeme Souness has some weird personal vendetta against Manchester United’s French midfielder Paul Pogba, who seems to live in the Sky Sports pundit’s head rent free.

In September 2018, Souness said: "Pogba plays for himself, it’s all about how cool he looks, showing us how clever he is.

"I reckon Pogba’s only in the team to maintain his transfer value until United can sell him, because he doesn’t merit his place for any other reason. Perhaps we’re now seeing the selfish player Fergie didn’t fancy first time round?"


John Terry v Robbie Savage

John Terry was coming to the end of his Chelsea career in 2015 and received some criticism from former Premier League midfielder-turned-pundit Robbie Savage for his performances.

Terry responded in a press conference by saying he wasn’t prepared to take criticism from players who played at a “really bad level”.

“I’ve come under criticism, individually, from certain players and individuals, players I’ve looked up to and played alongside. I’ve taken that on the chin: Rio, Carra, Neville, the very best I’ve come up against in the game,” the Chelsea legend said.

“When others speak, maybe I don’t take it on the chin. When players have not had a career, played at a really bad level in their career … Robbie Savage being one. He’s dug me out a couple of times. You take it as a footballer, as an individual. I’ll take it from the Rios, Carraghers and Neville. All day long. From others? Nah.”

Now that’s a dig.

Eric Cantona v Didier Deschamps

Didier Deschamps was stuck with ‘the water carrier’ nickname after Eric Cantona’s derogatory remark earlier in his career.

"Deschamps gets by because he always gives 100 per cent, but he will never be anything more than a water carrier,” the Frenchman said. “You can find players like him on every street corner."


Diego Maradona v Pele

Diego Maradona has slammed fellow football legend Pele on countless occasions down the years.

Here are some of his most famous jibes…

"Pele should go back to the museum."

“This is maybe due to old age affecting such comments [about Messi not being as good as Pele]. You can’t blame the guy, he hasn’t been doing anything for the past 20 years. I haven’t even seen him in a supermarket – I don’t know what he does. Usually, when you see him these days, it’s only at award ceremonies next to the president of Fifa and looking like a doll that’s being moved by remote control. ”

They need to change the medicine they are giving to the idiot.

"He took the wrong pill. Instead of taking the pill for before bedtime, he took his morning pill. He got confused. I suggest that next time he takes the right medication and that he changes his doctor."

Classic Diego.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic v Pep Guardiola

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Pep Guardiola fell out spectacularly during their time working together at Barcelona.

In his autobiography, Zlatan revealed: "Guardiola was staring at me and I lost it. I thought ‘there is my enemy, scratching his bald head!’. I yelled to him: ‘You have no balls!’ and probably worse things than that."

He also said to Guardiola, who he refers to as the ‘philosopher’: "You are sh*tting yourself because of Jose Mourinho. You can go to hell!"

Barcelona's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrah

Marco Materazzi v Zinedine Zidane

One of the most effective insults of all time, Marco Materazzi played his part in Italy’s 2006 World Cup triumph by getting the great Zinedine Zidane sent off in the final.

Zidane saw the red mist and head-butted Materazzi in his final game in professional football after the Italian defender said to him: "I prefer the whore that is your sister”.

France went on to lose that final on penalties as Zidane’s illustrious career ended in disgrace.

Pele v Lionel Messi

Pele clearly feels threatened that Messi has surpassed him as the greatest footballer of all time.

In December 2018, the Brazilian legend criticised Messi’s ability (seriously…), insisting he was a much better footballer than the Barcelona icon.

"How are you going to compare someone who headed well and kicked a football with his left and right foot with someone who only used one foot, only had one skill and didn't head well?” Pele asked.

"To compare a player with Pele it has to be someone good with both feet who scores goals with his head. For me, Maradona was one of the best players ever, much better than Messi."

Poor old Pele still ended up getting mocked by Maradona after those comments.

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel M
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