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10 famous football fights on Cantona Kung-Fu kick anniversary

| 25.01.2016

Sam Barnard and Lee Gormley | Updated January 25, 2016

It’s 21 years to the day that Manchester United icon Eric Cantona launched himself over the advertising boards and unleashed his now infamous Kung-Fu kick on a fan that had been verbally abusing the striker.

Following the anniversary of such a high-profile Premier League incident, here are 10 famous football fights that have occurred down the years, including Cantona’s moment of madness once again!

Eric Cantona v fan

Man Utd legend Cantona will be forever known for his standout displays whilst at the club, but is also synonymous with his infamous Kung Fu kick on loud-mouth Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons, after getting sent off.

It is fair to say that Cantona came out on top from the incident, as he remains an Old Trafford icon, while Simmons served time years later after being found guilty of actual bodily harm at a youth football match.

Despite his actions, Louis van Gaal would undoubtedly love to have a player of Cantona’s calibre in his current Red Devils set-up, who are 13/8 with Coral to clinch a top four finish this season.

David Batty v Graeme Le Saux

Just four minutes into Blackburn Rovers’ Champions League match with Spartak Moscow, England internationals Batty and Le Saux were involved in a brief scuffle, following a wayward pass form the latter. Current Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood was the peacemaker that day, but Le Saux managed to connect a good left hook on Batty.

Spartak manager Oleg Romantsev said on the incident: “Before the match I told my players they will be playing against 11 guys ready to fight for each other for 90 minutes – not with each other.”

Lee Bowyer v Kieron Dyer

Another all-English clash, this time between Newcastle United players Bowyer and Dyer. The Magpies were 3-0 down to Villa at the time, and Bowyer took offence to his teammate not passing to him.

According to Dyer, the event happened after Bowyer exclaimed: “You never pass to me!” To which Dyer replied: “The reason I don’t pass to you is because you’re s***.”

Billy Bremner v Kevin Keegan

In legendary boss Brian Clough’s first game in charge of Leeds, in a Charity Shield clash against Liverpool, his skipper and fiery Scot Bremner traded blows with Reds hero Keegan, before both were sent off.

Bruce Grobbelaar v Steve McManaman

Matches between Liverpool and Merseyside rivals Everton nearly always cause heated exchanges, but rarely between teammates. However, after conceding a goal due to McManaman’s poor clearance, Reds keeper Grobbelaar grabbed the winger by the throat before and after exchanging pushes.

Miguel Herrera v fan

Herrera became one of the faces of the World Cup in Brazil, following his hyperactive celebrations to his Mexico team scoring and/or winning a match. However, as a player he was not known for holding back his emotions either, as he took offence to a fan who seemingly pinched him on the backside.

Roy Keane v Alan Shearer

Former Red devils skipper Keane was certainly not a player who was known for holding back either, and he was involved in a number of scuffles on and off the pitch throughout his career.

In this instance, the Irishman throws the ball and takes a swing at a composed and unfazed Shearer.

Marco Materazzi v Zinedine Zidane

Zidane was renowned for producing on the biggest of stages, and what a way to end his career at a World Cup final by being sent off for his infamous headbutt on provocative Italian Materazzi.

The Frenchman’s nod may have lost his side the match, but his legacy was still not dented.

Carles Puyol v Vicente Rodriguez

Whilst in training for their national side Spain, former Barcelona defender Puyol and ex-Brighton and Hove Albion winger Vicente clashed after both aggressively going for the ball. Teammates had to step in to separate the duo.

Battle of Santiago

It is hard to see how just two players were sent off in this 1962 World Cup group game between hosts Chile and Italy. This match had everything in terms of on-pitch violence – punch-ups, brawls, bad tackles, spitting – and the police had to intervene on four occasions.

The referee at the time was Englishman Ken Aston, who went on to invent yellow and red cards, while commentator David Coleman described the ferocious fixture as “the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.”


Read our Premier League archive.

Have a look at our other trivia pieces.



Sam Barnard

Sam has been writing for Coral since January 2014, and is the assistant editor of the news site. As well as the main betting sports, football, tennis and cricket, he covers the likes of golf, F1 and darts too, the latter of which has become a particular favourite. Sam enjoys playing as much as writing about sports, but niggling injuries have limited his participation in recent years, so is happy to mainly watch the pros such as Manchester United, Yorkshire CCC, Raymond van Barneveld and even Gibraltar national football team instead.