When your nickname is Mad Dog it is fair to say that you are likely to have a great reputation. Thomas Gravesen lives up to his.
The former Everton, Celtic and Real Madrid midfielder was like a grenade in the dressing room wherever he went, and his life after football now makes him a strangely enigmatic figure.
Let’s start with the nuts and bolts of it. Nuts being the key word – Gravesen was unlike any other footballer.
First, throw everything out the window you thought you knew. The Dane was better than you remember, just sometimes unwilling to follow precise tactical instructions, especially at Celtic.
Just look at his highlights against Barcelona in April 2005 at the Bernabeu – a 4-2 win for Los Blancos and he’s ahead of the full-back in a diamond in midfield.
Gravesen has some reckless moments, awkward and slightly unsightly moves, but these are going to show up when you share the pitch with Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Raul and Ronaldo, and play against Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
He steals the ball from Ronaldinho on several occasions, intimidates a young Iniesta off the ball, passes out of the shoe and sweeps switches, all while expertly combining with Zidane in some difficult situations. Not bad at all.
But that bullish air in a china shop has really earned him a reputation.
In a Madrid derby in March 2006, Gravesen made another solid display, but a wild-eyed argument with Fernando Torres ignited after an off-the-ball barge, while Pablo Ibanez attempted revenge by the slapping in the chest at a corner.
He fought with Robinho in a training session and his teammate Julio Baptista told Cadena SER: “It was funny. Imagine Gravesen, who was a little crazy, running at Robinho and growling angrily.
“He kicked him, then another. Robinho stopped, looked at him and pushed him in the chest, then it started. Gravesen wanted to kill him.
“They got separated but Robinho went back to the locker room and Gravesen looked at me and said, ‘I’m going to kill him.'”
In another workout, he had a fight with Ronaldo and accidentally knocked out one of his teeth.
Oh, and on his Real Madrid debut against Real Zaragoza none other than Pelé was present and started the game.
Fighting would see his paths cross with another sports maverick – Mike Tyson.
In a World Cup qualifier against Iceland in 2001, Gravesen enjoyed one of their best games in history, scoring twice. One was a skillful chip, the other a raspy long-range effort in a 6-0 win, and the boxing legend was in the stands.
In Denmark, to face Brian Nielsen, Tyson fell in love with the midfielder, who also ended up in a heist or two, and demanded his shirt before wearing it to his weigh-in, and throughout his stay. in the country.
“I don’t know if he still has it – I hope he did, or else,” he joked to FourFourTwo.
Now what did we say about a grenade in the locker room? Well, maybe we should say fireworks.
Former teammate James McFadden described him as “hyper” and “nightmare” in group scenarios, once bringing a paintball gun to practice and shooting people.
“He brought fireworks in one day,” the former Scotland international told Open Goal. “The physio was the fittest guy in the whole club. He was 50, he was playing, but if you were hurt he would run with you, so when you were running he was resting and when he was running you were resting … so he was running and Tommy took this big rocket and shot him. the rocket on him.
This wasn’t the only fireworks incident either with David Moyes revealing Gravesen and Everton prodigy Wayne Rooney to face each other.
He told Open Goal: “They were in the gym, at Bellefield, he was maybe 60 meters long at the time and I think it was him and Wayne and they were holding the lights. fireworks at one end of the gymnasium to each other and they were shooting the fireworks.
“We actually had a guy coming to Liverpool as you can imagine, selling us anything and he had big rockets, thick and long, a lot of gunpowder and, you know, they were holding a butt and pulled. each other.
“I’m the manager, I’m the one who’s supposed to say ‘stop this, will you!’ But they already had.
Even though he had his wild side, he was a good and lovable guy, but at Real manager Fabio Capello called him ‘special’, a claim McFadden and others can easily support.
He was said to have no bills outside of his phone and was always keen to save money, while Alan Stubbs revealed he would swap between a Nissan Micra and a Porsche Turbo during of his entry into training.
The summer vacation was spent in his mother’s basement playing video games, according to Celtic teammates.
Former Everton captain David Weir recalls Gravesen even struggling to leave the club for Real, when he joined them on a £ 2.5million transfer in January 2005.
“Real Madrid had signed him,” he recalls. “Tommy is in the canteen and he didn’t want to go. Real Madrid had sent this private jet … and you could tell they just didn’t want to go.
While at the end of his Celtic career in an Old Firm derby, Gravesen spent the first half asking Rangers ace Barry Ferguson if he knew any good restaurants in Glasgow.
Prior to returning to Denmark in recent years, Gravesen, after retiring in 2009 at the age of 32, was living his days in Las Vegas, playing poker with huge sums of money.
Rumors circulated about how he got there, in an exclusive part of town where Nicolas Cage and Andre Agassi were his neighbors – but he kept his cards close to his chest on the matter.
His reason for returning to his native country to work as an expert? “I missed football,” he said.
When asked if he was as crazy as people thought, Gravesen told Sky Sports: “No, no luck. I was not. I liked it so much and the passion I have for football, it shone and that, for me, is one of the main things for me. I was just a happy boy.