If you put any eleven people together at random, there’s a strong chance that some won’t get on with one another.
So while football clubs are generally quite good at supressing such negative news stories, there’s a likelihood that most teams around the world have a pair of warring colleagues in their ranks.
You might think it hard to imagine that anyone could dislike the humble and softly-spoken Sadio Mane, but it became quite apparent during Bayern Munich’s 0-3 Champions League defeat to Manchester City in April that he and former City star Leroy Sane are the best of enemies.
They were spotted arguing on the pitch at the Etihad Stadium, before it was revealed that they had had a physical fight in the dressing room after the game – Mane, it’s alleged, struck Sane in the face during the altercation.
The Senegalese ace was fined by Bayern and dropped from their next game against Hoffenheim, so it certainly appears as though there’s some truth to the rumours.
They aren’t the only teammates that haven’t gotten along, and it’s amazing how regularly happens within the ranks of successful clubs as well….
Teddy Sheringham and Andy Cole
In a silverware-laden spell at Manchester United, Teddy Sheringham and Andy Cole formed a lethal strike partnership that yielded a Champions League winner’s medal, three Premier League titles and an FA Cup.
And yet, despite their success, the two English forwards famously detested one another.
According to Cole, it all dates back to when he made his England debut against Uruguay in 1995. He claims that Sheringham, then at Tottenham, refused to acknowledge Cole or shake his hand when he was substituted to make way for the debutant, and that he had marked Teddy’s card from that day forward.
“I would rather sit down and have a cuppa with Neil Ruddock, who broke my leg in two places in 1996, than with Teddy Sheringham, who I’ve pretty much detested for the past 15 years,” Cole would later reveal.
Sheringham has largely remained tight-lipped on the situation, although he did tell a Manchester United podcast some years later:
“We didn’t have the best relationship. I think we rubbed each other up wrongly from the first moment we met, and it didn’t get any better to be honest.
“It was probably a personality clash. I think you’re safe to say that.”
Kolo Toure and William Gallas
When playing as centre backs side-by-side, communication is absolutely vital to ensuring a rigid defensive line is maintained.
And that’s what makes the animosity between Kolo Toure and William Gallas all the more surprising – they barely said a word to each other throughout their time at Arsenal.
Toure, part of the Gunners’ ‘Invincibles’ team of 2003/04, revealed that the level of disdain ran so deep that one of them had to leave the club – ultimately it was he who departed for Manchester City.
Neither man has lifted the lid on their feud, with Toure mysteriously revealing ‘….it is difficult and if we start talking about that then it will be a big story.’
Lionel Messi and Mauro Icardi
For much of his career, Mauro Icardi – a prodigiously-talented striker – has been persona non-grata in Argentina.
That’s because he had an affair with the wife of international teammate Maxi Lopez – the situation not exactly aided by the fact that Lopez had offered Icardi a place to stay when the younger man joined him at Sampdoria.
Step forward Lionel Messi, who would later be announced as captain of Argentina. It’s claimed that he told officials of the Argentine FA that he wanted Icardi ex-communicated from the international set-up, and they have largely abided by the maestro’s wished ever since.
It’s even been rumoured that when Messi joined PSG in 2021, where Icardi was on the books already, he told club officials to sell his nemesis and sign Sergio Aguero instead.
Kevin de Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois
More affairs of the heart now, with Courtois allegedly enjoying extra time and penalties with the girlfriend of De Bruyne during their time as teammates at Genk.
To make matters rather more embarrassing, the pair would later be forced to team up again at Chelsea, who seemingly had no idea of their previous bad blood.
De Bruyne, an increasingly inspirational figure for the Belgian national team, was even reportedly asked by head coach Marc Wilmots if he wanted Courtois dropped from the squad.
“I do not think I had the right to say that he cannot play for the national team anymore because he did something wrong,” the Man City maestro commented.
“Of course, he remains a good goalkeeper. So I said he could stay.”
Lothar Matthaus and Stefan Effenberg
They were briefly teammates at Bayern Munich, although there was clearly no love lost between Lothar Matthaus and Stefan Effenberg.
Effenberg denounced the legendary defender publicly on a number of occasions, and even labelled Matthaus a ‘quitter’ for failing to take a penalty in the 1990 World Cup final.
The slightly-bitter midfielder even dedicated a chapter of his autobiography to his rival, titled ‘What Lothar Matthaus Knows About Football’. The following page was left blank.
Matthaus would later have his revenge by telling Bayern chiefs to sell the ageing Effenberg in 2001.
Hell hath no fury like a teammate scorned….