Birthday cakes, flying chicken wings and head-butts

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane. Picture: Ronald Wittek / epa
Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane. Picture: Ronald Wittek / epa

When Real Madrid lost to Tottenham Hotspur in the semifinal of the Audi Cup on Tuesday, their most expensive signing, Gareth Bale, was playing golf.

Bale, who was signed by the Spanish giants in 2013 for €100 million (R1.58 billion) – a fee they also paid for Eden Hazard in June – was not included in the travelling party amid rumours that his relationship with coach Zinedine Zidane had irreversibly broken down.

Not surprisingly, the French World Cup winner was not amused after being shown photos of Bale playing golf at the same time that Real were losing to Spurs.

Zidane, who had earlier said that Bale was not included in the squad because he was not well, said that he hoped the Welshman had trained.

“We are here, thinking about the team. I will not prevent someone from doing something. He has to look after his responsibilities. We will see what he has done in Madrid. I will not get into his personal life.”

The coach had earlier said that Bale leaving the club would be “best for everyone”, prompting the player’s agent to claim: “It’s simple, Zidane doesn’t like Gareth. There’s no relationship between them. There never has been.”

This is not the first time there has been a breakdown in a relationship between Zidane and a player – there have been several high-profile cases of acrimonious relationships between player and coach.

Like many managers, former Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson was not averse to raising his voice in the dressing room, and that was presumably what David Beckham was expecting after a disappointing United performance in an FA Cup defeat against Arsenal in 2003.

Instead, the Scottish coach kicked a boot in Beckham’s direction, striking the forward just over the eye and opening a gash that needed two stitches.

Former Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson Picture: PA images

Two-time Serie A winner Ivano Bonetti made an unlikely move to lowly Grimsby Town in 1995 and soon became a crowd favourite. At the time, the club had a player/manager in Brian Laws and the defender was so angry at the Italian after a defeat against Luton Town that he threw a plate of chicken wings at him, fracturing his cheekbone and leading to emergency surgery.

At the time, club chair Bill Carr said: “We understand a plate was thrown, I believe a chicken leg was thrown. But, other than that, we do not know what was going on.”

For Ivorian international Yaya Touré, the breaking point between himself and Manchester City was a birthday cake, or, better said, a birthday cake that might or might not have materialised. The midfielder already had a strained relationship with coach Pep Guardiola at Barcelona when the two were at the Spanish club, but things got worse when Guardiola joined City and Touré’s agent, Dimitry Seluk, claimed the club showed him no respect.

“The club’s owners ate a 100kg cake after winning the Premier League this season [2014], but when they and the players were all together, none of them shook his hand on his birthday. It shows they don’t care about him. They don’t know that money can’t buy relationships – no sheikh can buy a relationship.”

Years later – long after the differences had been set aside – the club teased Touré about the incident, sending out a tweet on his retirement (which he has since reversed) that included all the trophies he won with City, as well as a winking face emoji next to a birthday cake.

There have also been a number of physical altercations between players and coaches, with Fiorentina’s Delio Rossi being sacked by the club after attacking midfielder Adem Ljajic, who had sarcastically applauded him after being substituted.

In 2000, Djalminha helped Deportivo de La Coruña to their first La Liga title, but, two years later, the Brazilian international head-butted coach Javier Irureta after he awarded a free kick against him in a training session.

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