5 famous personal rivalries in football

Personal rivalries between football players in big matches are very common. Every timethese rival players face each other, the atmosphere gets intense and ends up in a notorious incident. Over the years, there have been a lot of personal rivalries and infamous incidents to ponder over. Here, let us revive some of them.


#5 Sergio Ramos v Carlos Puyol

“United by country; divided by club”

Yes, this sentence describes them all. In Spain team, they play in perfect combination. But, when it comes to l Clasico they boil up against each other.

Though they have denied any rifts between them, their bash up in El Clasico’s proves their rivalry. Many instances, we have seen Ramos mouthing against Puyol. One time, it ended in a bad fight when they had to be stopped by the referee and team mates.

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#4 Pepe v Messi

Pepe ‘the Animal’ is known for his rough and inhumane tackles. Under the pressure of El Clasico, Pepe tends to go beyond the limit.


During a match, Pepe stamped Messi. In one other match, he was constantly bringing down Messi by his rash tackles. Even in the recent El Clasico, Pepe was seen gossiping into Messi’s ears aggressively.

Every time when these two teams face each other, we get to see them in extra aggression to outplay the other.

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#3 Rudi Voller v Frank Rijkaard

Netherlands and Germany were always arch-rivals in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Although this rivalry has roots from second world war, it was intensified after the Germans defeated the Dutch in the 1974 World Cup final.

During the 1990 World Cup Round of 16 match, Frank Rijkaard got himself booked after a challenge on Voller. It was his second of the tournament, so he would be missing the quarter-finals, if the Dutch would progress. Unable to digest this, Rijkaard took a dig at his opponent by spitiing on him. Thereafter, a fierce verbal spat led to the booking of Voller as well.

This did not end with this; during the freekick, an incensed Rijkaard tried to drag Voller then stamped on his foot, leaving the German on the ground. The referee intervened and sent both of them for an early shower.

An innocent Voller was on his way back when Rijkaard again ran upto him and spat on Voller’s curly locks. This stirred up a controversy on the behaviour of players in World Cup matches.

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#2 Luis Suarez v Patrice Evra

This rivalry is remembered, perhaps, for a bitter reason. Racism.Though there are lots of awareness and campaigns against racism, it does exist.

During a match between Manchester United and Liverpool, Suarez again got himself into trouble by racially abusing Patrice Evra. He was heavily reprimanded by being banned for eight games. Since then, it has been a bloody battle.

In the reverse fixture, Suarez refused to shake hands with Evra. Eventually, after winning the match, Evra went next to Suarez and asked the supporters to cheer up sarcastically by waving the hands. Disgusted Suarez left the pitch brimming with anger.


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#1 Roy Keane v Patrick Vieira

Best of enemies. Yes, they are the best of enemies.

In the early 2000’s, Arsenal vs Manchester United always stirred up emotions. There were lots of events like – the tunnel bust-up, the pizzagate incident, the battle of Old Trafford etc. In all those years, there were two men who stood in front of all those heated incidents. Like true leaders, both were combative against each other.

Their rivalry was at its peak during the tunnel incident. Lining up inside the tunnel ahead of a crucial premier league clash, Patrick Vieira got into the thick of things by sledging Gary Neville. Noticing this, Roy Keane stepped up to Viera and said,” If u can, come and have a go at me”. Though referee calmed down the situation, the heat was on and the match saw six bookings and a red card for United.

Likewise, Vieria and Keane squaring up against each other was a common spectacle which can be revered up till now.

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