By: Ruth Sharpe
LIVERPOOL’S five-day training break at Barringtons Golf and Health Spa last week was marred by the alleged late-night antics of several players on the eve of their return to the UK.
With Rafael Benitez spending the evening in Vilamoura, around 15 of the players took the opportunity to wind down at Monty’s restaurant and bar in the Vale do Lobo resort last Thursday evening.
Witnesses say that late in the evening a fight erupted between striker Craig Bellamy and Norwegian World Cup star John Arne Riise over a karaoke competition. According to reports, the altercation continued back at a hotel and needed the intervention of Rafael Benitez.
In addition, reports claim that some players, including Robbie Fowler, Jermaine Pennant and Jerzy Dudek, were all considered to be behaving in a disorderly fashion, smashing glasses and urinating in public, while they were escorted back to their accommodation by security officials when they left the bar after 2am.
After an article in the News of the World newspaper implied that Bellamy would be kicked out by Liverpool as a result of his actions, Rafael Benitez released a statement saying: “We are going to discipline all the players who broke the rules of the club during the training camp in Portugal.”
Barringtons and Monty’s were both unavailable for further comment at the time of going to press.
The days leading up to the incident were relaxing and low-key for the squad, who were kept away from any press intrusion in the build up to the clash with Barcelona, which took place on Wednesday, February 21.
“The staff at Barringtons gave us a warm welcome, they are highly efficient and experienced at dealing with teams” said Pako Ayestaran, assistant manager of Liverpool. “Staying here has meant we have been able to focus on our training without having to worry about any press intrusion, the security has been excellent,” he added.
Coach Rafael Benitez said: “The facilities are fantastic and it is both a safe and secure venue. The pitch, gym and accommodation are all within walking distance and we also have the added bonus of great leisure facilities in the resort including golf and tennis, we could not have asked for more from out break.”
The players spent every morning of their training camp (February 12-16) on the Barringtons pitch and in the private gymnasium. A couple of afternoons were given up to sporting leisure pursuits, including golf and tennis at Vale do Lobo.
Speaking during the camp, striker Dirk Kuyt said: “It’s a great chance for everyone to get to know each other better, particularly for people like me who are in our first season at the club”. He went on to say: “It’s also a good chance for me to improve my golf! I don’t have a handicap, but I reckon I would play off about 22. It’s not something I’ve played much before, but the lads at Liverpool play all the time and some of them are pretty good.”
A visitor to Vale do Lobo, who saw the team regularly on the golf course and using the facilities, said they came across as being well-behaved and were not seen to be causing any undue harm.
Before departing on Friday the team had promised a 10 minute press opportunity for photos and questions. After posing reluctantly for one minute, the team quickly got on to their coach and left for Faro airport in silence, with only Steven Gerrard stopping to sign autographs for fans.
The actions will also make waves across the Atlantic, where the club’s new American owners, George Gillett Jnr and Thomas Hicks, are unlikely to be impressed at the tarnishing of Liverpool’s reputation as they complete their 450 million pound takeover.
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