With no football being played at present, there has been a lot of time reflecting on yesteryear, and one memory which has popped up is when Arsenal stars Lee Dixon and Dennis Bergkamp came to blows on the training pitch.
The pair played together for seven years at Highbury, and always remained friends, although the defender has reminisced of one occasion when the pair clashed whilst preparing to take on North London rivals Tottenham.
The pair had both picked up knocks the week before, and missed the midweek fixture, so were asked to train with the reserves in order to get ready for Spurs, before that led to an altercation.
‘He was hard. He was hard to play against as a defender,’ ex-Arsenal right-back Dixon told the Off The Ball podcast.
‘I had a fight with him in training. We were both injured and we were playing Tottenham on the Saturday. Me and him got injured the week before.
‘So we’d just come back from injury and Arsene said, “I want you two to train with the reserves, because you’re playing Saturday”. It was a Thursday and they were doing a bit more, a bit extra. The first-team had played on the Tuesday and they were having a day off.
‘Geordie Armstrong was the manager, bless him, and we were doing an eight-vs-eight and I tackled Dennis, I fell on the ground and as I fell back he didn’t like it because I caught him. He stamped on my calf, put his foot down on my calf and I was on the floor and it just so happened that it was the leg I’d injured the week before.
‘So I kicked out at him and he bent down and as he bent down I just went [punching motion] and I chinned him which is never great punching someone when you’re lying on the floor. So I punched him, he’s gone back and laid one on me and I stood up and we’re both like this on the training pitch, throwing haymakers at each other on the Thursday before we played Tottenham.
‘Arsene had finished training with the first-team and he was wandering over to see how we both were and he sees his two stars players for the Saturday standing there, slugging holes out of each other.
‘Dennis would have it with anyone. That was a good part of his game, that he had a little bit of steal in him.’
It will be interesting to see if this story makes Arsene Wenger’s autobiography which is set for release later in the year, as you can only imagine the Frenchman’s thoughts on walking onto the pitch to see the two going at it.
Bergkamp has previously played down the fight however, which was said to have caused a riff in the dressing room, although despite Dixon revealing the true extent of the clash, he had no animosity towards Dennis.
Do players lack the same fight that our players used to possess? Would anyone have reacted in the same way that Dixon did to a stamp?