Harry Maguire, the Ghanaian MP, and five more football apologies - including Man City and Aston Villa stars
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You know what they say, a reputational u-turn isn't really a reputational u-turn until you receive a public apology from the Ghanaian MP who used you as a yardstick for uselessness during a parliamentary debate on the vice-president's economic management strategy. To that end, we can finally say, 'Welcome back to relevancy, Harry Maguire'.
The England international, always a level (slab)head in the face of unhinged scrutiny, has accepted a public statement from Isaac Adongo, who had previously, for reasons that only he could ever begin to fathom, used his platform to describe Maguire as 'the biggest threat at the centre of the Manchester United defence'. Speaking this week, however, Adongo has since said: "When Harry's form improved, I felt that he deserved an apology. As a lover of football, it was important that I recognised his turnaround." What a classy operator...
Anyways, Adongo's plea for forgiveness got us mulling over some other examples of bizarre apologies in football, and such is the format of the article, we're going to list them below.
In 2016, in the immediate aftermath of his Aston Villa side receiving a 6-0 pasting at the hands of Liverpool, Joleon Lescott, inexplicably and without context, took to social media to tweet a picture of a luxury Mercedes from his personal account. It was, as they say in PR circles, a 'bad look'.
Naturally, rather than own up to his senselessness, the defender instead concocted a far-fetched tale in which his phone took it upon itself to share the post from his pocket while he was driving. Maybe that is true. Maybe it is not. Maybe Joleon's mobile device is haunted by the restless spirit of a used car salesman. The reality is, we will never know for sure, but suffice to say, absolutely nobody bought it.
An apology should be, above all else, sincere. Without proper meaning or internal acknowledgement, you might as well be reciting passages of Green Eggs and Ham in Klingon for what use a hollow expression of regret is. Which brings us to Victor Anichebe who, in 2016, responded to Sunderland's late 1-0 defeat to West Ham with a tweet that read: 'Can you tweet something like… Unbelievable support yesterday and great effort by the lads! Hard result to take! But we go again!'. A classic of the bungled apology genre.
From players to broadcasters now, with the BBC being forced to apologise for the kind of incident that is more likely to disrupt a secondary school sex ed class than a live transmission of Match of the Day. Prior to the FA Cup replay between Wolves and Liverpool in January, a prankster sneaked into the Beeb's studio at Molineux and taped a mobile phone to the back of a chair before proceeding to blast noises that were, diplomatically-speaking, inappropriately erotic.
In a statement after the match, the BBC said: 'We apologise to any viewers offended during the live coverage of the football this evening. We are investigating how this happened'. In contrast, host Gary Lineker took a decidedly more light-hearted view of things, saying: 'If you told me this morning that I’d be on Newsnight talking about a porn scandal, I’d have been terrified!'
Nothing particularly outlandish about this apology, other than the idea of Steven Gerrard catching strays for something that happened almost a decade ago. When questioned over the barrage of financial misconduct allegations facing his club, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola deflected by asking whether it was FFP breaches that caused the Liverpool skipper's infamous slip in 2014 - an error that essentially shifted the impetus of the title race irrecoverably beyond the Reds' grasp.
Speaking a week later, Guardiola said: “I apologise to Steven Gerrard for my unnecessary and stupid comments I said the last time about him. He knows how I admire him and his career and what he has done for this country I am living and training in. I am ashamed of myself for what I said because he doesn’t deserve it. I truly believe my comments about defending my club, but I didn’t represent my club well putting his name in these stupid comments. I apologise. I said to him personally, but I comment publicly and have to do it here as well. I am so sorry to him, his wife, Alex, his kids and family because it was stupid.”
And, presumably, somewhere in a darkened room, illuminated only by the cold glow of a television screen, Gerrard watched that press conference and cursed Pep like Ben Stiller at the end of Dodgeball.
Nobody likes a sore loser, especially when that sore loser has made a career from punching his enemies' lights out. During last year's World Cup, after eventual champions Argentina beat Mexico, Lionel Messi posted a video of him taking off his boots while an opponent's shirt lay on the floor in front of him. Canelo Alvarez, Mexican boxer extraordinaire, did not like this, and launched himself into a furious tirade in which he lambasted the South American for allegedly disrespecting his motherland.
Once the rage had subsided, however, Alvarez did the noble thing, and offered a heartfelt apology to the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner, tweeting: 'These last few days I got carried away by the passion and love I feel for my country and made comments that were out of place for which I want to apologise to Messi and the people of Argentina. Every day we learn something new and this time it was my turn.'