Inside story of John Arne Riise and Craig Bellamy’s ‘golf club’ bust-up at Liverpool

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Craig Bellamy’s celebration at the Nou Camp in 2007 is one of the more iconic in recent Liverpool history.

After levelling the scores against Lionel Messi and Co. the Welshman proceeded to swing an imaginary golf club as high as it can.

But if the celebration is one etched into the memories of all Reds, the story that created it is arguably even more memorable.

Bellamy was known for his fiery attitude and in his 2018 autobiography, John Arne Riise confirmed that rage wasn’t exclusively directed towards the opposition.

The Norwegian recalled the incident, with Rafa Benitez’s side enjoying a team bonding session ahead of the Champions League clash.

The two were involved in an ugly bust-up during a trip to the Algarve

“The team travelled to the Algarve to recharge for our Champions League match against Barcelona. For five days we were going to do some light training, play golf, relax in the sun and socialise. That was the plan,” Riise explained.

“A couple of the lads started drinking before the food arrived. Among them was Craig Bellamy. Pretty soon a microphone appeared on the table and Bellamy bellowed into it: ‘Riise’s gonna sing! Riise’s gonna sing!’.

“He started before the food was served and continued while we ate. He was already quite drunk and I was already quite annoyed.

Bellamy would apologise for his part, before making reference to the incident with his celebration at the Camp Nou

“Pretty soon Bellamy was over by the karaoke machine with the microphone in the hand: ‘Riise’s gonna sing! Riise’s gonna sing!’ 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 f****** kill you, you ginger c***’.”

Riise would return to his hotel room, but only to be confronted by a furious Bellamy.

“I woke in the dark to hear someone opening the door,” the former full-back continued. “Obviously I thought it was [Daniel] 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.

Riise described the celebration as “f****** disrespectful”

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“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.

“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.”

After a meeting with Benitez, Bellamy was fined £80,000 and would publicly apologise, but when he scored against the Catalan giants, his real feelings about the incident emerged.

While many look back at the moment fondly, Risse said “it was f****** disrespectful. The celebration also revealed the sincerity of his apology”.

However, when the forward scored a late winner the two embraced, with emotions taking over. And with that the saga was closed.

Looking back on the incident himself, Bellamy admitted he was embarrassed, writing in his autobiography:  “I look back at what I did now and I cringe. It was pathetic. It was drunk, bullying behaviour.”

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