Ronaldo, Bale and Football's Biggest Bromances
When Gareth Bale first arrived at Real Madrid, it wasn't known how Cristiano Ronaldo would react to him. Here was a Welshman who played in the same area of the pitch, who cost more money and who had slowly morphed into a mirror image of the Portuguese superstar.
A year on, however, and it appears that Bale and Ronaldo are BFFs.
"I love him," said Ronaldo in an interview with Ben Burrows of The Mirror, which also featured plenty more gushing praise.
In honour of this Madridista bond, here are 10 of football's greatest bromances...
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski
There's no better football bromance than a World Cup-winning football bromance.
Former Bayern Munich teammates Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski are thick as thieves, and are certainly not afraid to show their feelings for one another. On the field of the Maracana right after winning football's biggest prize in Brazil last month, Schweini and Poldi shared a kiss selfie.
Evidently, Podolski really enjoys taking selfies with his favourite teammate, even if he's not awake during them.
Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol
When Carles Puyol announced his decision to leave Barcelona, no one was more devastated than his defensive partner in crime, Gerard Pique.
The former Manchester United man wrote a gushing open letter to his shaggy-haired colleague, calling him his "guardian angel," as per The Mirror.
The melodramatic statement sounded like dialogue between the romantic leads in a superhero movie: "By your side I felt protected and I knew that if one day I made a mistake you’d always be there to save me."
Now, of course, the bromance is over.
Thomas Vermaelen better be good at hugs.
Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos
Through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos have been there for one another.
Due to their relative proximity to one another on the field for club and country, the two Spaniards have developed a close bond, which apparently includes pre-match tunnel kissing among its rituals.
Their relationship was threatened in 2013 when Ramos accidentally collided with San Iker during a game, but they immediately took to social media to show they were still buddies...who invade each other's personal space during flights.
Patrice Evra and Ji-Sung Park
Patrice Evra and Ji-Sung Park first met as enemies, battling against each other in the 2005/06 Champions League for Monaco and PSV Eindhoven respectively.
However, when they became Manchester United teammates, they quickly became the very best of friends. They went to restaurants together, they would drive each other to training, and Evra even tried learning Korean so he could speak to his buddy in his native language.
The clip above explains more about their relationship and shows how Carlos Tevez would sometimes be their third wheel.
Jose Mourinho and Didier Drogba
Jose Mourinho has shared a special bond with many of his players over the years, but none quite reached the bromantic heights of his relationship with Didier Drogba.
The Special One wrote the foreword in Drogba's autobiography, which describes how he brought the Ivorian to Chelsea and how their love blossomed.
When Mou left Stamford Bridge, Drogba found it to be a "brutal blow" that left him in a "nervous state" (as per the BBC). And when Chelsea met Galatasaray in the Champions League last year, Mourinho reciprocated with praise, claiming "Didier Drogba will be a part of my life forever," per Sid Lowe The Guardian.
Apparently, this unbreakable bromance is the primary reason Mou has decided to bring the 36-year-old striker back to Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho and Marco Materazzi
And it's a second entry for Mourinho on the bromance countdown!
It's not Wesley Sneijder—who once reduced the Portuguese manager to tears—but Marco Materazzi, the talismanic leader of Mou's Internazionale side.
Straight after the Italian side completed the treble with a Champions League win in 2010, Mourinho and Materazzi shared an emotional embrace outside the Bernabeu, as the manager was set to move to La Liga the following season.
It's not known what they said to each other, but it was probably about how much they both hated Rafa Benitez.
John Terry and Frank Lampard
When Frank Lampard moved to Chelsea in 2001, he met up with John Terry, and the seeds of an epic bromance were sewn.
Over the years, Lamps and JT have been inseparable—enjoying "banter" in training, going on holiday with each other, and leading Chelsea to domestic and European success.
Last year, Terry gave his completely unbiased opinion, per the Daily Mail, that Lampard is the greatest Chelsea player of all time. Lampard, meanwhile, stuck by his friend through allegations of assault, racial abuse and affairs with teammates' wives.
When JT has to face his best friend in a Manchester City shirt this season, it will probably be like The Simpsons episode where Bart and Lisa play on rival ice hockey teams.
David Beckham and Gary Neville
Manchester United's famous Class of '92 worked and lived in close quarters from the time they were spotty teenagers collecting Dennis Irwin's underwear from the dressing room floor to when they were winning the treble.
Through growing as a team and tolerating Robbie Savage, they developed a very close bond.
Perhaps the strongest relationship from the gang is that of Gary Neville and David Beckham. They were each other's best men at their weddings, they would stay with each other when Posh Spice was out of town, and Neville described the tattooed former midfielder as his "best friend" last year in the Daily Mail.
Beckham, meanwhile, admitted that he only has three close friends, according to Daniel Bates of the Daily Mail, and one suspects G-Nev is among the trio.
Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho
Brazilians and Argentineans traditionally don't make the best of friends, but when Lionel Messi was a shy young teenager in the Barcelona dressing room, he says it was the players from his rival nation that helped him the most, according to FCBarcelona.com.
In particular, he cites the influence of Ronaldinho, who developed into one of his best friends and confidantes, despite being the star player of the team at the time. When the tricky Brazilian was nearing the exit door at the Nou Camp, Messi was insistent that his friend should stay, per Matt Lawless of The Telegraph, and took his eventual departure quite badly.
Marco Reus and Mario Gotze
Mario Gotze and Marco Reus first met in the Borussia Dortmund youth system and have been peas in a pod ever since.
They had a telepathic understanding on the field, have done joint interviews together, such as this one in GQ (translated on Tumblr) and when Reus was not fit during Germany's World Cup campaign, his best friend paid tribute to him.
Excuse me, I have something in my eye...