Theo Walcott has revealed that he came to blows with former team-mate Robin van Persie on several occasions while the Dutchman was at Arsenal.
Walcott explained the head to head encounters in his autobiography Growing Up Fast which was published almost two years ago, although much of its contents has never been seen on the internet.
Dutch striker van Persie, who joined Manchester United in August 2012, had various discipline problems during his early years at Arsenal and Walcott’s comments emphasise some of the tensions once present in the Gunners camp.
“When we got back into the dressing room at the break, Robin made it obvious he wasn’t happy. And I was the reason he wasn’t happy. I wasn’t passing the ball enough, apparently. I wasn’t being a team player, apparently. I was intent on being an individual, on playing for myself, apparently.
“It wasn’t the first time he’d had a go at me. During the Amsterdam Tournament (2007) he accused me of wasting the ball and ignoring him when he thought I should have passed to him. He was pretty hyped up because he was on home soil and he wanted to put on a good show in front of his countrymen. He didn’t like it when I ignored what he was saying.
‘I am never ever going to pass you the ball again!’ he yelled at me.
‘You’re a big man then, aren’t you!’ I responded.
“Robin wanted to fight me there and then, and it was the same in the dressing room at the Emirates during the game against Spurs. He was shouting at me and he went absolutely nuts. There were people holding him back because he wanted to get at me. I think part of the reason Robin got so angry was that he was surprised I had answered him back in front of everyone else. He wasn’t having any of it.
“There was no lingering resentment on my part and none on Robin’s. Exchanges like that happen at football clubs all the time.”