“I woke in the dark to hear someone opening the door.”
John Arne Riise has given his account of the infamous golf club incident with Craig Bellamy when the pair played for Liverpool.
The incident happened back in 2007, ahead of a Champions League tie with Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
Riise on the Craig Bellamy golf club incident.
The Liverpool squad were in the Algarve for what was supposed to be a relaxing trip ahead of a crucial game. Yet, it resulted in Bellamy threatening Riise and wielding a golf club after an argument on a team night out.
Ironically, both players scored for Liverpool in the match at the Camp Nou. The hotel dispute is still associated with both players.
Riise claims in his autobiography that the incident was so serious, Bellamy could have ended his career. The Norwegian says that it started when Bellamy was using a karaoke machine and called for Riise to sing.
How the golf club incident began.
“Pretty soon Bellamy was over by the karaoke machine with the microphone in the hand: ‘Riise’s gonna sing! Riise’s gonna sing!’,” the former full-back, who played for Liverpool between 2001 and 2008, writes in his autobiography.
“Furious, I went over to him: ‘I’m not singing. Shut the fuck up or else I’m gonna smash you!’ He screamed back: ‘I’m gonna fucking kill you, you ginger c**t!'”
Riise says he then left the party, went back to the team hotel and got into bed. He didn’t lock his hotel room door as Daniel Agger, his roommate was still out with the rest of the Liverpool squad.
Yet, according to the former Liverpool defender, it was Bellamy who arrived at the room.
“I woke in the dark to hear someone opening the door. 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.
“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 fucking 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.”
Riise claims that he didn’t retaliate because he was worried that, if he did, his career at Liverpool would have been over. He urged Bellamy to put the golf club down so that they could “fight with our fists.”
Bellamy said he would “finish this” the following morning. According to Riise, the next morning at breakfast, Bellamy said nothing about what had happened.
2007 – Liverpool are the only English side to have beaten Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the Champions League, back in Feb 2007. Mountain. pic.twitter.com/qMx6pe47g7
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 19, 2016
Bellamy scored against Barcelona and celebrated by making a golf swing motion, a not-so-subtle nod to the incident at the hotel. The Welsh forward also set-up Riise’s goal in the match.
The Norwegian says he found Bellamy’s celebration to be “fucking disrespectful” and he questioned the sincerity of his subsequent apology.
Bellamy’s account of the golf club incident.
Liverpool reached the final that season, where they lost to AC Milan in Athens. Bellamy left Liverpool for West Ham United that summer.
In his own autobiography, the former Wales forward claims that he did not take a “proper” swing at Riise and that it was “just a thwack.” He admits though that he is now embarrassed by the incident.
On this day 2007: Liverpool beat Barcelona 2-1 at the Nou Camp pic.twitter.com/gkoeWTaRYa
— Classic Football Shirts (@classicshirts) February 21, 2018
“It was pathetic. It was stupidity of the highest level – drunken, bullying behaviour,” Bellamy writes.
(Originally published on September 29, 2020).