The day I told David Beckham to 'fuck off' - Iriney Santos da Silva
The former Brazilian player had a long career in Spanish football, and his list of memories includes the Real Madrid man trying to stamp on his foot.
Brazilian footballer Iriney Santos da Silva, at the age of 38, has s already hung up his professional boots. The former player didn’t leave a huge imprint on the samba football landscape, having only ever featured modestly for Nacional Manaus and Sao Caetano at the beginning of his career, but he did leave a mark in Spain, where he had a long career.
Representing Rayo (2002-05), Celta Vigo (2005-07), Almería (2007-09), Real Betis (2009-12), Granada (2012-13) and Mallorca (2014) he is well known by many fans of LaLiga. And during a long spell like that, it is no surprise that he has a number of anecdotes of playing against some of the greats. Iriney has dusted off his list and shares some of those stories from his confrontations against Real Madrid in a chat with ESPN.
Beckham argument and the Galácticos
“At Celta, I won in two consecutive years against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu. The first triumph was over the ‘Galácticos', with more than 80,000 people watching, in 2005.
“They had Vanderlei Luxemburg as manager and the team included Ronaldo ‘el Fenomeno’, Roberto Carlos, Raúl, Robinho, Baptista, Beckham, Guti... It was crazy We won 3-2.
“The second victory was 2-1, over a team that had Casillas, Cannavaro, Sergio Ramos, Guti, Robinho, Ronaldo, Raúl, Beckham, Van Nistelrooy and with Fabio Capello as coach. The Bernabéu was also full that day, and we won again.
“In this second match I had a fierce argument with Beckham. He started on the bench and when he came on, the game was tied. In one play, he all of a sudden tried to stamp on my foot. He was angry and tried to step on me, but I backed out the way.
“I said to him: 'Hello, David, pal. Have you really lived here in Madrid for four years and you don't even speak a word of Spanish? Fuck off.’ I also said some other things that you couldn’t publish...
“It was Roberto Carlos who calmed me down. Roberto is a sensational guy. I swapped shirts with him.”
The legend that was Ronaldo
“When playing with Rayo I met Ronaldo, ‘el Fenómeno’. They were the guys that I’d only seen on television before, and I then had the honour of saying that I faced them all.
“I had a special affection for Ronaldo because he was a very simple [down to earth] guy. He gave me his phone number in case I needed anything, although I never called him for the respect I had.
“He is a very humble guy who had a wonderful career. Every time we played against him he would come and give me a hug. Kaká was another very important guy for me. I had the privilege of living through that golden age of Spanish, and world football."
Cristiano Ronaldo's rabona
“While at Betis I faced Cristiano. It was in 2011, at the Bernabéu, and we played really well in the first half, reaching the break at 0-0. They then went on to win 4-1.
“In the second half, after a corner, Cristiano tried to pull off a rabona, but failed. The Betis captain and I went up to confront him because it was right at the end of the game and it [the trick] was not necessary.
“Before Mourinho subbed him for Altintop, I said to him: ‘Why didn't you try that in the first half, when the game was still 0-0?’ He tried to appease me, gave me a hug and said, ‘Come on, Iriney, don't you like beautiful football?'
“I replied: 'I like it, but next time do that in the first half, with the game still level.’
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