5 Controversial International Moments for Manchester United Men

Scott RomFeatured ColumnistJune 6, 2014

5 Controversial International Moments for Manchester United Men

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    With the World Cup approaching, there will be plenty of players hoping that they give a good account of themselves, as well as fans hoping that the team will do their country proud.

    However, in most tournaments, there is somebody who does something that manages to cause a stir. The pressure put on players when representing their countries might make these moments more likely to happen.

    United players are no strangers to these moments of controversy, where they have upset the fans from their own country or from someone else's.

    After Antonio Valencia's red card this week, let's take a look at that and other moments where Manchester United players have lost their cool when playing for their country. 

Antonio Valencia: 2014

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    England played a friendly match against Ecuador in Miami this week to help prepare for the World Cup.

    The game had been played in good spirits and the sides were drawing 2-2.

    However, with 10 minutes left to play, Liverpool's Raheem Sterling made an awful challenge on Valencia, with his feet in the air, studs raised. Thankfully, Valencia's foot wasn't planted, so it meant he was able to jump out of the way. Having already had his leg broken in a challenge before, the winger is likely to be more sensitive to bad fouls than other players. Sterling was sent off for the challenge, but Valencia's reaction to the foul earned himself a red card.

    Valencia ran over to Sterling and grabbed him around the neck with both hands. When Sterling turned around, Valencia strangled him again. 

    There's nothing like a bit of club rivalry on the international stage!

Wayne Rooney: 2010

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    England drew their first World Cup 2010 group-stage game against USA before then drawing 0-0 with Algeria. Their chances of progressing into the next round hung in the balance.

    As the players walked off the pitch in Cape Town, several England fans booed the team, which Wayne Rooney reacted badly to. As a television camera walked past, Rooney let his feelings known.

    Jon Brodkin of The Guardian reported the words Rooney used were: "Nice to see your own fans booing you, you football 'supporters'."

    He later apologised, of course, but his criticism certainly didn't go down too well with the fans who had made the journey to South Africa.

Patrice Evra: 2010

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    During the World Cup of 2010, the French squad went on strike, in support of Nicolas Anelka who had fallen out with the manager, Raymond Domenech. Anelka had been left out of the squad and the players decided not to take part in training as a result.

    The BBC reported that Patrice Evra, the captain, was one of the instigators of this movement and had been seen having a row with the fitness coach, Robert Duverne, moments before the public training was supposed to commence. Domenech had to separate Evra and Duverne, before Duverne stormed off, throwing his accreditation badge to the ground.

    France finished bottom of their group and Evra was banned from representing France for five games as a result of his actions.

Cristiano Ronaldo: 2006

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    England faced Portugal in the quarter-final of the 2006 World Cup, having beaten Ecuador in the round of 16. With both sides cancelling each other out, Portugal were given a significant advantage with an hour played when Rooney was sent off.

    As Rooney was attacking, Ricardo Carvalho was kicking at his heels and pulling him back. In response, Rooney then stamped on Carvalho, although he has always insisted this was accidental.

    Five Portugal players then ran over to the referee to complain about the stamp and Rooney was sent off.

    After the game, the BBC reported that Cristiano Ronaldo, who was one of the Portugal players protesting, was well aware he would be blamed for Rooney's card.

    I know that people will say that the referee sent off Rooney because I spoke to him. I only said to the referee that it was a foul, only that. I never asked for the red card. But I know the English press will say that it was my fault that he was sent off.

    After the red card, Ronaldo winked at the bench, celebrating the fact his country would have half an hour to play against 10 men.

    However, Ronaldo was blamed for Rooney's red card by the media and England fans, for antagonising his club team-mate by getting involved. It is worth wondering what these same people would have wanted Rooney to do if Ronaldo had stamped on Steven Gerrard. Should he have put club loyalty ahead of England and stayed away from the referee?

    Rooney later reflected on the incident in his autobiography, which was reported on in The Mirror.

    When I walked to the tunnel, I knew I couldn’t really blame Ronaldo for what had happened because he was trying to win the game for his country. Besides, in the first half I’d tried to get him booked for diving, so I was as bad as him really.

David Beckham: 1998

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    One of the defining moments of David Beckham's football career was when he was sent off in the 1998 World Cup for kicking a leg out at Diego Simeone.

    Simeone made the most of Beckham's petulance, tumbling to the ground, leaving the referee with little choice but to send Beckham off.

    Beckham was a national hate figure in the season that followed, with fans of opposition teams in the Premier League booing his every touch. The Express reported on the effigies that were hung and the embarrassing headlines that were written about him.

    In the season that followed, Beckham helped Manchester United win the Treble, the greatest achievement of any English team in the history of the game.