Seeing Red

Premier League legend tells unhinged story about attacking a teammate with an 8-iron for not singing karaoke

October 26, 2023
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Alex Livesey

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, allow us to introduce you to Craig Bellamy. The former Welsh captain and Cardiff City legend is one of the most infamous characters in Premier League history. In addition to a storied 18-year career for heavyweights like Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester City, Bellamy has been up front about his struggles with clinical depression and drinking, resulting in numerous altercations on and off the field during his time as a player.

One of his tallest tales stems from an altercation before a pivotal Champions League match against Barcelona in 2007, when he attacked Liverpool teammate John Arne Riise with an 8-iron after a night of karaoke and binge drinking in Portugal. For years, the story has been mostly legend, but in a recent interview with The Overlap’s Gary Neville, Bellamy dished all the details from that fateful evening. As it turns out, the facts are even crazier than the fiction.

“We were going to play Barcelona in the Champions League,” Bellamy explains. “So we went to Portugal for the training camp which is not uncommon. Towards the end of it, we were allowed a night out – but before that, we trained, and we played golf.

“It was me, Robbie Fowler and John Arne Riise. Steve Finnan was with us as well. I questioned some of his [Riise’s] golf shots or where I felt the ball ended up. There were certain areas where I felt I’d seen it go somewhere and it ended up in a much better position. I said to Finney ‘he’s cheating’.

“During the night, we had a few drinks, and then it was karaoke songs … He [Riise] had to sing a song because we had a Christmas do (party), and he didn’t turn up – he said he was going back to Norway. We found out he didn’t go back to Norway, so his song was part of his punishment by the captain.

“I told him that he’s got to sing, and he’s dead against it. When someone’s dead against something and doesn’t want to do it, I want to push it more – ‘you have to’. Then it keeps going back and forth, until he said, ‘I’m not f—king singing and stop trying to f—king make me’. Steve Finnan and I were sharing a room, we go back and I told him ‘I’m not having that.’ I asked Steve what [golf] club he had that he didn’t like, and he said his 8-iron. So, I took it with me and said, ‘I’m going to go find him.’

“I knocked on his [Riise’s] door, no answer, I knocked on the door again and he leaves it on the latch …. I came in, turned the light on, swore a hell of a lot at him. I smacked him across the legs … Then he got into the corner, got the sheets and bedding around him, and I said, ‘if you ever speak to me like that in front of people again, I’m telling you now …’.”

A truly batsh*t story from a truly batsh*t man. But this isn’t even the best part. Days later, both Bellamy and Riise scored against Barcelona … and Bellamy celebrated by pretending to swing a golf club. Not even Spielberg could write that script .

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Stu Forster

Bellamy has grown up a lot in the years since and regrets the entire episode now, but let this be a lesson to us all: If a friend asks to borrow your 8-iron after a night of drinking, just say no.