“He really went off on us.”
The festive period is an exhausting time for Premier League footballers. While most fans enjoy a two-week holiday over Christmas, elite-level players often play four or five games over a 14-day stretch.
This season will be no different. Between December 23 and January 1, for example, Manchester United will play four games in the league and Carabao Cup.
That has been the way for a long time, of course, but this year, footballers will be prevented from enjoying social gatherings due to current coronavirus restrictions.
Back in 2007, however, the Manchester United squad were keen to enjoy some downtime leading up to Christmas.
At that time, Alex Ferguson’s side were challenging for the Premier League title and had just qualified for the knockout rounds of the Champions League (they went on to win both).
Pique recalls United Christmas party
A few days before Christmas, the squad decided to party after a training session. However, having heard about his players’ late night, Ferguson was waiting for them in the training ground’s changing room the following day.
“They hold the Christmas party, two or three days before Christmas just for the players,” Gerard Pique, who left United at the end of the 2007/08 season to join Barcelona, told Rakuten series Matchday in 2019.
“And well they go really wild. You finish training, leave the cars at the training ground. You get on a coach. We went to a casino. Casino, party.
“The next day we all go to the training ground and Sir Alex Ferguson is waiting for us in the changing room. Altogether for a meeting.
“He really went off on us. And there was an aluminium chair, he kicked it and unfortunately bashed his shin on it.
“He kicked the chair with his shin. And then he starts limping. He had broken his tibia.
“And from then on, no Christmas party, which had been the most traditional thing there, you know? No, it was spectacular. That was so funny.”
Pique, who has won four Champions League titles during his spells at United and Barcelona, also recalled how his pet rabbit destroyed his Manchester apartment – which was owned by Ferguson.
“I rented the apartment from the manager, from Sir Alex. And I bought a rabbit. It destroyed the place. The rabbit chewed all the chairs.
“And after I’d gone, he called me one day, really annoyed. ‘This one’s really tight. A typical bloody Catalan. Money coming out of his ears but…’
“Dammit it, I was all on my own. No family or friends. I thought, a dog is too big, I’ll buy a rabbit. But Christ, the rabbit didn’t pay any attention.”