IT goes without saying that fiery rivalries among football teams and players make matches even more entertaining.
But sometimes, the beautiful game is marred by feuds that spill off the pitch, resulting in bitter and toxic clashes.
This week Manchester United ace Cristiano Ronaldo slammed his former teammate Gary Neville for only using him for TV fame in an explosive interview.
The star, 37, told Piers Morgan that Neville, 47, was trying to “take advantage” of him as he’s the “number one followed guy” in the world, adding they’re ‘not friends’ and wouldn’t be going for dinner anytime soon.
When Neville caught wind of the remarks, he simply tweeted: “Anyone for dinner?”
The pair are not the only players who have sensationally fallen out – here look back at some of the most toxic rivalries in football.
John Arne Riise and Craig Bellamy
In the run-up to Liverpool’s big match against Barcelona in the Champions League in 2007, fiery striker Bellamy wound-up defender Riise by calling him “Ginge” and telling him to sing.
After the Norwegian refused, Bellamy got a golf club and whacked him with it while drunk in what Bellamy later admitted was “bullying behaviour”.
Riise claimed the attack was so vicious it could have ended his career.
He was even more shocked when Bellamy made fun of the assault by mimicking a golf swing after scoring in the key game.
The Norwegian said: “I thought it was f*****g disrespectful.”
Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane
Manchester United’s former midfield hardman Keane has never been one to mince his words – and telling it like it is did not please his manager when he was on international duty for the Republic of Ireland.
As captain of the squad at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, he felt the need to complain publicly about his team’s preparation.
Gaffer McCarthy confronted Keane in front of the other players and his star player retorted: “You can stick your World Cup up your b******s.”
The manager sent his captain home, but this wasn’t the first time they’d fallen out as they’d had an argument back in 1992 when McCarthy called Keane a “disgrace” for arriving back late on a team bus.
Rafael van der Vaart and Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Both Swede Ibrahimovic and Dutchman Van der Vaart thought they were the best players at Holland’s legendary side Ajax.
Van der Vaart said: “He came to the club and believed that he was the best player at Ajax. It was just two egos converging in one place.”
When Holland faced Sweden in a friendly, Ibrahimovic injured Van der Vaart in a nasty challenge.
Ibrahimovic later said: “I don’t like you, I don’t like you as a captain. I didn’t injure you on purpose and you know it.
“If you accuse me again, I’ll break both your legs and this time it’ll be on purpose.”
Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer
One of the most notorious bust-ups was when Newcastle United teammates Bowyer and Dyer squared up to each other near the end of a game in 2005.
Opposition players exchanging blows is controversial enough, but those on the same side is a total no-no.
Reportedly, Bowyer had complained that Dyer wasn’t passing to him and his teammate responded that he wasn’t giving him the ball because he didn’t rate him.
Both players were sent off and handed bans.
Legend has it that then Newcastle manager Graeme Souness offered to take them on in the dressing room afterwards, but they declined.
El Hadji Diouf and Jamie Carragher
Liverpool’s legendary defender Jamie Carragher and the club’s former striker Diouf have an ongoing war of words.
Diouf, who joined the Anfield side in 2002, said “the difference between Jamie and me is that I am a world-class player and he is a s***.
“The type of s**t that writes a book and mentions me all the time. Me, in my book, he does not warrant one phrase: he’s a f*****g loser.”
Carragher mocked Diouf by saying: “The other big difference is he’s scored less goals for LFC in the Premier League than me! (Not counting OG’s!!)”
Diouf only scored three goals in 55 games during his three years on Merseyside.
Michael Owen and Alan Shearer
Shearer is passionate about his boyhood team Newcastle United and did not take well to former teammate Owen making disparaging comments about them.
In his autobiography, the former Liverpool man said Newcastle fans were “deluded” about their club’s stature.
Owen, who like Shearer was one of England’s top strikers, later said moving to the Geordie side was a “downward step” after Real Madrid and something he regretted.
Shearer posted a clip of Owen saying he “couldn’t wait to retire for the final six or seven years” of his career followed by the comment “Yes, Michael, we thought that also, whilst on £120K a week.” Ouch.
Ousmane Dabo and Joey Barton
Hothead midfielder Barton was never far from controversy during his career – but his lowest moment was his attack on Manchester City teammate Dabo in 2007 during a training session.
Witnesses told how he repeatedly punched Dabo while he was on the ground, resulting in a detached retina.
Barton admitted assault and was given a four-month jail sentence suspended for two years.
Dabo said: “He says he is a man, a bad boy, but he is just a coward.”
In June this year, Barton incredibly offered Dabo a chance to “get his own back” in a charity boxing match.
Roy Keane and Patrick Viera
Manchester United and Arsenal’s intense rivalry in the late 90s and early 2000s was one of the most exciting in the game.
In 2005, the captains of each side – City’s Roy Keane, 51, and the Gunners’ Patrick Viera, 46, had a tunnel altercation before a match.
Keane accused Viera of trying to intimidate his teammate Gary Neville before the clash.
Their scuffle resulted in the iconic line “I’ll see you out there” uttered by Keane.
Since then, both men have given their accounts of the incident with the former England midfielder accusing the Frenchman of bullying.
Viera also hit back saying: “That’s Man United players. They talk a lot. They’re busy…”
They have since patched up and have even gone for ice cream together.
Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy
Former pals Wayne Rooney, 37, and Jamie Vardy, 35, got dragged into their wives’ explosive Wagatha Christie libel battle.
The legal wrangling was due to Rooney’s wife Coleen’s accusation that Vardy’s missus Rebekah had leaked stories about her.
The former England teammates traded barbs with Jamie calling Wayne’s testimony at the trial “nonsense”.
In turn, Manchester United icon Wayne reportedly called Jamie a “bottler” for refusing to take the witness stand at the trial.
Stefan Effenberg and Lothar Matthaus
When Bayern Munich played Manchester United in the Champions League final in 1999 their two-star midfielders couldn’t hide a mutual loathing.
Effenberg, 54, had questioned Matthaus’s courage after he failed to take Germany’s penalty in the 1990 World Cup Final.
Matthaus, 61, later retorted that Effenberg had “lost his touch” and thought that Bayern giants should sell him.
Effenberg, nicknamed The Tiger, responded with a world-class put down in his autobiography. A chapter titled ‘What Lothar Matthaus knows about football’ was left blank.