Gerard Pique has recounted the time when, as a youngster at Manchester United, he felt the full fury of then-captain Roy Keane.
The Spanish international has since grown to become of the best defenders in the world and has a medal collection that is the envy of countless footballers, but received a tough early lesson during his spell at Old Trafford, in the early stages of his career.
Writing in the Players’ Tribune, the Barcelona centre-back opens up on the time that his mobile phone got him into trouble, resulting in a verbal tongue-lashing from the now-assistant manager of the Ireland national team:
“Imagine it – I’m 18 years old, and I’m sitting in that little dressing room putting on my socks next to Ruud van Nistelrooy, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand. I wanted to be invisible. I was thinking, ‘Just do your job and go unnoticed’.
“So we’re sitting there waiting for the gaffer (Sir Alex Ferguson) to come in and speak to us, and I’m literally sitting right next to Roy Keane. The dressing room is so small that our legs are almost touching. There’s no space at all.
“It’s dead quiet. All of a sudden, you could hear this little vibration. Very soft. Roy is looking around the room. I realise it’s me. It’s my cell phone. I left it on vibrate, and it’s in the pocket of my pants, stuffed in the clothes bag that’s hanging right behind Roy’s head.
“Roy can’t find where the noise is coming from. Now he’s looking around the room like a maniac. His eyes are darting everywhere, and he’s trying to figure it out. You know the famous scene with Jack Nicholson in The Shining, when he bursts through the door? That’s what he looked like.
“He screams out to everybody, ‘Whose phone is that?!’. Silence. He asks again. Silence. He asks a third time. ‘Whose. Bloody. Fucking. Phone. Is. That?!’
“Finally, I spoke up, like a little boy. Very softly, I said, ‘I’m so sorry. It’s mine.”
“Roy lost his mind! He went nuts in front of everybody! It was incredible. I almost shit myself. But it was a good lesson.
“Now, in 2018, everything is different. All these kids are on their iPhones before the matches. But back then, in 2006? It was a different world. You didn’t do that. Especially not at United. Not in Roy’s dressing room. It was one of a thousand mistakes that I made when I was at United.”
Pique spent four years in the Premier League with Man United, making 23 appearances in all competitions and winning his first Champions League medal at the club. He returned to Barca in 2008, going on to establish himself as a key player in one of the best teams in European football.