Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez are far from the first footballers to have been involved in a contretemps with teammates when away with their country
Gerard Piqu and Sergio Ramos
Rivals for their clubs, they were partners for their country. Except that a lot of the time people questioned whether Spain was Piqus country, and that dimension always lingered in discussions of the players relationship. It was driven of course by the often bitter battle between their clubs, Barcelonas Piqu more than prepared to attack Madrid and that tension sometimes taken to the national team. At least and this is the key by the comically partisan media. This was the battle for years, an obsession. Not that they ever came to blows, or even close. Often it was a game. Ramos summed it up when he responded to one Piqu remark by saying: Coming from Iniesta, it would annoy you, but its Piqu and we all know its part of the show with him.
After one game Piqu claimed that in the directors box at the Bernabu sit the people who pull the strings in this country. To which Ramos replied: They have more to answer there than us. When Ramos was sent off in a clsico, he walked past Piqu and said: Go on, keep talking. Afterwards Piqu insisted it was a clear red, but theyre so used to referees letting them get away with it. Very different characters, if perhaps not quite as different as they would like to think, they were actually a brilliant partnership and they got on better than many people liked to imagine. One day when Spain wore white, like Real Madrid, Ramos sidled up to Piqu and said: White looks so good on you that youre lost for words. Sid Lowe
Freddie Ljungberg and Olof Mellberg
The pair clashed in training as Sweden were preparing for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Ljungberg, who was with Arsenal at the time, had won a tackle and set off with the ball, but didnt get very far before being chopped down by Mellberg, then an Aston Villa player. Ljungberg got to his feet and grabbed the central defender by his throat before Daniel Andersson moved in to separate them. It ended with all of them falling to the ground. After the incident Mellberg said: Of course I regret it. You cant put a positive spin on what I did. It is nothing to be proud about. It was stupid. Years later one of the two coaches, Lars Lagerbck, said that there were two cliques in the dressing room. He said: It is no secret that we had two groups. One with Zlatan and Mellberg and another with Ljungberg. They never had coffee together. But we had one No 1 guy who everyone respected and that was Henrik Larsson. He said: Let them just carry on and have a go at each other as long as we are getting results. Sweden finished ahead of Argentina in the group at that World Cup to qualify for the knockout stage before losing to Senegal after extra-time in the round of 16. Marcus Christenson