Cesc Fabregas has finally admitted he threw the pizza at Sir Alex Ferguson during the ‘Battle of the Buffet’.
It is a tale that has entered footballing folklore. Arsenal travelled to Old Trafford on October 24, 2004 on a record 49-match unbeaten run. They went on to lose a tempestuous game 2-0.
The sides clashed in the tunnel, and, in a tale that had never been confirmed, Fabregas was alleged to have thrown a slice of pizza at the Manchester United manager.
Ashley Cole wrote in his autobiography: ‘All eyes turned and all mouths gawped to see this pizza slip off that famous puce face and roll down his nice black suit.’
Ferguson previously said: ‘They say it was Cesc Fabregas who threw the pizza at me, but to this day I have no idea who the culprit is.’
Martin Keown hinted at the assailant, commenting: ‘From what I understand, it was a Spanish fella with great technique.
‘Even when it came to the pizza he had great technique. He threw it like a Frisbee.’
And now, while making an appearance on Sky’s A League of Their Own, the Chelsea midfielder has confirmed he was the culprit.
In the episode, host James Corden asks Fabregas: ‘Tonight, can we finally put the case of the flying pizza to bed once and for all? Were you the culprit who threw the pizza?’
The 30-year-old immediately replies, ‘Yes!’, before going into the story: ‘Martin Keown is a liar because I saw him in front of me just, like, punching people so he didn’t see anything.
‘All of a sudden, I heard noises and I thought what’s happening? So I go out with my slice of pizza and I saw Sol Campbell, Rio Ferdinand, Martin Keown… everyone pushing each other.
‘I was like, I want to get in, but I don’t know how to and I threw… peeew… just threw it. Once I saw it was hitting, like, who it was hitting, which I didn’t mean…’
Fabregas then turns to the camera on the show and adds: ‘I apologise Sir Alex, really didn’t mean to do that.’ When asked by Jamie Redknapp where the pizza hit Ferguson, Fabregas tapped the side of his face.
The game itself came a year after the famed Battle of Old Trafford, which ended in a 0-0 draw after Ruud van Nistelrooy missed a late penalty for United before being aggressively surrounded by Arsenal players.
During the 2004 match two United players could have been sent off. Van Nistelrooy raked his studs on Cole’s ankle before Rio Ferdinand escaped punishment despite denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.
The tension intensified after Wayne Rooney theatrically fell over Sol Campbell’s leg in the Arsenal box.
Van Nistelrooy dispatched the penalty before a 19-year-old Rooney sealed the points with a close range strike late on. The two managers confronted each other after Wenger angrily spoke to Van Nistelrooy at the final whistle.
Soon the players became involved. Cole says some shouted, ‘you cheats’ at the United squad. Phil Neville remembers ‘handbags’ between the two sides.
Suddenly, Ferguson had pizza thrown at him. United had provided the away dressing room with food. Cole recalls escaping to the dressing room and everyone on the Arsenal side laughing at the incident.
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