Bardsley v Rooney: The tale of the tape
Former Manchester United defender Phil Bardsley appears on this week’s episode of UTD Podcast.
Bardsley, who is still going strong at Burnley at the age of 36, made 18 appearances for the Reds between 2003 and 2008 and went on to play for Sunderland and Stoke City before moving to Turf Moor four years ago.
In the episode, the former Reds defender takes us through his career, from making his debut alongside Cristiano Ronaldo to battling with Marcus Rashford during a clash between the Clarets and United.
He also sheds some light on the famous boxing incident between him and Wayne Rooney in 2015, which led to newspaper headlines and one of the most memorable goal celebrations of recent years.
It all started when the pair took advantage of some downtime to have a few drinks at the pub, before returning to Wayne’s…
“I took my brother and a couple of people he knew along and we went back to his,” recalled Bardsley.
“We were having a drink, having a laugh, playing guitar and the next minute these boxing gloves appear! I was thinking: ‘what’s going on here?’
“So my brother steps up, has a go with Wazza and obviously he loves his boxing, doesn’t he? He loves scrapping. And then I’m like: ‘give us them, I’ll have a go’.
“He’s throwing a few bombs and obviously he’s a big lad, isn’t he? Strong. We’re exchanging blows – the Crocky [Croxteth] kid and the Salford kid, there’s no holding back!”
The sparring picked up pace, until Wayne – still a United player at this point – was dealt a knockout punch.
“He just walked into a jab,” Phil continued. “He was only out for a couple of seconds but we were all panicking – what’s going on here?
“We didn’t know what to do, panic stations and we had no phone signal. “We were all thinking: ‘if he doesn’t open his eyes, we can’t phone an ambulance, there’s no signal.’ So much panic!
“Anyway, he comes around, goes to the sink. I’ve got a big cut lip, blood everywhere and he’s got some blood under his nose and we’re just looking at each other and laughing.”
Clearly the ‘incident’ was little more than joking between friends but it wasn’t long before a clip was doing the rounds on social media.
“I thought nothing of it to be honest but I think one of the lads naively video’d it and sent it to his mate,” recalls Bardsley.
“Before you know it, it gets out of control and people are having a nice holiday off a sparring contest between me and Wazza.”
The news broke on the morning of United's home game against Tottenham Hotspur, which at the time was a key battle in the race for qualification for the Champions League.
United blew the north Londoners away, racing into a 3-0 half-time lead which included a goal from Rooney.
And our former no.10 marked his effort in style, as you can see above, much to Bardo’s delight.
“I didn’t know anything about it [the celebration]. I’m glad he did it, to be honest. I was just at home watching it.
“Outstanding. And it just killed the whole thing. I think that’s what needed to be done. At the end of the day, obviously, we’re both professional football players and it just got a bit out of hand on the night.
“It was a bit of a laugh, we had a few drinks and things got out of hand. At least it was in the right place, not in public.”