Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise both scored for Liverpool in a famous 2-1 victory over Barcelona at the Nou Camp in 2007, but the pair were involved in a much uglier incident beforehand.
John Arne Riise has revealed more about the astonishing moment a drunk Craig Bellamy swung a golf club at him after a prior argument.
Excerpts are taken from Riise’s autobiography, Running Man, which is being serialised in The Guardian.
Craig Bellamy’s golf swing celebration, which John Arne Riise describes as very disrespectful
Bellamy and Riise put their differences aside for the match against Barcelona, and both scored
Liverpool were staying at Barringtons Golf and Spa hotel, in an exclusive resort called Vale do Lobo in the Algarve, before heading to play Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Captain Steven Gerrard had booked a private room at Monty’s Restaurant and Bar, complete with a karaoke machine. Liverpool’s trainers and managers weren’t around, which meant the players were allowed to have a couple of drinks. However, Riise says things got out of hand.
After repeatedly trying to get John Arne Riise to perform karaoke, the Norwegian snapped at Craig Bellamy, saying ‘shut the f*** up or I’m gonna smash you!’
To which Bellamy replied: ‘I’m gonna f****** kill you, you ginger c***!’
Riise left the bar and retired to his hotel room and went to sleep. Upon hearing the door to his room opening, he had assumed it was his roommate Daniel Agger. Instead, it was Craig Bellamy wielding a golf club, accompanied by Steve Finnan.
Craig Bellamy drunkenly attacked John Arne Riise with a golf club after a prior argument
‘I woke in the dark to hear someone opening the door,’ writes Riise. ‘Obviously I thought it was Agger. I turned, but my eyes were half-asleep, and I didn’t see anything in the sudden, bright glare. But something made me realise that it wasn’t Agger. And soon I could see him – Craig Bellamy at the foot of my bed with a golf club in his hands.
JOHN ARNE RIISE’S CAREER STATS
96-98: Aalesund – 25 apps, 5 goals
98-01: Monaco – 44 apps, 4 goals
01-08: Liverpool – 234 apps, 21 goals
08-11: Roma – 99 apps, 7 goals
11-14: Fulham – 87 apps, 0 goals
14-15: APOEL – 25 apps, 4 goals
15: Delhi Dynamos – 15 apps, 1 goal
16: Aalesund – 10 apps, 0 goals
16: Chennaiyin – 10 apps, 1 goal
‘Steve Finnan, who shared a room with Bellamy, was there too, but he just stood there. Bellamy raised the club over his head and swung as hard as he could. He tried to hit my shins, which would have ended my career, but I managed to pull my leg away in time. I jumped out of bed, pulled off the sheet and held it between us like I was some kind of half-awake matador. Bellamy sputtered: “Nobody disrespects me like that in front of the lads!” He was completely gone.
‘“I don’t care if I go to jail! My kids have enough money for school and everything. I don’t care. I’ll f****** do you!” He raised the club and swung again. This time he connected. Full force on my hip. I was so pumped with adrenaline that I didn’t feel the pain, but he hit me hard. It was an iron.
‘The next blow smashed into my thigh. I tried to hold up the sheet, but he continued to strike. He could seriously injure me. At the same time, I knew I could take Bellamy if I needed to. I was bigger and stronger. Finnan stood by the door. Maybe he was there to stop Bellamy if it got too bad, but he was short and skinny. He wouldn’t have stood a chance once I made my mind up. However, I knew that if I responded to Bellamy’s attack, my career at Liverpool would be over.
‘I tried to calm him down: “Put down the club and let’s fight with our fists. Come on! A proper fight!” He just stood and glowered at me. Then he said: “Tomorrow at nine o’clock we’ll meet and finish this.” Then he left.’
Riise says they ‘had the ability to use adversity to succeed,’ but they would never be friends
Nothing more came of it, and Bellamy was forced to apologise and pay an £80,000 fine. Other players also got into trouble that night, including goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, who was bundled into the back of a police car in handcuffs.
Although Liverpool went behind early in their match with Barcelona, it was Bellamy who got them back into it with a goal just before half time.
He celebrated by running to the corner flag and making a swinging motion, as if with a golf club. Something which Riise describes as ‘f****** disrespectful.’
Bellamy was involved again for Liverpool’s winning goal, when he picked a pass to none other than John Arne Riise, who was able to turn the ball into the net with his wrong foot.
Bellamy ran and jumped on Riise in an embrace as they wildly celebrated taking the lead.
‘What Bellamy and myself proved was that we had the ability to use adversity to succeed,’ says Riise. ‘…but we could never be friends.’
He says that although his decision to not retaliate was sensible, he regrets not standing up for himself. Plus, he revealed that Steven Gerrard told him afterwards: ‘If I’d been in your shoes, I don’t think I would have managed.’