MX23RW : Friday, September 21 08:37:21

Sir Alex Ferguson reflects on pizza-gate

Sir Alex Ferguson reveals that the rivalry between Manchester United and Arsenal reached boiling point when he was struck by a slice of pizza in 2004.

Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that an incident in which he was struck by a slice of pizza thrown from an Arsenal player caused a "rift" between the two clubs.

It happened back in 2004 after United had defeated Arsenal 2-0 at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney.

There were a handful of altercations in the tunnel and dressing room areas after the contest, which ended with Ferguson being hit by a pizza, allegedly chucked in his direction by Cesc Fabregas.

Reflecting on that day in his autobiography, Ferguson wrote: "My recollection of that fabled incident is that when Ruud van Nistelrooy came into the dressing room, he complained that Arsene Wenger had been giving him stick as he left the pitch. Right away I rushed out to say to Arsene: 'You leave my players alone.' He was incensed at losing the game. That was the reason for his combative behaviour.

"You should attend to your own players,' I told him. He was livid. His fists were clenched. I was in control, I knew it. The next thing I knew I had pizza all over me. We put food into the away dressing room after every game. Pizza, chicken. Most clubs do it. Arsenal's food was the best.

"They say it was Cesc Fabregas who threw the pizza at me but, to this day, I have no idea who the culprit was. The corridor outside the dressing room turned into a rabble. Arsenal had been defending a 49-game unbeaten record and had been hoping to make it 50 on our turf. It seemed to me that losing the game scrambled Arsene's brain.

"That day created a division between us, without doubt, and that rift extended to [assistant manager] Pat Rice, who stopped coming in for a drink after games. The wound was not fully healed until the Champions League semi-final in 2009, when Arsene invited us into his room after the game and congratulated us. When we played them at Old Trafford a few weeks later, Arsene came in with Pat, just for a few minutes."

United, now managed by David Moyes, will play host to the Gunners next month.

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Alex Ferguson congratulates Wayne Rooney upon winning the Premier League title in May 2013.
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