Jason McAteer was sent off after a furious spat with former Liverpool teammate Michael Owen as the Star Sixes tournament in Glasgow was enlivened by controversy.
McAteer was red-carded for aiming a relatively playful kick at Owen in the Republic of Ireland’s 1-0 semi-final defeat by England in the legends competition televised by Sky Sports.
Owen had instigated the spat with his own kick, for which he was shown yellow, and the players initially squared up before Ian Harte intervened as peacemaker.
Showing no loss of competitiveness in retirement, McAteer fumed afterwards that Owen had been given favourable treatment by the officials.
“He got it wrong, didn’t he? The referee. It was a little coming together we had a little pull of the shirt it was kind of spun around and Michael Owen decided to lash out and I didn’t want to let him get away with it.
“The referee obviously didn’t see it. He didn’t want to see it probably because it was England and Michael Owen, more to the point. We kind of made up a little bit and I gave him a little friendly little push up the backside and the referee decided to send me off.”
When watching back footage of Owen’s initial kick, McAteer said: “How is that not a red card? I’ll tell you why it’s not a red card, because it’s Michael Owen and it’s England.”
It was another former Liverpool player, Paul Konchesky, who scored England’s winner, with the likes of Joe Cole and Emile Heskey also featuring for the Three Lions.
The Star Sixes is billed as a “competitive world football tournament for iconic ex-international players”, featuring England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and a Rest of the World side.
With several of the games played in an unusually competitive spirit for a legends event, the Republic also picked up a red card in Saturday’s defeat by Scotland.
Former Rangers star Barry Ferguson had floored Stephen Hunt with a heavy tackle, but Hunt took his revenge on Mark Burchill, with a wild lunge.
Ireland lost 2-0 but bounced back with a 4-3 victory over Wales, with the likes of Niall Quinn, Phil Babb and Owen Coyle featuring.